When the house falls silent because it’s child free,
All manner of noises crawl out to haunt me.
There’s a beep that pipes up every 30 seconds or so,
I lay flat eyes opened counting that’s how I know.
The radiator is clicking as the temperature cools, 
Replacing deep child breathe and avoidance of drool.
What I hear so clear and loudest over them all,
Is the silence in each room bathroom,bedrooms and hall.
No crying for mammy to come fix my bed,
Or can I sleep in your room I was good like you said.
Luckily tomorrow the mayhem returns times three,
Then I’ll long for the silence and the noises that haunt me.

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?

 

Happy Birthday Skin and Blister

If you were to meet my sister and me you’d be hard pushed to think we were sisters. We are polar opposites in so many ways. I’m an extrovert. She’s an introvert. I take a drink from time to time. She’s a pioneer. I couldn’t live without my makeup. She wears none. I love the opposite sex. For her they are more trouble than they are worth.

There are some things we have in common. We both love Sci-Fi movies and crafting. We both spent too much time growing up playing video games.

Most importantly we share a love for my children.

Now you might think that goes without saying that an aunt loves her niece and nephews. What I experience on a daily basis is more than that.

jack kyle finn macy

I often get people asking how I cope as a single mother of three?  I have huge supports and Jacqueline’s support is unquantifiable. She minds them when I need to attend my course. She brings them to appointments that I can’t make. She does homework with Finn every evening and cooks them their evening meal. She’ll babysit if I want to go somewhere and would never let me down.

She not only minds them, she teaches them.

She’s instilling in them manners, responsibility and accountability. All of which are forgotten the minute I arrive but I know it will stand to them as they grow older. I also know because she doesn’t buy their love or barter for it with television programmes and days out that the wonderful relationships they have will last into adult hood.

jack and sharon

It’s my sister’s birthday today and presents seem worthless in comparison to all she does for me. We are not overly affectionate with one another and when I say nice things she wonders what I’m looking for. I’m not looking for anything today. I just want to let her know how amazing she is and how much I love her.

When I had my first child I was threatened by other people’s love for my child.

I was so desperate to have him love me more than anyone else that if he showed affection for another adult I was sad.  As if it meant that he’d love me a little less. As you settle into motherhood and you are three deep you realise they will never love anyone as much as you.

One day sitting at the table with my mother.  We were going through relationships with the children. Who is Nanny’s brother? Who are Granddad’s children? I think the question that I asked was and who are my children? Finn answered ‘We are!!!’ and quickly added. ‘We are Jacqueline’s children too!!!’ I looked at my mother and I thought my heart would burst with happiness.

I answered ‘Ye sure are her children’

She may not be a mother by title but she’s as good as.

So Happy Birthday Jack… from your grateful and loving sister and our children, Kyle, Finn and Macy.

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.

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.

 

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!

wine-shine.jpg

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!

wine o clock.jpg

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;

 

My doll called Finn

You cannot beat the feeling of opening something new. I love opening new cartons of milk and new make up. I love unwrapping presents and ripping the tags off a newly purchased outfit. I’m 36 and the excitement is palpable. I can only imagine how a child feels. They don’t have the restraint that we have to control that urge to squeel with delight. Of course some items are more squeelable than others.

Case in point I got offered the chance to experience a new kind of toy on the market. I had to take a few deep breathes as my adult restraint system temporarily failed me. This was a doll called Finn. I suppose I should really explain. My middle son is named Finn. This was a doll called Finn. What’s so special about a doll I hear you ask? Well I’m about to tell you!

IMG_boxed doll and outfit
Lottie and Finn

My son Finn is a wonderful boy full of warmth and mischief. He is kind and generous with a ferocious temper if pushed but that makes him a interesting person to watch grow. As a family we have noticed that Finn is curious about everything. This has even extended to the toys in the house that would be traditionally considered girls toys. He has tried dresses, lipstick and hair bands. Equally he loves guns and archery and all those activities that we class as boys activities.

Therein lies the issue. The marketing of toys to divide them into boys and girls can put off a boy picking up something he might love to play with just because it’s perceived to be for ‘girls’. So when I came across Lottie Dolls I was so impressed. A doll that is gender neutral. Now by this I don’t mean that the dolls have no gender, they come as both boys and girls. What I mean is that the dolls are not covered  head to toe in pink tulle and adorned with lipstick and high heels. The boy doll Finn is not an action figure with a six pack and super powers. They are dolls based on real children. They have child like bodies and wear child like clothes and I just love them.

When my son saw the box he was instantly impressed with the doll because it had his name on it. I know not every child will have that treat but once that novelty was over the thrill of his new little friend remained. Nobody would even think of buying a five year old boy a doll but if they saw the way my Finn carried Finn Junior around for a solid week they would certainly change their minds. He dressed him and undressed him and repeated that hourly. As a mother I noticed how easy it was to change the clothes which was great because he didn’t need my help. The small exception being the socks as is the case with real life Finn also.

The day after Finn’s arrival in the house I had to hide him up on a shelf to avoid him being ripped asunder by the other two. He sat up their until his buddy came home to take him away with him on any number of adventures.

From a mother’s perspective I loved that he had a doll that wouldn’t necessarily bring with it snide remarks. The resemblance to a real child was refreshing, I didn’t need to address feminist issues of make up and body image which would arise from my constantly questioning child. To top it all off it’s an Irish company and knowing this was a home grown treasure made the joy all the better.

IMG_Finn on couch with boxed doll

 

 

If you want to investigate these wonderful characters you can find them at on the  Lottie Website and in store at Art and Hobby Shops

Lottie, Finn and Friends get a big thumbs up in this house!!!

Child you had one job…. where are your thumbs????