Living Between the Cracks as a Caregiver

Lola has not adjusted to the switch from daylight savings time so last week I started a new regiment. I fed the dog at 5:30 am, was at the pool at by 6:20 and home by 7:40 to bring Ralph his coffee and pills. 

I do not think of myself as either disciplined or a willing early riser, but midweek as I was kicking slowly down the length of the pool on my back, I realized that this schedule was actually perfect and also a metaphor for how I was learning to handle my life in my newest normal by finding personal time between the cracks, even if the crack is at dawn or ten pm.  

Then this Wednesday a child in my four-yea-old grandson’s pre-school classroom tested positive for Covid. Everyone in the class was (understandably) required to quarantine. Because the kids are so young, the school is not letting kids return for two weeks although once a child tests negative at five and seven days he can be around others. Since Four-year-old Ralphie’s one-year-old brother is not vaccinated, the family has divied up. Baby, Papa and teenage sister are staying at their house while Ralphie and his mother are with me. Both parents are working full time. So I have been spending my days masked, like Ralphie, playing hours and hours of his version of The Christmas Elf and of Christmas Day (A lot of the same small household items end up under the tree and in stockings and I get to express great surprise, O a coaster!)

Yes, three days in and I am already exhausted

Ralph, on the other hand, is very happy having Ralphie around the little he sees him. He must be masked when in the same room so has been spending a lot of time with Lola in his room.Since I am basically not leaving the house—no swimming and no socializing over coffee, that’s for sure, also very little time for my editing and writing work— he also has me at his beck and call, albeit my attention is divided.

The cracks in my metaphor have temporarily all been spackled. And yet as I look forward to the time ahead when our schedule re-normalizes into whatever normal may be in two weeks or two months, I have a sense of how to approach my time—I’ll grab what I need when I can, feel not an ounce of guilt for grabbing but also accept the limits. 

5 thoughts on “Living Between the Cracks as a Caregiver

  1. I love the title of this entry. It so exactly describes how you stay sane as a caregiver. As a problem-solving type who has found that impulse helpful for six decades, it is challenging to realize that solving a caregiving or self-preserving problem is a fleeting experience. I may have a lovely interval of doing relaxing yoga at 10pm after getting my husband to bed for two weeks. Then he becomes jealous of my time alone and stays up until 11pm, yawning and saying triumphantly, “it’s time for YOU to go to bed!” Or I start getting up very early because I’m dealing with contractors and start to enjoy 20 minutes with a cup of tea and a novel between consulting with them and my husband’s breakfast. Then he starts following me to the porch for the contractor consult and stresses everyone out with almost but not quite sane questions and objections and has to be tempted back to the kitchen for breakfast. Or my one day in the office becomes an oasis, but while my husband can be left alone for the day, he cannot be left alone for the day with the contractors (for their sake), so I need to work from home week. I’m learning to find the new cracks to live in, and to revisit some because they reappear, and slowly accepting that any solutions are temporary in this strange world.

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