So when does taking care of your child become known as care giving? I suppose it is care giving from the beginning, but the type of care giving does not change like it does in a normal individual's life.
Care giving for those with special needs is like caring for a baby when they are up to adult sized. Sometimes they might act like an independent adult, and other times they might be more like a baby. Most likely you assist them with the necessities of life such as changing clothes, bathing, feeding, etc.
Some of those you care for may have serious medical needs in addition to perhaps having a feeding tube or a trach. Some may have lost their mental capacities, others may not know you from one day to the next due to Alzheimer's disease.
The life of a care giver truly does differ from one situation to another. I recently ran across a post that said something to the affect of, "I'm a care giver, what's your superpower?" I personally am not a fan of posts like this. I don't think we should take pride in being a caregiver or make it seem like we live a much more difficult life. I know many of us do have hard times. I know many of my friends who are care givers live lives of loneliness and fatigue much more than I do.
I know sometimes I am guilty of thinking this way and having my own pity parties. Our lives are different. We don't get to go out anytime we want and get a regular babysitter. We have to schedule things based on tube feedings etc. There are hard things, but God is the one who put us here in this care giver place.
I call myself a care giver now to my almost three year old son. I was also a caregiver to a thirteen year old girl who had cerebral palsy. She was a special part of my life during some of my college time. She had the mentality of a three year old, but she could say "I love you." And she said it to me. There is really no comparison between caring for my own son with special needs and caring for this girl. Every situation is different.
What I know about care giving is that it takes sacrifice and it takes love. Care giving without love can be a miserable thing. You grow to love what is different about the person for whom you care. The crooked smile and crazy hair is what you love the most. It's who they are. The differences are who they become, because they do not know the normalcy of life.
Someday, my son might have more of a normal life than he has now. I hope that he will. Sometimes I look at a man in our church who has special needs. I believe he just turned 60 or 65. He is similar in mentality to my almost five year old son. It's hard, because it's not cute anymore, but as I look at him, I think about Trenton. I think about how I would want him loved in a church when I'm gone. We can all be care givers - even in our churches. I loved that he was showered with cards and gifts for his last birthday.
This is the first of many posts I will share on care giving.