Do we lose our identities when we become carers for our children? – Guest Post
We are delighted to share a Guest Post with you today from a fellow mum/carer.
Kerry replied to a Facebook status we had added about caring for your child and how being a carer made you sometimes feel as if you had lost your identity. We invited her to write a guest post for us and I am sure, like me, you will read through this and be nodding away in recognition (and genuinely laughing out loud in parts). A huge thanks to Kerry for taking the time to write this for us.
Do we lose our identities when we become carers?
This is something I have pondered for some time before I set out to write this. Casting my mind back more years than I care to remember I’m not sure if I ever lost my identity. I had looked for an identity in some odd places- as a child I wanted to be a pirate, I spent one summer desperately trying to walk on one leg with my nanas old broom handle for support, I admitted defeat once I found I was somewhat landlocked and without a boat! Plus, our canary never really cut it as a parrot! The day my father announced that World War 2 had ended before he was born, scuppered my chances of fighting with the resistance and riding a Raleigh Shopper with a beret on my head in a sleepy market town didn’t have a ring of Che Guevara!
Fast forward to the day before my 18th birthday, I came out of hospital with my first child; so I have been mum since that day (29 years of being mum).
Early to enter mother hood but it never stopped me doing what I had wanted to do (no, not the resistance, piracy or revolution in a South American country!) I studied, went to university, kept having more children, studied became a teacher, gave birth to my fourth child and bang that’s when it all seemed to stop, whack!
The world stopped as I spent most of the following year and most of the next in and out of hospitals for many long stays – my identity was mum, nurse, an insomniac (not through choice but through necessity) a train wreck, with a sprinkle of House – investigative medic -why, how, when – researcher and law fiend in that mine field of medical negligence.
I had been an art teacher, I had studied Art – but from the moment my son was born I never touched a pencil, paintbrush, paper or canvas. I became full time mum, full time nurse, physiotherapist, occupational therapist, speech therapist –the list is endless I discovered skills I didn’t know I had and a patience I never thought capable. The most important thing I learnt was to be confident in fighting for my son’s needs – confident to say no you’re wrong.
We learn so much as carers, our transferable skills are second to none and that child with an over active imagination still has the beret on top of her head fighting against a forever oncoming tide and hurdling every wall we come up against on a regular basis.
The art: I have made some wonderful and brilliant friendships within the Parent Carer community and several of those beautiful friends encouraged me to start again. One bought me the Artist’s Way to unlock my blocked creativity and they cajoled and nagged me back to painting again.
So in the 16 years I have been a carer have I lost my identity? No I think I have concluded I have grown and maintained a lot of the spirit that was there from childhood. I am who I am and have adapted to life as we all do regardless of whether we are carers just with less sleep.
What about you?
How has caring for your child changed who you are? Are you still the same person? Do you still carry on with the same activities? How do you make time for you?
We would love to hear from you. If you would be interested in writing a guest post, like Kerry, then please just email firstname.lastname@example.org and I will be happy to chat about it. Your post can be anonymous if you prefer and please don’t worry about spelling/grammar, etc (so many people have said “I’d love to but my grammar is awful” or “I cannot spell to save my life”), your story is the important thing. We can help with spelling and grammar, but we can’t tell your story without you.
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Debs is one of the co-founders and Directors of Bringing Us Together. She is mum to three child with a variety of SEND and has a great husband.