by Donna Thomson
This afternoon I pulled our daughter close in a long embrace as I whispered “goodbye, I love you”. Natalie and her partner Alex were with us for a week at the cottage. Watching the sunset from the sofa at the lake, I massaged her feet. I made her favourite spice cake for dessert after a gigantic ‘seven layer salad’ – a special summer tradition in our family. And our Natalie loves tradition. We cooed over old LPs, my high school yearbooks, tin boxes of buttons collected by my mother in law…. and of course we played cribbage.
I realized something about myself – I deeply enjoy caring for the people I love. And caring for Natalie, who doesn’t really ‘need’ care is soothing for me. It is a form of self-care for me. There is such delight in offering comfort food, in morning and nighttime hugs and in late afternoon chats about future planning. Caring for someone who doesn’t absolutely ‘need’ care is a form of respite. This past week has given me so much energy and love for whatever is next in my life. Aren’t love and care two wonderful things when freely given and gratefully received? And I’ve been reflecting on the (nuanced) contrasting satisfaction I feel when I’m caring for my Mom or when I used to do full-on care for Nick. Care can be described so differently depending on the person and on the relationship. They say that the indigenous people of the north have 33 different words for snow. Maybe we should have 33 words for caregiving – or at least a different one for each member of our families.
Care is complicated and simple all at once. Today, the sun is shining and I’ll just let my heart be happy and full as I begin to plan the next visit with our daughter.