I still can’t wrap my head around being able to take a vacation.
I have friends in California who cruise to the most amazing places. I am happy to hear about their plans for the next cruise through the Mediterranean or the Panama Canal and how cool it is to visit Antarctica. But I must admit, as happy as I was for them, I was jealous as well. It wasn’t just the amazing places they were visiting, it was that they could pick up and GO.
I had an open invitation to join them anytime, but surprise, I always turned them down. For one thing, they plan these trips a year or more in advance. How could I possibly know where mom would be and what she would need that far in advance? How could I be that far away from her if she needed me? If something happened to her, how easily could I get back? I simply could not wrap my head around planning a year or more out for a vacation which took me so far away. My response was always, “Thanks, but I don’t feel like I can make plans to be away from mom for that long.” They understood and we would half-heartedly talk about what type of cruise I would like to take in the future.
Some folks would say, “You should go. You have time to make plans for your mom to go into respite while you are gone. Or, go ahead and make plans but buy insurance in case you must cancel.” I just couldn’t do it. Don’t get me wrong, I did take weekends in the Poconos or a couple of days down the Jersey Shore every year and they were wonderful, but I was within a couple of hours drive. Short, local time away was my way of balancing my needs for respite with my responsibilities. I’m good with those decisions.
What surprised me was almost six months after my mother’s death, I still don’t trust the ability to make plans for the future. I’m still in that caregiver mindset of one day at a time, one week at a time and saying yes is hard.
I began to understand just how embedded this caregiver mindset is when I called my friends in California the other week. We were catching up when suddenly they invited me to join them on a two-week Alaskan cruise at the end of the summer in 2024. My knee jerk reaction was to once again say, “I’m sorry, as much as I would love to, I can’t join you.” It took a moment for my brain to catch up and think, but why not? I don’t have any responsibilities for mom anymore, so I can join them if I want. It was disorienting and there were feelings of guilt and grief relief because her being gone means I can go.
I know the cruise is more than a year away and I am well aware things can change on a dime, but this is why there is trip insurance. Beyond a wonderful vacation with dear friends, their invitation has helped me to open up and believe in possibilities, to believe I can trust in the future and that is an amazing gift.
Disclaimer: The material in this blog is for educational purposes only. It is not intended to replace, nor does it replace, consulting with a physician, lawyer, accountant, financial planner or other qualified professional.
Deb is the author of “Your Caregiver Relationship Contract and “A Relationship Contract for Dementia Caregivers.” Your Caregiver Relationship Contract is available in both English and Spanish. It explains how to have an intentional conversation and the how unspoken expectations can cause problems during caregiving. A Relationship Contract for Dementia Caregivers explains how important it is to learn how your person wants to live their live out and how you, the caregiver is the most important person in this relationship, giving you tips and tricks for this journey.
Click here to learn more about Your Caregiver Relationship Contract or here for the Spanish version: Su Contrato de relación como cuidador de un ser querido. Click here to learn more about A Relationship Contract for Dementia Caregivers.
Deb is available as a caregiver consultant. She will answer the question: “Where do I start?” and find the resources to alleviate your stress. If you would like to invest a half hour to learn how she can help you, please contact her at: Free 30 minute consulting call