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Just get on with it

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carers

A young neighbour, mother of two pre-school children, said to me “Sally, you are always smiling. I just don't know how you do it!”

Well, neither do I actually. But I'm a carer. It's what you are supposed to do.

In other occupations you are allowed, in the staff room, when you are off duty, to have a rant. A rant about the pupils / patients / prisoners , whoever you are responsible for, about the pay, the shifts, anything at all.

If, on the other hand, you are a carer, you are not supposed to, it is against the unwritten rules. Firstly, you don't have a staff room, and secondly, you are never off duty.

The young mum can moan about the nappies, and say she will be glad when he's out of them, but your 'baby' will always need nappies. It hardly bears thinking about, so you don't. It must be bad enough, humiliating enough, for your charge to put up with, so for you to moan would be a disgrace.

The pupil may be having a high old time winding his teacher up, but your charge doesn't wind you up deliberately, doesn't even realise he's doing it, doesn't know that you want to scream, so you don't. You count to ten, and get on with it.

If you are exceptionally frustrated, shatteringly tired, you may snap. But that does not help at all. It just leaves you with a shed load of guilt and remorse and shame to contend with on top of everything else. So, you learn that is better to fight down the urge, paste a smile on your face, a merry quip on your lip, and get on with it.

My first sea side holiday was when I was sixteen (we weren't the riches tof families!). I went, with a friend, to Skegness. Our accommodation, if memory serves me rightly, was at the YMCA, or YWCA, holiday home. We were surrounded by lovely people, it was a great holiday, and the memories lasted. I still recall that every evening there was entertainment, during or after which we always sang “When you're smiling”.

The words of that song stayed with me all of my life, and I rely on them so much now, and often sing them to myself. They help.

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