Something that it’s easy to forget during the current crisis is that the whole family can struggle. For us, Lee’s struggle was less obvious as he’s so used to being the supportive one, always there helping at the ground level and putting his own needs on the back burner. It was only when the male carers group was mentioned that we even thought that he may have a need for it
So last night it happened! I was safely able to say I was witness to it and despite it being a small achievement it was one I wanted to share with the world. Unfortunately most of the world wouldn’t have a clue on why it’s such a big deal but still… In our house we have learnt to celebrate small victories and last night was another. Don’t know what I’m talking about? Let me explain.
You see there is a lot of media coverage about the effects of lock-down on kids. I have 5 kids and as-well as reading about them I’ve witnessed it first hand. As a mother of multiple kids with ‘additional’ or ‘special’ needs I’ve seen how hard it’s been for them too. But this isn’t about them, this is about my often underrated other half. You see, a lot of the time he’s mainly a cog in the machine that keeps our family working. Easily forgotten about because the things he does are at the grass roots of it all. Our personal chauffeur ferrying us shopping or to appointments or helping me to navigate the ever changing landscape in front of us with kids who’s needs and preferences vary daily. But last night was a turning point.
I heard him laugh!!!
I told you it was a small victory didn’t I? The best thing about it was it was not anything I did, or our kids did. It was because of a random group of men in similar circumstances in a Zoom meeting set up by a service that is accessed mainly by me and our eldest daughter. The strangest thing was that one of the men was his best man at our wedding almost 16 years ago and although I’d seen his wife’s name pop up on a support group and had messaged her a few times, I hadn’t clicked that her husband was a carer too. Just like my husband.
I stood back and watched as my husband’s walls came down at this Zoom meeting, he was laughing and joking with like minded men like he used to. With no worries about the kids (our youngest two were upstairs with me settling for bed) and no concerns about being judged, he sat for almost two hours doing a quiz that one of the men had put together but from what I heard it wasn’t rocket science it was more designed by someone in a similar situation who wanted to help break the tension. My husband often avoids these type of things for fear of judgement or criticism. It’s an easy assumption when you consider that daily he helps deal with triggered meltdowns, tension and sensory overload along side the usual household pressures and now homeschooling. He doesn’t talk often about the pressures he’s under or the stress he feels. He’s the big protector though, always trying to help when he’s needed and enjoy our amazing kids and keep everyone safe and things running with me. But lock-down has changed that and in turn, lock-down has changed him and while we try to navigate our new normal he’s always there trying to keep the pieces together with minimal complaint. Last night he slept well and deep, again another rarity as we have a child who is prone to night terrors and sleep walking. As always I was awake in a light sleep just in case I was needed but when I woke up, he had a smile on his face and as always he was ready to face our day again but this time with a little of the weight off his shoulders.
The effect it had is noticeable and yeah, he’s not going to be shouting from the rooftops about it. Today will be spent like every other, trying to keep things calm and structured and hoping for an easy day and that between it all we get a few mins for a coffee together but his shoulders will be a little less weighted at least for a little while and that is defiantly a victory!
The male carers group meets fortnightly via Zoom on Tuesdays at 7pm. For more information contact Sarah on 01429 283095 or check out our Whats on Guide.
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About Hartlepool Carers
Hartlepool Carers are assisting directly and linking people with other organisations when more appropriate, to ensure every carer gets the support they require.