Do you want to know a secret?
Alright, but only if you don’t tell anyone.
During the decade I took care of my parents, I was acting as (gasp!) a woman.
I was the dutiful daughter running the house, taking care of the laundry (and there was plenty of that) and the cooking, and all the other tasks one has to do to take care of aging parents.
My sister said that my parents never would have been able to stay in their home without me. Absolutely true, but I didn’t think about it that way. I just did what was needed.
I know, I know. I wore my uniform of jeans and a polo shirt, and in winter a quarter-zip fleece. Not anything pretty. But I’m not the only woman who has worn that kind of uniform everyday.
It didn’t matter how I was seen, or at least it only mattered to me. It mattered what I did. What mattered was the role I took. And that role, well, it wasn’t a guy role. It was a woman role, no doubt about that. And I was, well, proud of that.
My sister bought some beef stew at the deli last night. “It wasn’t as good as the stew you make,” she told me. I was proud of feeding my parents everyday, if that was making dinner or making choices from a hospital menu. People were always fed, always felt like there was something special for them. Proud.
I made a joke to TBB just after my parents died. “I’m gonna go out to a bar, find some loser, bring him back here and take care of him.”
My identity, my pride is wrapped around caretaker. And that’s because my identity, my pride is wrapped around woman. I’m not the best looking woman out there, and may even be the worst. But I know how to take care of the people I love.
Now, I have to learn to take care of me. Hard.