Reality Check: Burden or Honour?

For some time, Carole has been caring for her mom, Beatrice. Carole is the logical caregiver; others have neither the skills nor the temperament to be able to effectively care for Beatrice.
Beatrice is what we might call “a character.” She is intelligent, sharp-witted, and critical when she perceives that something could be improved. As many things could be improved, Beatrice has plenty to say.
Beatrice also has fears—her health may deteriorate and she’ll become totally dependent on others. She fears uncertainty, too. How will things ultimately unfold? No one can say for sure.
Through this, Carole has coped. She’s maintained good humour and managed to refrain from saying anything that would damage relationships.
However, as time goes on, Carole finds that it’s more difficult to hold her tongue, smile, and carry on. She’s feeling the weight of the burden and is concerned that in a weak moment, her frustration will show and possibly destroy the relationships she has nurtured.
Carole’s concern is valid. It’s helpful that she is thinking of a strategy to prevent relationship disaster before it happens.
Here are two suggestions for Carole based in Choice Theory.
First, Carole could ask herself what she wants. Specifically, “How would you like this time with your Mom to be?” While Carole is treating Beatrice with care, she is also trying to avoid any real conversation or controversy. Yet, this is an opportunity. Why not engage?
Beatrice has all kinds of opinions—on family, friends, books, movies, politics, and the way things oughta be. A conversation need not be an argument and Carole need not try to change Mom’s opinion of anything. How well does Carole really know Mom?
Now that she is spending so much time with her, Carole could look at this as an opportunity to get to know Beatrice as a person, rather than just Mom. It would certainly make the time more interesting for both and might even spark a more genuine closeness.
The second suggestion concerns the perceived lack of appreciation. Carole can’t make others appreciate her. However, Carole can change her own perception from, “This is a burden imposed on me,” to “This is an honour that has been granted to me.”
Carole can choose to look at this time in any way she wants. If she chooses to perceive fetching, carrying, cleaning and listening to Beatrice to be an honour, she can. It is, after all, an honour to help someone through a difficult time in their life. Not everyone gets the opportunity to care for someone they love.
Will that help? I hope so. At the least, it may be worth a try. But how?
Carole can express her gratitude (silently) throughout the day. She has been given the abilities and the situation that enables her to look after Beatrice. Once Carole starts thinking with gratitude rather than resentment, she may find that she becomes genuinely grateful.
She might even consider telling Beatrice that she is grateful that they have this time together. Who knows? It might change Beatrice’s outlook and the relationship for the better.
This may be overly optimistic. Relationships that are lifetimes in the making will likely not improve overnight. But when you weigh the potential risks versus benefits, do you think it’s worth a try?

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