Back to Articles

Reflections of a Mother Turned Caregiver

By Kimberly Berrettini

It feels like it was just yesterday when I received the call from the DFS worker. “Ma’am, we have some news for you. Your two nieces have been removed from your sister’s care. They have made allegations of sexual assault against their stepfather, and we need a place for them to go.” I could not speak. I froze, and the tears started to flow. I was angry. The memories from our childhood flooded back, and in that moment, my life changed.

Within a week, I was not only a single mother to three boys of my own, but a caregiver to 15-year-old niece in my home and visiting the other in the group home. There is a mixture of feelings that come with becoming a caregiver, and there is no handbook as to how to handle them. But the one question that you must keep in the forefront is, “What is my purpose?”
Being a mother is not an easy job and being a caregiver to someone else’s children can be even harder. There is trauma, educational, emotional, behavioral and trust issues that come with it. Not only was the child that I was bringing into my home suffering from mental health issues, but her circumstances brought back the trauma I had in my life. Every morning, I would have to give myself a pep talk to get out of bed and get the day started. I felt alone in a house full of people, and even though we had a happy life, I had an overwhelming fear that I was not doing enough, that I was not good enough. I loved my job, and I was good at it. But I found that I could not concentrate and was confused at times, and that led to tears. I needed help. I had to reach out to my doctor and my therapist in order to get back on the right path.
I thought that I had left all these feelings and fears in the past, and just by taking in my niece, it all came flooding back. Taking care of your mental health is an ongoing journey with bumps in the road on the way to the destination. When you come to a bump, you will need to decide if you have the tools to handle what is happening, or if you need to reach out and ask for help.
My name is Kimberly Berrettini, and I am the new Kinship Navigator Program Manager. My advice is to just find that one thing everyday that can allow you to focus on the positive. I know it is not easy, especially when you are trying to meet all their needs and you are “dog tired” from the endless hours in every day. But positivity remains the best medicine for the ones you love.
I commend all of you who have stepped up and became caregivers. The day that you opened your home, your life changed. I proudly call you my sisters (and brothers). If you find yourself asking, “What is my purpose,” do not give up, do not ever give up.
"I know not what the future holds, but I know who holds the future." -- author unknown"
Share this story