I am not in any way criticising the family that features in this ad, but it does fit the caring stereotype that society has come to expect.
A kindly, loving, sensible, middle aged women who cares out of love and needs nothing more than the occasional break for a bit of light shopping or drinking tea with friends and crafting Christmas cards.
And that is very admirable, but not all carers are like that.
Not at all.
Like the rest of society, carers come in all shapes and sizes and life styles. They also have different hopes and dreams and aspirations.
Some are still children, giving up the best years of their lives to help their parents or siblings.
Some are young women (or men) who care for children with special needs. They are fashionable and feisty, and respite may mean a chance to run a marathon, read a book all day, drink tequila all night, shop in New York for the weekend. Others have to give up careers that they loved and miss and cannot find anything in the home that replaces the intellectual stimulation of work.
Some are broke, but apparently 'carers don't look for financial reward'. Except that State payments like the carer's allowance is not a reward, it's an income, and a small one too. It's essential money to live on, as many carers cannot hold down employment.
Sometimes this can lead to tragedies. We've all read about elder abuse and murder suicides involving special needs. But carers are caught in a bind. If they ask for help, they may not be given support. Instead they may be blamed, and their loved ones removed from their care, no matter what the mental, emotional or physical consequences for all involved.
Painting the lives of carers and their dependents in pretty pastels just prevents people from getting the help that they need. It may prevent both leading more fulfilled and happier lives. A little bit of charity patronisingly handed out to make everyone else feel better is not the answer.
Sorry President Higgins, but the reason that many of us are quiet is because we're knackered. It's not by choice, and many of us can't shout or march for our rights because we can't leave our dependents, and sometimes we can't bring them with us either.
When carers are only described using words like brave, dedicated and selfless, it soothes the conscience of the rest of the population. Allows them to ignore the real needs that are out there.
As for me? Well I don't think I will ever be a stereotypical carer, which is one reason why I don't go public.
I want to see carers breaking out, dressing up, going on dates, even dancing on bars like the lead characters from the fabulous Netflix series Grace and Frankie. Obviously they are not carers though.
|Obviously not carers.|
But if they were? Well that would be a caring stereotype that I could celebrate!
NOTE: I'm pretty certain that I've written about this before, but it's worth saying again...