Does this make me his carer?

Last week was Carers Week. A national campaign aimed at highlighting the many millions of carers in the UK.

This is taken from their website 

" There are almost six million carers in the UK 1

 People providing high levels of care are twice as likely to be permanently sick or disabled 2
 Every year 2 million people take on new caring responsibilities 3
1.25 million people care for more than 50 hours a week 1

One in eight adults in the UK is a carer 1
3. 3 million people juggle work with caring responsibilities for a disabled, ill or frail relative or friend 1
The main carers’ benefit – Carers Allowance - is £55.55 for a minimum of 35 hours, equivalent to £1.59 per hour
58% of carers are women, 42% are men 1
1.5 million carers are over the age of 60 1
Carers’ unpaid contribution is £119 billion each year, yet the decision to care can mean a commitment to future poverty. Many give up an income, future employment prospects and pension rights to become a carer 4
1 Census 2001

2 In Poor Health, Carers UK 2004
3In The Know, Carers UK 2006
4 Carers UK / Leeds University 2011

I am classed as Zack's carer. I hate that term. When asked who is his main carer I say myself. But I don't view myself as his carer, I'm his mum. I am supposed to look after him, who else is going to do it?

This got me thinking, how many other mothers or father's view themselves as carers? Do we see what we do as something that we should get paid to do? Do we think about the amount of money we are saving the government?   

I don't want this to be a pity post.  I suppose I wanted to blog about it because the issues highlighted by the Carers Week campaign are things I never consider. Perhaps I even feel a little embarrassed about it all, I mean why should I receive monetary help just for being a mum?

Yet if you look on the flip-side. My son is three years old and still requires the care of a newborn child. It will most likely always be that way. This doesn't make me sad. It doesn't fill me with a sense of tiresome dread. To me it's just the way things are and will be. In a strange way caring and loving Zack has given me happiness that I don't think many people will ever truly experience. 

I have the added help of his Father. A secondary carer, who receives no monetary help. He continues to work full-time as well as par-take in his share of looking after Zack. I bet if you asked him does he see himself as a carer the answer would be, no I'm his dad, this is what I am meant to do.

I have no idea how other carers feel. There are many different types, those that care for elderly relatives, those that care for their spouse. And most concerning of all children who care for their own parents. And with each caring relationship comes a variation in stress, hours and free time. 

Whilst trying to write this post I have been in and out of young man's bedroom trying to get him to sleep. And he is still wide awake shouting about it at 10.15pm. No doubt when he finally does drop off he will be up again in the night. Perhaps something many parents deal with, perhaps not, perhaps he doesn't fully understand bedtime routines, perhaps he does and is just being a little git. Does this make me his carer?

During the week I take Zack to hospital appointments, we see therapists of all kinds, I discuss adaptions to our house, I try to figure out which of the two schools available to us offer the best option for a child with special needs. Does this make me his carer?

I undertake countless hours of therapy with Zack. I am his physiotherapist, his occupational therapist, his speech therapist, his sensory therapist. Does this make me his carer?

I feed him all his food and his water. I give him his medicines at the correct time. I monitor how many seizures he has in a day. I research products and equipment that could help him in his daily life. Does this make me his carer?

I know every minute detail of that boy. I know the meaning of every small tiny movement. I know what he needs and what he is trying to say without him uttering one word to me. 

All of this would in the eyes of some make me his carer. But all of that to me just makes me his mum. He's my boy what else am I supposed to do.


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