Mother’s Day

I can’t remember my life before I was a mum anymore. I can’t remember the last time I had a full night’s sleep, went to the bathroom without an audience or made an uninterrupted phone call. I can’t remember when I last went to a shopping centre without clock watching, knowing I had 23 and a half minutes before the whining would start (impressive eh?) or a time leaving the house without preparing for the apocalypse (just in case). 

Sometimes, when you list it out (and we all know there are many, many things missing from that list) it seems that the difference is mainly negative when you consider your pre-mum days to your now 24/7 mum days but of course we know that’s far from the truth. Being a mum lets you know love you never knew existed and it is the greatest privilege I’ve ever known. It gives us an insight into how things were for our own mothers and while we might or might not do things differently to them, we now know the conditions they were operating under! Mums are great! Happy Mother’s Day to mums everywhere especially those celebrating their first one as a mum. Thinking also of those whose mums are no longer with them.

Playdates!

Friday is generally playdate day here. Sometimes my kids go to their friends’ houses, sometimes their friends come here but, because I haven’t quite mastered the skill of managing to farm them all out on the same day, there are generally always other children here on a Friday afternoon. It can be a great way to see how your children mix with their peers. It can be a fantastic bribe (or threat) during the week to get them to focus on their homework, eat their dinner, put their underwear in the wash basket (tick as appropriate). It can also be a great way to keep the kids occupied on a Friday afternoon or, depending on the child who comes over and his/her effect on the group dynamic, throw the afternoon into excited chaos!ng the week to get them to focus on their homework, eat their dinner, put their underwear in the wash basket (tick as appropriate). It also can be a great way to keep the kids occupied on a Friday afternoon, or depending on the child who comes over and his/her effect on the group dynamic, throw the afternoon into excited chaos.

Playdates have changed a lot here over the years as the children have grown up. Obviously we still have a lot of younger kids coming over for the younger children but the older kids don’t have friends on playdates anymore. They have friends over to “hang out”. It can be very funny to observe a cool “meeting of minds” taking place around the dining room table over pizza as my daughter and her friends discuss important things in life, such as the Kardashians, who’s meeting who these days, and other stuff that I couldn’t possibly be cool enough to know about because I’m mam. What’s even funnier is to see my daughter’s reaction when the two year old walks into the dining room and interrupts the deep and meaningful conversation to proudly declare “I’ve done a smelly poo in my potty! Want to see?” After initial looks of absolute horror the girls burst out laughing and my daughter takes her brother’s hand and says “sure baby, show me”. 

Meanwhile, in the sitting room, where the potty has taken pride of place in front of the T.V., boys have gathered from every corner of the house, some related, some not, to admire what has been produced. No looks of horror here! Then after the two year old has been congratulated, everyone returns to what they were doing. It’s like feeding time at the zoo when the kids and their friends are called for their dinner and excited chat takes place around the table. I have to admit I love that part! Collection time involves a mad search for shoes which were discarded literally everywhere, as soon as the kids came into the house. Most recently, one child went home with different shoes, my son’s shoes, not noticed by me or the other child’s mother for several days! In our defence, there were a lot of black similar sized shoes, to wade through. 

Finally when everyone has gone I collapse on the couch, promising myself I’ll check out the playroom later, when I’ve built up the courage, to see what damage has been caused by the human tornadoes that went through it. Playdates are great, but nothing beats the feeling after when you know the kids are happy and the weekend’s really about to start. Good luck to all the mammies having playdates this afternoon!

Homework

I have to admit, I’m looking forward to the kids being on their Easter holidays. Yes there will be 7 kids to occupy. Yes my head will be done in come day three when the crappy Irish weather means we’re trapped indoors rapidly running out of ideas as to how to occupy them all without needing to remortgage the house BUT the freedom from making lunches and sorting uniforms and having to be somewhere at a certain time, I just can’t wait. Most of all I can’t wait for the break from homework and the battle involved!

It can be like a warzone here some evenings. I have five lots of homework to contend with. It’s enough to break even most hardened Marine! The “fun” starts when the kids get home from school and after their snack they get a “gentle” encouraging call from me to take their places at the dining/kitchen/playroom table, depending on whose turn it is to sit where. Five minutes lapse and I realise no-one is where they’re supposed to be so another “slightly less gentle” call to take their places is issued. Cue row number one. “I don’t want to do it in that room/ sit beside him/her”. Finally I have them sitting down and homework started and within two minutes there’s another call “Mam, I forgot my Irish book”. I suggest numerous places in the bag it might be and eventually it turns up, on the table, having already been taken out. 

Peace returns to the galaxy for all of five minutes when there’s another call, “he hit me”, “she’s laughing at me” or the best and most frequent “he/she is annoying me”. The source of annoyance here can be something as trivial as breathing. My usual threat of no dessert after dinner quietens them all down again for a while. The two year old comes into the kitchen laughing “I funny, I funny” and I look up to see he has swiped his sister’s glasses and she hasn’t even noticed that they’ve gone missing. Eventually comes the onerous task of checking the homework to discover half the stuff hasn’t been done yet and there’s a note in someone’s journal for something that HAS to be in by tomorrow and the bloody shop I need to get it in is closed. Stress levels are high and the project hasn’t even been started yet…………

Slugs, Snails and Puppy Dog’s Tails – the truth about boys!

I am from a family of all girls. Not quite sugar and spice and all things nice but it was as you’d expect quite a girly household and the world of boys was pretty alien to us. I was quite the football nut growing up (I’m sure to my father’s relief a little bit and certainly my mother’s amazement) but asides from that our house was full of make-up, clothes, perfume, dolls, and girly bits and pieces. The fact I played and loved football meant I was categorised as somewhat of a tomboy but that was ok because that was acceptable. 

Fast forward a few years and while we all look quite alike, we have grown up to be four very different women, four very different types of mother and we have four very different personalities and interests. Again, not surprising because we are four different people. My sisters are fantastic and different. I went on to have my own children, and I have, you might say, a fair few boys. Raising sons has been quite the eye opening experience for me. Having no brothers, I had no experience of little boys to draw upon. I’ve learned clothes aren’t considered a necessity – nor are underpants. Farts are something to be proud of (I think this continues into later life), snot isn’t gross and “rude” words are just hilarious. I have also learned boys are so, so full of love. Boys are as different from each other as the genders are. Some are soft. Some are sensitive. Some are physically gentle. Some are definitely not! Some like sport. Some like drama. Some like art. I even have a son who likes clothes, and by this I mean style rather than actually wearing them! 

My boys are all so different and I love this fact. Variety is definitely the spice of life and the world would certainly be a very boring place if we were all the same. I do worry however, that life has very set expectations from boys and that can prove very difficult and isolating if they don’t meet them. Differences which are embraced or at worst accepted in girls are often discouraged in boys. There is sometimes a failure to recognise in our society that different boys have different needs and even just within the confines of the family, school environment, or on the sports field different boys need different parenting, teaching, coaching. It is personality rather than gender determines a child’s needs. My lads keep me on my toes and they’re great. It’s a lot of responsibility for us mums (and dads of course) shaping the men of the future and encouraging them to wear underwear!
 My boys are all so different and I love this fact. Variety is definitely the spice of life and the world would certainly be a very boring place if we were all the same. I do worry however, that life has very set expectations from boys and that can prove very difficult and isolating if they don’t meet them. Differences which are embraced or at worst accepted in girls are often discouraged in boys. There is sometimes a failure to recognise in our society that different boys have different needs and even just within the confines of the family, school environment, or on the sports field different boys need different parenting, teaching, coaching. It is personality rather than gender determines a child’s needs. My lads keep me on my toes and they’re great. It’s a lot of responsibility for us mums (and dads of course) shaping the men of the future and encouraging them to wear underwear! ~ Jen

Time passes so quickly

Without a doubt, for me, one of the most challenging things about having a larger family is trying to meet the needs of the relatively vast age span. Stroppy teenagers, tantruming toddlers and a six month old who just won’t be convinced of the merits of sleep, no matter how hard I try, can lead to a very cranky mammy. Sometimes I find myself in a sleep deprived stupor, unable to correctly link the name to the child and so revert to my mother’s tactic of listing through all our names in the hope someone will come. I have been known to say “you with the curly hair” when I’m trying to get one particular child’s attention or just “you” after a particularly bad night. It’s easy to see why sleep deprivation has been used as a form of torture! 

I remember shortly after my daughter’s birth, 14 years and 9 months ago ( but who’s counting) when the mother of my neighbour came to have a look at my precious little bundle who, like her six month old brother now, could not be convinced of the joys of sleep. In addition to this, my daughter (who had colic) could cry, and cry and cry. As I loaded my little pink bundle into the car, my neighbour’s mother said to me “enjoy these days, these are the easiest”. I thought she was quite obviously off her rocker. Now my bundle of pink stands three inches taller than me and I can’t quite believe that 14 years and 9 months (but who’s counting) have passed since she came into my life. My now teenager, brings a whole different set of challenges and not just the obvious ones of mood swings and door slamming, but the balancing act of trying to be her mum and protecting her and guiding her while trying to let go a little, to let her find her own way and to continue to become the wonderful young woman that she is growing to be. 

These days I think my neighbour’s mother was right. They were the easiest years. Difficult when you’re coping with constant feeding and nappy changes and sleepless nights but the time goes so quickly – too quickly. So when my toddler throws a wobbler because he can’t find his magic wand and my baby gets up for the umpteenth feed during the night I try to remind myself of the mantra – this too shall pass ………..but hopefully not too quickly….. 
😊 -Jen ‪#‎mamatude‬

Terror Toddler!

My two year old is quite the pocket rocket. He’s blonde, green eyed and looks like butter wouldn’t melt in his mouth. He’s full of kisses and hugs and generally has most people wrapped around his little finger as soon as he meets them BUT in a flash, he has the ability to mortify me like none of my other children yet. He has picked up a couple of “phrases” shall we say. His speech is quite articulate for his age (more’s the pity on this occasion) and so when he decides to share these “phrases” there’s no denying exactly what it is he’s saying.

Most recently in my G.P.’s surgery my little cherub informed my doctor (as my doctor was trying to coax him into letting him look into his ears) that my doctor was in fact “a big eejit”. I cringed and hoped that my G.P. hadn’t heard the remark but in fairness to my little darling, he repeated the comment, loud and clear and with complete defiance! I muffled my embarrassed apologies with explanations as to how my older children were big Fr. Ted fans and that he was just copying them. Now in fairness to my doctor, he just laughed it off, but I thought out of that surgery I would never get. Bad as that was, I knew my two year old had a few other “phrases” up his sleeve that he was and is quite happy to sing along to the tune of the “Wonder Pets”. Thankfully this time the G.P and the waiting room were not treated to a rendition of this same tune but if anyone has any tips on how to make sure my little angel doesn’t, in the future, treat a poor unsuspecting old lady who might kindly enquire as to how he’s doing, to his lovely song, I’d love to hear them! In the meantime we’re continuing to alternate between ignoring, distracting and simply telling him not to say it, just hoping it will pass soon. -Jen ‪#‎mamatude‬ #morto 

Hi Everyone. I’m so excited to introduce my new blog . As a mum of seven life is hectic, crazy and certainly never dull. My house isn’t always pristine and the beds aren’t always made by lunchtime but it’s a house filled with love, laughter, tears and the odd tantrum wink emoticon . I wouldn’t change a thing! Looking forward to sharing the journey and chatting with you all. Surviving and enjoying parenthood with a little mama-tude! -Jen ‪#‎parentingblog‬‪#‎mumofseven‬ ‪#‎mamatude‬