To The Kids Who've Had To Be Caregivers, Too

To The Kids Who've Had To Be Caregivers, Too

You are strong. You are loved. You are an inspiration.
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To the Kids Who’ve Had to be a Caregiver,

There is nothing worse than being told that someone you love, someone close to you is terminally ill. Argue me on this statement because this is hands down the worst of news one can hear in their lifetime. Chances are, you heard those words before you really understood what they meant. Perhaps the one thing that can be harder than hearing this bad news, is having to witness it in action. Having to watch your loved one deteriorate physically, mentally, and emotionally. But having to withhold yourself and make sure you are strong enough to pick up the pieces.

For me, it started at 12 years old. This can be a common age. You’re old enough to understand and process things but young enough to have your innocence stripped away from you. For many caregivers, they are forced to grow up overnight and deal with situations most adults don’t have to go through for years to come. I myself became the caregiver to my father. Someone who was the breadwinner of our family, who was the center and rock of us all. Common enough for caregivers, the tables turn and you become the person who has to support and take care of the person who once held that responsibility.

Similar to many things in life there is no guide or “how to” step by step directional piece of information that will tell you how to do things, when to do things, and when specific stages will occur. It’s up to you as the individual to test the waters and make sure you can do all you can to hopefully lead them to a healing state. Your first hope is to believe that you have the power to heal them and rid of whatever illness is making them a slave to such a horrendous situation. When you realize that the human body is sometimes inevitable against fighting in battles they cannot handle, your main goal and concern is to constantly bring them to a state of comfort, relaxation, and mental ease, for that’s all they will be capable of knowing for the rest of the time being.

Of course being the patient battling the disease is as hard of a task as can be. But people forget and surpass the strength of the caregiver and their abilities for helping the patient cope with their state. We forget the mental stability it takes to not only be strong enough for one’s self but to not allow the sick patient see you fail. The moment the patient sees such, they realize they are a burden on your life and become guilty of what they are putting you through. The physical strength requires late nights, early mornings, and if you’re like me, having to help the patient with tasks that you see as ridiculous. Put yourself in their shoes and it’s not. My patient who developed into a quadriplegic was incapable of scratching an itch on his forehead, blowing his own nose, and going to the bathroom. Such instances can occur as many as 500 times in a night, and as little as 5. Every night is a different routine and you must adjust to such. Lastly, you must know sacrifice. You have to give up what is important to you and you must adjust to living a life that is not your own. I’ve known caregivers who have given up a steady income because they couldn’t manage the schedule of their job. Some have had to give up school because the course load of classes on top of taking care of someone was unbearable. Sometimes you question if you could be a teenage parent because at least in those situations a child would grow to be self-sufficient.

For me, I gave up a social life. It sounds petty now but put yourself in a 12 or 13 year-olds shoes. All your classmates get cell phones and start planning to hang out and go to the movies. Our town started developing a shopping center with a Jamba juice and movie theater. Let me tell you on a Friday night that was the thing to do with a group of 13-year-olds. But I never got to do so. For three years I gave up hanging out with friends and going to see the newest movies so I could stay at home and take care of my dad. My mom, who was always working to provide financial stability, was gone and I had to take the place of cooking, cleaning, and everything around the house, all while taking care of my father’s medical needs. Sure it sounds like a sob story now. But being a caregiver was the greatest role I’ve ever played in my life. It taught me about sacrifice. It taught me about selflessness, compassion, and most importantly love. Sure I cursed myself and the universe for putting me in this situation on numerous occasions. But what I received out of it weighed to be more than what I missed because of it.

So to those of you who were once a caregiver, maybe you are currently, and maybe you one day will be, thank you. Being a kid isn’t easy. Remembering to be one is even harder. When the universe strips your childhood away from you and makes you grow up overnight, do not curse it. Rather, take it on as another challenge that you will succeed at. Remember that you are loved. You are shaping yourself to be a better person than when you started. Believe me, the person you are caretaking for did not want you in this situation. They don’t want anyone in this situation. But you were chosen to be the strong soldier to face this battle. Although you may never receive a verbal thank you or a pat on the back; know that it goes without being said. You are strong. You are loved. You are an inspiration.

Sincerely,

A Former Caregiver

Cover Image Credit: AARP

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I'm A Woman And You Can't Convince Me Breastfeeding In Public Is OK In 2019

Sorry, not sorry.

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Lately, I have seen so many people going off on social media about how people shouldn't be upset with mothers breastfeeding in public. You know what? I disagree.

There's a huge difference between being modest while breastfeeding and just being straight up careless, trashy and disrespectful to those around you. Why don't you try popping out a boob without a baby attached to it and see how long it takes for you to get arrested for public indecency? Strange how that works, right?

So many people talking about it bring up the point of how we shouldn't "sexualize" breastfeeding and seeing a woman's breasts while doing so. Actually, all of these people are missing the point. It's not sexual, it's just purely immodest and disrespectful.

If you see a girl in a shirt cut too low, you call her a slut. If you see a celebrity post a nude photo, you call them immodest and a terrible role model. What makes you think that pulling out a breast in the middle of public is different, regardless of what you're doing with it?

If I'm eating in a restaurant, I would be disgusted if the person at the table next to me had their bare feet out while they were eating. It's just not appropriate. Neither is pulling out your breast for the entire general public to see.

Nobody asked you to put a blanket over your kid's head to feed them. Nobody asked you to go feed them in a dirty bathroom. But you don't need to basically be topless to feed your kid. Growing up, I watched my mom feed my younger siblings in public. She never shied away from it, but the way she did it was always tasteful and never drew attention. She would cover herself up while doing it. She would make sure that nothing inappropriate could be seen. She was lowkey about it.

Mindblowing, right? Wait, you can actually breastfeed in public and not have to show everyone what you're doing? What a revolutionary idea!

There is nothing wrong with feeding your baby. It's something you need to do, it's a part of life. But there is definitely something wrong with thinking it's fine to expose yourself to the entire world while doing it. Nobody wants to see it. Nobody cares if you're feeding your kid. Nobody cares if you're trying to make some sort of weird "feminist" statement by showing them your boobs.

Cover up. Be modest. Be mindful. Be respectful. Don't want to see my boobs? Good, I don't want to see yours either. Hard to believe, I know.

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For Camille, With Love

To my godmother, my second mom, my rooted confidence, my support

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First grade, March. It was my first birthday without my mom. You through a huge party for me, a sleepover with friends from school. It included dress up games and making pizza and Disney trivia. You, along with help from my grandma, threw me the best birthday party a 7-year-old could possibly want.

During elementary school, I carpooled with you and a few of the neighborhood kids. I was always the last one to be dropped off, sometimes you would sneak a donut for me. Living next door to you was a blessing. You helped me with everything. In second grade, you helped me rehearse lines for history day so I could get extra credit. In 4th grade, you helped me build my California mission.

You and your sister came out to my 6th grade "graduation". You bought me balloons and made me feel as if moving onto middle school was the coolest thing in the entire world.

While you moved away from next door, you were a constant in my life. Going to Ruby's Diner for my birthday, seeing movies at the Irvine Spectrum and just hanging out, I saw you all the time. During these times, you told me about all of the silly things you did with my mom and dad, how my mom was your best friend. I couldn't have had a greater godmother.

In middle school, you pushed me to do my best and to enroll in honors. You helped me through puberty and the awkward stages of being a woman.

Every single time I saw you, it would light up my entire day, my week. You were more than my godmother, you were my second mom. You understood things that my grandma didn't.

When you married John, you included me in your wedding. I still have that picture of you, Jessica, Aaron and myself on my wall at college. I was so happy for you.

Freshmen year of high school, you told me to do my best. I did my best because of you. When my grandma passed away that year, your shoulder was the one I wanted to cry on.

You were there when I needed to escape home. You understood me when I thought no one would. You helped me learn to drive, letting me drive all the way from San Clemente to Orange.

When I was applying to colleges, you encouraged me to spread my wings and fly. You told me I should explore, get out of California. I wanted to study in London, you told me to do it. That's why, when I study abroad this Spring in London, I will do it for you.

When I had gotten into UWT, you told me to go there. I did and here I am, succeeding and living my best in Tacoma. I do it for you, because of you.

When I graduated high school and I was able to deliver a speech during our baccalaureate, you cheered me on. You recorded it for me, so I could show people who weren't able to make it to the ceremony. You were one of the few people able to come to my actual graduation. You helped me celebrate the accomplishments and awards from my hard work.

When your cancer came back, I was so worried. I was afraid for you, I was afraid of what I would do without the support you had always given me. When I was in Rome, I went to the Vatican and had gotten a Cross with a purple gem in the middle blessed by the Pope to help you with your treatments. It was something from me and a little bit of my mom in the necklace, the gem.

Now, sitting so far from you away at college just like you wanted me to. I miss you. I wish I was there to say goodbye.

I'll travel the world for you, write lots of stories and books for you, I will live life to the fullest for you.

You are another angel taken too early in life. Please say hello to my parents and grandma in Heaven for me.

Lots of love,

Haiden

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