happy birthday, mom

The act of caregiving is something women are expected to be good at. And not only are we expected to be good at it, we’re expected to find it rewarding. But caregiving is often a very unbeautiful thing. It is hard work and showing up and doing what needs to be done. It often means failures and disappointments. It means making sacrifices for others.

But caregiving can also be a life that feels really good, even when it doesn’t look good to others. It might look like a nursing home or a hospital or a rehab center. It might look like a single good day in a long string of bad ones. On the best days, it looks like a birthday party for my 83 year-old mother surrounded by her daughters who love her wholeheartedly.

The secret to caregiving, if there is one, is to hold onto the best parts of yourself and then give them freely to someone else. Taking care of someone else lovingly has an amazing power to heal – and to help us enjoy life in ways we might never have expected.