My kids saw me argue….so what?

We all know the idealism that comes when you are expecting your first child is inspiring. With subsequent children these standards slip considerably. Baby one has matching socks and vests and baby three is lucky to have socks at all. It doesn’t mean you love the last one any less. It’s just the more life piles on something has to give.

Our minds are so saturated with rules and regulations in order to excel at life. It’s overwhelming. I f I were to do everything ‘right’ in a day I reckon I’d get about two hours sleep if I was lucky. So every day we prioritise what we can do that day and the cycle continues day in and day out.

Years ago there weren’t as many rules. As long as your children were fed and clean from time to time you were doing a good job. Now you need a degree in child psychology to rear children. Last week I read that saying good boy to your child could have damaging side effects.

I sometimes find myself at a loss.

With that in mind I try my best to rear my children through the gauntlet of do’s and do not’s and I haven’t managed to kill one yet.  There are a few rules that I would surmise most parents try to stick to.

Try and not curse around the children. It’s not the best use of our language skills and funny and all as it is to hear your two and a half year old repeat the word bitch most people discourage it, once they have finished laughing.

Make an attempt at feeding them healthy food. It’s difficult but strawberries and banana’s dipped in chocolate still counts doesn’t it?

The reason I’m writing this is because I broke one of the cardinal rules of child rearing in this day and age.

I had an argument in front of the children.

A discussion between two adults became heated and escalated quickly. My voice rose as it does when I’m angry and my sparring partner asked me to keep my voice down and not in front of the children.

When the exchange was over and both parties had cooled down we both expressed regret about the fact that our children witnessed the row. Then I had time to reflect and I thought, do you know what? What bloody harm did it do?

Now I’d like to make clear that I’m not talking about abusive relationships or households that live in terror all the time. I’m just talking about an odd row once in a blue moon where grown up’s fail to agree and lose control.

What they actually witnessed was two adults having a disagreement. There were raised voices and red faces and then it was resolved. The two adults reconciled and life went on. This is what happens in life. To shield children from it completely is not doing them any favours.

Many children have no coping mechanisms at all. This notion that the children would be traumatised irked me.

The world is a tough place and if we over protect our children we are failing to prepare them for real life. Surely that’s worse parenting than having them witness the odd row?

 

The Day Ophelia Came To Visit

Ireland was hit by a natural emergency today. This is something that I have never experienced. The weather people were almost jittery with the adrenalin reporting on the first ever severe weather warning for the whole country. Schools and crèches closed and the majority of retails outlets sent their staff home early.

Pictures surfaced of many of the country’s main thoroughfares looking like ghost towns.

I’m not the type of person to worry about events like this. I did throw my bins in the shed. Purely because I didn’t want to have to send the children out to chase down our recycling. I most certainly wouldn’t have picked it up. My Dad tied down the trampoline and I got the shopping in. Other than that I was looking forward to the day at home with the children and it didn’t hold much space in my mind.

We have two port holes, one in the hall and one in the bathroom to let light in these windowless rooms. When the wind blows hard they crack like my knees in the mornings. It’s a loud noise. It wouldn’t go unnoticed.

Once this began, my eldest was visibly shaken.

He proceeded to go to every window and draw all the curtains. He barricaded the front door with his bike and the hoover. That was the first time the hoover was touched in weeks. He went upstairs and he hid in my room. My initial reaction was amusement. Thinking this was a bit of an excitement on a Monday until I walked into my room and he was trembling.

door barricade

I pulled him over onto my bed and I asked him what was worrying him. I have to admit my knee jerk response is to just bark at him not to be silly and to just get on with things.  Then I saw the fear in his eyes. I would have given anything to take it away. He said he was afraid that something bad would happen. He looked out at our little Willow tree and was devastated to see it leaning over almost to the ground.

I reassured him we were safe. We were indoors and nothing would happen to us. As for our tree or our trampoline or our shed that is all only stuff.

As long as the people you love are safe, stuff doesn’t matter.

Listening to his fears and acknowledging how he felt worked so much better than being dismissive.

The storm came and went. There was about four minutes where we had no internet and that was harrowing but we got through it together. Seriously though, people bitch and moan daily about one thing or another.  At least three people lost their lives today. Business, education and services should never take priority over life.

All that matters at the end of the day is that your loved ones are safe. Thanks to the powers that be everyone I care about is safe tonight. All I have left to do is binge on my hurricane supplies. Surely calories don’t count in a national emergency!!!

Pee goes IN the toilet

I’ll never make a housekeeper. I have repeated this statement many times. I don’t have a regular routine in place to carry out my duties. I just do what I can when I feel like it. Now that feeling of wanting to do it does not come over me very often. I had a wave of it this week.

I bloody regret it now!

In most modern homes now there is more than one toilet. I get it. Everyone wants an ensuite. Then you have to have one for the other miniature terrorists in the house. In our modern inclusive society you now have to have a toilet downstairs to make the home wheelchair friendly. Obviously I have no issue with that.

Do you know what springs to mind when I think of three toilets?

Work, work and more work.

In the midst of my cleaning wave this week the toilets are the rooms I turned my attention to. All I can say is boys are disgusting. Neither of them will be any good at sports because their aim is sadly absent. I’m half thinking of getting them tested because their spatial awareness is way off.

I cleaned the three toilets and the only one that didn’t make me want to pull it out of the wall with my bare hands and replace it was the one in my ensuite because the kids rarely use it. There was urine splattered everywhere. The skirting board in the downstairs toilet looked like some sort of modern art installation. It was just vile.

So I gave the lads a quick lesson in how to get their wee into the toilet bowl. I began by telling them that they needed to pull up the toilet seat to avoid peeing on it and leaving it wet for the person who would follow after them. They argued why couldn’t the seat be left up and that if someone wanted to sit on it they could put it down?

I had to explain that that’s just not how it’s done.

I don’t know how or when or who made the rules but the toilet seat’s default position is down……. just deal with it.

Then I asked them to pee so I could watch their technique and give them pointers. The youngest started I could see nothing wrong with what he was doing until he turned to look at me for approval and like a drunk man riding a bike when he turned is head is willy followed and it went everywhere. I was screeching, in the toilet in the toilet, and he was clueless.

The eldest lad was up and his problem was he liked to see how close he could get to the top of the bowl without spilling out. Well you don’t even need me to fill in those gaps! We had more conversation about toilet etiquette and they agreed to try and be better and I agreed to try and provide more than one roll of toilet paper that gets shouted for, by whoever is dropping the baby off in the pool.

So the moral of the story is I need to clean my toilets more often.

Also that little boys are really gross.

I’m not looking forward to the teenage years when other bodily fluids come into play but that’s a conversation for another night.

What a week!

I don’t even know where to begin. It all started last week when I received  a notification in The M Word writers group saying that The Pat Kenny Show were looking to contact me with a view to speaking on the show.

Sorry what?….. where? who me? I couldn’t quite process the information. Turns out one of the shows producers is a fan of The M Word and read a piece that I wrote and it was very relevant to the topic of their show this week. My article How the Social Welfare System has Treated Me was about the positive effect that the system has had on my life.

Off I trotted up to the TV3 studios with my fellow blogger Niamh from The Mammy Blog at my side for support. I did my piece and I didn’t vomit so that’s a bonus. It was a cool little midweek adventure to be on the tele and I wouldn’t hesitate to do it again.

Pat kenny show

The following evening I was off to the VbyVery Bloggers Awards in The Academy in Dublin. The M Word was nominated for The Best Parenting Blog in the commerical category and guess what?

WE WON!!!!!

I feel honoured to be a part of something so successful and I’m excited for what the future holds. The women that contribute are some of the most interesting women I have ever met. I feel like I’ve known them all my life. They are a constant support for me and my writing and the fountain of knowledge between them all is so vast I can’t wait to dive in!!!

Then last night I attended the 40th celebration of one of my closest friends. Patsie is a mother of five and makes it look very easy. Always looking for the fun in life it’s rare you’d hear her complain. It was a wonderful celebration.

The main theme of the week is the amount of awesome women I have in my life. I feel blessed. Now I’m not going outside the door until 2020 sometime because I am exhausted. I have no stamina!!!!   jsklfa;sd fasjklfa    sorry I drifted off and my head hit the keyboard. Time for a nap I think.

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How the Social Welfare System has Treated Me

When I was 13 or 14 everyone I knew had a little part time job. It was either after school or at the weekends but everyone worked. Well back then, it was also a big part of your social life and you’d look forward to going to work everyday. Thankfully that continued well into adulthood. When college didn’t work out for me (that’s a nice way of saying I dropped out) I secured a job with the H.S.E. and worked there for over ten years.

Then life threw me a curve ball as life tends to do.

My relationship broke down and I had to move to Kilkenny with two boys in tow and a baby in my belly. I had no way of commuting to my job in North County Dublin. I had to resign. This was uncharted territory for me. I had never been unemployed before and it all happened so quick. I had no savings. No reserves. No way of providing for my growing family.

I had massive support; my mother took us in and provided for us as best she could. Then the realisation came that I was going to have to apply for social welfare of some sort or another. I had no clue but I wasn’t long about finding out. The forms were so long that they practically asked what underwear I had on when I lost my virginity, but I persevered and filled them in to the best of my ability.  It would take up to 6 weeks to hear if I qualified for my One Parent Family Payment.

In the mean time, my Mam and I were finding it tough to manage trying to plan for a new baby. We found out about the Community Welfare Officer – someone who can award interim payments in special circumstances. I had to go down and ask for help. Now I can’t say this aspect was pleasant.

Well none of it is pleasant, but I found this humiliating. I told the guy who didn’t know me from Adam that I was in trouble and needed help. Overcome by the situation I burst into tears. Not gentle ones. The big ugly face ones that could drown a small child.

He listened, took the evidence that I had brought with me and presented me with a cheque. He would continue to issue me with the cheques weekly until my case was decided. If I was denied I would have to pay the money back.

I left that office relieved. I didn’t want to be a burden on my mother. I couldn’t work for now and I genuinely needed help. I know that there are many complaints about how the systems work in this country. I can only speak from my own experience. The forms are a nightmare. The staff can be hard to approach. It feels like an invasion of your privacy. They look for the same documentation year after year.

However without it, I don’t know where I’d be.

I think the general feeling is that when people are on Social Welfare they get a bit cosy and don’t want to work, and to be honest I can totally see how that would be the case. I could have happily stayed at home for another few years and lived a pleasant life on what the government provides for me. But I am not that type of person. I want more in life. I am currently in full-time education in order to help me get back into the workforce. My course in Beauty Therapy is fully funded by a government scheme, and I am extremely grateful for the opportunity to get away from the kids  up skill.

It hasn’t been easy and it’s not the way I saw my life going. I never thought I would need Social Welfare. It may not be a popular opinion, but the Social Welfare system worked for me.

 

Clothes are so Uncomfortable

I’m sitting watching tv. The heroine is after being kidnapped. A bag shoved over her head and stuffed into the boot of a car by two large men. She struggles of course with little effect. What I want to know is with all that fuss how the hell do your trousers stay on!!!

I can’t walk from the car to the school without hitching up my pants at least once. I’m pretty sure if I was bucking like a bold child not wanting to get into the bath I would expose myself to all who cared to watch.

What’s more I wouldn’t have some fancy knickers on underneath. No no. If I were to be kidnapped I’d be wearing my oldest, grottiest thinnest pair of period stained excuse for a knickers. My arse would be a welcome distraction from the embarrassment of them.

Then they tied her to the chair and her hair was in her face naturally enough. They proceeded to torture her by showing someone beat up her sister. Well they wouldn’t even need to go that far with me. At this point those vile briefs are under my butt cheeks and I’m about to gnaw through the ropes with my bare teeth for that reason alone. My bra is driving me insane. I want to pull it down at the back and stuff my triple diddies back in at the front. Paired with the hair in my face I’m ready to tell them everything they want to know.

Then as if I thought the threat of them hurting my sister wouldn’t be bad enough (I mean who the hell would mind the kids while I line danced on a Monday. Went to see friends on a Wednesday. Got my hair done on a Friday…… I could go on.) I realise my runner sock had slipped under the heel of my foot. Heaven above is there no mercy!?

I imagine at this stage Beast Mam takes hold. This level of discomfort is more than I can take. I muster up strength reserved for mothers whose children are in grave danger. I break from the ropes. Fix the knickers, remove the hair from my face put my boobs back in my bra take off the socks and burn the bastards kill the bad guy and save the day!

Clothes grate on me. Nothing is comfortable. I could obviously lose some weight that might help me but problem solving is not my strong point. I often contemplate nudism if that’s a word but i don’t like to make other people feel inferior and let’s face it if this goddess was walking around nudey rudey that would be inevitable.

So I’ve slipped off the bra and I’m going to see if my heroine will save the world with or without exposing her arse in the process.

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Repeal the 8th-An Opinion

I am not a political person. I don’t really understand the lingo. I don’t understand the party dynamics.

I didn’t vote on anything until I was over the age of thirty because I didn’t see the point. Now I’m a parent that is running a home and rearing children that has changed. I see how the decisions made by those in power can affect the lives of those at ground level. As far as educating myself on the intricacies of political systems I have a long way to go.

But I’m trying.

There’s one issue that is swarming around my social media and the campaign is entitled Repeal the 8th. Everywhere I look there’s a digital influencer urging me to Repeal the 8th and I had no idea what that meant. Off I went to take a look and it made me examine my own belief on the issue of abortion.

Firstly I needed to look at this 8th. The 8th of course is the Eighth Amendment of the Constitution of Ireland. The Constitution consists of the fundamental rules that govern how a country is run. No other law can contradict what is set out in the Constitution. The Eight Amendment recognises that the life of the unborn is equal to that of the mother.

This means that no laws that allow abortion can be introduced into legislation. Sitting in my home with my three children it was difficult to put myself in the position of someone who did not want to continue with a pregnancy. For me it was something that I could not do. I believe that from the moment of conception that it’s a baby. Throughout my pregnancies if any referred to bump as a fetus I was visibly irritated. Don’t speak about my child as if it’s some sort of a medical condition.

This is the miracle of life going on here.

Yet despite my own beliefs I believe I am pro choice. I acknowledge that many people don’t believe that it’s a baby from conception and that’s perfectly ok. I believe that there should be a cutoff point of around twelve weeks for abortions without complications and then on a case by case basis after that with the focus always being on the life of the mother.

I do feel like my stance on the issue is a little contradictory. It’s such a complicated issue I can’t pack it into a tiny little box. I visited an exhibition in Dublin and there was a display of every stage of the development of the baby in the womb and the rate at which a baby develops is so rapid. That is what leads me to the opinion that the timescale needs to be quite small.

The real reason why I consider myself pro choice is because even though I could never have an abortion under any circumstances I do not have the right to make that decision for anyone else. There’s always the argument that some people will use it as a form of contraception but unfortunately you cannot legislate for the irresponsible behaviour of a minority.

There are women who couldn’t bear the thoughts of raising a child with a disability. They are entitled to feel that way. There are young girls who fall pregnant by accident and would be disowned by their families with no way to provide for a child. There are women in abusive relationships that couldn’t cope with another mouth to feed in a hostile environment.

They deserve to make their own choice.

The victims who become pregnant as a result of rape or incest deserve to regain autonomy over their bodies.

Even though I’ll never be in a position to have an abortion the attitude in Ireland of not on my doorstep is archaic. Let our women be at home surrounded by people who love and support them after going through one of the most difficult things any woman will go through. So come referendum day I’ll be proudly voting to Repeal the 8th.

Wine O’ Clock Is Not For Me

As mothers, fathers, guardians or whatever politically correct title you choose to subscribe to we all have our coping mechanisms to deal with the unique experience that is called parenting. It’s very important to find that mechanism and to employ it when you deem necessary to get you through the day, the week or in reality the next 40 years. I’m not sure if it’s a coping mechanism or just a reward for surviving the day but one such example is the cutely named Wine O’ Clock.

This is the time of the evening where the children are in bed, hopefully asleep and mothers all over the country crack open a bottle of wine to unwind after the day’s events. Does that sound blissful to you? Well I have a confession to make. I don’t agree with drinking when you have children in your care.

Well I can almost hear the audible gasps through the computer screen. Before I continue with my reasoning I would like to point out a couple of things. I am speaking about my parenting choices and what I find acceptable in my own home. I have no interest in judging anyone or even pushing my agenda into anyone’s front room. I am not asking you to follow me into midweek sobriety or forgo your glass of vino with your spaghetti bolognaise. I am merely sharing with you my life choices.

It’s easy for me to not have a glass of wine because I’m not a big drinker. Don’t get me wrong I can hold my own on a night out but it could be months in between a trip to the local. My chosen affliction is Diet Coke and junk food…. That I don’t have to share!

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Some of the ways you view the world stem directly from your upbringing and my mother rarely took a drink at home. My father is tee total and my mother didn’t agree with drinking on your own so she would wait until she was in the presence of another drinker to have her chosen tipple. As a single mother I spend most evenings alone (not every evening, if you know what I’m saying *wink *wink) so I just can’t relax into the idea of having a drink by myself. I very much view alcohol as a social drink as opposed to a way to unwind, so that paired with how I was brought up, it’s just not a good fit for me.

Another aspect that plays on my mind is that if I take a drink at home and heaven forbid something was to happen to one of the children, I wouldn’t be able to drive or wouldn’t have my wits about me to deal with it. How would I cope with the guilt if I was tipsy? When their Dad and I were together we would take turns drinking at family events so that somebody was always of sound mind to care for the children.

Now I know that Wine O’ Clock doesn’t mean sculling Jagerbombs in your sitting room before streaking down the road to give the neighbours something to talk about. I realise its one glass or two and for those who choose to partake I have no doubt its well deserved. It’s just not for me. So ladies crack open the wine while you gasp in disgust at my point of view and I’ll crack open a bag of Malteasers while I read all the positive comments!

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I didn’t know I was pregnant!

There are many experiences in life that you will never understand unless you go through it yourself. From giving birth to the death of a loved one there are no words or advice that will prepare you for your emotions. You can not anticipate how you will react. You won’t know if you will deal with things rationally or freak the hell out. Despite my flair for the dramatics that my daughter has subsequently inherited I’m usually calm and follow the premise that everything will be ok in the end.

In this instance life was pretty frantic in our house because we had just had our first baby. He was a good little boy but on my first I was so hell bent on doing everything right that I squeezed the joy out of watching my little boy grow. I found that the birth of the baby had put a strain on our relationship and it just wasn’t everything that I thought it was going to be.

Still, I took one day at a time and it wasn’t the worst time in my life.

This day myself and himself were pottering around the house and I think the baby was in his rocking chair when stood in the kitchen I felt something in my underwear. Maybe I was due my period that week and I thought, my word, that’s a heavy flow because I literally felt it come out. I went upstairs and he was in the shower and I said ‘I think there is something wrong with me’. I sat on the toilet and looked down to see what I can only describe as a mass about the length and thickness of my thumb. Well I thought I was dying.

‘What the hell is that??’

My first thought was that it was placenta left over from the baby. I took a picture and sent it to some nurse friends of mine I put it in a tissue and brought it to the doctor. She said it was a clot and I disagreed so we agreed to have it sent off to be tested! And I thought no more of it. My cycle continued as normal you’ll be delighted to hear and we went on about our lives as a new family unit.

A few weeks passed and the doctor rang. The phone call floored me. ‘Ms Brophy, we had it tested and it was actually foetal matter.’ I responded ‘I don’t understand? You mean left over from Kyle?’ The doctor spoke and I’ll never forget it. ‘No Ms Brophy you’ve suffered a miscarriage’. I couldn’t even process the sentence.  I didn’t even know I was pregnant. My son was three months old. Had we even had sex? I hadn’t felt any pain. How could this be the case?

Then the events flooded my brain. I had taken pictures of my baby, I had carried it in a tissue and spoke about ‘it’! I was so deeply ashamed. I was trying to reason with the loss of a child I never knew I had, paired with the absolute horror of my actions towards a baby that my heart now ached for. Somehow weeks after the event to be told you miscarried it felt like I had missed my chance to grieve.  I cried and I cried despite feeling like I didn’t have a right to. This was magnified by my unspeakable behaviour towards my baby. Family, friends and my partner all reassured me that I wasn’t to know and rational me would agree but these feelings knew no logic.

I was disgusted by myself.

The pain of miscarriage for me is the never ending list of what ifs? Was it a boy or a girl? If I had given birth would I still have the children that I have now plus one or how does all that work? How would I have coped with two under a year old and all the never ending questions that I ask myself regularly? I gave my baby the nickname of Sweetpea so I had something to call him or her in my thoughts. I’ve forgiven myself because I wasn’t to know. How could I have known?

I’ll shed many tears for Sweetpea for many years to come and when the kids are older I will tell them that in my heart I have four children.

To my darling Sweetpea, you deserved so much better but I hope you know you are loved deeply. I never knew that I could love someone I had never met but I do and the pain doesn’t get any easier. All I can I can do is try to be the best Mammy for the three that are with me, forever keeping Sweetpea in my heart.

I don’t have the same name as my children and I hate it.

Naming your child is so difficult. Straight away there are reams of names that you have to discount.

  • Any name of anyone you don’t like. (there’ll be more on that list than you’ll care to admit)
  • Any name of anyone either of you had any kind of a relationship with. (also a long list if you are lucky)
  • Names of dogs and cats. (why do people name their dogs after humans?)
  • Any cast member of a reality tv series (we all watch it but we don’t need people thinking our name choice is a nod to shit tv)
  • Any old teachers or bosses either of you had (that’s just creepy)

The list could go on…… if you let it. At the end of the day you just have to pick one you love and hope that your child loves it too.

Then in the modern age you also have the issue of the surname to contend with. Years ago the child took the father’s name and that was it. Now people have children before marriage. They may never intend to get married. There may be couples in same sex relationships who go on to have children, which surname do they use?  In all cases the conversation has to be had as to how to proceed with naming the offspring.

For me it was simple. Although we were not married the children should have their father’s name. I was traditional in my thinking and also as we were engaged, in time, I would have that name as well. Well life didn’t work out that way. We never did get married and now my boys and I don’t share a surname. Now to complicate matters further as myself and himself were not together at the time of Macy’s birth  she shares my name. Someone ring Jeremy Kyle!!!

This is a big bone of contention with me. Bigger than I like to admit. In hindsight I think I should have either put my surname in there or given them my name until we were actually married but like I said. I am traditional and I didn’t foresee any issues at that time of my life. We are in the process of changing Macy’s name to the same as the boys and I’m happy that they will share the name.

They are full siblings and I just think she shouldn’t have to deal with the judgments and the questions.

Ideally we would double barrel them all but an agreement couldn’t be reached so now they will have their father’s name.

I know I’m the primary care giver and they are with me the majority of the time but the name difference makes me feel a little disconnected. Almost as though I have no claim to them which is utterly ridiculous. Yet I still feel that way. At appointments for the children people will call me Mrs…. (the children’s surname) and it’s like a little knife in my tummy every time.  You know when you’d see your cousin’s coming and you’d say ‘here’s the Delaney’s’ well no one will say that about us because I’m not a part of that club. I can’t sign my correspondence , yes I correspond, regards The Brophy Family because we are not the Brophy family. I even considered changing my own name at one stage. My parents weren’t overly happy about that suggestion as you can imagine.

I think this is one of many hiccups that I’ll have to just accept. They know that I am their mother and really the disconnect I feel is an administrative one. My children and I are deeply connected to the core. They are literally a part of me and let’s face it most of the time what I call them under my breath resembles neither of our surnames!

it is nor hand, nor foot, Nor arm, nor face, nor any other part Belonging to a man. O! be some other name: What’s in a name? that which we call a rose By any other name would smell as sweet;