and she was marked
FRAGILE
Handle with Care
~jjb

If I had to label it, it would be caretaking. That’s what 2013 has been the year of. There is, of course, the most obvious case of caring for my mother which was a central part of everything I did this year. But not only that… the calls and requests were myriad as 2013 crawled on. The nature of those requests for help and care will remain between me and the callers on the other end of the line. More times than not I was able to fill the need, offer the attention or time or money or tenderness required … though at times not without having to gain some humility and make requests of others in kind. For all of that, I am grateful.

The problem with caretaking, however, is that when there’s a sacrifice or compromise to be made for the requested care to be given, the caretaker is usually the one who pays the toll. The problem is not the particular sacrifice made – there’s something … not honorable, but perhaps profound, about learning and being willing to relinquish for another’s sake. The danger in caretaking isn’t the actual thing sacrificed – time, money, space, desires – but rather the mindset it can create. When the work of caring for others’ needs & prioritizing others’ care becomes common place, it is all too easy to forget that the needs of the caretaker could ALSO be made a priority. It’s easy to forget that when there’s a choice to be made of who should be sacrificed for and poured into, the caretaker’s name could also be an option on the list. That possibility can be forgotten not only by those who’ve become accustomed to receiving care, but by the caretaker herself.

In 2014 I choose me. Be clear, I regret not a single moment I spent caring for others in 2013, nor will I regret any care I may offer in 2014. But from this point forward, I choose me.

I choose me because she needs to know that she CAN be chosen. That she can be taken as the priority, the one whose time or presence isn’t negotiable, the one whose desires or needs won’t be deferred. She needs to know that there is someone willing to sacrifice & make space & do work for her. She needs to know there’s someone out there whose eyes when they fall on her, see more than strength & capability & self-sufficiency – though all that may be there – but also see the tender places, the support required, the needs unmet. She needs to know there’s someone who looking upon her thinks – my, what a treasure… she should be protected and cherished and valued. She needs to know that there’s someone out there who sees her and decides SHE is worth the work, the sacrifice, the time, the effort … SHE is worth it. She needs to know that there is someone who when standing at the crossroads faced with a decision will choose her.

This year, I choose me, because she doesn’t know.

But I do…

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