Caregiver vs. Caretaker

I would have made a terrible nurse. I’m not so good at caregiver either. Especially before coffee.

I originally wrote the word caretaker down instead of caregiver, but it didn’t look or feel right. So naturally I googled the difference between the two. There were several different variations as to the differences but the one I found most interesting was the one from a counseling website about codependency.

“Caretakers start fixing when a problem arises for someone else, caregivers empathize fully, letting the other person know they are not alone and lovingly asks, ‘what are you going to do about that?’”

My default is definitely not caregiver. I’m not sure it’s really caretaker either if I’m being honest. It’s more like–do I have to? I’m fundamentally a selfish, lazy person who would rather not be bothered. I’m only sort of, kind of joking and I am not proud of that, but I hate that it’s considered a flaw in my character. Why do I have to be one or the other?  

I’m talking about a patriarchal false binary: women as caregivers and men as caretakers (but only if they want to be), woman as nurturers and men as fixers.

I’m not naturally nurturing, and I point to my son’s therapy bills as proof. In all my important relationships I am definitely better at fixing than nurturing and I am working on that. Not because society says I should but because I know that it’s necessary to have a healthy relationship.

So back to where this started. I can’t help feeling that mom desires a better caregiver, but I love her and want to take good care of her, and I hope she knows that I am doing my best.

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