On celebrating the saints and scroungers during Carers Week

Because that’s how the public sees us.

Every story about the selfless middle aged woman* caring for elderly parents and disabled children feeds into the saint narrative, which reaches its peak during Carers Week and the annual carers’ awards. And while I’m very happy for those who win and enjoy the accolade, there are carers like me who find the whole thing a bit patronising: it’s like society feels that all we need to keep going is an annual pat on the head.

No mention of real support, pay for the work we do, pension arrangements for when we are too old to care, or anything that really matters.

The rest of the year we’re painted as scroungers.

Of course keyboard warriors like me were blamed when Leo Varadkar (likely to be the next Irish PM) had to row back on his rhetoric about being a leader for people who get up early in the morning. He had to add in carers, and others. But the genie was already out of the bottle, as the above article shows, giving permission to portray carers as whingy costly parasites, so long as it’s not Carers Week.

I write about my life as a carer, and luckily the words pour out of me head like a torrent: I don’t have to sit down and wonder what to write, instead I find myself jotting down thoughts whenever I have a spare few seconds, often when I’m doing something else as well!

But it is hard to find the time or energy to write when you’re a carer, so there’s very few of us who do, but I’d like to introduce you to two friends of mine. Like me, neither will be attending of the events for carers during Carer’s Week. Because they can’t.

This week is Carer’s Week. There will be a wide variety of events across Ireland for carers to attend – lunches, coffee mornings, walks, pamper events with manicures and massages, nights out with music and dancing – all to celebrate and treat the much deserving carers. But, how many of the nation’s carers can attend? I can’t. I’m housebound while my son is bedridden. I have no one to relieve me so I can go to any of those events.I have no one to relieve me so I can go to any of those events.

Read more at Transitioning Angels

We’re back to no sleep. But with Luca I think he has constipation issues again, he’s back on movicol.

Emmy was supposed to go for a blood test today but no one up to the hour drive there and hour drive home and we’re still a bit under weather so I cancelled the appointment, all I seem to do lately is cancel appointment after appointment

We’ve reached the stage where we get no energy boost at all, just permanemt tiredness and feeling flat, the weather isn’t helping. 

I bought cbd capsules for myself during the week, they should be here today, can’t wait to get started as I’m in a shit heap, constant fibro flare and pains in stomoch from IBS.

Read more at the Spectrum Facebook Page.

Both write about the harsh realities of extreme caring in a world that doesn’t really want to know, doesn’t want to think about it, doesn’t want to imagine that it could happen to them too. Even though it could.

 

*The peak age for caring amongst women was 45–49, with 11.2% of women in this age group providing unpaid care, amounting to 572,680 hours of care every week, according to the 2011 census.

 

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Why happy parents are important

A wonderful post on motherhood and contentment from Karen at Beating Myself into a Dress reminded me of something I wrote a couple of years ago. So I revamped it..

Happiness was something I never considered as my hands shook looking at that thin blue line back in 1992. I was going to be a mum, and I just got on with it, and the job and the running, and the marriage and everything else in between. As you do.

But along the way, I’ve learned a few things, and noticed how much has changed over the years.

Many parents, especially mums, seem to invest far more time and emotional energy in their kids than my parent’s generation did: most of my interactions with my Mum and Dad were on family outings, plus board games and cricket with my Dad. At home we were sent out to play, and even meal times were spent reading books and newspapers, with The Archers on the radio. Very middle class, I know. Today we seem to spend many more hours with our children, especially if we are full time parents in the home. I’m sure I’m not the only woman who didn’t realise all the demands that would be made of me as a mother. So many life changes, and I’ve not always accepted them with good grace.

Anyone who believes they have given up a lot for their kids could feel some of this, especially if motherhood does not live up to their expectations. And then if most of your time and energy has been invested in your children, you could well feel depressed and even betrayed if they turn around and disrespect you and take you for granted. Which some do, especially when they hit the difficult teenage years. But if you do everything for your children, isn’t there a danger that this will happen naturally? Sadly it seems to be a human trait not to value the everyday quiet loving care that is provided by the stay-at-home parent. Else why does the one coming home from work usually get a rapturous welcome?

Would it make a difference if children think the stay at home parent is happy in their role? I think perhaps it would. I’m not talking about ecstatic happiness, but contentment, cheerfulness and positivity. Not at all times, obviously. They need to see all the emotions: grief when someone dies, anger at injustice, hurt when someone is cruel, but I think our children need to see that we are happy to be their parents. If they see us looking sad every day, they may think it’s their fault, even if we tell them that our happiness is our responsibility, as I do, they may still blame themselves.

Perhaps, like me, all stay at home parents needs to work on their own happiness. To help themselves, and their children too.