Thursday, June 6, 2013

To work outside the home or not?

      I haven't worked outside the home for one year now and when I quit my job to relocate last year I thought it was going to be glorious. You may be thinking that it sounds ideal and for the first 6 months it was, but after that I started to get a little bored. Not bored in the sense of having nothing to do, because we all know as caregivers that there's plenty to do and little recognition for doing it. I'm bored in the sense that my mind feel's mushy, unchallenged intellectually, and to be honest, the housework and care-giving just doesn't make me feel valued. Maybe if I hadn't worked in the professional world for the previous 20 years then I wouldn't be having these feelings and maybe these feelings are about feeding my ego, but I know that I'm feeling them and need to sort through them.
    Two weeks ago, I saw an ad in the paper for a management position. Even though I'd been tossing around the idea of going back to work outside the home, it wasn't something that I'd been seriously pursuing. There's a lot of things to consider as a caregiver, because the decision not only affects ourselves but also our families. Working outside the home can be overwhelming or it can be a break from the stresses of home, while at the same time being a place where your efforts are outwardly recognized. Only you can decide such a personal choice. It's okay to want time away from home, but I don't recommend using a job as an escape mechanism. If you're escaping, then you may want to ask yourself what issues you're running from. I did this in the past, because I wasn't ready to deal with my spouse's injury head-on.
     I'm fully aware that some caregiver's may not have the option of working outside the home due to the level of care their loved one requires, but I'm fortunate enough to have the option. I need something to give me a purpose and challenge aside from being a caregiver, something to call my own and I miss using the skills that I acquired over the past 20 years. Looking back, I know that when I saw the ad and submitted my resume that I was somewhat impulsive, because I was desiring validation and an ego boost. Guess what? I got that ego boost when I received a call the next morning requesting an interview.
     Now that I've had an initial interview and the company has requested a 2nd interview, I'm in analyzing mode and trying not to make a decision based on emotion. My impulsive actions now require a thought process regarding the consequences of possibly accepting a job. My mind is racing: Am I considering this job, because I'm lonely? When my husband is sleep deprived and compensating by sleeping the day away, I spend the day running errands, going to church, grocery shopping and working out by myself. Who will maintain the yard? Who will do the laundry since my husband's in a wheelchair and the laundry room isn't accessible? Who will pay the bills since he's also in a constant sleep deprivation state, which leads to short term memory loss?  If I go back to work will I struggle to find balance while I'm focused on something other than my wounded warrior? Will I come home exhausted and resentful, because now I'm wearing my "Super Caregiver Cape" and trying to do it all? Maybe, just maybe, he'll take on more responsibilities while I'm away at work, but I don't want to count on that. Maybe I'm feeling a sense of entitlement to "have it all".
     Most likely, if you're like me, then care-giving is not your only responsibility. I volunteer, I advocate for wounded soldiers and caregiver's, I write a blog and I'm pursuing starting a non-profit.. These things are what I call "heart happy" activities. I have to consider the fact that if I take on a job that these things may drop down on my priority list due to time constraints and I don't want that. My personality type is to do everything in abundance. Sometimes I'm not good at creating boundaries with my time, because when I take on something, I take it on at 100% and that could result in not taking care of myself. Who's going to take care of me if I tackle too much? I believe this is a struggle for many of us. I don't want to become resentful, because I've already been there and done that. Sometimes we feel guilty when we do something for ourselves, although we know that we need to take care ourselves in order to be truly present for the people we love.
     At this point, I don't have all the answers. If you've given up your job in the past due to becoming a caregiver and you're thinking about going back then my best recommendation is to figure out what your motives are. Do something that fulfills you, propels you forward and makes your heart happy!



  1. the million dollar question. as a ft mom, ww vet wife, and ft teacher...who let go of a lot of the volunteering because there was just no time, i can tell is beyond draining. the biggest drain is the mental. it does not sit well that i go to work and my ww is at home. the role reversal is emotionally haunting. the house is far on the list...because so much else comes first. and expect daily phone calls if you forget to leave everything out for the day. what ends up happening is that you have to prep for the day to run without you the night before, work all day, come home and get in family time before beds and bath, and the last bit of energy you have goes to making sure the next day functions again. ive gotten better at some things, and more stressed in others. automatic bill deduction was a lifesaver. that too one thing off my plate. i would love to do pt if we ever can. it just doesnt seem to be a fit right now. lots of prayers for you to be able to make the most of it!

  2. Balance is what comes to mind as I read your thoughts. Creating a look and feel to your life that will work within the parameters of what you now have takes time. It is evolutionary to find where we fit in life as caregivers so we can maintain an important part of who we are throughout this life journey of taking care of the one we love. The very unscientific approach I've learned to take is 'I'll know it when I see it'. Truth be told I don't always see what's right for me immediately but in analyzing the opportunity I usually find my way.