I watched her grab a nail file and rub it on her face, her efforts to remove a mark on her face that was bothering her because she was constantly picking at it. (She wasn’t in harms way, I had a very close eye on her) She also brushed her face in attempts to groom herself in some manner which I did not understand. She searched and searched and opened drawers and just looked at everything and searched for something. I finally asked her what she needed. It was a toothbrush, a toothbrush that was directly in front of her. I gave it to her and she went to work again, brushing her teeth. She started again with the searching. She found a tube of lipstick but decided it wasn’t for her. She found lip gloss and applied it to her lips. Not once did she ask for help. Her mind no longer understands what a quarter sleeve is which she proves by anxiously pulling at her sleeves in an attempt to elongate them. Her confusion is constant, when I watch her I do not understand and I realize neither does she. Her world is deteriorating every day.
All I can do is watch. I try not to hover. She does not deserve to be limited by my worries. She deserves a chance to try her hand at tasks. I help her after she has a chance to try. I cry with her, I cry for her. I feel her pain but I can not help. I can only stand to the side and watch her take this journey. A journey that does not end with life but with death. Her mind will leave and so will she.
Dementia destroys something I can not heal. I am only a caregiver.
When you come home and see your family, the first thing you say goodbye to is the nanny. Your focus is your family, seeing them, talking to them and caring for them. To you the nanny is a separate entity, almost a robot, who comes and goes whenever you please. She is an object, emotionless and only there to follow your orders and to watch over your children until you come home and actually care and love for your own. What you don’t know nor care to know, is what the nanny feels.
When you see me and I speak, I am jittery. A nervous energy which you as a boss think is my physical display of wanting to leave. It isn’t. I talk to much not because I’m hoping I get off of work early but because I’m hoping you will ask me how I feel. I leave you to your family and in my mind I repeat the words, “ask me to stay.” I am a person. I need more. I deserve to be treated like a human.
If you bothered to look, you would see the longing in my eyes to be apart of something. I am one person. I go home alone and there is no one there to greet me.
If we were strangers then I wouldn’t feel this way. But you dare call me friend, you dare call me family and when it comes down to it, you treat me like a stranger. You turn from me when my duty to you is through. The only acknowledgement I get is when I have not satisfied you or when you have a chance to judge me for a mistake I made. You turn a blind eye to my quest for help in life. I don’t want your money. I want your true friendship. I want to be treated like you treat the others. You have placed me in a position that is below your own in order to ease your conscience.
When you call me for work but I can not give you what you want, you race to get off the phone. Knowing more about me ruins the image of a perfect slave. You feel angry because your slave is unavailable. You know I would bend over backwards to please you but because I can not do what you want every time, you push me away.
You do no satisfy me. I crave your attention. I want to be seen. I need to be accepted. I draw attention to myself. I am not a robot. I love your family as much as you do. They are mine. I am theirs. I would do my job for free if I could. I don’t want money. I want to be a part of something. Don’t throw me away because I couldn’t meet your needs. The slightest pressure will make me bend to your will despite the need for rest. I ignore my needs for yours. I care for you. I am a nanny. I am not a robot.
The things I love also break my heart. The chubby foot of a sleeping baby in my lap. A hug that I didn’t expect from a running toddler barrelling towards my legs. A smile so sincere that for a moment the entire world fades away and all I can see is the shining face of a happy child. When they ask me to stay by their side because they do not want to sleep without me, I smile and I sit down and wait. They fall asleep and I walk away with their snores softly ringing in my ears. A bottle to sooth a hungry tummy, a hug to sooth a crying mouth, a tickle to make the giggles come out and an ache in my heart that makes me want to shout. Though this one is not mine, he reaches for me and cries for my attention even though only a second ago he was asleep but his need for me is stronger than the need to sleep. Another who can only speak a few words calls to me and will not leave any place without me, following me, watching me, no privacy. But I do not need privacy or personal space because you can not stop a child from needing the touch of someone who cares. Autism and ADHD do not make them harder to love, in fact every unique child inspires of love so strong that makes you wonder how you love could feel so great. Hearing softly that I am loved by children that I only get to love and cherish for a very short amount of time is the greatest gift I can get. It breaks my heart to drove home alone, leaving these kids in the happy and love filled homes. What did I do to deserve a heart that breaks every time I see a child’s smiling face?
I graduated high school at 17 with a good GPA and several acceptance letters from colleges and their honors programs. I finally decided on a college near my home town (10 mins from my mothers house). Move in day was not as anxiety filled as I thought it would be because I wanted to prove to my mother that I didn’t need her and could handle moving practically on my own. There were volunteers helping me and before I knew it all my things were in my dorm room and after a few minutes my mother left. I was struggling with the need to have her be a movie mom (crying and not wanting to leave) or the need to have my things kept private and keep her hands off my stuff and her bossy, negative attitude away from my new place. It wasn’t until my roommates arrived and their parents were there and helping them and taking them out to eat that I started to feel upset. Thinking back on it now, I know that I was being silly because my mother lived closer than any of my roommates families but still I felt lonely. I cried myself to sleep for several nights when I first moved in because I felt so alone. I won’t bore you with the details but just know I made it through my classes with a bit of sucking up, a bit of flirting and a lot of late nights. I put in the minimum effort and got some good results but a lot of stress. I have always loved school but only because I was teachers pet and that didn’t change in college. I made it through my classes by the grace of God, however, there were consequences. I developed a weakened immune system because of stress and depression even though I was working out and eating healthy. I spent almost a full 12 months with cases of strep throat and infections, countless antibiotics and steroids, and numerous doctors visits. When the year school year was finally over, I was exhausted. I had a decent GPA but my motivation and interest were diminished. I loved going to class but I had never developed the discipline required to sit down and do work in a timely manner. When I finally realized I wouldn’t be able to afford to go back to college without bending over backwards for financial aid, I decided to take a semester off. It wasn’t until I had a full schedule doing jobs that I loved that I realized how miserable college had made me. I am willing to sacrifice my education for the sake of happiness. I think some people are truly not meant to be stressed and working towards a 9-5 job with benefits in a large company (I was studying business because I wanted to wear business suits). Also if you only pick your major because of the idea of wanting to wear business suits then maybe that isn’t your passion. It has been more than a year but I still constantly get harassed and lectured about going back to college. I may go back one day but it will be on my own terms, something I want to do and not something I have to do. I want to enjoy my life and I love working full-time.
I just want to say a few things about what you will read on this blog. First of all I am a Christian so church will be mentioned often. This is by no means a blog to get you to convert, it is more about my life which happens to involve some church. Most of my random thoughts and fears and emotions will be talked about because I simply need an outlet for my bottled up rants.