Facing up to things

I’ve mentioned before that I’m a “winging it” sort of gal. I have accepted, particularly as my numbers have grown, that much is out of my control, so, planning a little, and hoping for the best mostly, is a more realistic course of action when it comes to raising my children. This goes somewhat against my natural, more cautious nature, and my liking to “insure my insurance” so to speak, but I’ve found that it’s the most pragmatic approach to outnumberdom and beyond.

In some Spiderman movie or other, one I’ve seen countless times but during which, I have perfected the art of zoning out, the phrase “with great power comes great responsibility” is brandished about a bit. The same phrase could be tweaked to parenthood – “with great parenting  comes loads of washing, loads of worries, a need for a degree of omnipresence, lots of poo, no sleep, and a requirement to rethink your whole working life”. The tweaked version definitely applies to me. In between my winging it episodes, I’ve been adopting an “ostrich head in the sand” approach to my other job- but the tide is coming in.

“After the confirmation, after the communion, after the holiday, after the book manuscript is submitted to the publishers, after, after, after – there has always been an excuse. But all these afters came to pass and so with a heavy heart, I drove into work last week to firm up a return date.

And actually, it was great. It was great to see friends and to catch up with their news. It was great to have a cuppa (or two) in peace, and drink it while it was still hot. It was great to be Jen for that little while and focus fully on conversations rather than frantically realise that there had been no sound from the three year old for a while, which could only mean trouble.And it was great to discuss a return to work timeframe that suits all and to realise that for now, I can focus on the children and the upcoming book, which by the way, has a title – “The Real Mum’s Guide to Surviving Parenthood”.

So onwards and upwards. This ostrich has abandoned the sand. The return to my day job is in the pipeline. Juggling it all again will be a challenge. It will be chaotic, and it will be full on, but there’ll be coffee breaks and kindred spirits – and it’s a part of life. Unless of course, my lotto numbers come up in the meantime, then I may rethink things.


For now, we’re rolling towards the school holidays. Summer tests, school tours and a goodbye to primary school for another child, will fill the weeks ahead. I plan to make the most of these summer hols in particular, and enjoy every moment that I can, before the new, routine of old, takes over.

Those Friday Feels

It’s Friday night, you know the the feels, 
The weekend stretches out, 
It’s time to relax, kick off our shoes, 
And “FREEDOM ” we can shout, 
From all stresses of the week,
The things that drive us crazy,
The work and traffic and school runs,
There’s no time to be lazy,
Tomorrow’s not a working day,
No hectic morning to dread,
Cos Friday evening is our time
Once the kids have gone to bed
So what to do, and how to chill
Is what we now must ponder,
Sweet or fruity, red or white
Of which type am I fonder?
Then pour a glass and settle down,
Remote in hand securely,
Peppa banished for another day,
And grown-up programmes purely,
It’s Friday evening and we own it
Relaxed, no we’re not boring,
At 9 O’clock, I’m wine in hand
By ten you’ll hear me snoring 😴

Because mums are people too!

Parenthood is demanding and all consuming – we all know that. It’s a 24/7 job where the pay is love and the breaks are non existent – but the pay is love, so those of us lucky and privileged enough to have children, get on with it, grumbling sometimes, moaning others and appreciating our glass of wine all the more for it!

Time is the one thing that most of us parents feel we lack.  Time with our children, time with our spouses, time for extended family, time to do the million and one other things on the list – even time to get a haircut.

We hear constantly about taking the time to look after ourselves and while most of us appreciate that happy mammy generally equals happier children, we still have a tendency not to prioritise our own needs.  None of us are superhuman however, and it does eventually catch up!

Last week, a friend of mine suggested a mum’s night out on Friday.  The message had barely arrived when I replied an emphatic yes and when and where and could we somehow ensure it was set in stone and that nothing short of an Act of God would result in its cancellation (it’s fair to say I don’t get out much).

Friday arrived and with all the excitement of a teenager I counted down the hours. Not even my grumpy five year old or guilt tripping ten year old (the Halloween decorations still weren’t up) could dampen my mood.  The baby and the 3 year old weakened my resolve alright, when they found a tub of sudocrem that I hadn’t nailed to a surface and proceeded to smear it all over the floor, table, my planned outfit for the night, and left me with a trail of handprints on the stair carpet for good measure, but I stayed strong and took the advice of some wise Mama-tude Facebook followers who believed wine would help with the stains.  They were right – two glasses and I didn’t care.

And so I set off to the restaurant to meet my friends and had a great night.  We had cocktails, lovely food, and as always happens when a meeting of great minds take place – we debated some real life, significant issues. We pondered the overworked “Ms Rabbit”, and thought how similar she sounded to “Nanny Plum”.  We laughed at Daddy Pig and agreed, controversial though it may be, that he is a bit of an eejit and remembered the time that he tried to hang a picture and ended up taking a piece out of the wall. We scoffed at the Wise Old Elf and his belief that “magic always leads to trouble” and thought of the time that he was stuck up Mount Everest and wished Nanny Plum had her wand then!

Talk moved swiftly on to Halloween and we discussed kids’ outfits, how in “our day” we made do with a black plastic bag and improvised in relation to things that we didn’t have. We wowed at the creativity of one mum who made a parrot costume from pieces of felt.  I shared my tales of Boy George costumes (lots of plaits and too much make up) and Bosco costumes (a box and a blue metallic wig, because I didn’t have a red one). We learned that there are indeed things to be learned from the “olden days” when we realised a black sack was just what another mum needed to create the perfect witches outfit for her toddler son.

And so all too soon the evening came to an end.  There were lots of laughs had, (apologies to the other diners for our lack of volume control) and tales exchanged and we left with a date scheduled to do it again in the not too distant future.  We all agreed if we left a date to be decided upon, too much time would pass once again as “life” took priority.

On Saturday, with renewed vigour and recharged batteries, I took on the task of converting our home to spooky, ghoulish, (slightly terrifying for the 3 year old unfortunately) haunted house and I surrendered my claim to the “world’s worst mother title”. The kids were delighted and I lived first hand the theory that happy mum really does equal happy children.

 Another weekend is drawing to a close and though there’s the usual mountain of “stuff” to be sorted, Halloween and all its excitement is just around the corner –  as is another mum’s night out. So if my friends are reading remember – that night is set in stone, not to be cancelled except in the occurrence of an Act of God.  My sanity depends on it – no pressure! 😉

Have a great week!

Can we really have it all?

I am in the very fortunate position that I have worked part-time (mornings only) since the birth of my first child.  It has helped somewhat with the mammy guilt, enabled me to remove my school aged children from the childcare conundrum and has created a situation, for my school going children anyway, that I am home when they are home.  Through the use of parental leave and family friendly policies in my place of employment, I have managed to cover most school holidays (obviously at my own expense) with a few days left for sick days, hospital appointments and school shows.

My leave is as precious as gold dust.  I never take a day off just because I fancy it – I never know what could crop up and I might need it.

I am regularly told that I have the ideal situation. I have to be honest, as grateful as I am to have the time with my children in the afternoons, I am left exhausted by the demands.  I am here for the morning chaos as I try to get my older kids to school.  I feel dreadful leaving my younger children at a time when they should have the advantage of more of my attention while their older siblings are at school and I walk out of a house that looks like a tornado has gone through it and will be waiting for me to tackle when I get back from work.  I face the heavy morning traffic everyday, do my job and then leave at lunch time (without having lunch obviously). I go straight to collect my younger children and from there on to the school to pick up my junior infant. I am immediately in full time mammy mode.

The smallies are delighted to see me, there’s a mountain of breakfast dishes and the older kids come home, forgetting I’ve been to work at all, with their homework and after school activities to be fit in.

A UK school principal recently caused uproar when she suggested that we shouldn’t be leading our girls to believe that they can have it all. This came on foot of a senior UK gynaecologist reiterating the importance of women understanding their biology and fertility.  Nature waits for no career! In an age where women’s rights have progressed, there’s no denying we still have a way to go and this particular issue is a difficult one to navigate.  Trying to build or progress a career without the distraction or commitment of children means postponing a family to a time when things might prove more challenging.

My daughter is now old enough to be giving serious consideration to the career she would like in the future.  The path she wants to follow is pretty specific and naturally I hope it will be the right one for her.  I also, as a mother and her mother, knowing how difficult it is to juggle everything, find myself wondering how family friendly it will be. Throughout school and college I had an ideal in my head as to how my life would be.  When the little people came along, my priorities changed – as did my perspective.
I don’t want to admit that there might be a glass ceiling for my daughter but I don’t think I believe you can have it all.  I think somebody is paying the price. I’m not sure how much things really have moved on for women now that they’re largely expected to do all the things their mothers did for their families and hold down a job on top of this. The demands on working parents emotionally and physically are huge. The guilt leaving your children can be enormous, the commitment to your employment challenged. The work of a stay at home parent however, is hugely undervalued in spite of being one of the most relentless, exhausting jobs there is. Sadly, enough importance is still not given to the role of a carer in spite of the workload and sacrifices involved.

I don’t want my daughter, as she considers her future life, to believe that there is anything she can’t achieve that her brothers can.  She is however, bound by her biology and may have to make some difficult and different choices to them. I don’t know what the answer is, or if the principal’s
suggestion really is as outrageous as it first appeared, but it certainly gives
food for thought.  All I do know is, that from my point of view, when my maternity leave comes to an end, the chaos here will become that bit more chaotic…..