Pip Henderson is an actress, writer, voice artist and funny lady who in between Stage, Film and TV appearances looks after her 83-year-old mum. Pip lives in Hove with her husband Mark who plays a supporting role, and provides the much needed holidays to keep everyone smiling. We are delighted to welcome her to the Bad Daughters Club and her third blog continues to sum it all up. Enjoy.
Job opportunity: Low/no pay. Must be able to cook, clean, launder, administer medication and make tea that is neither too hot, too cold, too weak or too strong.
*Must have experience as (or willingness to play the part of) a chauffeur, personal shopper, administrator, hygienist, foot masseur and back scratcher.
*Must be physically and emotionally strong, have the patience of a saint, the constitution of an ox, thick skin, strong back bone and be able to demonstrate the ability to answer the same question over and over again with grace and enthusiasm.
*Must be on call 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, 365 days a year (366 on leap years) even if you are technically on holiday, be prepared to work long (frequently unsociable) hours and occasionally ‘live in’. Sense of humour an absolute must.
If you were looking for a job and saw this position advertised would you apply, let alone take it? No, of course you wouldn’t; but I’m guessing that if you’re reading this then you (or someone close to you), like me, fulfils this job description on a daily basis. And we are not alone. As our elderly population grows and the funding for our social services diminishes, the job of caring for an ageing parent or relative, increasingly falls to family members, generally (although I must stress, not exclusively) women.
My name is Pip, I’m a woman of a certain age (I’ll be 50 this year), self employed and childless (in other words, perfectly qualified) and although there are many words you could use to describe me (and what I do with my life), the two that currently define me more than any others are Daughter and Carer. Yes, I have a Mother; She is 83, not in the best of health and whilst she currently, mercifully, retains most of her faculties, she is definitely in decline. Up until March last year she was living in Norfolk (a 3 hour journey from my home in Sussex) where she had been full time carer for my Step Dad; but after Brian passed away in October 2016 it seemed that the best decision, for all concerned, was for Mum to move closer to me.
And that was when everything changed.
Don’t get me wrong, I love my Mother dearly and despite the fact that we haven’t always had the easiest of relationships I am so glad that she is now only 10 minutes from home; apart from the fact that, on the rare occasions when I can be with her as a ‘Daughter’ and not a ‘Carer’ I generally, genuinely enjoy her company, I really don’t miss the frantic dashes and long stays in Norfolk that I endured for nearly 15 years as she and Brian careered from one medical disaster to another. But I wasn’t expecting her arrival Down South to result in me taking on an additional full time job and suddenly it seems that my life is no longer my own…
Now, when it comes to Caring there is always a choice, or so I am told (generally by other members of my family or people who don’t have parents who need such a high level of support in their declining years); no, I don’t HAVE to take on this (regularly onerous and frequently thankless) task but in order to ensure that my Mum retains her independence (and in such a way that ensures that she is safe and happy) it seems that my options are pretty limited. And the problem is that I, like you, DO care.
So, if you’re about to sign the contract, or you’re already locked in, then buckle up kids, it’s gonna be a bumpy ride – but if you fancy a little company on your journey, I’m travelling in your direction…