After taking my grandma to church with almost perfect attendance for almost three and a half years, I need a break.
Recently I was friendly bobbing with some folks at my volunteer gig and we got to talking about church. I mentioned that I recently hired a Sidekick for grandma specifically to give me respite from taking her to worship on Sundays.
Their response: “You have to PAY someone to do THAT?!” 🤨🤨🤨
You see, I was not blessed with siblings. A bounty of cousins. No close friends who are like family. Grandma’s in the same boat, only that ship sailed loooooooong algo.
When Grandma became ill, she had to take a break from going to church. Meanwhile, her mind was zapped of all of the close bonds she had forged there over the years.
I’ve never belonged to her church, nor do I have an interest in joining. Certainly, I have met some wonderful people there. But that is Grandma’s church.
All I had to go on is what I personally knew about my grandma from spending time with her and what she told me pre-caregiving (and remember, I was all about Rachel).. that wasn’t a lot.
At the beginning of my caregiving journey, I was under the impression that there would be people waiting in the wings to support us. Somehow, I had convinced myself I wouldn’t have to be doing much asking.
Much to my dismay, even though my grandma was a devoted member and faithful contributor of time and resources, there was no crowd of people excitedly awaiting the opportunity to return the favor. (More on that in an upcoming post: The Church is Not Your Long Term Care Insurance)
Once she felt well enough to go back to church, I realized I could count on one hand the people I could rely on up there. Two of them were already helping in a critical capacity (one, a close family friend, and the other, the leader of her Bible study group).
Did I know those people well enough to feel comfortable asking for help without fear of judgment or owing them something in return?
Let’s face it. There’s this misconception that if we have to ask for help, we are weak. We are admitting that we can’t do it all. We live in a society that expects us to do more and more all the time. Sometimes, asking for help means feeling like you’ve failed.
Would I feel comfortable enough to be able to actually relax while she was on an outing with someone I barely knew who was unfamiliar with her care needs?
No way in H-E-double hockey sticks.
Denise at CareGiving.com validates this aspect of our hesitance in asking for help perfectly in her recent post, Our Social Isolation Comes from Our Difficult Experiences, when she said, “A caregiving experience is also part art and part science. It’s a nuanced equation we’ve figured out through diligent, tenacious trial and error…Of course, it’s hard to trust others when we know what happens when it all fails.”
The first and only time we asked for help from someone inside the church to get her to worship on Sunday was a disaster. I was going out of town, and I couldn’t take her. I reached out to one person to see if she knew who could help. Before I knew it, Gma was calling a bunch of other people, and pretty soon, everyone ended up super confused. We got it all straightened out and then Sunday came and she just decided not to go. I felt like a jerk for wasting everyone’s time and adding extra stress to their lives. Worse, I felt like we were giving the impression that we didn’t have it together, which was infinitely worse.
I learned a lot after that whole debacle. It became obvious that I needed to take the reins and coordinate everything myself well in advance when I was unable to take her to church so Gma could not interfere.
I also realized that I needed someone who was not on the outside looking in. Someone who was familiar enough with what my caregiving life looked like that I didn’t have to explain when Gma flaked out. Someone I could trust to handle her the same way I would.
I started looking to my stepdad, who was a professional caregiver, to take her to church when I needed a substitute. Even then, I left money to pay for lunch and then some.
Hiring a Sidekick allows me to have peace of mind knowing that while I’m away from my grandma, someone I personally trained will be her escort.
So, yes, I have to pay someone for that. 🤷♀️
Is there something you have to pay for that you feel like you shouldn’t? I’d love to hear your experience. Share it with me in the comments below 👇👇