I’m sitting on the ground at the barn near my horse who is in a paddock playing. It’s hard to talk about coping in such a serene setting. All I can hear are birds overhead and the occasional whinny from one of the probably thirty horses that call this place their home. We (my trainer and I) moved our horses here a week and a half ago. So far, so good.  So where does coping come in?

My husband Bill came home a week ago after having hip replacement surgery. With all of this comes many additional tasks, a home that is upside down and new appointments to go to. For the most part he is doing well, except for some post operative swelling that is significant and painful for him. The thought of something happening to him was very real and very frightening. I am so grateful he survived. Now is the time for healing and coping, both of us in our own way.

If someone were to ask me how I am doing I would say I am coping well, most of the time. My husband is being very considerate, even more than his body is allowing him to be. But I still get tired and sometimes overwhelmed with taking care of him, the house, my horse, my life. I don’t sleep very well and often feel irritable and cranky. I was upset yesterday afternoon at a receptionist who told us we would have to come back tomorrow (90 minute drive, one way) because they hadn’t scheduled his ultrasound even though his doctor’s office told us to go there as soon as we left physical therapy. I was tired and ready for everything to run smoothly. When it didn’t, I almost lost it, in a waiting room full of people. Not very Christian like but very human.

How do I manage to remain a helpful, loving wife when I am tired and stressed out? I tell myself everything will work out just fine. This is temporary. I listen to Christian music and its wonderful messages, “You’re not alone..” or “You can lay it down…” (your worries) I take time in the morning for prayer. I escape with one of my many wonderful books. I go to the store alone and wander around mindlessly. I watch my shows on television. I find ways to recharge, like riding my horse or just hanging out with her.

I remember before my father died my mother had to take care of him for the last eight months. Her only respite was when either my sister or I would drive up there and take her grocery shopping. I don’t know how she did it, day in and day out. You do what you have to do,  I guess. In caretaking situations it is very important that the caretaker takes care of themselves. The reason is simple. Of what use or value are you if you are tired, overwrought and stressed out? Not only can you not function well as a caretaker, but deep down inside of you, you stop caring! You know how when flying they tell you to put your own oxygen mask on first and then on your children? Same principle.

Find moments of escape, longer if possible.  Read, go for a walk, practice yoga, go for a drive, listen to uplifting music, meditate, pray.  Even five or ten minutes where you can let down and focus on yourself is beneficial.

Whatever you are going through you will get through it. It is a desert experience (biblical reference) that has a beginning and an end. Be aware of that. Be confident in your ability to cope and find your strength in yourself, in your loved ones and last but certainly not least, in God. Take care.

p.s. Happy Mother’s Day!

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