Who Am I?

May I have your attention?

A few minutes of your time,

Take a break from your life,

I’ll tell you how I live mine.

See this face? See this smile? See these eyes open wide?

It’s a mask to disguise how I’m feeling inside,

I’m one in twelve in my city, yet it’s hard to describe,

But just give me a moment, I promise, I’ll try.

I’m a cook; a cleaner; a doctor; a healer,

A helper; a sitter; a supporter; a leader,

By my demeanour, it may not always be clear that I’m needed,

When my mum takes a fall, has a fit or a seizure,

When my brother breaks his toys and I pick up the pieces,

When his autism means that even though I pleaded,

He kicks and he screams and every day this is repeated,

But before bed, I still hug him, because I know he doesn’t mean it.

And some might say that this sounds strange,

Why I have all these skills and I don’t even get paid,

When I get home from school and make sure the table is laid,

Because my dad is upstairs, still in bed, still afraid,

Oh, I’m sorry, did I not mention?

That his mind is affected by stress and by tension,

Depression that means he requires my attention,

So my homework goes unwritten with no chance of extension.

I shop; I feed; I help shower and bathe,

I wash; I make sure that the beds are all made,

I talk; I listen; I cuddle; I play,

I make sure that the medicine is stored safely away.

And even though I know that those who love me understand,

It’s hard to keep up friendships when I have to cancel plans,

When phone calls go unanswered, when they say they’ll lend a hand,

Sometimes it feels that it’s only me who can.

So thank you for listening,

To the words I have to say,

About how I live my life,

About what I do each day,

I hope; I dream; I wonder; I pray,

Because I’m a young carer,

And I wouldn’t have it any other way.

This poem was created by combining quotes from young carers during one-to-one sessions in Autumn 2017. Thanks to all of the young carers who contributed.