Saturday was a long day.
I'm not saying it was bad; just long. At some point toward the end, it came to mind really strongly that I am a caretaker. It meant beyond being my mother's caretaker, but that it's what I do and who I am.
I had been having related thoughts recently as I go about doing things. Often it is something domestic, like unloading the dishwasher and then loading it again, and checking on the laundry after getting dinner started. The thought comes that I am good at this. My time in the nursery has shown that I am good with children. I already knew that I am good with animals, but lately I think all the checking in -- with all humans and animals to make sure they are okay -- has shown me that care-taking is a key part of my identity.
I have been going over that to try and figure out what to do with it. What does knowing that mean? What should it mean?
It could work as just an affirmation. There's something to be said for knowing that you are good at what you do. That didn't really feel like enough.
It is important to me that it didn't feel bad. It didn't feel like a trap or a minimization or anything like that.
That may be one really important point, which I didn't get to yesterday. I believe this segment of my life is taking years off of the end of it. This is not so much because of the limited health care access but more because of the financial stress. There are so many things to worry about, with so much pressure and so many disappointments, and so much shame... I know it is taking a toll. Life is wearing me down faster than it should.
But that is not the care-taking; it's the harsh economic environment.
I'm not saying that care-taking isn't hard. It often is. Respite time is still really important (which makes the last two things that I was supposed to go to but not able to seem worse than disappointing). Even knowing all of the potential pitfalls, this is something that I can do and find fulfilling.
Even when I imagined a life where I was a wife and mother, I always saw myself writing; that is fundamental for me too. Still, there may other spaces in my future where I can do more of both, if these financial problems are ever resolved.
I don't really want care-taking to be my job. It can be great when your job lines up with your core being, but if my core being means I will always be looking out for other people while off the clock, doing it on the clock too seems like it would result in me never not being tired. And sure, that often seems like a real possibility anyway, but that doesn't mean I should go running toward it.
Maybe the most important thing to remember is that when I am trying to find a way to remember to see to my own needs (and not keep putting myself last), I know that I do know how to care for people. I have the personality for it and the skill set, so I should be able to be successful in taking care of me.