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Family, Like Magazine

Daddy’s Girl

June 20, 2015

Father’s Day is approaching on June the 21st. It’s not as easy to buy for the men in our lives as it is the women, the same goes for praise. I’d like to pay tribute to an unsung hero… my Dad, Damo, a gentle, kind man with a sharp brain and his light planted firmly under a bushel.

My Dad is exceptional (I’m not in the least bit biased). He has always been a solid rock of support for myself and my sister. No man was ever going to live up to the precedent he set and the men we married are reminded (and agree) about that frequently.

In our house as kids if we heard wait till your father gets home, we’d roll our eyes and giggle whereas if we knew our mother was on the warpath, we’d start looking for alibis. He was old-school, going out to work Monday to Friday and spending weekends wallpapering or breaking down a wall (my mam directing wildly from the sidelines like a crazed Anna Ryder-Richardson). 20150620_214559

 

Here are some of the reasons I love him;

 

  • When I got bitten by a dog at 12, he calmly held the wound together till we got to the hospital and it subsequently didn’t need stitching. He somehow managed to calm my hysterical mother who was driving and keep me from passing out with shock all the way.

 

  • He taught me how to wire a plug and which wire was the live one (brown) although he should’ve heeded his own advice as I witnessed him getting electrocuted several times. He can fix anything…electrics, plumbing, ikea furniture, maxed out credit cards..

 

  • I learnt how to swear from him although he replaced all the Fs with Bs so it was buckin this and buck that. I once overheard him call someone an antichrist on the phone and asked my Mam the meaning, earning myself a wooden spoon encounter and the silent treatment for him.

 

  • He taught me to drive; it was only a few years ago and he took over from my husband who’d washed his hands of me and my corner-reversing. He lost his cool and I ended up crying but he didn’t give up and in the few minutes before my driving test we cracked it and he was waiting at the test centre for the good news and the best hug ever. 20150603_125738

 

  • He thinks all problems can be fixed with a drink, I tend to agree.

 

  • He calls everyone Mickey and if they’re lazy he’ll say “pull the finger out mickey”, I don’t know why.

 

  • He’s an expert exaggerater and he’ll start a story with “there were thousands there”… I’ll say “Dad?” He’ll say “ok… maybe hundreds”. After some goading, he’ll admit it was him and two others. I may have inherited this trait.

 

  • He’s a hypochondriac. I’m not denying his chronic back pain, his brush with prostate cancer or his hip issues but you can’t tell him about any illness without him adopting it.  I was in early labour at my parents house in 2008 and my Dad started to complain of stomach cramps. When he starts my Mam looks at me and we burst out laughing while he gets indignant (and possibly indigestion) I’m glad he’s a technophobe as google would mess with his head altogether and his pension would be spent on lengthy and invasive tests. I may have inherited this one also.10685531_10152575761648138_4611795287399279905_n
  • Kids love him. He’s always been a messer and would feign putting some of his nephews and nieces in the washing machine or goad them into punching his stomach (abs of steel). He would chase me and my sister to bed, turning off the lights and making scary noises as we howled in terror; he’d also dangle us over the banisters which could explain his bad back. He is my 7 year old son’s hero, so much so that he dressed up as him for Halloween sporting his signature white hair, moustache and leather jacket.

 

  • He has copious amounts of patience as my Mam will testify; laid-back she’d call him but in a family of hot-heads and hormones he is the voice of calm and reason and if his voice is raised we will all pipe down knowing we’ve gone too far.

 

  • He is a voracious reader and reads 2 to 3 books a week. He may not remember what any of them are about but we share a passion for Stephen King and Ross O’Carroll Kelly.

 

Thanks Dad, for my red hair and freckles; for my love of books; my open-mind, my profanity and my proficiency with plugs. You are my hero and I hope the socks and hankies I got you adequately convey this.

 

Family, Like Magazine, Mental Health, Motherhood, Musings

Won’t Somebody Think of the Children?

May 14, 2015

I’ve always loved referendums, it’s an exciting time to vote. Elections can be confusing and, let’s face it, a little boring. Referendums tend to get people animated, and heated debates can be overheard in the workplace, the home and the pub. May 22nd is no exception. We’re being asked to vote on marriage equality and as the date approaches things are heating up. It’s starting to feel like a fight between the insular Ireland of old and a modern Ireland encompassing many different nationalities and lifestyles .

father-ted-careful-nowThe No campaign have tried to muddy the waters on what should be a clear cut decision of marriage equality for all. They have made the argument about children and in doing so have gone for the human jugular. If it wasn’t such a serious matter I would find their posters funny in the way that Father Ted’s poster down with this sort of thing was  Children deserve a mother and a father” and “surrogacy? she needs her mother for life, not just for 9 months”. They have managed to alienate a vast number of the population asides from the LGBT community; single mothers, widowed parents; adopted kids; surrogates etc

I am doing my best to raise my kids to be as open-minded as they can be. I want them to grow up in a world where they are accepted and loved. They have each had a shaky start; My 7-year-old has aspergers. He struggles socially and I worry for his future relationships. I have never worried about the sex of his future partners, to me that is irrelevant. My only concern is that someone will find him as amazing and hilarious as I do. My middle boy has a heart condition, and I worry for his future health. I don’t worry about his love life… He will be loved wholly and completely, two minutes in his pouty, wide-eyed company and anyone would fall for him. My baby boy had major surgery at age two for craniosynostosis. He was born with a metopic ridge down the centre of his forehead that gave his face an unusual look. Faced with the difficult decision to proceed with major cranial surgery for what were primarily cosmetic reasons, we did it for him because life can be hard and cruel and we wanted him to feel acceptance and not to be judged by his appearance.

Your life changes forever when you have kids. You become almost primal in your desire to protect these helpless little beings. To flourish, they need someone batting for them. They need to feel pure love with a side order of discipline. There are many parents out there doing this alone and I take my hat off to them. With two parents you can take some time out for yourself, have some support with family decisions along with all the good bits a relationship brings.

The sex of that other person has no bearing on things whatsoever. Someone to teach them ball? My husband doesn’t play sports and the boys aren’t interested anyway. Would two men raising a daughter have difficulty preparing her for periods? My Mam didn’t have a notion about biology and my Dad explained it to me factually and it wasn’t slightly awkward.image

Raising boys I’m always conscious to keep the lines of communication open. I have a worry book that I use each night with Conall in which we draw and discuss anything making him anxious. I lie beside each one of them at night and tell them to feel free to tell me anything.I would be heartbroken if I thought that they felt they had to hide some key part of themselves- after all, statistically young men are prone to suffering from mental health issues that end tragically. Boys are taught to be self contained and can become emotionally stunted as they get older. They need to know they can disclose anything and we won’t love them any less. Well almost anything- I could accept them telling me they’re gay, bi, transgender anything but a priest. That I would struggle with – but I would find a way.

We are told by the no side to “think of the children”, and indeed we must. We must think of our own kids and the kind of world we want to raise them in. We must think of the children growing up in Ireland right now, and realising they might be gay. What will a no vote say to them? That they are less than their straight peers? We always tell our children they can be anything they want to be*. Do we want to put a small disclaimer at the bottom of that lovely sentiment? (*As long as you’re not gay and wanting equal rights.)

So, I urge you, DO think of the children and vote YES; yes to equality, yes to love and yes to being anything you want to be!

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Family, Motherhood, Musings

My So Called Social Life

April 27, 2015

I think if I squint my eyes, spray some Elnett and put on a bit of the Immaculate Collection; I can vaguely recall a social life.2015-04-27 09.20.31 I have photos to prove it;  me in a variety of expensive outfits with beautiful hair and a smiling, line-free face, arms around girlfriends all similarly attired (jeans and a fancy top was the go-to outfit du jour). When I say photos, there aren’t many as this was pre-social media and camera phones (thank christ). Although in 2003 I did purchase a Sharp camera phone. It cost me a fortune (2 weeks wages) and was my pride and joy until one fateful night when it slipped into my vodka in Buck Whaleys. That phone once got me and some friends into Lille’s Bordello when it was nigh on impossible to get in. I flashed it about and made us look “money”. It also took an amazing selfie (I was a trailblazer) at a Counting Crows concert that I’ve included to the left. It’s like one of those magic eye pictures, cross your eyes and you may make it out. People were nudging each other and whispering “look at yer wan and her fancy phone that takes pictures! she must be famous!” In a previous life I worked as an office administrator and earned a decent wage, I lived at home and to my shame barely compensated my parents for that. They had the pleasure of my company and sure what else would my Mam be doing other than making my bed and cooking dinners that I would invariably turn my nose up at? Friday, I got paid and I would withdraw the money from the bank machine and spend half it on that night’s outfit, makeup and pre-drinks. There would always be some thing that had caught my eye in that week’s Sex and the City that i’d be after and I’d walk the length and breadth of town (not the southside..nooooo) in search of a blue liquid eyeliner or a pink blouse (true stories). I would spend hours getting ready, face-mask, cucumber on my eyes, mani-pedi. article-2711491-20247EBB00000578-976_634x897Friends would call and we’d pour a few vodkas and totter about with wads of cotton wool between our toes, blasting Madonna and lighting candles. My mam was always nervous of the candle situation and would blow them out when passing, probably wise what with the elnett and all. We’d arrive down the stairs in a haze of glitter (hair mascara, remember?), cleavage on show (hello boys) and already a bit tipsy. When my Mam was done critiquing our look (rightly so) she would always say “O to be young again”. I’d look at my friends and roll my eyes “whatevs… drop us into town would ya?” My Mam would keep asking “have you eaten?” on the way “yeah, yeah “ I’d answer as my tummy rumbled… no time for food! We’d hit the bar and make our way through the cocktail menu and normally end up on vodka and red bull with the occasional shot. I’d arrive home Saturday in a state after an all night party; spend the day in bed ordering take away and popping painkillers, only to do it all again on Sunday. I could never quite put my hands on my keys and would ring the door bell till my Dad opened it like Walter White in his Y fronts. I always wondered what if it was the police?

 

Fifteen years later and I would like to detail a night out now. I harbour thoughts of a new outfit but I’m afraid of what size I might be and can’t deal with finding out. Also Navigating a shop with 3 small kids is near impossible and don’t I have to pay for the boys swimming this month… ? article-1133142-0340B5D8000005DC-378_233x423If I do manage to find a precious 20 minutes to zoom around New Look, I’ll end up grabbing a load of black clothes that when I try them on I resemble Jo Brand doing stand up. 500px-Basic_Instinct_The_Leg_CrossOn a recent night out I decided to rectify the post-baby, chocolate and wine loving belly problem with a pair of control pants. I ended up so uncomfortable during dinner that I had to go to the toilet to remove them. That proved very difficult and I was gone so long my Mam came in to check on me (yes a night out now can sometimes involve Mrs. Kelly). I contemplated asking for a scissors or at least some talc but managed in the end and spent the rest of the night trying to avoid doing a Sharon Stone.

Arranging childcare requires numerous phone calls and some begging. I always promise to have them in bed before I go. I’m afraid the younger ones will figure I’m abandoning them for a few hours so I have to leave getting ready till they’re in bed at 8 and the electric shower is so noisy it would wake them so I may have to clean up with wipes and dry shampoo. Forget nail varnish… odds are someone will definitely need comforting and they’ll smudge. I opt for the Jo Brand ensemble and hunt for some jewellery to jazz it up, realising the kids used my jewellery box as a treasure chest in a game of pirates a few weeks ago. I should wear heels but I’ve been on my feet all day so opt for comfy boots. Red lipstick, perfume and a nice handbag help the self-esteem. No more cleavage showing tops, three breastfed babies destroyed my once proud knockers and I am left with two deflated balloons.

20150310_213635My idea of a great night out is a meal; I’ll have booked ahead for myself and my husband or friend, depending on the night. Fifty-50 is our  regular haunt. We will appreciate every second of our precious time and pore over the menu. We’ll listen intently to the waiter’s recitation of the specials, unnerving him with our rapt attention. A bottle of wine will gleefully be ordered and we will remind each other after every glass to take it easy as we’ll have an early start.

Judgement impaired, we will have a nightcap or two in a local pub and then return home to hand over a wad of cash to the babysitter (when did babysitting get so expensive? I’d earn a fiver for an all nighter back in the day). The next morning with 3 kids quite literally bouncing on my head, I’ll be glad we didn’t get those shots. A deal has normally been put into place the night before between myself and my husband on who should do the first shift (he picked rock, I picked scissors). So I arise at 7 and grapple with the baby’s fragrant nappy and I dream a dream of times gone by.anne-hathaway-les-miserables-dreamed-a-dream

Family, Motherhood

Kid’s parties and other horror stories…

April 16, 2015

I love when it’s one of my kids birthdays for many reasons:

They are getting older and a little more independent. I adore babies but I would be happy to fast forward the toddler years. I am told I’ll look back on these days with fondness but right now it is hard bloody work.

My beautiful, sweet two year old has been possessed by an angry wrestler (maybe the spirit of Randy Savage). He has taken to growling at people. He bites, smacks and kicks and does so with gleeful abandon. When I put him on the step he roars defiantly in my face and then does his time, maintaining unnerving eye contact the whole time. When I seek an apology I get a sorry laced in sarcasm and possibly a punch in the face. Has global warming taken effect on the ageing process and my 2 year old is about to get a wobbly voice and a bum fluff moustache? It is a battle of the wills and my fiery red-headed temper has 3 nemeses…

2664019-attila_lunnocuchulainnMy kids have a molotov cocktail of genetics… a mixture of Attila the Hun and Cuchulainn (yes I’m a direct descendant).

I may need to stick egg cartons all over my walls because we tend to have our “conversations” on a louder decibel level than most.

 

I love to spoil them with gifts… yes, I know you’re all piecing it together and thinking this is in direct correlation to the behaviours listed above. I have to explain my mindset.. I have always thought there is an elusive toy out there that would bring my boys together (quietly) and keep them busy, while educating them. My search has proved fruitless so far. Conall, ironically was the easiest to occupy. He would watch The Bee Movie on repeat, I had to buy 3 copies as it wore out, I did watch A LOT of Seinfeld when I was pregnant though… doesn’t Jerry have Aspergers??? Hmmm so perhaps it’s not vaccines that cause autism but watching Seinfeld when pregnant; makes as much sense. Koray needs more hands on parenting; he needs to express his love while receiving it constantly; cute and draining; I apologise in advance to future partners; he’s as needy as his mam. maxresdefaultWe’ve already mentioned Rian, he cannot be occupied. He likes to watch the kinder surprise opening thing on youtube but will say “I don’t like it” constantly so I’m changing the clip every 2o seconds and getting nothing done.

My mantra is September 2017 when I get the last one through the gates of school and relinquish all responsibility, for a few hours anyway. O the things I will do, the places I will see!

Second stage of labourI like recounting horrific birth stories, especially to people who haven’t had kids. It’s fun. This was done to me by my sister so I like to think that I’m paying it forward. So in the tradition handed down to me by my mother who on my birthday every year will recount the details of my birth and the enema that destroyed her beautiful new nightdress and slippers; I will do the same to my kids along with a healthy dose of Kelly exaggeration.  I do have some Photos that my husband took from the frontline, I may work on a slideshow.


                                                                     The downside of birthdays

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You feel a need to mark the occasion but everything seems way too stressful. I’ve been burnt too many times. I had Conall’s 3rd birthday at Fun Galaxy where he had a meltdown and ate his food under the table. The following year was the cinema and another episode where he thought I’d lost him (which I had) because he stayed back to watch all the credits. When he was 5 I asked him did he want a party and he said no, he hated them so that was fine but the other 2 have probably suffered because of it. Also my kids birthdays are December, January and April and it’s normally cold and not conducive to a bouncy castle. Ok, I’m making excuses. I will never have a party in the house, I couldn’t bear it. The games, the sticky surfaces, the whining, the toilet accidents…. o god.

The pressure to get a cake and sometimes Aldi are out of the nice chocolate one and I’m forced to get the horrible white one!

I was at my cousin’s house last week for a party for her 2 year old. It was lovely to see friends and relatives and most of them (kid free ones) were having a drink and a catch up. The kids were in the way of us having a good time (I was driving so not that good) ..and mine were particularly prickish (it’s a word). Leia had gotten so many presents but all the other kids were determined to break or steal them. Rian had missed a nap and was wandering around howling, bubbling snot from his nose and Koray had decided to be shy and clingy and was clamped to my leg. Then there’s always that one uncle, (not naming names Bernard Saunders) who teases the kids unmercifully, grabbing their toy and saying mine or eating their slice of birthday cake. Kids are way too sensitive these days.

As I looked at the kids murdering each other and squashing chickatees into the carpet, I had a flashback. It was that very room 30 years earlier that housed some of my best kiddie party memories. Our parents had it right… feed the kids shite (normally generic coke that left strings of brown on our tongues) and let them run crazy, their blood stream awash with 1980s E numbers; then open the bottle of bacardi and let the real fun begin. We would normally end up having a sleepover while listening to Uncle David play John Denver to a rapturous crowd downstairs.

988655_10151736379666411_869271003_nAs I watched Jen place triangular sandwiches and chicken goujons on the table (and thought about how far we had both come, gastronomically) ; I was transported back to her Mam doing the same and I caught her eye and said “how did this happen? When did we become the adults?” francis-malcolm-in-the-middleIt always annoys me on Facebook when it’s a kid’s birthday and someone says… 2??? How did that happen? or time is going too fast because I don’t agree, I’m an impatient person and am always looking to the next stage but when you step back and look at the big picture; blocks of years, decades are going too fast. Today I’m complaining about toddlers but it won’t be any time before they are teenagers and the shit hits the fan.

This is a phase I’ve dreaded since birth and military school may be an option; it seemed to work well for Francis in Malcolm in the Middle.

Family, Musings

This Has Nothing To Do With Jason Donovan Being A Saint

April 13, 2015

I was born in the 70s in Dublin; Odds were I’d be Catholic. It was predetermined and if I was born in Pakistan I would have been Muslim or a Scientologist if born in L.A. (not factually correct I’m sure but you get the gist).  Bear in mind I am not an expert on world matters even though I do hold a Bachelor of Arts degree and can name most celebrities babies (it’s a gift).

I’ve been told by many people in my life not to write about religion for fear of alienating readers but nobody puts baby in a corner.

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The world is gone politically correct mad and that’s fine in some respects but it can be very limiting and if you get a chance read George Orwell’s 1984, if only to see the first reference to Big Brother. When freedom of speech and belief are prohibited, there is a tendency for things to go to shit. Look what happened when dancing was banned in Footloose, it’s a cautionary tale folks.

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Some subjects can be highly emotive. My mother always told me never to get involved in arguments regarding politics or religion. Good advice, but after a few drinks in the pub, things inevitably head that way; although I have to blag talking about politics from bits I’ve gleaned from newstalk or facebook feeds.

Religion, however, I am passionate about. As a kid, I never thought to question anything… Santa, having to watch the Late Late Show on a Friday night or God. Why would I? Adults made all my decisions and I assumed they knew best. Primary school had brainwashing down to a fine art. We learned prayers by rote and had the literal fear of god put into us, particularly in the run up to our first confession. We were 7 and had to confess our “sins” in a dark and scary box to a man of questionable morals. My son is 7 and there is no way I would ever put him through that, even if he didn’t have autism. I don’t care how much they have gussied it up these days.

When the teachers weren’t around I remember a game we would play at lunch where we’d all stare at a picture of Mary for 60 seconds and then stare at the wall and gasp as she appeared to us. The same would have happened if we’d stared at a picture of Jason Donovan for long enough (I know I did).

Our school tours were normally a pilgrimage of some sort, none of your trips to Tayto Park that they have now.

ireland-4Saint_Oliver_PlunkettOne particularly cheery trip involved visiting Oliver Plunkett’s decapitated head in Drogheda. Basically a head pickled in vinegar (a miracle)… extremely appropriate for 9 year olds. Strangely enough it’s the picture on the left of Oliver that bothers me most. My nanny had it hanging on one of the bedroom walls and when I discovered what hung, drawn and quartered meant , I had many the sleepless night.

Mass was something to be dreaded as a child. Somehow my parents found out about a 25 minute mass at 1PM in St. Brendans in Coolock. The priest would play to  huge crowds; standing room only and added the extra incentive of a couple of labradors on stage. We would try our best to delay them with a lost shoe or a pretend illness to cut it down to about 15 minutes. When I was 13 or 14 I was allowed to go to Saturday night mass with my friends. We felt really grown up and would stand at the back chatting. To this day I don’t know why we went; surely our time would have been better served having a few cans of Ritz in a field and playing with a Ouija board. Although, I think we were asked to bring the missalettes home as proof.

Paul Reubens, Pee wee HermanIn secondary school, I joined an after school club called R.A.Y. I think it stood for Renewal Action Youth and we had to take a pledge renouncing alcohol. Much fun was to be had as we played badminton and watched movies in a freezing hall. The only movie I remember watching was Pee Wee Herman’s Big Adventure, need I say more? I continued in this vein till my late teens. I would pray for ages at night before sleeping although it was more of an OCD thing and I had to say the prayers in a certain order or something really bad would happen.

It was a late night chat with a friend that first opened my eyes. We were having a sleepover and I was about 18 and we were discussing our virginity and how we absolutely couldn’t reach 20 with it still in tact (I blame Pee Wee Herman).  When we were done talking I began muttering and she asked what I was doing. I explained praying and she was incredulous. She asked me so many questions but she wasn’t looking for answers, she wanted me to question myself and find my own answers. I lay awake all night, terrified… but if there was no god.. what would happen if I died? What did it all mean? but by the morning I realised that what she had guided me towards made sense.

JohnLocke-orange-2One of the first things that attracted me to my husband, apart from the fact that he’s an absolute babe was that he felt the same about religion. He was born and raised a Muslim and had drawn his own conclusions as a teenager. He’s whip smart and I really admire the conviction of his beliefs. He cast off the shackles of his youth and looked to Darwin, Tesla and Attenborough (David, not Richard; although he really enjoyed Jurassic Park) for answers. We married in a civil ceremony in Turkey in 2007 and celebrated with a fry and a Lost marathon after.

When we had kids we didn’t make a conscious decision to raise them atheist, it was a given. However when we started sourcing schools for our oldest, they looked for a baptism cert. This concerned me and so we decided to christen him on his first birthday to ensure he got the school of our choice. I know I should’ve sent him to the local Educate Together but I couldn’t get my head around the fact that you called the teacher by their first name and there was no uniform. I was dealing with an undiagnosed child and thought he was just very badly behaved and needed the discipline of an established and structured school. I had my own rebellion by dressing him in jeans and mumbled all the rejecting satan shite. He got into a really good school and last year I asked the principal if I needed to christen my youngest two. He said he it didn’t really matter but they wouldn’t be able to make their communion or confirmation. Fine! But now I was raging about Conall and wished I could rescind his. I suppose I’m lucky I have boys as communion won’t be as big a deal for them but I don’t want them to feel left out. We can have a meal and nice clothes if they want it. Conall’s aspergers  reinforces our beliefs. He sees things logically!  Consider the reasons why people believe in God or have at least some affiliation with a religious tradition. In previous centuries religion served the purpose of explaining the world,  and giving humans a sense of purpose and a moral compass.  With the rise of scientific explanations, religious traditions are expected to dwindle and ultimately vanish. Still, many people continue to have some spiritual beliefs.

My Dad always says he believes in God but not the Church and my Mam lets on she’s religious but always seems to miss mass accidentally on purpose. I think that that generation were brainwashed to within an inch of their lives and it’s much more difficult to let go. I will still say “please god” or “bless you” ; I think these have become colloquialisms and not a declaration of faith. As I said before it’s an emotive and personal life choice and it would be nice to have these conversations logically. Religious people have been known to get mad at adversity; let’s not cite examples. Atheists are crap at sticking together as they are free thinkers and act accordingly.

I know for some that religion is a medium through which they can contact their dead loved ones and if it gives them comfort and solace then that’s a good thing. To me, too much emphasis is put on the “hereafter” and not on the now. When I die, I want to be remembered through funny anecdotes and laughter and certainly not at a grave or in a cold church. I don’t believe we will see our loved ones again… but we can keep them alive in our hearts. When my Aunty Pat died, we had a night in The Goblet and lit a candle in front of her picture. We got pretty pissed and told hilarious stories about her and I know she would’ve loved the night. I have not lost a parent or god forbid (see, see?) a child and I cannot imagine the unbearable pain and heartache. I would want to blame someone or at least believe in that old chestnut “everything happens for a reason”. Frankly, it’s absolutely horrific and I can’t let my mind wander to those dark places or I’d be snorting Lexapro.

So if Gay Byrne were to ask me what I would do if I died and was at the pearly gates of heaven I would probably be completely inarticulate so I’ll let Stephen Fry answer that one…… Stephen Fry on God

 Sometimes it feels like Ireland is stuck in some kind of right wing rut with regards to our disgraceful abortion laws and people’s inability to think outside of the “catholic box” (that sounds like very specialised porn) But maybe change is coming… look at the issue of marriage equality and all the positivity that surrounds it right now, it’s a step in the right direction and hopefully the Ireland my kids will grow up in will be diverse and fun and not including fear of blindness or visions of decapitated saints.

In the meantime.. gaze at this for 60 seconds and then stare at the wall:767663-jason-donovan                                                                           It’s a freakin’ miracle!

Family, Motherhood

National Lampoon’s Wexford Vacation

April 2, 2015

Expectation Vs Reality

When I think of holidays, I picture glorious days by the pool tanning myself and drinking cocktails; getting ready to go out in the evening by pulling the tags off new clothes (my favourite thing to do) and applying aloe vera to burnt shoulders; finished off with a garlicky meal, bottle of wine and lazy conversation. I’m not delusional, I do realise that I have three kids so I have had to manage these expectations somewhat. Grown-up Holidays

A meal out with the family should be a good indication of how things would go on holiday. Ever the optimist, I recently cajoled my husband into bringing us all to a local all you can eat buffet. He tried reasoning with me, but no, I stood my ground with visions of well-behaved kids and admiring glances from strangers at my impeccable mothering skills floating around in my head. So, with the boys warned to within an inch of their lives, off we went, double buggy in tow. I found the perfect table, right at the back, away from any potential judgers. It went well till the boredom kicked in approximately seven minutes later. The waitress obviously had no kids of her own as she brought three full pint glasses of sprite! I said I may need more napkins and she brought two !?! They started to play chasing… the restaurant filled up and I could feel the tut tuts burning a hole in my back. The waitress then thought it’d be a good idea to bring lollipops while they were eating. My husband paid the bill as I tried to skull the un-drunken wine and we dragged them home by the scruff of their hyperactive necks.

lollipopsOne predominant memory that will probably go down in the family annals is the seven week sabbatical to Turkey we all took when I was on maternity leave with baby number two. I travelled with my Mam, Dad, sister and her two kids. My husband followed three weeks later due to work commitments. My Mam and Dad had a holiday home In Kusadasi bought during those lovely celtic tiger years. I figured it would be idyllic… swimming, sunbathing and possibly a few nights out with old friends (I was a rep in a previous life and lived there for four years). The reality… a breast feeding baby going through a growth spurt and clamped to me continuously and a three year old boy dealing with sensory overload and wanderlust. It was too hot for him but he refused to go in the pool, preferring to run around the slippy edges or randomly hit someone so the pool was not a place to relax. He would go missing on a daily basis. It was 35 degrees plus every day and the house had no air conditioning so closing doors was not an option. I decided to put him in a play school hoping he could pick up some of the language and have fun while giving the rest of the family a bit of respite. It’s just as well I only have a tiny bit of Turkish because every day I’d go to collect him the teachers would try to explain what he’d done that day, making motions slapping themselves etc. I’d just smile and say see you tomorrow. When my poor husband came over and collected Conall, he got an earful from the harangued staff and a child psychologist tried to explain to us that something wasn’t right but everything was getting lost in translation. He finished up in the playschool but I decided to pay for one extra day and dropped by with him by surprise and I heard the teacher say “Conall Allah Halla Halla” The Turkish equivalent to “O crap it’s Conall” I didn’t know whether to laugh or cry but I left him anyway to my shame.

One evening he locked himself in the upstairs bedroom and the caretaker had to come with a ladder to help him out. In 7 weeks I was probably paler than when I arrived, and I got one night out… well a rushed dinner with a friend. I did manage a couple of Captain Morgans after I got them to bed at night until the Ramadan drummers would walk by the house and frighten the shite out of everyone!

We haven’t had a holiday since, partly due to fear and mostly to economics. Which leads me to now. I am writing this from a mobile home near Carnsore point, Wexford. My mam held onto my eldest, Conall and I have the two and three year old. My Dad came with me as my husband had to work. My cousin Jen, her husband Chris and their two year old, Leia followed. In theory, again, lots of fresh air, beaches, pre-downloaded Peppa. What could go wrong?  I left Conall with my Mam because he had a temperature and was complaining of a sore tummy. I knew he’d be in great hands as my Mam does a good Florence Nightingale. We got to the mobile two and a half hours later and the kids started phase one of who can bite the hardest? Rian was particularly cranky and felt a bit hot. A couple of hours later he threw up all over me and the couch. I spent the next 24 hours timing dosages of Calpol/ Nurofen. In the meantime it was pissing rain and the wind was starting to whip up. All our plans of beaches and sightseeing were slipping away.

The Exorcist

Day three and there was an exorcist moment as he sprayed me with vomit and his head turned 360 degrees to cover my quilt and pillow, completely bypassing the waterproof sheet he was lying on. I did a temporary baby wipe and febreeze job with the bed and tried to sleep but the wind had reached tornado proportions and would jolt me out awake every ten minutes. If I wasn’t so exhausted I may have had the energy to worry about the safety of a house made of polystyrene in the face of extreme weather.  We ventured a meal and spent the time tag teaming each other to stop the little despots slamming each other’s fingers in a door or setting off a fire alarm. My middle son has been in the throes of an Xbox withdrawal. He’s gone cold-turkey and is surviving it by personifying and demonising Wexford. “I hate Wexford, it loves me but I hate it so much”.

Myself and Jen took them for a “nice drive” and they were shouting in unison that they wanted to go home and telling us to STOP if we sang and damn we love to sing! I’ve developed a case of under-my-breath Tourette’s coupled with fatigue, the likes of which I have not experienced before. The cousins hightailed it muttering something about a work emergency. I don’t blame them and as I stood in the plume of dust left by their car I entertained the notion of running after them and hopping in the back. The baby was not getting any better and was like a grumpy little goblin. I drove them to a doctor in Wexford town and he was diagnosed with an ear and chest infection. A trip to the chemist and my “possible meal out” money spent, we headed back to the mobile. I then got a call from my Mam to say Conall was at the doctor and had tonsilitis. At this point I saw my Dad unscrewing the top of the second bottle of Captain Morgans; “Throw some cherry coke in there and I’m with you” I almost shouted. All this time I’m hobbling about, stinking of deep heat due to the crappy bed I was sleeping on. Deep Heat

We’re supposed to be taking a family holiday to Turkey in the Summer and I’m optimistic that it’ll be amazing… think of all those beautiful sunsets, tanned shoulders and leisurely meals. I can’t wait!

Family

Morning Mayhem

March 19, 2015
Malcolm in the Middle

People look at me with my 3 boys running circles around me or literally hanging out of my clothes and shake their heads saying “I don’t know how you do it”. I’m sure many of you have more than 3 to deal with and think I’m on easy street but it has been proved that 3 kids cause maximum stress as after 3 you let go a little. I’d imagine “let go” is a euphemism for smoke dope or drink lots. This “scientific fact” was gleaned from a friend of a friend on facebook so it’s irrefutable. That reminds me of those hearsay (not the band) stories passed around in school that happened to my cousin’s friend’s cousin. A particularly horrifying one was the girl on holidays in Spain who had a big lump on her head and when brushing her hair, ripped the top off the bump and thousands of ants scuttled down her face! The moral of the story was, I think, don’t visit foreign countries as strange and scary stuff can happen. Possibly it was a rumour started by Bord Fáilte? If this was indeed your cousin’s friend, please let me know.

I have yet to find an appropriate answer to the question “how do you do it?” . I can pretend to have everything under control “ Thanks, it’s all about structure, you know and discipline. I find it helps to schedule some me-time and date night with the hubby. A balanced diet and media restrictions keep my little Von Trapps toeing the line”  and then I blow a whistle and they all line up in order of age and perform Edelweiss.

Sometimes I want to be honest and scream “ I’m not doing it!!! It’s doing me… What happened to my life? Look at me, look at me I’m in a jock and no one cares. I’ve watched every episode of Peppa Pig and Ben and Holly at least 1000 times. My hands could grate cheese from being washed constantly. I never have my phone and when I do it’s full of weird apps that the kids have downloaded”. It’s difficult to put day to day life into words. My cousin Jen called with her husband a few weeks back and said when they got in the car they felt like they’d been to Vietnam. (I’m presuming ‘Nam and not the idyllic holiday resort it probably is now).

Allow me to enlighten you with some snippets:

DamienMorning time: I normally wake to the dulcet tone of my two year old screaming Mam, Mammmmm, MAMMMMMMM at approx 6am (if lucky). I have to sprint to his room so he doesn’t wake the other two. I lie beside him with the same unattainable dream I’ve had with all of them every morning “maybe he’ll go back to sleep”. He will give me a few occasions of false but beautiful hope before shattering it with a backwards headbutt to the nose. I’ll give him my phone… “what do you want to watch?” I’ll ask frantically.. “anything.. Scarface, Reservoir Dogs, I don’t care.. please let me sleep”. I’ll cajole, I’ll sing and then I’ll get mad. Then one hour later comes begrudged acceptance. At this point, my 3 year old joins the party and the shushing begins. My husband works nights so a lot of shushing goes on. We head for the stairs and an argument breaks out over who can go down first (shushhh, shussh). The trip down the stairs takes approx 5 minutes as they beat the shit out of each other. I make tea and number 3 appears and he’s not happy. He has inherited my hatred of mornings. It’s on my mother’s side; she’s very rarely seen before 1pm and that’s for the best. He glowers at me, channeling his inner Damien (The Omen, not my lovely Dad) “What day is it?” “Monday” “Noooo I hate school, I’m not going, I’m sick, I’ll throw myself in a bin of lava”.

I make a million breakfast concoctions, 75% of which will be binned. I go to take a sip of tea, it’s cold. A fight breaks out  SHUSHHHH. I start dressing them as they work against me and I start to feel like I may morph into the hulk. The baby decides to poo as soon as his sleepsuit is on. I try to change him and he wiggles so much I end up with poo on my pajama bottoms and probably the much-maligned carpet. The other pair are wrestling over a hairband one of them found under the couch and it’s escalating quickly.  I start shouting for my husband, repeatedly.  He arrives down all bleary eyed and has a cup of hot tea as I get jackets and shoes on. “What’s all the drama? “ he says “You smell like shit”. I bite my lip and envision pummelling his washed face with my bare cheese-graters, I mean hands. School bag is packed. Bloody school is way too environmentally friendly. You can’t use tinfoil, clingfilm, tissue, wrappers of any kind. I can only imagine the unappetising state of his sandwich when he opens his lunch box. I’m sure everyone else chops carrots and fruit the night before but I nearly always throw an oul biscuit in as his five a day. There’s figs in fig rolls people!

Shite, sponsorship money is needed.

Himself straps them all in their car seats as I wave ecstatically from the door. I have one hour before the school run ends and he’s back with my tasmanian devil of a two year old. I should probably make beds etc. Screw it, I make tea and go to bed with my laptop. When I hear the car in the driveway I hop up and am poised with a j-cloth in my hand in the kitchen. Years of pretending to work in Pizza Hut have paid off.

 

Family, Like Magazine

Mom Corleone

March 9, 2015
Mommie Dearest

As Mother’s Day is almost upon us, I’m going to dedicate this article to whinging about my mother rather than my kids. For those of you who are uncertain of my skill set, I am perfect in every way (I have been compared to that paragon of virtue Martha Stewart) and am therefore well qualified to slate all around me. A verbal sniper if you will.

I am currently recuperating at my Mam and Dad’s house following an operation. I had a pelvic floor and vaginal wall repair, to be discussed at a later date when healed and fabulous. I’ve only been here 3 days and I’ve regressed 20 years. I’m sullen, weepy, irritable and I’ve put on about a stone. I’m on a diet of white bread sandwiches and Deal or No Deal. I have just sobbed through Long Lost Family with my Mam while my Dad roared laughing at us. My Mam has me ensconced on the couch with a pillow under my legs and snacks on tap but I suspect her well of sympathy is drying up, she’s tucking the blanket in a bit too heavy handed.

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