Winging it!

Winging it and hoping for the best, is my general adopted position when it comes to the two thousand things that have to be done here in any one day. It largely works, kind of, with priorities being met and the less important things going on the neverending, non existing, list of “stuff to do”  tomorrow.

With a book deadline drawing ever closer, the usual deadlines to be met, a transition year musical on the horizon and upcoming both confirmation and communion, in addition to the other million and one things that go hand in hand with rearing a family we decided that we might need to give our whole winging it policy a bit of a helping hand – so my husband booked Monday off work.

Our internal walls were badly in need of a little TLC thanks to the combined artistic efforts of my 3 year old and 18 month old with a purple crayon and a red marker, so the plan was to tackle them, let me get some serious writing done and declutter some of huge amount of homeless junk that was gathering in every room of the house. We were a man and a woman on a mission. Our plan was to restore order to our gaff!

Rookie mistake. Making plans when you have children, is just tempting fate – and fate was weak.

And so it came to pass that we spent Friday night in A&E waiting for my daughter, who had been referred by our G.P. with suspected appendicitis, to be assessed. Trooper that she generally is, meant that the first attending doctor viewed us suspiciously, wondering why she didn’t just take painkillers and stay at home. She didn’t seem to be in enough pain apparently. I explained how she had been screaming in agony earlier and that it was actually the G.P. who had sent us over and that she still was in a lot of pain, it was just relative. When the surgeon came to see her, she decided to admit for surgery in the morning. The consultant the next day, had her in theatre within ten minutes of his examination.

While I waited for my daughter to come out of theatre, a message arrived in my inbox. A preparatory photo, I like to call it. My husband, the responsible adult at home taking care of our other children, had thought rugby scrumming with my eight year old in our kitchen, you know the sort of place where there are hard tiles on the floor, was a good idea. Turns out he was wrong, and the eight year old had an impressive lump on his forehead and black eye to prove it. Some culpability was directed my eight year old’s way by the responsible adult– apparently, “he hadn’t bound properly”.

Naturally enough the weekend passed with intricate negotiations necessary to allow myself and my husband to take turns spending time with my daughter at hospital, without unleashing the full force of a Hogan invasion. The boys were fretting for their sister and were keen to see how she was doing but we had to keep messages to the video kind as her stitches wouldn’t have coped with the physical impact of their concern.

 

And as Monday, the day that we were supposed to take control, drew to a close, we realised that in terms of all that had to be done, we were now in a worse position than we were before, but our daughter was home, and all was well, and the eight year old’s shiner was every colour of the rainbow.

Normality had returned to our household, there was lots to do. Winging it was best option.

The Silly Season

Next week marks the beginning of the silly season in this house and by silly season I mean birthday season part one.  Through careful bad planning, four of my children have their birthdays inside a three and a half week period including two on the same day!

Birthdays are big business here.  The kids are already so excited and a countdown of days began a few weeks ago. A tradition we started many moons ago of giving a small token present to the people “whose birthday it’s not” means everyone looks forward to their sibling’s big day for that reason too. It can be more hassle sometimes trying to think of and find all the token presents necessary for my not unsubstantial brood, than it is actually sorting the birthday boy or girl’s gifts, but we get there in the end.

I never work on the children’s birthdays and my husband always takes a half day – he used to take the full day but the increase in numbers puts a real pressure on his leave! Birthday dinner will be the birthday child’s choosing and for the school going birthday children there is never homework. Everyone loves birthdays, well everyone except me a little bit.

I am possibly the world’s most sentimental person or at the very least on the shortlist for the title.  I lament every passing phase of the children’s lives. Much as I crave sleep and the ability to visit the bathroom or take a shower without an audience and much as I would love to be able to finish a conversation with another adult without being needed to solve someone’s immediate “crisis”, I don’t really want my kids to grow up.

I love to see their happy faces on the morning of their birthdays and to hear, when they get back from school, how the principal mentioned their names on the intercom and their classmates sang “happy birthday”.  I love to see how excited my kids are for each other and I love also the effort they make for each other on birthdays by drawing a picture, making a card, or even buying a chocolate bar for their sibling because it’s their special day.

I love how special the birthday boy or girl feels. In the midst of all of this my mind is cast back to that particular day however many years ago. I, of course, blank out the gory and painful bits and rewrite history in my head when they pop in.  I clockwatch a lot of the day and remind my other half of exactly what was happening at this stage. He doesn’t need a reminder, not only was he there, he gets a rerun of events every single year.

Depending on the child he hears how I was watching “only fools and horses”, I thought I needed a wee but couldn’t go, we had to stop for change at a garage while I was in labour so that we could pay for parking at the hospital, I was wearing my purple shirt (echoes of Fr Dougal Maguire here) or I went to watch the junior infant nativity before I would agree to go to the hospital.  Whatever the child, like most people, I have a story leading up to their birth.

I remember seeing each of my perfect little babies for the first time as clearly as if it was yesterday and I find it hard to believe that so many years have gone by since they came into the world.
The first birthday up involves my third child reaching double figures! I was wearing my purple shirt going in to have him :-D. He is beyond excited as Wednesday approaches and chicken tikka masala is on the menu
for dinner (courtesy of his nana to be honest).

The tidal wave of anticipation will sweep us all up as the big day draws nearer but I will remain somewhat nostalgic as my baby boy grows up way too quickly for my liking. I know it’s my job to help and guide him as he grows and to try to keep him safe and I know I am incredibly lucky to so far have had the privilege.

Over-sentimentality can be a curse. The rational side of me will just have to try to focus on the yummy dinner that’s coming….

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