I'll never forget that look though. She was confused and ashamed and so lost. She knew I was young and somehow the roles were reversed. That I should not be caring for her and yet she needed help. It broke my heart and I felt lost too. I just did my best to give her dignity and let her know I loved her. This woman cared for me with all her heart. When it's your family, you sometimes do something uncomfortable because that person means that much to you. My Grandfather, who I adored, taught me duty and love to family. He bore the brunt of her care literally until her death. My experience with Alzheimer's and my Grandparents likely shaped my entire life.
So, by 19, when I entered L'Arche, caring for people wasn't that new. I still had to adjust to doing personal care on men but I had to adjust to that pretty quickly, so I did. I don't really shy away from caring for humans. I would volunteer in nursery as a kid and baby sit as much as I could. I seem to like to nurture.
You know what they don't tell you about all that. The poop. They don't mention that when you're hearing about sometimes glorified, sometimes disdained, often misunderstood work of taking care of other humans. Someday, my role in this career will change and I'll get to shift to the advocacy I desire to do and away from the day to day personal care. Not because I don't love that, but because years and years of it are emotionally, mentally, and physically exhausting. Today though, is not that day.
Today, I am tired of poop. I have 3 children. I have Core Members. I have given a lot of my life to caring for others and frankly, I'm just tired of the poop. I rejoice at the duties of my job that do not include doody, the are many, but tonight, I'm just not getting to those fun, poop-free activities.
Here's the thing though. I don't actually get to be tired of it. Every time a client has an accident or one of my children has an accident (because my daughter is still potty training right now sweet baby Jesus), I don't get to shame them just because I don't want to clean it up. We are all beings who make waste, not all of us have the control over this process at any given time. It is my job to make sure that dignity is given to the people I take care of, of all ages.
Care though, does not exist in a vacuum. I'm still a human and I'm not fond of poop. I've been working too much and I'm now running on the low embers of my energy. Drinking coffee by the pot and trying to push forward. This blog is my 30 min break sitting down because I haven't in several hours and I'm needing to find that peaceful place in my mind that can retask, shake my head, and keep on going.
"Dear Lord, give me the strength to get everything done and finish well. No more poo please."
I personally feel every job that requires you to hold the bodily fluids or functions of others, should automatically require you a 6 figure salary. Sigh. Sigh. Sigh.
Onward, into the breach.