This week, please welcome one of our most popular caregiving authors, the Rev. Dr. Benjamin Pratt. He researched and wrote our signature book: A Guide for Caregivers. Last week, I wrote about the need for caregivers to take breaks, from time to time. And, I am. I’ll write again, soon.
As a parent myself, I love this column by Ben. It’s tempting to enjoy that great feeling when people think you’re a super hero, but real life always intervenes …
‘I’m Only a Father’
By BENJAMIN PRATT
AFTER our younger daughter graduated from college with a degree in interior design, she was hired by Pottery Barn to help design and setup stores across our country. When she wasn’t traveling to other cities, she would spend a day or two at stores in the mid-Atlantic region working on redesign.
One morning she left in her little car before 6 a.m. for Baltimore. About five miles from her destination, on a busy interstate, the car broke down. She called me—frantic and scared—as 18-wheelers sped past shaking her and her little car.
“Dad, I’m going to be late for work. I can’t get the car to start. What can I do? I need your help.”
That’s when I said the words I’ve got to live with forever, now.
“I’m only a father.”
I quickly added, “You will have to call a local garage or towing company.” And, an hour later I got a call that she was at work. The mechanic had come, made a minor adjustment, and she was on her way.
Once the panic was over, and with a relieved smile, my daughter told the story to all her colleagues at work. They teased her for weeks with my line: “I’m only a father.” For all the young people at the store, that captured the universal, inevitable moment of discovery: Mom and Dad aren’t super heroes.
“I’m only a father,” has become one of those touchstones in our family lore. It is raised and shared in our family gatherings. I often repeat it myself as I acknowledge my limitations and sometimes re-frame it:
“I’m only a caregiver.”
“I’m only a husband.”
“I’m only a minister.”
“I’m only human.”
The irony is that, the more I acknowledge my power and limitations, the more I discover my capacity to be present and available to others. As I shed the demands of perfection, I often experience the genuine good gifts I am capable of sharing.
Please, add a comment below: What’s your story of admitting your limitations? And, share this with friends: Click one of the social-media icons with this column and invite friends to read this with you.
(Originally published at www.WeAreCaregivers.com. This column also has been republished, with permission, at www.Day1.org the website for the Day1 radio network.)