Tuesday, December 13, 2011
I arrived home at 6am Monday morning having had no sleep and straight into the beginning-of-week flurry of school readiness. After the glorious gusto of greetings, my husband ran out of the door with a look of sheer relief on his face mouthing "they're all yours!" I put my suitcases down, forced a smile on my face and made their breakfast..... They were all sick with colds and so it was Thursday before I actually got any sleep. During those fog-muddled days, I could almost taste the sweet boost of cocktail that I had left behind and could cry. As everyone pulled at me, screamed at me, coughed at me, needed me....... I closed my eyes and remembered.... the gloriousness of time off, time alone, time to be me.
Quick disclaimer!: I did miss the girls so so much, and we skyped every day and talked several times a day (not looking forward to my mobile billl). I missed hubby incredibly and wished I could have shared all the amazing restaurants and cocktail bars with him.... came home full of romantic intentions and have barely spoken to him since (he's been sick, the girls have been sick, I've been sick, I had to go up to visit my mum.... so Hi Lovely.... talk soon!).
But.........but...... I cannot lie. It was sheer bliss. Sheer, utter, perfect, glorious, freedom liberating bliss. For five days I lived my life. MY life. I remembered who I was. I laughed, I smiled, I thought good thoughts. I did not shout, get frustrated, feel trapped, feel resentful, feel like crying, feel rubbish, feel stressed.
We walked (not ran, walked) all over Manhatton, we browsed (browsing!!!!..not running into a shop, list hanging out of mouth, baby in one arm, two hands beng dragged by the other arm, shouting 'where's the bloody thing I'm looking for!', and throwing money at the teller as I stop Ruby climbing onto an escalator, and shoving everyone back in the car seats in approximately 3 breaths..... yes, browsing), we stopped for tea breaks (where I actually drank it and finished whole conversations), drank cocktails at peculiar hours of the day (just because I COULD!), we went out for glorious East Coast seafood and beer, (and didn't have to rush home), I didn't get indigesiton eating my breakfast because I only had to feed myself. Did I mention it was bliss?
Sorry girls...... I love you dearly, and chose this life at home with you. I would have it no other way..... but I needed this. I feel recharged, rebooted, re-engaged, reinvented, rejuvenated. My post-holiday blues have flown away leaving a rainbow of happiness. Our coughs are gone, and replaced by laughing. I've rediscovered how to laugh with you, because I finally had some time to remember how to laugh with me. I am playful, forgiving, energised, and I am loving being with you again. Oh, and just so you..... Amanda and I have started saving again!
Monday, November 28, 2011
Monday, November 21, 2011
Reading them I realise how honest I was, how at ease we were with each other, how accepting we were, how involved my parents have been in my life. Not only does that box give me a unique diary of my life - in my own words, it is like a gift to me in this time as I grieve for my mum, and learn to live my life without her involvement.
I still write to her every week - I take photos of my days with the girls, and I embed them in a letter with a commentary, and I email it to dad who prints it out and reads it to her. They are slowly filling a box beside her bed - and in time too they will be the diary of this phase, and a reminder that even though she cannot be the person she was, she is still, and always will be, involved in my life.
Tuesday, November 8, 2011
And then my knight in shining armour came home and rescued me from the wicked witches. Thank you hubby...... coming home early was the best wedding anniversary present you could give me.... (well, the best one that doesn't sparkle!!).
Wednesday, October 26, 2011
And it gets harder and more confusing still.
Thursday, October 20, 2011
1. She is soooooooo rude! My lovely girls say please and thank you, they go to the toilet, and have some level of decorum at the dinner table. I've been lulled into a false sense of social grace. Ruby is just rude! She screeches her demands like a demented banshee without so much as a by your leave, she throws her food on the floor when it no longer holds her attention, she lets go of the smelly stuff at the most inopportune times, and frankly thinks she rules the roost.
2. She makes so much mess. I mean, seriously, inconceiveable mess. It's like her saliva contains a food-reproduction germ than means there is three times as much Weetabix on the walls and floor than was ever in her bowl. I can't believe she's thriving as none seems to go into her mouth - her ear, yes. Her hair, definitely. My clothes, absolutely.
3. She clings to my leg like a fully packed rubgy scrum. I literally have to cook with her climbing up my trousers, hoover with her under one arm, and apply mascara with her poking me in the eye. She even tries to get in the shower with me. I love her dearly, but PLEASE can I pee by myself!
4. She makes more noise than the other four members of her family put together. And then some. From the moment I am yanked from my sleepy slumber with her 6.30am screeching, to the moment I rock her with her night-time bottle she screams, yells, sings, cries, gives off, gives out, until I give in and pick her up, feed her, hold her, or whatever it is she wants. I am a hostage to a scream.
5. She doesn't listen to me. I was so over that phase and now it's quite a shock to realise that when I scream "NO!" as she waddles over to the moving escalator in the shopping centre, she isn't going to stop, turn round, and say, 'Oh, OK mum." No, she speeds up, laughs and keeps going. The word 'No' is a game to her. If I say no, it means she does what she was doing, only louder, faster and with an even minxier face than normal.
I'm dreading the Terrible Two's as I know I have abject amnesia from that time. Where's the gin?
Wednesday, October 12, 2011
Wednesday, October 5, 2011
So I'm going to talk about the bi-polar effects of parenting - when your kids bruise and burst your heart in equal measure. Let's start with Daisy - so bright and beautiful and brilliant. I literally love everything about her, and am so proud of the every day little sparkles of goodness and guile. But she makes my heart tremor in fear as well as pride. She is sensitive and perhaps a little innocent (which is no bad thing in a nearly 6 year old methinks). But the other day, her friends were singing that extremely annoying Katy Perry song Fireworks which I have now had to download on their playlist. They were all dancing and singing to various pop songs when Daisy piped up (bless her, cringe, cringe) and suggested Puff the Magic Dragon. Oh how the faces of her mature, pop cultured friends fell. In fairness, Daisy ignored them and brazened on with her song, although petered out when she forgot the words of the third verse and everyone else had wandered off. I have never been cool, and I suspect Daisy will go through life like me liking what she likes (good) and having endless cringe-worthy moments of embarrassment (bad.) My heart bruises but as I defiantly listen to my Barry Manilow album I think, what's a little embarrassment in the grand scheme of things?
It's a bit different with Poppy, who for various reasons listed under B) above, I can't divulge the utter heart bashing I am having with her. She is the sweetest, most loving, funny child, and I have to steel myself for the battles ahead that she will have to fight, with her daddy and me by her side. But my heart bursts with ridiculous love when I see her overcome her littleness to be the best ballet dancer in class (honest, it's not just me who says that, but her teacher!), and scooting to school with her little legs going like the clappers, and her imaginary friend, 'Heart' who supports her everywhere and will always be her height.
And now we come to the last, but most certainly not least..... Ruby. Any thoughts I had that third children were meant to be quiet and easy going are rudely wrecked every morning with the screaching demanding squawks that announce Ruby's (and mine) start to the day. My heart bruises when I think of how she has had such a distracted mum over the last year, how she clings to my leg ferociously as if she knows I have only been half there. But it bursts when I see her enjoy life - even at one, when she goes to our little toddler group, and she stands defiantly in the middle of the room and dances and giggles with a confidence that shocks me. Who knows what bruising and bursting she will cause me in the years ahead, but like life I suppose, you take the good with the bad and wrap as much of it up as you can in love.
Friday, September 23, 2011
Sunday, September 11, 2011
Poppy gives and demands affection all day - curling up on my lap whenever she can, whispering sweet nothings into my ear while I sit on the loo, holding my hand to walk across the kitchen. Daisy reserves her love for some quality one-on one time at the end of the day - keeping everything in until I get into bed beside her for 'talkie talkie' before she goes to sleep. Last night, talkie talkie lasted for some considereable time, but I banished the lure of my cool glass of Pinot Grigio Blush calling me from downstairs and gave in to the moment. She had something important to share with me. She keeps a little treasure box beside her bed and inside are all her trophies and collections she goes through every night. I listened as she took out every sparkly sticker, every glass bead, every token of discovery (she goes treasure searching in the school yard apparently!) as she gave me its history and meaning, little gifts from friends, fantastic finds and discoveries. Then we moved on to the more special treasure kept in her music box. This includes a little bell from her mobile above her bed, a special clip, an old earring of mine and a piece of paper. Each one tenderly held and adored. Finally I was allowed to see the creme de la creme. Inside her dressing table drawer (neat as a pin, every item in its place lined up side by side) is a little ceramic box for keeping teeth in before the tooth fairy comes. Inside, two pink sparkly jewels. She spoke in awed whispers. Then everything was neatly put back, lying in wait until tonight's viewing. The treasures of childhood, nuggets of comfort, lessons of love, links to friendships.
(Poppy keeps hers under her pillow - a different one every night, her dressing room drawer a chaotic mess of mass, my discoveries when I hoover their room and find stuff she has hidden under her bed - this can include a wooden spoon, my egg timer, a pair of my pants, and the TV remote control we've been looking for for a week).
And I realise I have my little treasure box of nuggets too - I have a box with scaps of paper and whenever the girls say something funny or important, I write it down and throw it into the box so I don't forget. Every so often I take them out to read - my little treasures, nuggets, memories, comfort. Daisy has offered some classics lately. "Mummy? I wish I was a boy so I could go out to work." This left me feeling just a tad concerned about my status as a role model! She compensated recently by proudly telling her new teacher that her mummy writes for the Irish Times and when asked who she'd rather be - me or her daddy, she replied - not daddy because he's too hairy, but not mummy because she works too hard!"
Last week I was sorting some stuff out in my mum's bedroom, and I came across a bag in the top of her wardrobe. It contained all the letters I have written her over the years, each one lovingly kept, re-read, loved.
We all need our treasures it seems.
Tuesday, September 6, 2011
Friday, September 2, 2011
Wednesday, August 17, 2011
Friday, August 12, 2011
But.. last night, the payback really began. All those nappies? Forgotten. All those wretched meals left uneaten? Almost forgotten. All those early mornings? Forgotten. Why? Because last night, after I'd put Ruby to bed, I was indulged in the most perfect 15 minutes of my life..... Daisy gave me a foot rub with baby lotion, while Poppy brushed my hair. It just doesn't much better than that.
Wednesday, August 3, 2011
No, we actually made sandcastles, clambered over rocks, went on nature hunts, ate chocolate early in the morning, and read books about ballerinas in front of a turf fire. Poppy even provided the classic parenting bad hair day... as hubby and I sat toasting our toes with fire and our bellies with wine, Poppy came into the room with a large smile and a larger handful of hair in her hand. She'd taken the scissors to her glorious long locks. Looking like something from a bad 1980's orphanage, we eventually had to take her to a hairdresser to make some sort of sense of her cutting style. Just another notch on the parenting headboard - no doubt to be eclipsed in time by tattoos, pink hair and piercings (all by Poppy I have no doubt either.)
For four weeks I lived the parenting daydream..... and now reality has woken me up and I can only try and hold onto the feeling as long as possible.... and count the weeks until I am back.... 47 to go.
Sunday, July 17, 2011
Friday, July 8, 2011
Monday, June 27, 2011
- I let the girls watch TV still in their pyjamas. At 3pm.
- I took them to Eddie Rockets for burger and chips because I couldn't be bothered to make tea and fancied somewhere that threw away the plates That was how my precious baby who only eats home-cooked organic foods celebrated her 3/4 year - with a chip in each hand and 4 in her gob.
- I didn't wait for the girls to be in bed before I opened a bottle of wine - it was 6.15 and the sun was shining, and I thought I should raise a toast to the glowing sky
- I didn't retch, scream, or pull out my hair when circumstances of a day out meant Ruby didn't go down for her 12 o'clock sleep until 3pm.
- One day I rejected every pore in my body and sat on the sofa while Ruby slept and the girls played and ....... read my book. I did not hoover. I did not bake. I did not clean behind the pot plants. I read. A Book.
I'm wallowing in my wrongness. I'm rather hoping this week is an utter disaster.
Monday, June 20, 2011
And just when I think I'm really not very good at this (last week my 6pm phone call to a friend went like this: 'is it ok to open a bottle of wine before the kids go to bed?' My friend replied, 'well, what are they doing?' to which I confessed they were eating chocolate and watching TV. 'Oh you're way past wondering if drinking before their bedtime is ok!" she replied) my cohorts in co-parenting (for that is what friends are), boosted my confidence by confessing their own wayward ways. There is nothing like someone else's badness you make you feel good.
On Friday night, during a much needed girlie night drinking wine (it was after the kid's bedtime!) my friend and I decided to watch our favourite girlie night DVD. Oh come on! We are grown women but admit it - we all love a teenage vampire! After fiddling with the controls for a few moments, she announced she was off to get her daughter up. "But she's been asleep for two hours!" I gasped. "Yes," she said, as she carried her sleepy 8 year old into the room, "but she's the only one who can work the DVD player."
Did that make me feel good or what! Then, at a lovely afternoon tea with some other girlfriends the next day (it's been an amazing rare, but gorgeous friend-filled weekend) my child pyschologist friend - who for years has been guiding parents on how to bring up their children, confessed she's too confused and traumatised with her own two children to follow her own advice. "I used to be a parenting expert until I became a mum," she wailed as we all smiled and consoled her with the reminder that we had never been parenting experts. And maybe that's the point. We do the best we can..... with a little help from our friends. Thank you mad mothers everywhere for living in my world.
Saturday, June 11, 2011
I have always admired and envied my mum's circle of friends. As long as I have been alive, they have been around. I called them 'Auntie' and they shared every momentous and mundane moment of my mum's life, and by association, mine. They know me as well as anyone. Apart from the fact that 'The Girls' (as they still call themselves 40 years later) met every other Tuesday night for over four decades, they also chinked drinks and wrapped arms around each other at every significant event in their lives - children's births, divorces, parties, celebrations, bad days, good days and all the dramas and dilemmas that mark everyday life. There were days when they kept each other afloat and I always wished I had something similar.
But I didn't. Or so I thought. Sure I don't have the close knit circle, but I have something else. At my 40th I was pregnant so I decided to have a birthday lunch with my best girlfriends - a disparate group who I realised had also shared every moment of my life with me - just not all at once.
I realised I had a friend from every part of my life, and together they had chinked drinks and wrapped their arms around me for every significant event in my life. But, life has a funny way of keeping the circles intact, like a swirl, making circles within circles. One of the first phonecalls I made after my mum's stroke was to her best friends. Their devastation was profound and gave depth to mine. Over the last nine months they have kept me afloat. I text them, I ring and ask for advice, they call in to see me when I'm up with mum, and our lives now entwine once again, the love of my mum our common language. My mum's friends have become mine, friendship stretching generations. And as my new layer of friendships develop around the lives of my children, I hope the circles continue to spiral and my girls too will know that my friends are there for my life and theirs.
Saturday, June 4, 2011
Saturday, May 28, 2011
Friday, May 20, 2011
Sunday, May 15, 2011
Tuesday, May 10, 2011
We took her to an Endocrinologist who confirmed our fears - she barely makes it onto the centile chart, and is way below the range she should fit into as our daughter. Big needles went into her wee arms and blood was taken for nurmerous tests. An X ray was taken of her left wrist which told us that despite the fact she will be 4 next week, she has the bone age of a two and a half year old. Apparently this is good. She may be four and look two and a half, but she has the potential to grow. The not so good news is that something is delaying or stopping her development. She is 'failing to thrive'.
That 'something' appears to be Gluten. Ghastly gluton apparently is poisoning her - although she has to have a biopsy to confirm but it ticks all the boxes. So, for starters that's bread, pasta, cereals, chocolate, biscuits, cakes, processed foods, sweets, and pretty much most things except fresh fruit and veg (which thankfully she relishes). Once she's confirmed to have Coeliac disease she begins a life-long avoidance of all mainstream foods. Frankly I'll do whatever it takes to give her the best diet I can, but all I can think about it eating out, going abroad and worst for her - having to avoid buns, cake, crisps and pasta at parties and forever question what she eats. But, if it gets her healthy and well again, we'll do what we have to. Unfortunately we've been told it'll take upto 12 months to get the biopsy done. Twelve months during which we have to continue to poison her, continue to watch her pain, continue to flush away her nutrition down the toilet with her poo as her body can't process it properly with gluten in her system. Twelve months? Are they mad? Needless to say, we'll be taking her abroad if we have to. She's small and sweet, and snug and sassy and smiley and sensational. She has character ten times her height, and no matter what happens now with her size, she'll always, always, always be our perfect package.
Wednesday, May 4, 2011
Sunday, April 24, 2011
Saturday, April 16, 2011
Saturday, April 9, 2011
Thursday, March 31, 2011
Monday, March 28, 2011
Saturday, March 12, 2011
But I can hardly blame the wind and the rain for my current troubles. Forgetting the fact my mum had a massive stroke that devastated her life - and mine, and the fact I am struggling with a new baby, let me list just a little of the crap that the universe has thrown my way the last 5 months that have left me feeling shattered:
- mastitus - twice
- gum infections - twice
- snowed in - twice
- chest infections - you got it, twice times 3 girls
- a week in hospital with my baby on oxygen and a feeding tube
- car breakdown in pouring rain and two kids and baby in car
- a leaking roof
- 10 nights out of 165 with 6 hours sleep (the rest were far less)
- weeks with the girls, weekends with my mum
and now.... to cap it all... the baby has a vomitting and diarrhea bug. I had to abandon my visit to mum as I was so busy wiping up Ruby's vomit I had no time to sit with her. So at this point in the game, I'd be shouting up at it / her / him to GIVE ME A BREAK!
I have always been rather optimistic. Definitely a half-glass full girl. I am struggling at this stage to find anything in the glass at all. I even find it hard to believe that something won't happen to stop us going on holiday tomorrow - to Morocco (yes I know, but we booked pre- facebook revolutions!). So instead I will say instead, I'm off on holiday tomorrow for ten days togetherness with my family - volcanic ash / uprising and rebellion / sick children notwithstanding.
But just when I think my life cannot get any worse - and I have felt this so many times recently and then it did - I turn on the news and know I am lucky. I may feel at times that my ground is shaking beneath my feet, but for those poor people in Japan yesterday for whom it really did they had no escape. I may feel swept away by the magnitude of the challenges facing me at the moment, but for those poor people who were swept away by the sheer force of nature they had no chance of ever overcoming it. My life is hard at the moment - harder than I ever thought possible - but there is no-one to blame. It is just life, in all it's wonderful and cruel forms. And while there are days I struggle to get through, I am reminded by these terrible events in Japan that at least there will be another day for me. And I wish I believed in a god so I could thank her / it / him.
Monday, March 7, 2011
I've only just really realised this. It never seemed like a real possibility before. But, I'm going to die and that knowledge has a massive impact on how I want to live.
The suddeness of my mum's - what shall I call it? - demise? life's end? shocked me to my core. One minute she is talking to me on the phone, laughing and telling me she loves me, and then goes to read to my daughters and put them to bed. An hour later, it's all over. Her life as we all knew it. One minute she was involved in every aspect of my life, and the next, she became someone who doesn't know my name.
Now that I know my death is not only a possibility but a definite, I want to make sure I'm really living. I want to be with my girls every day of their lives although I know (I hope) I won't. So I have to make the days I do have, count. I want to write the bloody novel that is haunting me at night. I want to stop being tired and start being energetic. I want to eat as much chocolate as I can and still be a size ten (OK, that's just fantasy I know, but part of living is dreaming surely?)
Admittedly at the moment I already feel half dead - sleep might be something we can do when we're dead, but lack of it makes living pretty hard. BUT, Ruby has slept through for the last three nights, so I'm holding my breath in the belief that we might finally be seeing the light...
I'm dying, but I'm also living. And maybe one of the things I will take from the last five months is that every day I'm living, I'm appreciating the fact that I'm dying - and that is inspiring me to live better.
Tuesday, February 22, 2011
Thursday, February 17, 2011
Like most families, mine has had its fair share of dramas... but despite the sparks and the strifes, we've shared time, willingly and with pleasure. Despite branching out in our own lives, in the last ten years my brother and I have found ourselves coming together to holiday with mum and dad, and strangely our family strengthened instead of weakened as we married and grew. My mum was the central nervous system - the magnet which pulled us all together no matter how far apart we were. And in the awful days and nights after her catastrophic stroke, my dad, my brother and me - supported by my sister-in-law and husband - formed a vigil, a protective presence, a desperate determination that she would never be alone. As the weeks have slowly drifted into months and decisions were made, plans put in place we did so as a family - as she would have wanted. We are the family she taught us to be - strong in support, united in love.
My dad has been outstanding. He is 74 and caring full-time for my mum now. Most men his age couldn't cope on their own for a day. He cares for her - and himself and does it with extraordinary competence. I don't just mean he copes with the house and manages the washing. When I went up to visit last weekend, we had homemade soup for lunch - with homemade bread, and a stupendous homemade fish pie for tea. It was a sunny spring day so we got mum into her wheelchair and wrapped her up and took her round the park at the end of the road. The first crocuses of Spring were waving hello in the grass and we stopped to feel the sun on our faces for a moment. It was almost bearable. Because we were still together.
My mum is in a terrible place, but while she is there she is being wrapped in love. She taught us that and I hope we are making her proud. For I am proud of them - my mum, my dad, and my brother. So proud that my life has been shared with them, through the good times and the bad.
Wednesday, February 9, 2011
Sunday, January 30, 2011
But yesterday the line was broken again by my five year old in that 'slap in the face' sort of way. They say you should never work with animals and children, but I say everyone should have a child's perspective on life kept handy - there is no better way to see the world than through the innocent, uncynical eyes of a child. They have that ability to stand on that box and see inside and out of it. Recently I asked who or what she thought god was. "Is he the police? Because he likes to help people?"
So how do I take her recent golden nugget of observation? I asked her to stop jumping on the sofa and when that was met by a higher leap and a defiant eye I enquired as to who owns the sofa. She slapped that arguement away like a lion brushing a fly off his back with his tail. "Daddy does. He goes out to work. He earns the money. He owns the sofa!"
A very loud silence filled the space between her defiant eye and my horrified face. I decided she could never know the impact of those words. "I own the sofa too."
"No, you do nothing!"
That loud silence was now filled with the cries of sacrifice in my head - I gave up my career for you! I work so hard I can hardly stand some days.. all those organic pureed foods, all those hours of singing Wheels on the Bus, all those days of playing, all those nights of cuddles, ALL FOR NOTHING!!!!!!
Instead I put my sweetest smile on, reinforced with steel, and said in a tone that allowed no misinterpretation of who is the boss, "My sofa. My rules. OFF!"
She deferred to her better judgement and quietly left the room, while I lay stabbed and bleeding by her cutting remarks. That night at 2am, she whispered into my dreams "mummy, I need you" and I lay for a moment, tempted to say, "your dad earns the money, go wake him!" But that would have been childish wouldn't it? Instead, I pulled on my mummy face and cuddled her up and put her back to bed. After all, abject rejection and total confidence annihilation are just part of the (yes, unpaid) job description. But it made me realise that I have to step away from my post-traumatic lethargy of loosing my mum and having a baby at the same time, and reawaken the woman I am - a proud mum, an aspiring novelist and a freelance writer - and get back in the game. My five-year old daughter gave me the pep-talk I needed. The child and parent in one.
Monday, January 24, 2011
No children. No mum. Just hubby and me. Did I mention we booked into a hotel?? Not that I had the faintest idea what to do at such a social event, but I was there.. in a sparkly top no less.
It was a friend's 40th - and as I trawled through my university photos for some snaps to take with me, I stared in wonder at the girl in them and found myself asking - who was she? That 20 year old. Where is she now? For I don't see her staring back at me in the mirror. She is young. Carefree. Eyes alight with anticipation and expectation. The only thing I've been expecting the last six years is babies, and the only thing I've anticipated is exhaustion.
But I went... with not just a little glimmer of anticipation and expectation in my eye (did I mention there was a hotel?) and you know what? I danced. I laughed. I remembered old friends and they remembered me. It's Monday now, and I'm back on the treadmill but today I had a little tiny, itsy bitsy spring in my step. I think I found that girl... if only for a little while, if only for one night. But it's enough to know she's still in there somewhere...