Do you ever feel like no matter how much you do for your loved one it is never enough? No matter how much time you spend with her or how many things you do for her, you only ever think about all of the things you didn’t do? Even if you spent every single moment of every single day with her, you could still find something to feel guilty about?
That describes me perfectly. I am constantly finding things to feel guilty about when it comes to helping my dad take care of my mom. No matter how much I do, it is never enough. I should have done more. I should have offered to come over to sit with my mom. I should have stayed longer. I should have tried to do more with her. Nothing is ever enough. I am constantly consumed with guilt.
Over the last four years, I have been a part-time caregiver for my mom. I would go over to my parents’ house two or three times a week to give my dad a chance to get out for a little while. No matter how many times I went each week, I always felt like I should have done more. I would constantly beat myself up over it. Even if I did go to their house three or more times a week, I still felt guilty for not going more. No matter how many hours I spent at their house each time, I still felt guilty for not staying longer. When my mom was still able to talk on the phone, I always felt guilty for not calling her more often. When I did call her often, I still felt guilty for not staying on the phone with her longer. After we hung up, I would look at the duration of the call and beat myself up for not trying to talk to her longer. No matter what I did, it was never enough.
If you follow my blog, then you know that a few months ago I was in a very bad place. I was feeling overwhelmed and depressed from being a part-time caregiver for my mom. Almost four months ago, we were finally able to convince my dad to hire a home health aide from Bayada to provide care for a few hours a few times a week. Once the aide got settled in, I stopped being a part-time caregiver and started being a daughter again. I would go over to my parents’ house about once or twice a week just to visit with my mom for an hour or so. Her aide was always there to do the caregiving duties and I was able to just visit my mom.
Well, it didn’t take long for me to start beating myself up again for not doing more. I feel like I don’t visit my mom enough times during the week. When I do visit her, I feel like I don’t stay long enough or do enough with her. I feel guilty that someone else is taking care of my mom and that I should be the one doing it. I feel guilty that the brunt of everything still falls on my dad’s shoulders and that I’m no longer doing anything to help him. I feel guilty that I took a few weeks to myself to finish editing my book and complete the process of self-publishing it on Amazon. Although that was something that I had wanted to accomplish for a very long time, I actually feel guilty for taking the time to accomplish it. I feel like I was being selfish for doing something just for me.
In the last couple of weeks, I have gone over to my parents’ house a couple of times to help out rather than just visit. It felt good to feel like I was contributing something again, but I quickly realized that I was falling back into the same pattern that had led me to feel overwhelmed and depressed. I was helping out, but I still felt guilty for all of the things I didn’t do and I wasn’t doing anything for myself or my own life. It has always been difficult for me to put myself first, but I know that I have to force myself to do so in order to take care of myself. I have to force myself to not offer to help out, even when I feel obligated to, because that was the whole point in hiring a home health aide. If the aide is not enough, then we need to hire her for more hours or hire another aide to cover additional shifts. It should not fall back on me to make up for whatever is lacking. That is the reason we hired an aide in the first place.
I say all of these things and yet I still feel guilty that I’m not doing anything to help. Nothing is ever enough and I can always find something to feel guilty for. Most women I know would say the same thing. Why is that? Why do we constantly beat ourselves up over every little thing we didn’t do? Whether it be related to our spouses, children, families, friendships, or jobs, we constantly find something to feel guilty about. It is easy for me to tell a friend that she is doing enough for her kids and that she shouldn’t feel guilty about anything. So, why can’t I take my own advice when it comes to my parents?
It is not my job or my responsibility to take care of everyone else. I know that. But, it doesn’t stop me from feeling guilty. I am going to make a conscious effort to stop feeling guilty for everything. In reality, there is no ideal enough. No matter how much you do, there will always be something that you didn’t do. There will always be more that you could have done. You will always find something to feel guilty about. If you let guilt consume you, it can and will take over your life. Trust me, I’ve been there. Of course, it is much easier said than done. I say these things and I know them to be true, but I also know that I will still feel guilty about everything. So, instead of saying that I will stop feeling guilty for things, maybe I should just say that I will do my best. I will do my best to be there for my parents, to love them and support them. I will do my best to help out when necessary, but I will also do my best not to let the guilt of what I didn’t do consume me. I’m sure I will still have days when I beat myself up about things, but I will do my best to make those days few and far between.
If any of these words sound familiar to you, then just remind yourself of this. There is no ideal enough. Nothing you do will ever feel like enough. You will always be able to find something to feel guilty about. Don’t be so hard on yourself. As long as you are doing the best you can, then it is enough.