If we’re friends, you’re no stranger to the fact that I am basically a walking, awkward moment.
Also – word nerd moment – did the person who invented the word “awkward” knowingly spell the word in the most awkward way possible, AND made sure that the word awkward also sounds awkward?
I was an awkward child, pre-teen, teen, young adult, and now – an awkward adult. I’m a little too proud of this, maybe.
I have figured out ways to hide my awkwardness in most social situations, and only my friends and family really get to hang with awkward me – lucky them.
Maybe I’m the lucky one – because all of that training in awkwardness has helped me manage my insecurities about the awkwardness of being a caregiver in my 30s. Also, I can only say “in my 30s” for a few more months, so get ready for an overabundance of the use of that phrase.
Being a caregiver for me has meant handling delicate, complicated, and awkward situations with as much grace and dignity as an awkward person can muster. It also means rolling up my sleeves and engaging in the awkward behavior, despite any reservations. Because being a caregiver to me means getting what needs to be done, done.
Brushing someone else’s teeth.
Feeding a loved one at a restaurant and in full view of others.
Walking into the men’s restroom to help when a family restroom isn’t available.
Turning down invitations to visit with people we love.
Strategizing with a loved one’s doctor about their health.
Standing up for the person you care for when you know they themselves may not have the words or ability to do that for themselves.
These are all awkward moments that caregivers like me face every day. And while I don’t necessarily blush at the thought of needing to do these things anymore, at one time these were really awkward moments for me.
If you know a caregiver and see them struggling with the awkward, help them out. Sometimes it’s as simple as an engagement in the awkwardness – there’s strength in numbers I’m told.
Sometimes the help comes in less obvious ways – not staring, and not judging too quickly are helpful even if we don’t know you’re doing them. If your children are with you, address questions from them privately and use kindness as your guide.
If you are new to caregiving – I’m sorry your loved one isn’t well and that they are in need of a caregiver. If you’re wondering how you’re going to get over the embarrassment and awkwardness of this kind of life – I can tell you this, from my own personal experience, it either gets easier, or you just care less about what other people think.
Eventually, you just do what you need to do – and you don’t apologize for embracing the awkward.