Monthly Archives

November 2015

Parent-teacher meetings

November 24, 2015

I was always terrified when it came to parent- teacher meetings; I’m not sure why as I was smart-ish and a bit of a lick. My Mam held it over us for weeks and we would be on our best behaviour in school in the weeks leading up to it.

In primary school I had Stockholm Syndrome like most of the kids of the ’80s. This was a time when beatings were outlawed and replaced with psychological torture. Our teacher was old school gaeltacht and class often resembled a cult assembly where upon a question being asked we would all wave our right arms and chant teacher, teacher, teach, teach. tch, ch, ch feverishly until picked. Sometimes I got so caught up in the drama that I didn’t even know the answer. My Mam always came home satisfied from the meetings although was told in every meeting from 1980 to 1993 that I should apply myself to the subjects I disliked (ie. Irish and Maths) as much as the ones I liked. I have carried this trait up to now and if I don’t like it (exercise, peppers, Tobey Maguire, the Daily Mail) I steer clear.

My sister on the other hand was told that she should consider a career with old people or children (this was in primary… she’s now a fab hairdresser). It’s nice to have your options that limited at 7… must take some of the pressure off.

Secondary school started out great and my Mam was thrilled in first year to get glowing reports from my history teacher (made sweeter as she was a childhood neighbour of my hers), english and art. My home economics teacher despaired at my culinary disasters and inability to thread a sewing machine (it’s insanely difficult). My Mam laughed at her and said “my Aisling (she says this a lot, it’s a running joke with my husband) is a very intelligent girl and won’t need to learn to cook and sew.”

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It’s the only bloody subject that would be useful in my life right now and I often take out my inter cert book and try to make out recipes beneath the INXS doodles

306377_282837421726921_270441010_nSecond year the shit hit the fan and I had let everything slide. I’d fallen in with a bad crowd (there was an incident with a free gaff alcohol and an intercepted phone call)… we’re still friends today and I was always giddy, still am. My Mam was horrified to be told I was doing so badly and asked every teacher to put me at a desk up the front on my own. I spent all of second year under the nose of the teachers and a little proud of my bad girl status. The rest of the parent teacher meetings went well and my Mam was smug that she had nixed my little coup. She still laments that she took her eye off the ball when I decided to take a year out before pursuing a Hdip or a masters almost 20 years ago and ended up working in Pizza Hut for 4 years. I’m still deciding…it’s not something you’d want to rush into.

11923267_10153303608318138_122450816964418991_n (1)Last week I attended my 2 oldest boys parent teacher meetings and it went better than expected. Conall has no respect for authority at all and I normally leave his meeting feeling like shite. Teachers are sooo nice now and they focused on his positive points… his wit was pointed out a few times and his resource teacher said she loves discussing politics with him and as I left she said “you should be proud, you’ve done a great job” and I had to tell her to stop talking immediately as I could feel an ugly cry-face coming on.

Koray’s teacher was shocked by his quietness as she had taught Conall a few years before and I told her to enjoy it as boy number 3 is the loudest and he’ll be with her in 2 years. Anyway Koray is mensa material and stunningly gorgeous (reading between the lines) and I a left a happy mammy. My neglected little middle child is quietly exceptional in the shade of Conall’s chattering and Rian’s destructive capabilities.

Poor Conall in the meantime had tied himself in knots with anxiety over the whole thing and I returned to see him winding down from a meltdown that had my Dad and my husband exhausted and a little upset themselves. I sorted him out with toast (my kid) and a flamboyant recall of my meeting with his teacher where in my version she did a song and dance about her love for Conall. He was relieved and I realised that for all his bravado he still needs some confidence building. Koray meanwhile smiled shyly when I told him what his teacher had said and then punched the air and said “I’m going to cry with happiness”. What a strange relationship the teacher/ child one is. Why is it that we all care so much what they think of us? I compliment the shit out of my kids… is that not enough.. are we all still searching for outside validation? A validation on our intelligence? I’m glad that they care and as their overlord, I will use this against them as I have begun to use Santa and as far as they are concerned, I have both on speed-dial.A Bit Of Everything



love thy neighbour (but don’t covet them)

November 17, 2015

Reading the comments section online is always a bad idea and I try to steer clear… I try.. promise but sometimes I lose it and have a reaction similar to one of my kids, a typed tantrum (they can’t type but if they could I’m sure they would type a tantrum).

During the marriage referendum, a homophobic tweet would catch my eye and I’d be drawn to the tweeter’s page where I’d almost have to sit on my hands to stop myself telling them what bloody eejits they were/are.

The 8th amendment situation causes similar feelings although I did abate some of my primal instincts (Is being a keyboard warrior a primal instinct?) by tweeting my period status to Enda Kenny.

When that picture of the little drowned Syrian boy surfaced, I was engulfed in sadness and despair; It hit me particularly hard as I have a 3 year old boy and to think he would be denied a chance at life because of a bunch of warmongering dickheads was both incomprehensible and shocking.

What I found almost more shocking was the attitude of some people …while sympathetic, they chimed “what about our own?” as if helping refugees or Irish people in need was a Sophie’s Choice situation. Can’t we do both? I’d a few hairy comment moments I’ll admit but I was angry and you wouldn’t like me when I’m angry.


1425_3I don’t claim to be fully versed in world politics, in fact I have always had an ostrich mentality and would read the Daily Mail showbiz page and count it as news. In my defense, I  stopped with the Daily Mail long ago when I realised they are right wing bigots and there’s only so much “news” relating to a Kardashian’s ass that one can stand. My news source is normally my Mam or my husband, both of whom watch Al Jazeera and other proper news channels. As I approach 40, I have been known to listen to Newstalk on the way to work unless Wilson Philips or George Michael are playing on Q102 in which case I am SINGING.

I’m annoyed alot of the time (peri-menopause)… but mostly by ignorance and ignorant people have very big mouths and very bad grammar. I read statuses of people I know and if they spouted the shite that’s on their facebook pages in my company I may be liable to hit them…. it’s a reflex… as I’ve explained to all those in work with pending lawsuits.

There is an uneasy feeling in the air at the moment, a growing one of islamophobia,  I understand why, really I do…  but you guys need to understand that these psychos do not represent the Muslim people, they represent..well…psychos… I know you have heard this a million times and are now raising your eyes to heaven (no pun intended) and thinking… another liberal telling us to let crazy terrorists run loose in our beautiful isle that has never known any terrorism. 

Fly_closeI am an atheist, to me the root of most evil is religion (and veins…gross)… any of them, maybe not Buddhism but I can’t be sure; I don’t want to think I’m gassing a grandparent when using fly and wasp spray.  We only need to look at this country to see the divisive effect of religion. I grew up Catholic, am baptised, communioned, confirmed novena’d etc; I will not be continuing these traditions with my kids as I want no part of an institution that places little or no value on the rights of children or women. This is my problem with most organised and disorganised religions; they prey on the weak….just ask Tom Cruise;  Women are seen as a threat of some kind and so subjugated, made to cover up, put up and shut up. Also.. a guy in the sky controlling everything…really? And in light of recent events, he must be a bit of an asshole, right?

My husband was born and bred a Muslim… he feels exactly as I do and I feel extremely lucky to have a like-minded mate. If he stood in the way of my kids eating sausages or forced them to pray, I’d be gone as would he if I talked about them receiving the body and blood of Christ or praying before food or bedtime. It’s a big enough struggle for them to brush their teeth! We don’t need a book of rules to live by, we are teaching our kids to be kind and tolerant and they retaliate by being neither but they’ll learn by example… we hope!

house-of-virgin-maryI lived in Turkey for a long time and have many family and friends who practice their faith and I respect that. I find the call to prayer quite soothing as are the bells of the church and I’m not averse to some hymns. People who practice their faith are generally lovely, peaceful people who choose to believe in god and an afterlife for whatever reason…. mostly cultural ones and to assuage a fear of death. They, along with the rest of us are horrified with the horrific acts being carried out in their faith’s name and should not be made to feel ashamed. I attended many friend’s marriage’s in the Virgin Mary house in Turkey (the house Mary supposedly lived out her final years… my rep spiel coming back to me). Always Irish girls marrying Turkish men….those guys can’t get enough of our freckles! I was struck by the respect the Muslim side of the family had for the Catholic traditions and for some reason always got goosebumps when the priest would say.. “I am joining two great religions in matrimony”. In saying that…. me and Ossie would glance at each other and whisper ”we’re not doing this”… We had a very unromantic government ceremony that requires it’s own post but I will talk him into a gorgeously romantic humanist ceremony one day where we will eat sausage rolls, swat flies and covet our neighbour’s servants with glorious abandon.

giphy (28)I guess I’m trying to talk about tolerance…something I really need to work on personally. Look past labels… gay, muslim, unmarried mothers, travellers, refugees, ginger…whatever and be kind and understand that a person can be fabulous or an asshole regardless of creed or preferences. The current climate of distrust and division has been carefully cultivated but we can all do something about that by arming ourselves with knowledge and showing compassion.


Breast is a test

November 3, 2015

I never, ever thought that I would breastfeed my kids as I was not brought up in a home/ culture that deemed it the “done thing”. I remember asking my Mam when I was a kid if I had been breastfed and I was very relieved to hear that, no, I’d had formula. Damn though, I could be an astrophysicist now with a killer immune system. 2015-11-03 12.49.23My next encounter with bf was when visiting my friend Michelle in Italy when her baby was a few months old. She was the first of my friends to get married and have a baby and I almost fainted when I saw her take an engorged, blue-veined boob from it’s ugly harness and put it in the baby’s mouth. I didn’t know where to look and it felt like I was intruding on a hugely private moment. I was also supremely pissed off that my drinking buddy was still not able to get wasted with me, totally selfish on her part. Now I had to wait months till I had the old Michelle back; I wasn’t to know that when a friend has a baby that you never get them back as they once were. I took out my duty free and got her husband drunk and we played Yahtzee loudly and got shushed frequently. I was ignorant and I didn’t understand and for what it’s worth, I’m sorry.

A few months after meeting my now husband we were sitting outside and chatting at a quiet bar in Kusadasi when the subject of breastfeeding came up ( I must’ve exhausted the bowel-topic). I wrinkled my nose in disgust and said “you won’t catch me doing that”. He looked genuinely shocked and asked what I thought the purpose of breasts were. I sniggered and gave a lot of reasons that can’t be typed here as I may make you blush/feel nauseous. Realising that I was losing the argument I bristled and tried what I thought was a feminist viewpoint. I argued that my body was not my own for 9 months and was I to suffer further, unable to take Solpadeine on a whim or drink or have the odd fag? He gave up in the face of my ridiculous indignation and had also possibly scared himself talking too soon about having kids with an unstable, Irish female. However, the seed had been sown… not literally.. that took another 4 years!

From the moment I planned my pregnancy, I became an insane nurturer, guzzling folic acid and prenatal vitamins and feeling an urge to wrap myself in organic/non-toxic cotton wool for the next 9 months. I didn’t touch alcohol (bar a couple of glasses of red wine/guinness at social events for the iron content naturally), gave up smoking and read baby books voraciously.

BreastfeedingpositionsWhen he was put in my arms and the midwife asked how I was planning on feeding him, I said breast of course! I put him to my nipple and… nothing. I tried every position, football hold and all.. nothing. An expert was sent to me from the upper echelons of Holles Street and even she gave up. My baby was hungry now and I was beginning to sweat. One of the nurses rubbed some formula on my nipple to make it more appealing. My hormones were raging and I was starting to get mad at this stubborn little baby. I could actually hear the baby in the next bed suckling and I tried to push my nipple into his mouth and it all felt wrong and slightly abusive.

2015-11-03 12.47.15I got home and the public health nurse would come daily to weigh him and shake her head saying he’s lost more weight and I was frantic. I asked if I should give him a top-up and I think I had my fingers crossed with hope behind my back. She dragged her heels and almost before she could reply I had Ossie at Tesco buying Aptamil. It turns out he wasn’t that great at sucking from bottles either and then I got myself in a panic reading about nipple confusion.

I continued trying even though my nipples were cracked and bleeding at this stage. I pumped to keep the flow going and often it resembled a strawberry milkshake. I was also fighting a bad kidney infection and I was bedridden and broken.

Two weeks later when I was feeling better and my million fanny stitches had dissolved I decided to give breast-feeding another go. I gently guided Conall to my nipple and… he sucked; I cried and cried happy tears. I had spent my life giving up when things got hard and for once I persevered and it paid off. The feeling is incomparable, him suckling sleepily, every so often maintaining eye-contact and sometimes massaging my boob with his tiny fingers as if to increase the flow. Sometimes I would fall asleep with him guzzling away and have strange dreams where I couldn’t understand why my nips felt so weird. I continued combine-feeding him and it made the weaning at 7 months so much easier. I was lucky to have the full support of my partner, although my mother would turn her eyes up or seize on any sickness Conall had to say “look, look he’s not immune”. It’s ok Mam, I know it always came from a place of guilt and I don’t blame you for not breastfeeding me but I do blame formula companies for normalising bottles.

2015-11-03 12.50.36I was slightly awkward when feeding Conall publicly and would opt for the bottle option. Although I did manage to send a picture of Conall in the hospital on my breast with my areola on display to my entire inbox and the replies were mostly “is that your nip?” and not “congrats on your new baby!” Also my poor Dad once pointed at my top with his eyes lowered to the ground and when I looked down I had two massive wet circles at my boobs. Another time I was out for a walk and hadn’t fed or pumped for awhile and as I pushed the buggy, I could feel my boobs straining against the confines of my summer top. My cousin, Jen was with me and gasped at their size which was a surprise considering her own knockers aren’t that shabby. The moment was immortalised when a car beeped at me and some guys made lewd gestures.. I think Jen may have yelled “she’s lactating, assholes!”

My second son latched beautifully, as did my 3rd and I didn’t even require lanolin. I fed both of them exclusively for 9/10 months and had become a pro at feeding in public. I’d use a muslin cloth so as not to “offend anyone” but if it dropped I couldn’t care less and was prepared for someone to comment… they never did. My first and foremost concern was my baby’s well-being . I only had problems when I tried to introduce a bottle or when they grew teeth. Koray bit me a few times and it almost forced me to fling him, the pain is unimaginable.When it comes to stopping, there is so much emotion and guilt, it’s awful trying to give your baby a bottle as they nuzzle for your breast  but there comes a time when you need that solpadeine/ night out and are sick of waking up with a sodden breast pad in your armpit and a soaked bra/t-shirt. It is also fantastic to sleep bra-less and have your boobs back for other purposes.

giphy (25)Give it a go, you’ll be surprised. It is so handy to leave the house with just a pack of wipes and a couple of nappies; no steriliser, bottles,’ll save a fortune. You can also sit and eat cake as the baby literally sucks the fat out of you and NO PERIODS!  You will have porn boobs (the classy kind). What’s not to like?  It is a test but if you put in a minimum of effort, you’ll pass and maybe raise that astrophysicist with the super-human immune system!


Disclaimer: I’m aware that some people can’t feed for medical reasons and that’s cool, I’m asking the others to give it a go… it’s my slogan.. Leslie Knope style.

A Bit Of Everything