Monthly Archives

May 2016

Mental Health, Motherhood

A Woman’s Work

May 17, 2016

It is hard to be everything to everyone; a good mother, a good wife, friend, daughter, employee etc.

We all try but sometimes we fold under the pressure. I am not an over achiever by any stretch of the imagination; in fact I am typing this as my house goes to shit. There are clothes to be put away, a trillion pieces of lego to be stored in the giant lego head and I could do with shopping around for car insurance. Some days, I tick along nicely and manage a relatively happy house… other days I LOSE MY SHIT. It all gets too much and I explode. After the meltdown, if I check my period app it will always say 10 days to my period.. any experts out there that can shed light on this?

mushroomsA Good Mother? Monday was 10 days till, I was preparing dinner but I had a lump in my throat for no reason and should have excused myself to my room to listen to early Madonna and weep for my lost youth but I was doing my martyr act and the kids were tripping me up everywhere I stepped. Ossie was judging my dinner choices and extolling the benefits of everyone eating the same dinner instead of making several different things. In my head I was imagining ways I could slowly poison him and be cleared in the autopsy results. The noise level was increasing and I’m ashamed to admit the following; I picked up a punnet of mushrooms and threw them against the wall and screamed “MAKE YOUR OWN FUCKING DINNERS” at the top of my voice. Ossie bolted to close the back door and windows but I didn’t give a flying shit if  Gwyneth-fucking-perfect-mother-Paltrow heard me. I grabbed the car keys and drove to the end of the road where I was racked with guilty and self-pitying sobs. I then drove to my sisters and in to the middle of her own domestic dramas.. she assured me I was normal and gave me cigarettes. I drove home after half an hour, reeking of fags and self-pity. I opened the hall door and my 4 boys were sitting on the stairs like the Von Trapps. They jumped up joyously and chanted “we love you mam“. I got them all bathed and put to bed and when I looked for food, there was none. Ossie offered to make toast but changed tack when he saw my face… a chinese was suggested which I declined as an extravagance for one. Half an hour later I had the best place on the couch, a prawn chow mein on my knee and a glass of wine.

Why does it take an almost breakdown for anyone to take notice of my needs.. is it selfish as a mother to even discuss having needs? I’d love to see a pie chart of my day because honestly the only time I get to myself  is a toilet break which I often put off to my weakened pelvic floor’s detriment. I cannot continue like this and be a good mother… I feel too hard done by and it’s making me snappy and weepy. It’s not fair that when a 3 year old asks you for the 10th snack in as many minutes that you answer them with “I had dreams you know, ones that involved a loft apartment in New York with an exposed brick wall, a roof garden and a laundromat where I would meet interesting people.”

Lucky Aide Lois from Malcom in the Middle 2000

A Good Employee:  I normally love getting out to work, hopping in the car, turning on the radio and stopping for a coffee; I like having a lunch break and some of the girls are best friends for life.. they are all wild and interesting. I like my job and I even like most of the customers. Lately though my babies are getting anxious as the weekend approaches and often stand at the window and cry as my car drives away and that is the hardest thing. I’m at a crossroads and dependant on the mercy of a slew of childminders (is that the plural?) and sympathetic bosses. If I quit my job, I will lose all contact with normalacy and friendships will eventually wane but are my kids suffering without me? I need a life coach… are they still around or was that a ’90s thing? Married-with-Children-married-with-children-30474101-800-544

A Good Wife: I try, really I do but I have not got much left for him at the end of an exhausting day. We still have a date night once a week that normally involves staying in and watching a movie and having a few drinks but at this stage in our lives, it’s enough. We are both hot-heads and built up rage at our kids can manifest in some adult door-slamming but our fights don’t last long and we realise that neither of us can do this alone so we are bound together as ignored dictators of a rebellious war zone. All pretence at romance is long gone and we sit in companiable silence at night in mismatched, worn out pyjamas. I’m a nag but if I didn’t, he would gladly sit on his phone as I do all the housework, oblivious…. he tells me to rein in my spending (I can be a bit fluthulach… my mam’s word). So, in essence, we are the quintessential poster couple for married with children.

A Good Sister/ Friend: I hope I am, I try but often when they ring I have to scream at the kids alot and then without warning, hang up because laughing has indeed turned to crying. I do cherish these relationships though as they are the ones who will always pick me up when things are too much and if it’s desperate… a night out will be arranged.

93414622A Good Daughter: Read the above regarding phonecalls. I am now in a position to understand my Mam’s dilemmas when she returned to full time work when we were kids… in fact we often cry over how hard it is to leave your kid’s in someone else’s hands (just one of the many things we cry over). I appreciate all they did for me and hardly begrudge them their lie ins… argghhh I do, I really do.

As women we are expected by society to fulfill all the above roles without swearing and preferably with lipstick. It’s impossible and if you are doing it and fitting in the gym and trips to garden centres, I am assuming that you are taking speed. We need to not be so hard on ourselves and support each other… to be successful certainly does not require adopting male characteristics, use your empathy and experience to support other mothers trying their best. If you feel like fucking the dinner off a wall, try counting to 5 and at least get a chinese out of it. If you, like me, sometimes feel like you are doing a shockingly bad job of all your roles, watch reruns of all the TV shows I’ve featured and you will feel perfectly normal.

To Commune or not to (why my kids won’t make their communions or confirmations)

May 13, 2016

My newsfeed on Facebook has been swamped lately with pictures of kids making their communion/ confirmations; My oldest sons should be next week but we made the decision to opt out. I was raised Catholic and my husband Muslim but we have both been atheists since our teenage years; we married in a registry office and are raising our kids accordingly.

2016-05-13 10.46.31When Conall was almost a year old I started ringing local schools to put his name on the waiting lists but was told that I would need a baptism cert and after much deliberation we decided to combine his first birthday with a christening. It was torture sitting through the talk of original sin but we did it for the sake of his education. I dressed him in jeans and a shirt on the day and the photos are hilarious as the priest is looking disgusted at our unwillingness/ fit of giggles to mumble shit about rejecting Satan; My husband just looks bewildered by the event and in need of a pint.

holy_eucharistAn Educate Together was set up in the area the year my son started school and this is the route I would have taken if it were not for the fact that we were having all sorts of behavioural issues with Conall (he was to be diagnosed with ASD/ Aspergers later that year). The Educate Together school was to be housed in prefabs for the first few years and I was dubious about their facilities. In the meantime we had found a fantastic school, not too far away with many amenities, a playground and state of the art facilities; it was however Catholic. We debated this and I figured that surely the ethos would not be that strong in 2012 and we could live with a few hail marys for the sake of an excellent education. I approached the principal about the importance of Christening my younger boys and he said it was not mandatory but they wouldn’t be able to make their communion or confirmation.

The last thing I want is for my children to feel excluded or left out but I also have to stand by my own non-beliefs and refuse to be hypocritical for the sake of an outfit or envelope of money. Conall is fine and is actually delighted not to have all the extra homework. That homework can be interesting and would be dangerous put in my hands… one of the recent assignments was to list 5 things a priest does!

Possibly things would be more difficult if I had girls and they had to forgo the dress, who knows? I loved my communion and confirmation and felt like a princess but my Mam and Dad practised their faith so it was a no-brainer (they don’t anymore… I can be very persuasive).

article-2554748-1B4BF07200000578-358_634x848I do remember being terrified at my first confession and find it hard to believe that this is still a thing; I would be incandescent if someone made my innocent(ish) 8 year old confess to “sins”.

I would love to see a time when these religious activities are done outside school hours making it fair on everyone. Any time this topic arises people will ask “but why a Catholic school?” 90% of Irish schools are still under the patronage of the Catholic church so there isn’t much choice for people of different/ no faith and you can be sure that many, many teachers would love not to use up valuable class time with communion and confirmation preparation.20160513_113211

As my mother says “to each their own” but I would urge people to be true to their own belief system and values and act accordingly; I’m surprised by how many parents are unaware that they have a choice in the matter. An outfit can still be bought and the child celebrated without all the god stuff, I may have more difficulty persuading family and friends to hand over brown envelopes, but I’m working on it!