Well I didn’t make it to the Bibs finals. It’s sad in a way, I was hoping that I would get through but clearly there are better blogs than mine who are more deserved of this award (and congratulations to them too).
I have to admit it has got me down a bit which is unusual for me as I am usually laissez-faire about blogging awards but this time I’ve been left with a dent in my confidence and a feeling that there isn’t a lot I’m good at. Sometimes, and this is one of those times, I don’t feel I’m getting anywhere in life; just treading water or spinning round and round on the hamster wheel and not having anything to show for the work. That’s the problem with being a mother and a carer. No-one says you’re doing well. There is no appraisal system, no pay and no bonus scheme and the carers allowance, if you’re entitled to it, is a paltry £58.45 a week. Considering how much carers do and the amount of money they save the country, this is more of a slap in your face than proper recognition. Worse is the fact you are then only limited to about £100 of work a week (after deductions) – any more and you lose your allowance. The problem is there is no way I can earn £100 a week because I don’t have the time or the freedom to work the hours needed to earn that money; hence I’m stuck to the allowance and a very few hours of minimum wage work a week. As much as I enjoy my few hours of work, the pay is poor and the work insecure.
I have, in the main, become dependent on my husband which goes against all what I am. I never wanted to become dependent on someone; I always wanted to be an independent woman with a career but here I am in a situation that I never ever thought I would be in and sometimes I hate it. Sometimes I hate the fact I have no career, I hate the fact that other people do not respect me as a mother or carer. Instead I am forced to listen to so called experts on autism and aspergers who tell me this, this and that and to whom I nod gracefully but wishing with all of my strength that I could just tell them to shut up, that I’m not stupid and yes I do understand what they’re saying. I never say these words of course because I don’t want to rock the boat, always fearful that word will get round that I’m a rubbish parent and will need some sort of parenting course or social services intrusion.
I admit, I’m struggling at the moment so to find I hadn’t got through to a blogging final made me a bit miserable. I wouldn’t normally feel like this and I would just carry on blogging as normal but I’m having doubts about my ability to write, well to do anything really. Everything I do is a half measure, squeezed in between my caring duties and running a home. It is frustrating and I find myself thinking that my education was a total waste of time. Why bother getting an education when you end up like me? It is an attitude I hide from my children because I want them to get an education and to be the best they can be but I can’t help but question what was the point of my education if I can’t use it. It seems such a waste but to say this also makes me feel incredibly guilty. Shouldn’t I be happy and fulfilled to be a mother and carer or am I breaking a taboo to say it isn’t always what it should be? Don’t get me wrong I would walk the earth for my children and I will fight for their rights till the day I die but caring day in, day out with no opportunity to do something else is depressing at times.
To care constantly requires a mental and physical stamina that many people do not appreciate. You have to find a way of keeping going and it is hard to maintain your energy levels, your self esteem and confidence. Without some sort of appreciation (financial or otherwise) and a chance to have a life outside the home how can we keep our own self esteem going? Many days I feel as though I don’t exist. With so much attention on the elderly care crisis I feel that as a mother I am overlooked and that because I’m a mother I can’t be a carer and yet I’ve had to give up a lot. I’m stuck in the house nearly all the time caring for children who are on the autism spectrum. This is beyond what most other parents experience. By the stage that their offspring are tweens and teens, life is usually stable; kids are usually at school, parents are usually picking up jobs and careers. Not for me, not for us, we are stuck in what feels like no-mans land with no clear way out of the debris caused by an education system that has failed my children. And there is a price to pay for this state failure: jobs have to be sacrificed, dreams given up on, someone has to take on the caring and advocacy role, tiredness and depression kicks in and with that comes a strain between partners. No wonder marriages and relationships break up under the strain. No wonder families fall apart.
And yet for all of this, there is a glimmer of hope. Without me, my children would not be where they are now, happier and more contented than they were in that torturous place called school. Seeing an improvement in their behaviours is what keeps me going even on bad days like this.