It Takes A Village – Exploring Self Care

Debbie Sokobin

by Debbie W. Sokobin, Next Chapter Concierge

I spent most of my life (yes, really most of my life) trying to separate from my mother. I was an only child until I was almost four years old when my brother Josh came along. He was then followed by my youngest sibling, Jon four years after that. One thing written in my baby book by my loving mother was, “Debbie can be so rough with Josh but he loves every minute of it!” Hmmm. What message could I have been sending? I craved time alone with my mom throughout my life and it was never enough.

Well, fast forward to 2022, one year since my father died and since my mother – who has dementia – moved in with me and my husband. Now, my mom and I have LOADS of time together. In fact, I tell people that we now share a brain. She is often unsure of her place in time and space and looks to me for grounding. She is not the same mom who I loved pre-dementia, she is “mom 2.0” whom I love and feel completely responsible for as her primary caregiver.

In addition to being a caregiver, I am also a Senior Move Manager with my own business. I find that time is my most precious commodity. Thank goodness for Kensington Club on Tuesdays and Thursdays and our wonderful caregiver Mary who comes four other half-days every week. Those two sources of support – in addition to my supportive husband who now works from his home office (thanks Covid!) make it possible for me to continue to find my purpose outside the home and keep my business alive.

One thing I still struggle with is “Self-Care”. Yes, it has become quite a buzzword and sorry to say, somewhat elusive for me. I know what brings me joy – talking to my kids who live in three different cities, running with my dear friend in the mornings, baking, alone time, being in nature, freshly brewed coffee and an occasional pedicure. I have learned to listen to friends (and my therapist) who encourage me to step away from my responsibilities at home (thanks Mary and patient husband!) for coffee dates, walks in the neighborhood and occasional girls’ nights. Do I feel guilty about being away for too long? Yes. When I get home is everything fine? Yes. Does my mom even realize that I had been gone for an hour or two? Not usually.

I cannot express how important this separation from my mom is to my mental health and to my patience-level when I am home. I plan to expand my village to include a Caregiver Support Group in the near future as well. If I can find small moments throughout the day to step back, take some deep breaths and think about all of the things I am grateful for in life, it helps. Some days it is a short list, but every little bit helps.