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. Continue reading “Pee goes IN the toilet”

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!

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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;

 

I’m A Single Mother With Mental Health Issues

Some blog posts come naturally, they flow and I could write them in twenty minutes at the most. For some reason this one is tough, I just don’t know where to begin. My natural tendency is to write about topics from a light hearted stance. However there is little humour to be found in the subject of mental health.

Even to say the words. I have mental health issues. They get a little stuck in my throat somehow.

I am not ashamed.

I’m an open person I wear my heart on my sleeve but somehow that sentence doesn’t fit me? There are a number of reasons for that.

I don’t really fit the stereotype. The perception is that I’m outgoing, confident and full of the joys of life. Well there was a period in my life that none of those words could have been used to describe me. I can’t remember the first time I felt depressed. It started with bouts of crying. I’m a girl sure  that’s just hormones. I was either pre menstrual, menstrual or post menstrual. But that was the point. There was no end to it. I felt sad all the time. Continue reading “I’m A Single Mother With Mental Health Issues”

Phoney

I have an aul gra for mass generalisations but I think it’s fair to say that we would all be fairly lost without our phones. The phone is no longer a privilege of the wealthy but really an everyday necessity. From 8 to 80 everyone has one. Some people even have two. The way we communicate with one another has changed so much. Could you even imagine writing a letter to someone and having to wait weeks maybe even months for a reply? Everything these days is about the instant fix. We really don’t like to have to wait for anything and our phones afford us that luxury. Continue reading “Phoney”