I was in our little car riding shotgun as the supervising driver, beside me was my youngest daughter, a learner, she was asking me about dinner, transport and shift schedules.
I concentrated as life is complex. I was weighing up the realistic probability of me actually being available to pick her up, drop her off, feed her? I consulted my iPhone diary. I didn’t own an iPhone until last year when a friend gifted me the little piece of technology that took me into the 21st Century and introduced me to social media. I had upheld the view that I could access Facebook and email once a day on my home computer to stay abreast of my family, friends and World news but now I check in with obsessive regularity. Without an iPhone I would never have understood Twitter, Facebook timeline and pages or blogging. A year ago I thought email was the epitome of communication, imagine now that I prefer to Skype than to call and speak on the telephone. I continued to listen to my learner driver as I accessed my icloud calendar to see my planned events for the day – could I manage to combine our agendas? It made me reflect on the tangent demands made on me as an everyday carer.
Caring is not an isolated activity
It struck me that I am living in the great washing machine of life, constantly moving me around, agitating my goals, expectations and demands. 12 months ago in Royal Ryde Rehab I met mothers who were similar to me. They too had a child in rehabilitation, but we all had other children. We were all juggling families, work, schools, sports while we tried to spend as much time as possible beside all our children. Emily doesn’t exist in isolation, she is a piece of my jigsaw , a valued component of my family and I have to apply myself to many other daily activities. I deal with the simultaneous demands of life; I oversee the household, ensure we are all fed, the cat is flea free, the dog is walked and that everyone ends up home at night. Assume the laundry is ongoing and I’m not even going to mention the hoover. While all these menial tasks have to be done weekends included birthdays, visitors, lunch guests, bike rides, and imagine my horror when I realized Christmas is just 26 days away. There’s not a twinkle of tinsel in our house, nothing hidden under the bed, no food ordered from Barry the Butcher. The thought of keeping a tree alive for the holiday season just adds to my juggling, taking my skill requirements from easy balls to juggling fire torches. If demands increase exponentially I could be juggling knives by Christmas.
Emily doesn’t exist in isolation
My point is that we are all trying to deal with intricate lives, lives that involve family, friends and communities, lives that are rooted in 21st Century complexity. I have one daughter who is quadriplegic but I remain a mother to my other children, I am a wife, a sister, a daughter, an aunt, a cousin, I am a friend, a cyclist, a neighbour. I am an everyday carer but I step through life within revolving concentric circles of people, their commonality being me. At times I feel like a circus act with my hula hoop circles twirling around me as I try to keep them all balanced, rolling forward with momentum. I stretch myself, I spread myself thin, I get up early and go to bed late so that each task is addressed and that I accomplish my daily chores. I am not unusual, I apply myself to the demands laid out before me. To succeed I need to be practical in my approach, some days I need patience, other days I need humor but most of all no piece of my jigsaw fits or functions in isolation. Everyday caring is intertwined, it can’t be separated or distilled into an isolated act, caring occurs all day at all times. I may care for Emily but I continue to care and contribute to the larger arena.
Caring is integrated into life
My life is energised by social interaction, the kind support of others, their insightful comments, our discussions, all essential, I need a phone call, a text, a coffee, an invitation to cycle or a call to see a matinée at the cinema. I manage because I do not care in isolation, caring is integrated and aided by the genial friendships that surround me. Building and maintaining relationships is vital, it brings perspective into play which maintains balance in my psyche. If I am healthy, mentally and physically, Emily has a happy carer and that is integral to the longevity of caring everyday.