It’s true that events management was not my favourite part of public relations. But organising my disabled daughter’s activities beats the mind numbing bum wiping and form filling parts of being a carer any day.
During the winter it’s a no brainer: there’s her adult programme during the week, and regular weekend activities for her and her brother. I’m on auto pilot preparing for them.
It’s different during the summer months: her club organises a summer project but there is still a lot of event management required from me, as the only parent of a young adult who needs a wheelchair.
So I found myself sitting at the kitchen table on Wednesday morning organising our first trip on the urban train (DART) to an out of town seaside resort (Bray) to visit the Sea Life aquarium with our friends from the Rainbow Junior Arch Club.
9am – I checked all the following:
Disabled parking at or near the station
Working lifts at both stations
How to wheel the chair from the platform onto the train
Accessibility of the aquarium
Availability of a disabled toilet (no changing places toilets, obviously as they are still a novelty in Ireland)
9.30 am – Make a packed lunch for myself and B – in case we couldn’t find anywhere that served mashed food – though I have mashed chips in an emergency. Pack buggy with every conceivable item we might need. No point in taking the wheelchair because (a) the weather, (b) no portable tray (c) not enough storage and (d) only the buggy reclines so I can fix her up after she uses the toilet (I had to lift her on and off, and my back survived this time, but MY DAUGHTER AND OTHERS NEEDS MORE CHANGING PLACES TOILETS).
10 am – Half an hour to help my daughter use the toilet (including hoisting), put on a fresh nappy, get her into her outdoor clothes, and wheel her outside and up the ramp into the car. Phew!
But it was worth it.
We both loved the DART – I’d never done the scenic journey from Clontarf to Bray along the coast, and I felt like I was on holiday with friends: B loved it too, and was so enthusiastically loud and we got so many glares that I resorted to getting out the Jaffa cakes to quieten things down a bit!
Sea Life kept up occupied for about an hour – the aisles are very narrow and there were occasional buggy traffic jams, but our visit also coincided with shark feeding time, and that meant we had the place for ourselves for a while, which suited my daughter better as she could see more (some exhibits do not have glass walls and those were no good for her).
Coffee and a walk followed, and then a very happy trip home.
The previous weekend involved even more planning, but at least we went to familiar places: a Saturday walk into town and a visit to a new cafe, that could become a favourite as it offered cheesecake, a roomy disabled toilet and music – but not too loud.
Sunday involved two trips, complicated by the matches at the nearby sports stadium, that involved me parking in the middle of the road to move the bins that blocked our parking space each time we came home so my daughter could use the toilet.
In the morning we went for our second run with Rabbits and Runners, and B loved it even more than the first time, if that’s possible!
The afternoon saw us dodge the showers at the Hotter than July World Music Event – and I’m sure you’ve noticed by now how much we both like live music events, even better when they’re free.
There’s a bank holiday weekend in Ireland starting tomorrow, so the event planning for my daughter has begun already.
So you could say I didn’t give up my career as a PR when I became a full time carer. I still use the same skills, but for the most important client I’ve ever had: my beautiful daughter.
And that’s my reason to be cheerful for this week. Head over to Lakes Single Mum for more.