I take Uber a lot. As anyone else who takes it a lot knows, it’s basically like being on a first date, except without dinner and you’re in a car (if you need a random laugh, watch this). Mom keeps worrying about me taking public transport to and from their house when I go to take care of her, so I’ve been taking Uber so she won’t stress.
This leads to me having a first date conversation with all of my new Uber drivers, which always ends up being about why I was out in the suburbs and why I’m heading back downtown. I’ve been telling them the brief truth, that I spent the day at my parents’ taking care of my mother who’s going through chemo. Every single time, the response is the same.
“You’re the best daughter ever!”
“You should win the best daughter award!”
“What, are you competing for best daughter? Wow that’s amazing!”
Guys, I’m not trying to “win” or compete with my brother, who’s in Alaska with his family. That’s not the point. But everyone keeps making sure I know how “awesome” and “amazing” what I’m doing is.
Okay, fine, I understand not everyone would be able or willing to do this for their parents. But I am, and my mom and I are really close, so this was a no brainer for me. Of course I was going to do whatever I could to help her. That doesn’t mean that every caregiver has to be praised so profusely for helping out. It’s actually kind of awkward, especially from strangers who then go into a story about so-and-so’s cancer when I really just want to put my headphones in and rest; I had a long day, just let me stop making small talk.
That could just be me though. I’m not always great with compliments or praise. That’s actually a trait I got from my mother. She’s the worst with being thanked for things, especially publicly. She helped me in college with a film project, and when we thanked her in the credits she got incredibly flustered, and made me promise not to thank her in any sort of discussion/speech at the film’s presentation.
I think my point is, the only people who need to be thanking me for my help are my mom and dad. If you want to help a caregiver out, instead of showering them with kudos, do something else to make their life easier. You don’t need to do a lot, but if you come across a caregiver, chances are they are going through a lot of stress and balancing acts with their life at the moment. Take them to coffee, lend them an ear, offer to help them shop for groceries or run errands or make dinner (note: these are suggestions for friends not random strangers). Even if they say no, they’ll probably appreciate that you even thought to offer to help them out with everyday things. You don’t need to heap praise on them – it will mean much more to them to have you think of their hectic life than to have someone pat them on the back for the hundredth time.