Our Best

Susanna’s chronically ill mother
lives alone in an assisted-living
apartment six states away.
The devoted daughter travels regularly,
at significant expense,
to spend extended periods with her mom.
She telephones daily.
She finds many occasions to send thoughtful gifts.
She stays in touch with those who oversee
her mother’s daily needs.
For all she does, however, she feels guilty she’s not doing more.
She admits, “I know I cannot expect my husband and teenage children
to move 1,000 miles so I can be closer to her,
and my mother will not move here.
Still, I feel like I am not there enough for her.”

Often that’s the family caregiver’s lament:
“Even though I am doing the best I can,
the best I know how,
it doesn’t seem good enough to me.”
There is no objective way to measure “best” in caregiving.
What’s right for a caregiver who lives next door is not the same
as what’s right for a long-distance caregiver.
The best caregiving one can provide
as a single parent with three small children
will be different from someone with fewer responsibilities.
One sibling may be best at relating emotionally as a caregiver,
while another may be best handling those everyday chores
that often go unnoticed yet make such a difference.
So we as caregivers will do well to assess honestly
what we can realistically expect of ourselves,
and then, as well as we can, do that.
No one can handle everything.
No one can do the various parts of caregiving equally well.
We all have our limits.
We all have our “bests.”

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