Mother’s Day is nearly here —a time to celebrate women and their roles as caregivers. While it’s an invaluable job, it can also be underappreciated at times. So as we approach this special day, I want to take a moment to focus on that word, caregivers, and the full reach of its meaning.
First, I’m a caregiver for my son. He’s a typical toddler—funny, energetic, stubborn, and learning at about a thousand miles an hour. My husband and I, who both have careers, are focused on being present, engaged, and giving him all the love and support he deserves, so we manage the delicate balance of ensuring one of us is always in the right place at the right time.
I’m also a caregiver to my dad. He is 86 and has progressive dementia. Late one night a few years ago, a neighbor found him, confused, in the front yard of his house in Atlanta. We soon found out he was no longer able to take his heart medications or handle basic tasks at home. It was a scary and emotional time. I had to convince my dad to leave Georgia, his home of more than 80 years, relocate to San Francisco and move into an assisted living facility near our home—and to give up his car. He has always been a fiercely independent man, so this was a tough situation to navigate.
Caring for him now means a lot of different things. This includes happy moments like bringing him to our house for dinner and watching him play with our son, and tough ones as well, like facilitating countless doctors’ appointments, coming to terms with his severe memory impairment, and dealing with unexpected calls from his living facility when things go wrong.
I’m certainly not alone in my situation. Many parents now find ourselves as members of the “sandwich generation,” simultaneously caring for both elderly parents and children. And while caring for both can be extremely rewarding, it also brings a unique set of challenges such as uncertainty, difficulty finding balance, and most of all, lack of time.
I’m also in a unique position given my role as chief people officer at Workday. I have frequent conversations with employees who face similar experiences. We’re able to exchange stories, relate to one another’s perspectives, and share solutions. All of this has helped me to be a better caregiver. And given my role, I’m not only able to hear about what impacts the daily lives of our employees, I’m able to take this feedback into consideration when advocating for the benefits and support Workday provides to all caregivers.