It is no secret that I am a ‘caretaker’ which is really not the right word. Yes, I do take care of everyone in my orbit, but as I sit here and write this I think “It’s an egotistical position” – I do everything for everyone because somewhere in my head I’m thinking “If I don’t, who will?” and “I can do this better than they can.” – That’s ego.
The question is – was this learned or innate? Am I naturally a person who does or was I forced to at a young age and it just became hard-wired?
I was 7 when my brother was born and the mother gave him minimal care and attention therefore it fell to me, a 7 year old, to pick up the slack. I can’t honestly say how that evolved but I do remember when my brother was around 3 he was outside on his little bike and fell and one of the other kids yelled for the mother, she went out and I was right behind her. She picked up my brother, still crying and yelling for Mommy and when he saw me he reached out his arms. Yeah, the kid was 3 and thought I was his mother. So there you go.
There is nothing unusual for a child to take care of a child; or for a child to take on the mundane running of a household – cooking, cleaning, laundry etc. – in large families that’s pretty much how it works out. Except – I don’t come from a large family, I just come from a family where the mother checked out after her first child was born and the second and third were unwanted and pretty much uncared for.
By the time I was a teenager I was pretty much in charge of everything. I don’t think I ever thought twice about it – tho I did question, to myself, why I was left out of some of the big decisions because, hell, I was going to be the one who had to implement and oversee them.
Even my jobs – I was always the assistant to a top executive and not only did I take care of business I took care of their personal lives as well. When I started to work for small companies, instead of large corporations, I was often called the ‘Office Manager” or as I called myself, the ‘Office Mommy’ – I was taking care of everybody not just the owner of the company.
Same position I had in the family. Same position I have had in all my personal relationships.
My husband has become more disabled since his fall last Summer, and in the last 2 months his physical stability has deteriorated greatly. His balance is shit, his hand tremors are ridiculous and whatever he contributed to the running of our little household before, he can no longer do. So everything is on my plate. And I’m tired – physically and mentally and emotionally tired. I’m just trying to keep one old man and 2 old cats alive and well cared for.
My question is why – Did I learn to be this way or was I born this way?