It’s not that everything was perfect last week. In fact in spite of having three teenagers in the house (my daughter’s pal stayed over) a phone call to a radio station nearly went horribly wrong. As I went on air to discuss a suitable tax-funded childcare solution, the two and four year olds antennae went up – mum was missing and needed to be tracked down immediately. And track me down they did to the youngest’s bedroom, which incidentally is there purely for decoration as his favourite place to sleep is firmly beside me – and not as much as a centimetre apart. However in spite of his lack of familiarity with his supposed designated sleeping area, he and his big brother found me and proceeded to pound on the door.
And then I remember the choice is gone. I don’t work because I’m a strong, independent woman who chooses to work – I work because there are bills to be paid and mortgage payments to be met. Whether I enjoy my job or not is of little consequence – there is no choice but to have a job.
The saddest part for me in reading the article today was not actually that the woman who wrote it felt as she did, but the lack of empathy and understanding that was evident in the comments. “She’s not the only one, she made her bed she has to lie in it, were the general sentiments.
Maybe feminism has indeed blindsided us. More is expected from women than ever before. But we are strong – even stronger when we build each other up rather than tear each other down. And that includes recognising that choosing or wanting to stay at home with our children is as valid an aspiration or dream as any.
I hardly know what day of the week it is – and grateful as I am for this temporary reprieve from the monotony of the school week routine, I’ll concede that it’s not easy to keep the troops occupied “when the weather outside is frightful”
Just before Christmas I was delighted to be invited to the opening of “What the Ladybird Heard” at the Pavilion theatre in Dun Laoghaire. The show comes straight from the West End and is based on the best selling book by Julia Donaldson and Lydia Monks. Anyone who loves The Gruffalo, Stick Man, Room on the Broom and The Snail and the Whale is sure to love this one.
And love them in this house we do. So, off my son and I set for some quality “mammy and son” time full of anticipation and expectation – and we weren’t disappointed.
The venue is perfect and littles have a clear view of the stage. From beginning to end the cast are animated and engaging and they involve the audience in the show. My son was captivated and beamed, clapped and sang along the whole way through.
The story is centered around two cunning robbers, Hefty Hugh and Lanky Len, who come up with a plan to steal the farmer’s prize cow. The audience delight in seeing things go wrong for them and even the adults will have a chuckle.
At just under an hour long, the length of the show is perfect for it’s target audience. It’s aimed at children aged 3+ and I can tell you without hesitation that my seven year old loved it! An added bonus for us was the opportunity to meet the cast afterwards who were just as lovely and full of energy in conversation, as they came across on the stage.
One very happy boy is still talking about it!
The show is here until January 7th and, if you’re interested, details of times and ticket prices are available here
It gets a definite seal of approval from us!
2. Do not constantly refer to the fact that you could have put up and decorated the artificial tree that lounges in the attic, four times over in the time that it took to choose and relocate the oversized real Christmas tree.
3. Refrain from sharing your true feeling when, five hours later, the tree still has not successfully been installed in the newly-purchased stand which promised to make the putting up of your tree “a cinch”.
4. Resist the temptation to turn the air blue when – after the tree is finally up, the lights have been painstakingly assembled on the branches for maximum balance and effect, and most the baubles are gaily hanging in place – you realise that the tree has once more assumed a “leaning tower of Pisa” position and correcting it involves removing said lights and baubles and battling with the newly purchased stand once again.
5. Desist from picking up the beautiful pine-smelling tree, that cannot be coaxed into a straight standing position and throwing it out the front door in temper while swearing that you are NEVER getting another real tree and that the artificial one is coming down from the attic first thing in the morning because you cannot look at a lob-sided tree
for the next month and basically Christmas is effectively ruined.
A new month – well in fairness we’re a few days into that new month but in many ways October is continuing in equally frantic style to September – so there’s barely time to take a breath let alone glance at the calendar.
September was an incredible month of highs and lows. We lost our dog of 17 years and are still very much trying to come to terms with that. The kids settled back into school, one started a new school, homework battles resumed and raged, notes came home re specific and essential pencil case contents, contents were purchased, pain-stakingly labelled and lost within a couple of days, reminder notes came home about the same essential pencil case contents, the kids fought, single school shoes disappeared off the face of the earth, I was reminded how out of practice I am in the world of cocktails, and in between this my book was published and a media whirlwind followed. I am dizzy from it all.
We’re coming up to mental health awareness week. I’ve had my own battles with mental health issues particularly after the birth of my lovely babies. It was never something that I was comfortable to speak about before, until my book came out. Even now I squirm a little as I’m writing – in spite of the fact that I spoke about it on national radio just a couple of weeks ago. It’s a difficult one to explain. Maybe it’s vulnerability or maybe it’s the fact that one day my children might read and see that infallible mum, she who knows all the answers, lays down the rules and boundaries, kisses hurts away, sorts problems, has endless supplies of hugs, rants a bit (ok a lot!), hates projects more than they and does all the other things that parents do – actually is human.
As we approach mental health awareness week, I’m going to take the time to be mindful and to truly appreciate the present – because tomorrow is never guaranteed. Whether that present involves the four year old naked bird spotting into our fridge on a hectic school morning, or the 8 year old referring to the his brother’s Roddy Doyle tendencies as part of his homework sentences – that might reveal what we’re REALLY like as a family. Whether it involves the bigger lads and my hubby killing each other over a game of football or the smell of false tan wafting from my daughter’s bedroom and her orange-tinged white sheets – I will not wish I was on a desert laundry-free island with only a bottle of wine, a bar of Lindor and Will Smith for company.
Almost seventeen years ago, a colleague at work told me that her dog had had pups. “They’re a cross between a red setter and a border collie” she said adding that “Bella” their mum was a gentle soul – “Don’t suppose you want one?” she asked. The words were barely out of her mouth when I made the phonecall to my hubby to persuade him we needed a dog.
And so we went to the farm to collect our pup, under no obligation to choose the “runt” but found ourselves drawn to this particular pup with two different-coloured eyes. There was just something about him.
As we drove home, our ball of fur Rodney snuggled on my husband’s lap and moments later threw up all over him. I’m not sure whether it was it the car drive or the trauma of separation that caused it. Rodney always seemed to be so attuned to life and his surroundings. Maybe rather than a skill acquired, it was something he was born with.
Rodders became our practice baby ahead of the birth of our first actual one. My sister sat with him while I attended ante-natal classes. I watched the neighbourhood cats suspiciously as they prowled along the back garden walls. Precious first born syndrome seemed to kick in with my puppy dog and Mama Bear was ready to protect him from ferocious felines!
And like most first borns, his every move and different pose was photographed. His energy was inexhaustible. Always running and bounding. Always excited and always bloody digging – but forever gentle. He was his mother’s son.
And when my daughter came to join the party, Rodney, though still adored, accepted his move further down the pecking order. He loved company which was just as well, as the numbers grew and grew. He was a horse, bad guy, good guy, unicorn, cushion, reindeer and scoffer of food the kids didn’t want to eat. He sniffed each new baby as they arrived home, and licked away the tears that fell for the miscarried ones.
He drove me crazy, robbing washing from the basket as I tried to hang it on the line and took us for a walk rather than the other way round – until lately.
Recently he got old, or at least it seemed recently. The passing of time seemed suddenly to creep up on him – and us. And the washing basket dramas were because he couldn’t see it, so he fell into it. And the walks became less about managing to tire him out and more about his managing to stand up. And that gorgeous face looked so tired and those beautiful two different coloured eyes, couldn’t see so well, but still looked at us so trustingly.