Expectations. An expectant mental attitude.
Are expectations inborn or are they acquired? When a newborn baby cries, are they expecting to have their cry answered? Or, are they crying merely out of a need? Regardless of the basis of the cry, in most instances, the cry is met with food or comfort. From that point on, we could presume that expectation has become acquired. As that child grows, they are taught to expect recognition on their birthday…and on holidays when gifts are given. Awards in school become an expectation for good performance or behavior. Throughout life, targeted marketing ratchets up the ante by heightening the expectations as the child grows into an adult.
Sooner or later, a situation comes along that dashes those expectations and leaves, in its place, disappointment. A friend doesn’t call. An important date on the calendar is ignored. A special favor isn’t acknowledged. A sacrifice isn’t appreciated.
We, as caregivers, face a different type of expectation and disappointment. We care for our loved one, whether spouse, parent or other close relationship. We expect others to care, too. That expectation brings a reality to view. Not everyone cares in the same way.
Some prefer to bury their heads in the sand, choosing not to acknowledge the changes in physical and mental abilities of a loved one. Maybe it’s the pain of loss. Maybe it’s a lack of compassion. Maybe it’s self-interest.
Others prefer to seize the opportunity to nurture the loved one and oversee every need that might arise. Maybe it’s out of a sense of guilt. Or, it could be a sense of obligation. Then, there’s always the possibility of an altruistic devotion.
Somewhere along the line, those who provide the care need help either physically or emotionally. We look to others when the task (please note the word “burden” is not used here since this is a task of love rather than a burden) becomes very heavy. Daily, we see the loss and feel its toll deeply.
Yet, we can’t expect others to share our emotions because those emotions are unique to us, just as the reasons for caring are unique. When we do expect the same dedication from others, we set ourselves up for disappointment. It becomes necessary to accept that we are in no way responsible for the choices and actions, or lack thereof, of any other adult. Free choice. Freedom of choice. Regrets. Everything that comes into play now will continue into the future. Still, we have no control over anyone but ourselves.
Lynn in Florida
Filed under: Caregivers for Individuals with Dementia |