WELCOME TO CAREGIVING:
The Things Caregivers Never Talk About
I am an exceptional Productive Procrastinator. I excel at it. I have a special gene mutation akin to Spider Man and when faced with very big deadlines, I will find something VERY IMPORTANT to do. The task I choose is SO productive and SO important, that it thoroughly and completely masks the fact that I’m procrastinating. I’m so good at it, that I can frequently fool those around me into also thinking what I’m doing is paramount to anything else in my world.
Like when we moved from Texas to Florida. I was home. Alone. Responsible for all the packing. Alone. The moving date was set. By me. Did I start packing the boxes? No. Instead, I was compelled to roll all of the loose change in my house before I could pack a single box. By hand. I sat for hours upon hours on the floor at the coffee table, baskets and bowls filled with coins beside me, counting out nickels, quarters, dimes and pennies. Placing them in perfect stacks; lining them up in even denominations, then sliding them into paper tubes oh so carefully, for if one went in crooked I’d have to dump it out and start again. I’d even out the rolls of coins between my forefingers like Chinese Finger Traps and carefully fold the edges so the coins sat securely inside. It brought me immense satisfaction and in that moment there was nothing more important to me than rolling those coins. Everything else in life could wait.
Years later, I woke on a Saturday morning, just over two weeks before my book launch. “Jerry, you want to take a field trip to Flamingo Road Nursery? Check out some plants for the front yard?” Jerry agreed and after enjoying breakfasts of smoothies and boiled eggs we hopped in the Highlander and trekked out to the nursery. Thoughts of what I *should* be doing to prepare for what could be one of the biggest days of my life popped in my head, but I shooshed them away, put my sunglasses on, and together Jerry and I meandered our way through the nursery. Overwhelmed with the sheer volume of plants and myriad of choices, we made exactly zero landscape selections that day. Not wanting to leave empty handed we picked up a candy cane striped petunia plant that Jerry fancied and one milkweed plant (just one).
I had heard what I presumed to be an urban myth about milkweed and how monarch butterflies adore it. I’m not typically “good” with plants, but I enjoy them until I accidentally forget about them and they perish (thankfully I’m a better Caregiver with people and pets than I am with plants). Later that very same afternoon, I peered out the bedroom window into our backyard and what I saw made me run to the front of the house, “Jerry – JERRY – there’s a BUTTERFLY!” He jumped out of the recliner (have we talked about the recliner? Oof – that’s a whole other story) and we both stared out the window at the Monarch butterfly. Success! Every day butterflies visited the milkweed. Jerry overwatered it and it lost some leaves, but the butterflies didn’t seem to mind. I was thrilled.
What I did NOT know about milkweed was that it’s a HOST plant. Not a butterfly eating / nectar plant. It’s where Monarchs lay eggs. And this is where the story of my Productive Procrastination begins.
Join me next week for the second installment of Erin Copelan: Butterfly Rancher. In the meantime you can visit my Instagram for up to date pictures on the butterfly progression.