"I am yet to learn my lesson when it comes to unmet expectations because I refuse to let it stop me from dreaming, even though what hurts me most in life is the image in my head of how it should have been.
When I was younger the image in my head was that of idyllic family life, I would have a husband, children, a nice car and in my innocent unrealistic dream, I would be a midwife. We would go on holiday every year, have a nice home, maybe a caravan, and spend lots of time together making memories. I would be the kind of mum that reads to her children every night, that dropped everything to play barbies, football or bake. We would go wild swimming, chasing waterfalls and exploring caves. We would re-live my childhood and have Friday night dance nights complete with music and fancy dress… I wanted to be the best version of me, the best version of mum.
The reality, I gave up my career before it even started to become a full-time parent carer. The family holidays I once dreamed about are impossible on my own. Time spent together is locked within our four walls because Bobby’s care needs mean we can’t get out. I am not the mum I thought I would be, because every day I must choose to put one of my child’s needs before the other. I have weekly appointments, meetings, reviews and not forgetting the never-ending ongoing fight to provide a better more inclusive life for Bobby... Our lives are dictated by a regimented timetable displayed on the kitchen wall that helps me achieve a work-life balance. Friday night dance nights are instead replaced with copious amounts of coffee, battling with myself to stay awake, clock-watching; 2 am, 3 am, 4 am, waiting for Bobby to finally go to sleep.
But no matter what challenges come with being a parent carer, the lack of support offered, the lack of acceptance and the lack of facilities that meet the needs of others like Bobby, I refuse to let my children miss out on life experiences that so many take for granted. So, a paddling pool in the garden is as close to wild swimming as we get, the hose is our waterfall and a homemade den is our cave… they may not be picture-perfect memories, but they are happy ones.
I am not the mum I thought I would be because life hasn’t turned out the way I expected. It is because of these unmet expectations that I continue to be so hard on myself; concentrating more on what I am not achieving rather than what I am. Focusing on where I wish we were rather than where we are doesn’t help in the present. I tell myself just because my children aren’t living the life I imagined they would, doesn’t mean they aren’t living a good life.
So, whilst I know I am not the mum I thought I would be, I like to think I’m the mum my children need me to be, and at the end of the day, that’s all that matters."
Abby, Parent Carer from Marske.
If you can relate to Abby's experiences and would benefit from engaging with support, take a look at what is available locally:
Huge thanks to Abby for sharing her experiences with us.
Read Abby's first blog post for We Care You Care and e-mail us, email@example.com, if you are interested in writing for the website to raise awareness of the realities of being a carer in the South Tees area and encourage other people to recognise that they are not alone.