THE SECRET TO CARING

They sat in a row in the shopping centre, watching the passersby. They were quiet and good. They were adults sitting in wheelchairs. A carer stood behind them looking at her phone. I don’t know how long they were there. Perhaps it was only a few minutes, but it bothered me. Especially when I thought about my daughter’s future.

 

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THE UPS AND DOWNS OF CHRISTMAS

Christmas morning was almost perfect. A gentle start with none of the children awake before 7. We all gathered in the living room, a feat which involves rearranging furniture and pushing Smiley’s wheelchair up a couple of steps too, so is reserved for special occasions until I get my act together and make more of this house accessible. Anyway, back to Christmas. The presents were opened at a leisurely pace. Smiley loved the family time together, my eldest added the sweetest note ever with the present she gave to me and it was lovely to see her delight when she opened the surprise presents that I got for her. And my son was calm and happy with his presents.

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WHAT HAPPENS AFTER DINNER IN YOUR HOUSE?

I’m just wondering.

Do your teenagers help clear the table and load the dishwasher?

Do they play video games and watch TV, while you shout encourage them to do their homework?

Do you collapse on the couch with a cup of tea or a glass of wine, feet up, deep sigh and relax?

Probably with a few interruptions. The doorbell maybe. The phone. A teenager needing to talk if you’re lucky, or row if you’re not.

 

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THE CARING STEREOTYPE AND WHY IT MAKES ME MAD

There was an advertising feature about carers in an Irish newspaper yesterday. Perhaps you saw it? Perhaps it gave you a nice warm fuzzy feeling reading about that wonderful ‘army’ of 187,000 dedicated carers. Or perhaps, like me, it made you mad.

I am not in any way criticising the family that features in this ad, but it does fit the caring stereotype that society has come to expect.

A kindly, loving, sensible, middle aged women who cares out of love and needs nothing more than the occasional break for a bit of light shopping or drinking tea with friends and crafting Christmas cards.

And that is very admirable, but not all carers are like that.

Not at all.

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Today

At one point today I lost the ability to speak. At least in recognisable English. I was trying to talk on the phone at the time to a potential babysitter (hurrah!). I was also burning the latest batch of Brownies (aka reinforcers), looking for chocolate buttons for Smiley, attempting sign language with my son and peering over Angel’s shoulder to help with her latest Econometrics assignment. So naturally an assortment of jumbled up words came out together.

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(This actually happened last Tuesday, am very late in posting over here, my apologies)

Is that all there is? Because carers deserve better

When you become a carer, everything changes.  Not just your own life, but society’s expectations too.  No matter what you were like before, you are immediately obliged to take on saintly qualities and become endlessly patient, loving, energetic, unselfish, undemanding and uncomplaining, with a beatific smile permanently plastered on your face.  Don’t believe me?  Look at the Carers of the Year Awards.  Now obviously I have huge admiration for the winners, they really are saints, they manage the most challenging situations and care for the longest number of years.  But what do these awards say to the rest of us?

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