Friday 28th November is Carers’ Rights day in the UK. A while ago I tried to write something that describes some of the frustrations and the grind of being a part-time carer, and the things a carer can end up taking on; here it is.
“Hey Dad, I got your paper!”
This is what I say, day in, day out,
While I’m getting out the key to get in my father’s house
Cause ever since something happened to his mind
Every day I turn the key and I don’t know what’s there to find
Don’t know if it’s my dad that’ll be behind the door
Or some medical emergency that’s sprawled across the floor
But hey, I got the paper so he’s got some routine
And while he’s reading it I’m OK to get his house clean
“Hey Dad, you had your lunch yet?” Persuading him to eat
That’s another of the little challenges I got to meet
There’s always something wrong, always got some reason why
He doesn’t eat that sort of salad or that bread’s too dry
But I try, and I try, and I try…
“So how’s the golf? Who’s winning?” Conversation’s artificial
It’s not like I’ve got much to say, but some talk is beneficial
He has to be interested in something, right?
And I try not to worry how he’ll manage tonight
Because after all, at three I’ll be closing this door
Cause I have to be back home to my little one at four
From carer to a mother, there’s nothing in between
But every day I want to shout – this isn’t me!
I’m not some safe, floral-clad retiree
Watching daytime TV and just waiting to die
Getting what kicks she can get from the WI
Nah, this isn’t me!
Of course I over-compensate.
Cause I’m only thirty-eight
So in my car I’m listening to drum and bass
Turned up so loud it makes the car shake
And my ears bleed
And for a second, I feel free…
And then I get out
And I’m back
At the school gate
With a smile
And a handshake
And I make small talk that I can’t take
And I smile and I nod and I tell them that I don’t work
Cause these days my situation’s all in reverse
I’m a parent to a parent and a parent to a child
I’m a lawyer with the doctor and a doctor with the lawyer
(And a pain in the arse to social services)
And I can speak in tongues.
In medical terms, in legal terms, in welfare terms, in financial terms, in parent terms, in teacher terms, in half terms, in inset days, in non-uniform days, in jolly bloody phonics cause I’m engaged in my child’s education..
And for this, I don’t get paid.
And for this, I don’t get thanks.
And for this, people say – nothing.
Except for a few that might call me saint
And tell me I should do all of this with a smile on my face.
Cause that’s what you do in the big society
Cause they say that we’re the answer to austerity
Be an example, carers! Be proud!
So this is me, day in, day out
Bring the paper
Well and truly
Trapped in sainthood.
http://www.carersuk.org is a great resource for carers, and highlights many of the obstacles carers have to face. Do check it out and consider supporting their campaigns if you can.