The Scarlet Letter Syndrome

May 11, 2015

The title of this piece needs some explaining; I have not had an adulterous affair with a member of the clergy that has resulted in a baby and public shaming but that would have made for an amazing post. In a nutshell, it’s the easy street syndrome that I’ve attached myself to since early childhood. Why work hard when I can pull something together at the last minute? I’ve never been one to manage my time wisely. pop-swatch-jungle-watch-640I haven’t owned a watch since pop-swatches were tubular. I would promise myself on a Friday that I’d get a head start on my homework but spent every Sunday night unloading my school bag to the strains of Glenroe. That theme tune still makes me panicky and a bit melancholic.

Ручка-BIC-OrangeThe year of my leaving cert, I planned how I would distribute my studying over the year. There were many trips to Reids for highlighters, coloured paper, copydex etc. I spent hours making elaborate planners and feeling satisfied, would go to bed dreaming of the seven A1s I was sure to achieve. A week later I would bin said planner as I’d missed that week’s work due to a project collaging posters on my bedroom wall or a new Smash Hits. 514Wep8zAlL._SY300_And so it continued till the week before the exams when my friend Carolyn intervened and kidnapped me. Her family had gone on a holiday abroad and she stocked up on our favourite skinny Bics and Dentyne. If I tried to distract her she would reprimand me and send me back to study with my Asha hippy skirt swishing resignedly behind me. A break consisted of listening to 4 Non Blondes or the Spin Doctors. Two Princes makes me jittery still. I had a moment of terror when a friend called (on her giant house phone in the hall) and told us she’d studied ALL the poets. I’d narrowed it down to five I thought would come up (a hunch and wishful thinking). On a sidenote my poets did come up and I did really well but that’s cos I’m jammy. There was another low point when I ate coffee granules to stay awake because I saw it in Nightmare on Elm Street 3. Red bull and Jolt were still to be invented.

I actually did quite well and that’s all thanks to Carolyn who missed a career in hostage taking and I left her house with more than a little Stockholm Syndrome. I wish she’d stayed with me through college where I considered taking 8 books home from the library but not opening them study. All I learnt there was how to plagiarize from my friend Susan. When we go for drinks now she likes to recount The Scarlet Letter story. We had an essay due and I didn’t read the book but Susan had it done ages in advance. So, I swung up to her house for a “sleepover” and asked casually to see her essay. I read it, then read the blurb on the back of the book. I frantically wrote during the night piecing together her hard work and random impressive words like misogyny, comeliness and phallic (I was going through a Jackie Collins phase). We handed in our essays. She got a C and I got a B. I’m sorry Susan but you can’t keep making me buy you drinks for this… I may call on Carolyn to take care of you.

giphy (3)I think you’ve got the gist, I’m a lazy slacker with a gift for bullshitting and a bit jammy to boot.  O please someone put that in my obituary. I blame the Zeitgeist of the time, Reality Bites, Singles, Wayne’s World….motivated and ambitious people were admirable… NOT (shhhwing)! We even had a derogatory term for our industrious counterparts, yuppies. We preferred to wallow in our existential crises (watching Melrose Place and eating lots of batch loaf).

prod_marrowfat_peas_packedI’ve been a terrible employee. It really pissed me off that work would get in the way of my social life even though it would fund it. I rarely made it in on a Monday and my excuses were ridiculous. Early on I used up common excuses like tummy bugs and flus. One Monday in my early twenties, I was desperately hungover and needed to buy myself some napping time so I rang my boss to say I’d twisted my ankle and would be in after the doctors. I decided that it would be a good idea to put some pebbles in my shoe so I could determine which one I’d to limp with and be consistent. A quick scan of our immaculate, decked garden showed no stones and so in my wisdom I threw some marrowfat peas in my shoe. By the time I made it to the office, they had been ground down to powder.

I once walked out of a job in Georgia on my J1. I was working a till in A&P and I hated it. One of the supervisors started counting my float and when she turned her back I inched my way to the door and ran. It was a large empty car park so she would have seen me running frantically for a good 5 minutes. After many unreturned calls I eventually lied and said I had the scuts, hence the Usain Bolting.giphy (4)

If I was an employer reviewing CVs for the position of mother, mine would have been binned straight away. Although I could’ve bluffed the interview and made it through a week before walking.

In my role as president of the Ozdemir Corporation, I’m woken early each day and should start setting the day up straight away, if not the night before but I prefer to have tea and check my mail for a half hour. There’s then a frantic rush to get to the car for 8.35. More often than not, my son is late and I throw the principal a skyward eyes look that I hope places the blame on the kid and not his flaky mother. The rest of the day is just as disorganised. I don’t have a specific shopping/ laundry/ batch cooking day. I just wing it. I can’t call in sick or feign injury, believe me I’ve tried.

cat20in20the20hat20jugglingWeekends are fraught with difficulty as I try to balance working and being a mother. Kudos to all you women out there working full-time as it requires many skill sets. You have to find someone to look after your precious babies. Preferably someone who will do all the things you wish you did like bake, long walks and origami but not enough stuff that you resent them and your kids cry when they leave. You need to negotiate a payment that doesn’t negate the small wage you earn or invite a Donal McIntyre investigation into urban slave labour. Most of all you need to be able to time manage. I have to shower, dress, do my hair, put on make-up, make a syn-free lunch; all while being interrupted to clean a bum, get juice, scratch someone’s ear or charge something. Rebecca, my beautiful child-minder will arrive and I’ll brief her on poos, breakfasts, snotty noses etc while getting my bag ready. Cue many kisses and teary goodbyes (Rebecca is a bit needy) and I’m off. The bliss of turning the key in the ignition, putting on my lovely, boring Newstalk and zipping off to work. I am human, eating an undisturbed lunch (syn-free got binned for a Spar roll), not spelling but actually swearing out loud(in the canteen not on the shop floor) and doing a productive job that gets noticed. People will comment that I look well and how do I do it etc but they have not seen the behind the scenes stuff that got me to work. I return home tired and hungry but my babies have been starved of mammy time and I spend hours tucking them in and kissing them; It does us all good to miss each other. I may have continued my fly-by-the -seat of my pants ethic to parenting but on the flip side I take my job more seriously. I can’t randomly miss days as little folk depend on me and having 3 little slackers living with me, I know know just how irritating and deluded the self entitled can be.

Monday arrives and we’re late and I’m frantic and disorganised. I think tonight I’ll sit down with coloured markers, pipe-cleaners and some crepe paper and make a schedule.

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  • Reply Susan Daly May 11, 2015 at 10:34 am

    Thank you Aisling. However I’d like to point out that we had different tutors and mine was (obviously) harder to please.

    • Reply Aisling May 11, 2015 at 10:37 am

      Yes, yes that was it Susan… more wine?

  • Reply Kris May 11, 2015 at 10:58 am

    so enjoying these blogs x

    • Reply Aisling May 11, 2015 at 11:06 am

      Thanks Kris, I’m so glad… I’m just rambling and incredulous that anyone reads them at all

  • Reply Irish Parenting Bloggers | The Scarlet Letter Syndrome May 11, 2015 at 11:41 am

    […] By Aisling […]

  • Reply Janette dowdall May 11, 2015 at 1:09 pm

    That’s Brill! Cripes you really are jammy!

    • Reply Aisling May 11, 2015 at 1:47 pm

      I know, it’s annoying isn’t it?

  • Reply Susan Daly May 11, 2015 at 2:25 pm


    • Reply Aisling May 11, 2015 at 2:57 pm

      Yes to wine or me being annoying… don’t answer; I know it’s both

  • Reply Damien Byrne May 11, 2015 at 8:57 pm

    Ah yet another of our 7th of Feb personality traits! I once finished an essay at the traffic lights on the Grace park rd, my copybook perched on the handle bars of my bike. Got a B.
    I had similar jamminess in the leaving cert when my hunch that Paddy Kavanagh was due a question proved correct.
    O stony grey soil of Monaghan you made me pass with ease, had the question been Yeats or Clarke my B would surely have been C

    • Reply Aisling May 11, 2015 at 9:09 pm

      O Damien that bike story is hilarious. We really are the same person. I can sense Amelia rolling her eyes in the background!

  • Reply Damien Byrne May 11, 2015 at 10:23 pm

    Yes I think this article proves it, I sat nodding my head throughout, from the Glenroe sweats to the laughable time tabling (I still do this in work and at 36 I have yet to stick to one past lunchtime). I am really loving your blog, it’s how I imagine David Sedaris might sound had he been born female, in Dublin, on the 7th of feb (obvs)

    • Reply Aisling May 11, 2015 at 10:32 pm

      Praise indeed although I had to google David Sedaris but I’ll be all over that shit now

  • Reply Unapologetically Untidy • Fazed & ConfusedFazed & Confused May 28, 2015 at 10:06 am

    […] it) four poster bed draped with gauzy, white curtain thingys. He had also built a desk for all that leaving cert study I was planning on doing. I cried, clapped and swore blind that I would forever keep it tidy and […]

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