Military Special Needs Network

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Confessions of a Burned-out Caregiver


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Ninety nine percent of the time, I love being a mom and I wouldn’t trade it for the world. Today falls in that other one percent. Today I want and need an escape.  From son up, today has been a disaster. I can’t even say from sun up, because my son was up well before the sun today. The day started with fecal smearing has gone down hill very quickly since then.

I am currently 54 weeks into a deployment. In that 54 weeks, my son received an Autism diagnosis, my daughter was put through countless test and was eventually diagnosed with a brain abnormality (which was operated on, but not cured), and I have needed to be present for my eldest child. I have to keep track of 7 therapy appointments each week, school pick-ups, dance practices, friend’s birthday parties, and the overwhelming number of doctor visits. My brain, body and soul are tired.

I told a friend it was a good thing I couldn’t get respite tonight, because if I did, I would not come back. I was mostly kidding. I would eventually come back. I would come back when I was no longer burned out and had forgotten days like today. Days when my son has an hour and forty three minute meltdown that stops as quickly as it starts, so finding the cause or resolution is darn near impossible. Days when my daughter is in pain and there is nothing I can do, but hold her while we both cry.

By nature I am a do-er. I like to fix things, which is what makes days like today all the more difficult to deal with. I embrace my son and his Autism, but today I wish I could have fixed what was upsetting him. He is currently on the couch watching Despicable Me with his sisters and acts as if he has forgotten the events from earlier. My face and arms, which received blows from flying fists while trying to keep him safe, have yet to forget. I wish I could fix my daughter and take away her pain, but all I can do is stand by with a heat pad and some pain meds to take the edge off. The inability to fix things for my children is what causes my burn out.

Tomorrow will be a new day and I am sure it will be a ninety nine percent type of day. But tonight I will wallow in my pity. I will make poor dietary choices that I will regret tomorrow (my husband just informed me that marshmallows counted as food for my Baileys and cocoa dinner), sulk and search the house for my easy button. I will resist the urge to spend the night cleaning in preparation for tomorrow’s therapy and try to rest.


Miranda is a Navy wife and mother to three kids: Hailey, Josie and Teague. All three have a swallowing disorder, Teague has ASD and Josie has Chiari. Miranda is the VP of Community Outreach for the Military Special Needs Network. You can contact her at  

2 comments on “Confessions of a Burned-out Caregiver

  1. Rachel
    January 11, 2013

    I have been up all night with Kevin’s diarrhea which has been causing him pain and lack of sleep… for all of us. I’m going almost mad that I can’t help him or even fix his temporary discomfort and I feel so sad and frustrated. These are feelings I’m experiencing for the first time as a new mom and knowing how you keep your heart so strong for your family through this ON A DAILY BASIS kind of secretly makes you my hero. 🙂 My heart hurts so much for you and as your friends, we wish we could solve the issues for you all so your children aren’t in pain anymore. Remember that you have an army of friends around you that are rooting for you and admire your out of this world strength! Sending love from the Johnson Household !!!

  2. suzannejoblonski
    January 11, 2013

    Until respite becomes readily available regardless of one’s age or disability, I found other ways of dealing with situations like yours.

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This entry was posted on January 11, 2013 by in All.
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