Okay, so why did I do it?

Life changes, situation changes and, in my situation, my other children have moved on with their lives, and that is exactly what I want for them.

Up to the end of Covid, life was hectic. Like yourselves with a busy household with different hobbies and social outings that you are bringing your children to even when they are over 18, etc., it is what we as parents do.

However, life has changed, and now, I spend every weeknight and most weekends with David. We have our routine and things we do at weekends. David loves to chill out in the evenings, watch football, play the PlayStation, etc. That’s fine; he is up early and has a busy day, and as he gets older, it’s his decision to do this. I support this; we all need downtime.

But my mind is active; I have a busy mind, and I like that; it’s my makeup. Yes, I can do the relaxation, and I do. But overall, I want to be reading or learning, etc. It’s not for everyone. However,  I found myself in a situation where I had more time to myself, and after joining a book club, et cetera, I found I needed to do more for myself.

So, I applied for a course at University College Cork, most of which was done remotely from home, and I was accepted after my interview. I was really delighted with this. It was a course I wanted to do, and it would help me better advocate for David in the long run. It is on from 6 pm to 10 pm one night a week and one or two Saturdays in the year that you would have to attend for a morning or afternoon in the college.

I suppose I was still feeling a bit guilty about leaving David for those few hours on an evening, even though we were in the same house as it was online. I could still attend to his needs when he called me, while, as I said when he was watching football or playing the PlayStation, but it still actually didn’t sit well with me.

I am in a privileged position that I have the help and support of the Irish Wheelchair Association, who have always been fantastic to me. I rang them and asked them if one of their helpers could stay with David in the house while I did this course from a different room. They checked it out for me, and they could offer that assistance. I phoned David’s physiotherapist and asked him if he would come down and show me and the person from the Irish Wheelchair Association exercises for David in the gym and in the local pool, which they accommodated and did for me as well.

Normally, whenever I try to get my ducks in a row, things always fall through, but this time, I feel so privileged to be one of the rare parents who can get this service. So now, on that evening once a week, I attend college from my own home. David goes to the gym and the pool with his helper from the IWA. He then defeats all that purpose and goes to the chipper on the way home 🙂

He’s at home after a lovely evening with his helper before I finish college that evening at 10:00. We chat and have a cup of tea. He tells me all his news and I tell him about the course, lectures, and other people on the course as well.

This course helps me with my own personal growth and development. I’m learning new skills. I’m probably the oldest one in the class, but they’re very kind to me. I think David likes to know that I’m learning as well, as he tries different training courses from time to time, so he knows it’s not only him, but mum must do it as well.

It’s actually has become a guilt-free respite for me. As I’ve always said, it’s important for Carers to have that little bit of time to prevent burnout and to have their identity outside their caregiving roles. It does give me energy and focus. I’ve also met lots of new people, lots of like-minded people. We do have a little social interaction when David’s in the mood to let me go; it’s also helped me with problem-solving skills because it’s giving me a little bit more critical thinking, and that can help in my caregiving role as well.

Overall, I found going back to further education is a holistic decision for me and brings benefits to my own personal growth and mental health and caregiving abilities.

I’m looking forward to telling you all about the course and I do have another academic year to complete. I’m really excited about what I’ve learned and hope to share the experiences with you. Fingers crossed that my brain cells will keep working for another few months and I’ll pass the course. Keep an eye out and I’ll keep you updated.