In our virtual cuppas, we discussed what feeling we would like more of in our lives. I was expecting responses like 'energy', 'happiness' or maybe 'peace', but when one carer mentioned "pride and joy", it opened up a whole new and wonderful area of discussion.
Abi, a young adult carer, a regular at our cuppas, and all round inspiration, is about to go to Uni. She shared with us, how she felt when she opened her offer letter, and how she realised how little she had felt these feelings up until then.
"Feeling both Pride and Joy is not something I feel often, but on the 13th August 2020, that day will stay with me for a while. On this day I received my results for my BTEC course."
"‘Congratulations, your place at the University of Liverpool for Music has been confirmed,’ I couldn’t have been more proud of the work I put in, over the past two years. Nothing could have prepared me for reading those words."
"The joy of reading that me, a full-time carer and being dyslexic had got that grade the pride and joy stayed with me for days and still brings a smile to my face when I say to myself I got into my first choice university."
Having had a taste of pride and joy, Abi is intent on having more in her life - what a great intention to have, right? What a boost!
This got us asking ourselves
"When was the last time we felt pride or joy?"
"Do we enjoy those feelings?"
"If not, why?"
"What activity could give us those feelings?"
"How great could every day feel, if we genuinely felt proud of ourselves and joy in our actions? And we were comfortable with those emotions?"
Well, pride and joy grew legs in our cuppa!
While there are some great things we could be doing - such as setting off to university! - there could (and should!) actually be a huge amount of pride and even joy in our everyday, if we choose to accept it.
What we realised was that every single day, we do some incredible stuff. That indeed - if we're willing to look for it and accept it - there can be a huge amount of pride and even joy in our caring roles.
"Actually, I think we should be so proud of everything we do, every single day."
Of course - this doesn't have to be (and neither should it be!) at the expense of following our own dreams. But, we know, that at certain times, there is only space for caring. And rather than feeling like we're missing opportunities, let's start wearing our 'Carer's Badges' with honour. We do an amazing job, we started to realise.
Unfortunately, somewhere along the line of relentlessness, and the fact that we continue to feel forgotten when policies are made, many of us have somehow lost those feelings. And yes - of course some days are hard, and those days can stretch. And for some of us there is no thanks offered for the care we give. Not that we wish people to feel indebted to us, but a small thanks can give us a boost!
But there is no reason we shouldn't be feeling pride in those hard days. Perhaps pride on those hard days should be even greater.
Perhaps we don't feel worthy of pride, because we feel we don't have a choice? Or because we feel we could do things 'better'? Or because it's just our 'job' as Mum, Dad, Mother, Father, Daughter, Son, Brother, Sister, Friend.
But we would challenge this. We all have a choice in how much we do or the way we do it. And we do these things often under very challenging circumstances. So some self kindness wouldn't go amiss. The fact that we continue to show up every day says a lot. Or, even if we have to step away from our caring role - there is pride in making a decision that is in the best interest of the person we care for and for ourselves.
"I had got in a rut of resentment over all the personal care I have to do. It felt relentless and it was exhausting. The 'foreverness' of it scared me. I hated myself for feeling like this. I was encouraged to reframe the situation and it really helped. I now feel genuinely honoured and grateful that I'm fit and able to provide such important care. I do it from a place of love and 'yes', now you mention it, I do feel pride and joy in the care I provide. I hadn't noticed that before and it feels good!"
So will you help us to shift perceptions? Starting with your own? Will you share what you feel pride and joy from? Whether that's you caring role or something else?
"I'm proud of everything I've done from all my children, but perhaps especially how much I have learned about Down Syndrome, Autism, ADHD and Sensory Processing Disorder. I've read, and read and read. I've been to conferences. I spoken with experts. I've advocated. I've read up on therapies and diets, and I've implemented many and monitored what works. Perhaps it's 'just what a mum does' - but I'm proud and get real joy from seeing my daughter thrive when I get it right."
Abi's Full Story
"Feeling both Pride and Joy is not something I feel often, but on the 13th August 2020, that day will stay with me for a while. On this day I received my results for my BTEC course I had been sitting. During the two years I was sitting the course, I had difficulties with my own health, family health and my caring role, with Covid-19 giving me the ideal space to work at my own speed to achieve the grades I got.
Due to the pandemic, results were sent via email and university decisions were still on the Universities and Colleges Admissions Service (UCAS) site. That morning I opened the UCAS site up first at 8am and refreshed until I could log in. When I read the words "Congratulations, your place at the University of Liverpool for Music has been confirmed," I couldn’t have been more proud of the work I put in, over the past two years. Nothing could have prepared me for reading those words.
About half an hour later I looked in my inbox to find my course results, I was gobsmacked, after only being predicted Distinction, Distinction, Distinction (AAA in A-level terms) I saw the email which read Distinction Star, Distinction, Distinction (A*AA in A-levels terms). The joy of reading that me, a full-time carer and being dyslexic had got that grade the pride and joy stayed with me for days and still brings a smile to my face when I say to myself I got into my first choice university."
Please do share your moments in our community!