Are you in the midst of the sandwich generation crunch? Feeling the demands of caring for parents as well as your own children. Or feeling pulled between career demands and family’s needs. Sometimes our care and commitments to others draws heavily on us.
I just returned home to my husband and daughter after time away with my aging, out of state parents. The most apparent factor on both ends of my trip was a deep need for my presence.
As I felt the great need coming at either end I experienced some momentary trepidation. It felt so big – like it might consume me. I took a deep breath and felt an inner shift and subsequent re-ordering of my priorities. I came into alignment with my love for them, my desire to be of service and I set aside my personal agenda.
That’s one of the gifts of the Sacred Feminine – our ability to stop on a dime, assess what’s needed and give care.
Sometimes we choose self-sacrifice in response to other’s need. Not that we are the only gender capable of that but it is common ground for us as women. We naturally hold a consciousness that comes from our innate tendency to care for the young, old and frail in the human family.
This is not the first time I’ve been called to set aside my desires and agenda to care for a loved one. Maybe you can you relate?
Six years ago I set aside my personal goals and desires to support my daughter through a healing crisis that consumed me, and all of my resources for a few years. For that time my world shrunk and my commitment to supporting her affected all areas of my life including my own health and marriage. I knew going in I would pay a price but I also new I couldn’t walk away. I had to give it my all. I did. And it paid off.
It took me years to rebuild and recover myself fully. I don’t regret my decision but I did learn some important things along the way.
Here are 5 that are key when facing a call to heavy duty care giving:
- Make it a conscious choice. To the best of your ability choose what you are committing to. If you notice you’re in over your head take a pause and consider if you can say yes to this level of commitment. Recognize you can say no, pull back and create a Plan B. Being conscious in your choice will maintain your morale when things get tough and prevent resentment.
- Take the time to fill your cup. I went into my recent trip well rested and buoyed by a weekend prior with friends. While that’s not always possible. I encourage you to claim as many moments of respite as you can. Choose activities and people that nourish and support you when you’re in the thick of care giving. This is a great time to prune relationships and activities that don’t feed your soul.
- Recognize what’s yours to do. Which is never everything. As women we are often drawn to attend to everyone in need, in all ways. Give from your strengths. Give where you can make the greatest impact. Carry the piece you can realistically bear without undue harm to yourself and let go of the rest. Some one will step in to take it.
- Identify additional supports. Identify where can you take leadership and delegate. Take a pause and identify others willing to help. Ask them. Let others know when it’s getting rough. There’s no shame in asking for help and no glory in being a martyr.
- Recognize your loved one is powerful. They may be vulnerable and in need but your loved one is still a powerful being. They are co-creating their life moment by moment just as you are no matter how young, old or frail they may be. This is just another reminder it’s not all up to you!
As women we are the heart and soul of humanity. We carry the lion’s share of the care giving consciousness and responsibility. The next time you face the needs of others and the pull to give care remember you and your needs are part of the equation. You are powerful and can choose how to respond. Use your voice and authority to guide the care. And remember – it’s not all up to you!