Young carers often face a dilemma: we will not be carers forever. It’s not a particularly pleasant thought, but it’s one that has been on my mind a lot over the past year or so. I know that my mother will not be around forever. As the month’s pass, I see more evidence that she’s deteriorating. While I hope that she still has many years left, it’s a growing concern that she’s reaching the final stage of her life.
It sounds cold, cruel even, but I have to wonder, what about me? Caring is virtually all I’ve known as an adult. It was a role I fell into, and a decade ago I gave no consideration to where that path might lead. More and more, I’m forced to face reality. At some point, I’ll need to make my own way in life.
Life After Caring
In my last Carer Thoughts post, I slated the government and their attitude to carers. They don’t actually give a shit about us. We’re a budgetary convenience. Our futures are neither here nor there. Once our caring days are up, we’re allotted six weeks of mourning and then packed off to the Jobcentre.
You can understand that, of course. We must do something to satisfy the powers that be, and the thankless sacrifice we’ve made will be remembered by nobody. However, some of us, myself included, have nothing to put on a CV that is going to excite future employers. It’s been suggested, more than once, that my experience would make me suitable for a role in Adult Social Care. Call me callous, but I do what I do because it’s my mum. I’ve no real desire to do it for strangers even if the pay were a bit better.
Looking to the Future
With all that in mind, I will have to forge my own path. It would be ridiculous to think that I could leave caring and walk into a job that I would enjoy. It is far more likely that I would be forced to do work that would drive me nuts at best, and exacerbate my depression at worst.
Thus, I’ve been thinking about how to give myself a fighting chance to create a future worth living. I started this website about six months ago, partly to give myself an outlet, but also to stretch my creative muscles. I’m realistic; writing a single novel isn’t likely to lead to success and riches. However, the written word is a strength of mine, but like a muscle, strength wanes when not put to use.
Something creative is my ideal profession. Whether that’s novel writing, article writing, screenwriting, or something in that area, I’m not sure. I enjoy writing and perhaps I can light a path through it? Maybe.
Small Steps Forward
I’ve broadened my horizons while in my caring role, mostly via studies with the Open University. Now I possess qualifications, although it is debatable how far they could take me at my age. Remarkable, really, isn’t it that at 33, I already feel that I’m past it? I know that people retrain for new jobs at all ages. Most of them already have some practical work experience, though. A few months of office work in my teens doesn’t feel like it will cut it.
This year, I resolved to make an effort to be more productive. I’m getting that novel finished. My little site will be updated more frequently, and I’m actively hunting for opportunities for personal betterment. Instead of sitting here worrying about the future, I’m trying to tackle it head on. That’s all I can do. It’s all any of us can do.
And I have a long-term goal. I want to live in Europe. By giving myself objectives, it’s my hope that I will work harder to achieve them.
Making Plans Now
Crucially, I feel I must make plans now. Whenever my mother does pass, I’m not going to be in any state in those six weeks to think straight. I may not be the best under pressure or duress. It’s probably a good thing I’m not in charge of an aircraft.
It may well be that all these plans come to nothing, but I do have a few things already in motion. The possibility of self-employment by taking time now to develop skills in certain areas does exist. By grabbing at opportunities, as small as they may seem, I’m starting to begin putting together something that resembles a strategy for a future. It’s too easy to get trapped in a routine when caring. With all the challenges caring throws up such as sleepless nights and the fatigue of fear, the desire to try and build something for yourself is often not there.
Truthfully, though, carers have to rely on themselves. Once our work is over, no one else is going to help us.