The birthday of a parent carer… 

Another year older. I’m heading into my mid thirties. I look back at how my life has changed since I was in my twenties. It’s pretty astonishing. The contrast is as painful as getting into a hot bath when you have sunburn. It stings to high hell and then you wonder why you did it.

I look back at what I would have done for my birthday ten years ago. Lunch with friends, a big night out, maybe even stay away somewhere. Nowadays I wouldn’t dream of doing such a thing. It’s not because I’m a “grown up” now, or that I have family. It’s because of the unpredictability of my current life. Nothing is ever certain, but as a parent carer you can be sure that most things are likely to be uncertain. Instead of planning for the best case scenario like I would in my twenties, I now plan for the worst. My confidence in plans following through has slowly but surely diminished over the years. Most days it doesn’t bother me at all. It’s a way of life. But on my birthday it drives me to distraction. Why? Because I daren’t hope for anything. I just can’t stand the disappointment when the plan doesn’t follow through. For some reason on my birthday it’s amplified. The pressure is on. I feel it on my shoulders. The expectation from the rest of the world is that I MUST have the best day. But what do we mean by best?

My husband puts a huge effort into making my birthday everything I would like it to be. He tries to plan special events, food, treats. But I put a road block up. I stop him. Because I just can’t face the disappointment of having to leave a restaurant because kiddo can’t cope, making a trip to A&E instead of heading out shopping, cancelling the hotel when our babysitter (of which there are so few to choose from) is taken ill. None of these scenarios are anyone’s fault. They are just life. They’re my life. And as much as I’d love it to, autism and ADHD doesn’t take a day off on my birthday.

I had a lovely day today. I went for a run, had a nice bath and took a walk with my gorgeous family. Some time off from being “on alert” 24/7 is all I need. People ask me what big plans I have, and sometimes they sound disappointed for me when I say I’d just like a low key day. But it’s precisely because of that disappointment that I want a low key day. Because when life gets interrupted by disabilities on my birthday, it just stings that little bit harder. Like sunburn in a hot bath.

I’ve had just the day I wanted today. My heartfelt thanks go to my husband for giving that day to me. And at some point in the near future we may plan a dinner out. Or not. But one things for sure, I’ll enjoy all the spontaneous moments of joy that we weren’t expecting so much more. And when they’re put together they’ll make up one very special day.

Thanks for reading,

Danielle 

2 thoughts on “The birthday of a parent carer… 

  1. People always want to do something big for me on my birthday, four kids and 2 on the spectrum. Cancelled my birthday last year as no one was listening and I hate feeling like I’ve failed to live up to their expectations of what a birthday is. So this year I have asked for a bath on my own with no time restrictions. Time alone in this house is more precious than diamonds. Oh and cake. I’ve always time for cake.

    Liked by 1 person

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