Tidying the kitchen after dinner and making sandwiches for tomorrow’s packed lunches, I’m hankering after some time on the couch when a voice calls from the lounge-room. He wants the regular dessert, fresh fruit and yoghurt.
Sometimes I make it for him, with my gesture towards his independence being my call to him to come and get it. It is harder to help him prepare it for himself. That is what I should do every time, so that when I die, he will be self-sufficient in healthy desserts.
It’s a small thing to slice and dice an apple, and a bit trickier with a mango. Whatever the fruit, he makes a mess of it. I put the finishing touches to the chopping. He gets a bowl. He scrapes the fruit off the chopping board into his bowl. He gets the yoghurt from the fridge, opens the jar, and spoons it onto the fruit until I tell him, “That’s enough,” and he would be off with the dish and the spoon if I didn’t stay him to put the lid back on the yoghurt and return it to the fridge. I am the bearer of more bad news – he needs to wipe the bench. He’s done in a flash, and I am a bit longer tidying the kitchen, washing the yoghurty cloth and re-wiping the bench and washing the cloth again.
In the future, when I am no longer in charge of supporting him, he will possibly be self-sufficient in opening a packaged dessert. I hope he doesn’t get diabetes but if he does there will likely be a support person popping in for five minutes to inject him with insulin and help him push his tablets out of a blister pack.
Caring makes me tired, the doing of it and the anxiety around the future. Friends have told me I shouldn’t let it get to me. I need to develop a protective bubble around me that makes me feel all right regardless of what happens to others. That sounds harsh. I’ve resisted that idea until lately when sore neck and headaches - no doubt stress related – have made me reconsider. I have called Carer Gateway and booked into six counselling sessions to work on my bubble. I’ll tell you if it works.