Can I Bleed Those Pipes For You?

Editions Archipoche

Editions Archipoche (Photo credit:

Caretaker vs Caregiver

You know how there are some words that are easy to confuse on the tongue–you intend to say one but the other comes out? I don’t have many, but the above are mine. Technically (at least, according to they’re synonyms.  But really, not so much.

Caretaker usually refers to someone who takes care of things, like houses. Or cemeteries.  When I hear caretaker in its more accepted context, I think of gothic women-in-peril novels, cover art showing the sweet young maiden running in terror against the howling wind, back of hand to forehead, while the creepy mansion looms over her.  Is that he-ro going to save her in time?  Oops, just the foolish caretaker, bearing yet another obscure message.

Caregiver, on the other hand…yup, that’s me.  Taking care of people and critters. Every day. All day.  And let’s face it, most honest long term caregivers will tell you the pay sucks and the benefits are even worse. Yeah, I know, there are some who don’t feel this way, no matter how many years the caregiving extends they feel it’s a noble calling. Vaya con Dios, that isn’t me.

English: Kkoktu figure of a Caregiver. Korea, ...

English: Kkoktu figure of a Caregiver. Korea, 18th century. On display at the Spurlock Museum, Urbana-Champaign, Illinois, USA. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

I like taking care of “mine,” doing the best I can to make sure all are as well as possible, even throw in some smiles. But time off would be divine.  Time to take care of no one.

And no, I don’t mean take care of myself, either.  I mean luxuriate in being a sloth for however long it takes to feel rested. Caregiving that doesn’t end, or doesn’t change within the “normal” time frames feels a lot like being the caretaker of a decrepit, leaky-creaky mansion, complete with its own graveyard. Slap some duct tape over the bathroom pipe, and then the dormer window in the attic blows out.

This being life, what do I do? I choose to add more caregiving to the schedule. I have a reef tank. Always something to be monitored, cleaned, checked, work to be done, no matter the size of the tank. A little over a year ago, I added Little Incredibly Dumb Dog. Sure, I love all these critters, they bring moments of peace and warm fuzzies, but they are living beings who need to be taken care of. Why? What drives me to do these things? And I’m not the only one, I know plenty of other caregivers who make similar choices.  Why do you do it?

Even when dreaming about home ownership, do I imagine a neat, new house? No. I fantasize about one of those lovely period homes with the creaky stairs and rattling windows. I may be an idiot, but I’m not dumb, I understand those charming houses filled with character involve endless projects and repairs.  Am I a handy gal? Nope.  I’m not naturally artistic or mechanical, nor do I have any experience with home repairs.

And the one thing I do that has nothing to do with taking care of anyone else?  Writing, of course. That beautiful calling to hunch over the keyboard and open a vein.

Shallow Grave

Shallow Grave (Photo credit: jcoterhals)


    1. Yes, I think I’d need at least 6 months to begin feeling human again at this point 😀

      As for the house, it’s only in my head, so the leaks are barely noticeable 😉


  1. Interesting comparison between caregiver and caretaker. At this point I far more often feel like a worn out caretaker of something crumbling down around me than the caregiver I am…

    I often see posts on FB where friends will go on about how they are doing this and that and this and that, usually for their child… and then add that they wouldn’t change a thing, how glad they are to do it. OK. Really? Just who are they trying to kid?

    You added your reef and Dumb Dog… We added Mickey 2 years ago. Now, he occasionally pees on the laundry (only fresh, clean laundry mind you) but he gives back. His purr drops my blood pressure and HR when I need it to, and he never, ever gives me attitude. He adds work but I also get a certain gratification from the beast that I don’t always get from the humans I share the home with. My gardening takes a lot of caretaking (vs caregiving I guess, though it is very personal to me) but I keep piling it on for the therapeutic aspects, the personal satisfaction, etc… this outweighs the draw on my time and energy.


    1. Yes, yes, YES!
      Honesty about how much of this sucks doesn’t mean we don’t love those we’re taking care of.
      I’m torn when it comes to Little Incredibly Dumb Dog. I do get pleasure and warm fuzzies from her, but she’s still a huge pita. I’m hoping in another 2 years she’ll be 90% pleasure. (She’s always going to have accidents and need to be groomed)
      Reefing is much like underwater gardening, without natural sunlight and rain to take some of the pressure off.


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