I’m a long-distance caregiver. I spend about a week a month at Mom’s, managing her medical care and just about anything else she needs. We return home tomorrow. I’m exhausted. I hurt all over. I’m discouraged. Oh, this is nothing new. It happens every time I’m here. It’s not that the work is so hard. In fact, this week was particularly light in terms of medical appointments, which was good news/bad news. We had fewer demands on our schedules, which made it easier for Mom. But it also meant more unscheduled time, which is hard because she and I don’t get along well. We don’t have a lot to talk about, and most of the time, I wear myself out to get her to make good decisions. Which she resents. She wants to do what she wants to do without bearing the consequences.
For example, she has had terrible neck pain for over a year. We’ve tried a variety of medical treatments and several alternative medicine treatments. They help for a while, and then she plateaus. She lives in constant pain. I feel bad for her, and try to get her to make wise choices. Like taking a nap during the day to give her body more time to heal. Like not falling asleep in her chair, which torques her neck, puts more stress on it, and reverses anything we’ve done medically. It seems so obvious to me, but to her, not so much. She wants to be able to do what she wants without being responsible. Or said differently, she wants the freedom to make bad choices and avoid the consequences.
I confess I get frustrated. I’ve spent a lot of time and money to be here, but she doesn’t appreciate that. And somehow, it’s my fault she doesn’t feel better. It’s very confusing. Very disempowering. Very demeaning. I feel inadequate. My own strength fails me.
That’s when I have to lean totally on Jesus. When I suffer insults, I suffer for the sake of Christ, not Mom. When I am weak, I am strong in Him (2 Cor. 12:10). I don’t have to defend myself. I serve. I do what I can. I accept that I will never be appreciated, praised, or acknowledged. I accept that nothing I do will ever be right or good enough. So I serve Mom as unto the Lord (Col. 3:23). I look to Him for my reward. And I forgive quickly.
No, I’ll probably never get the thanks I think I deserve from Mom. But I know someone who is looking at me with great love and affection, and yes, great satisfaction. And for now, that is enough.