Friday, 19 February 2016

A Double Digit Day

There were birds singing the morning he was born.  Our first child -  a spring baby.  It was 6.20am and he was perfect.

Today he turns ten. 

A whole decade old.  Still a boy but almost too tall to fit under my chin when I hug him nonetheless. 

There have been scary sightings of the teenager within already.  And the man.  Sometimes he comes out with sage words that make me stop and look at him, mentally asking “who are you?”

He is a voracious reader.   He has the enviable skill of “keeping” his books to read at bedtime whereas when I was his age I would hole up somewhere and get stuck in until I read the last word.

This morning he came into our room at 6.10 with a big grin on his face.   He got in beside me and we watched the clock, waiting for his birth time – 6.20.

Then began the countdown to his birthday party this afternoon.   He wasn’t able.   (Neither was I!)

The final countdown!

I took the opportunity to ask this man child, what are the three best things about turning ten.

“You’ve been alive for ten years which is a bit of a milestone.  Kind of like whoo hoo!”  Can’t argue with that I suppose.

“You’re almost a teenager.   I don’t know why but I just want to be a teenager.  I think it’s cool.”  Will I tell him? 

“You know more people.  When you get older you do more things and get to meet new people.”  My favourite reason.

And finally I asked would he recommend being 10?  "Yes!  I’d give it ten out of ten!"

Happy birthday, Conor.   Ten years on this earth and you teach me something new every day.

Thursday, 18 February 2016

The First of the Lasts

There is an almost five-year-old living with us.   He’s great.  He likes to talk.  He loves jig saws, PAW Patrol and a bowl of fruit. He is also very partial to a Kinder Joy. 

He likes to sleep.    He usually has a three-hour nap, once maybe twice a week.   Yes, this means he is bright eyed and bushy tailed at proper bedtime and it always means I get into his bed with him until he falls asleep.  Sometimes I wake up in the morning and I’m still there.

I love this.   I love when he opens his eyes in the middle of the night and sees me there.  He smiles, reaches out to pat my cheek before falling back to sleep.  In the morning when he wakes and sees me, he says, “these are the best mornings.”

He was very fond of his cot and resisted the “big bed” for a long time.   The very last of our boys to make that leap and it was the biggest leap.  He wasn’t keen on toilet training either; using every trick in the book to get out of it.  “I’m still too little and I will do it when I am older.  Maybe 6.”  “I don’t need to.  I have my nappies.”

Of course that day did eventually happen and he was so delighted and pleased with himself declaring the bathroom “not so scary after all.”

Another item of baby paraphernalia still knocking around is the buggy.  It doesn’t get used much but gets an outing every now and again all the same.  Truth be told, sometimes the six-and-a-half-year-old will steal a sneaky ride in it.

More recently the small boy commented that he hasn’t been carried in a long time.  This wasn’t strictly true as a day on the trampoline after a long winter saw him wake with sore legs and I helped him downstairs.  By carrying him in my arms.  If he neglects to wear shoes on a school run and it is raining, he will also get a half drag/half carry into the house.

In the morning he tells me he can do it himself when I try to help him with his shoes.  He dresses himself and brushes his own teeth, allowing me to polish them when he is finished.  

He loves to hoover the floors for me and he is in seventh heaven if I fill the sink with soapy water and ask him to wash up.  He likes to take items out of the pinger (microwave to you and me) and is great at putting the proper items in the recycling bin.

Because he was my last baby I was free from the burden of weaning and as far as I was concerned this one could breastfeed until he was four.  Five even.   I placed the decision in his hands.  Turns out I wasn’t prepared for him pushing me away when he was only about 15 months old.   I can’t actually remember feeding him the previous night but that bright sunny day and my boobs with corners will never be forgotten.  He was done and happy to be.  I had to go with that.

He likes Weetabix for his breakfast.  He likes me to feed it to him.   And I do this gladly.  It’s probably the only “baby” thing left that he likes me to do for him.   The day will come when he picks up the spoon and eats his “crunchy” breakfast himself.

He can’t pronounce the letter R.  But he can use words like “extremely” “cautious” “decision” “confused” and “expect.”   He recognises his name written down and knows his numbers.  He can do simple addition.       

He can do lots of things.  And he can’t and/or won’t do others.  And you know what?  I am going with this flow.  

Because you see, all of the above were the first of the lasts.  The last time he slept in a cot.  The last time he used a nappy.  The last time he needed me to do up his shoes. 
When he asks me to help him with his breakfast for the last time, when he learns how to pronounce the letter R and possibly, when he goes to Big School at the end of August in just a short 6 months, it means there are no more babies in this house.

The last of the firsts.  Bitter sweet.   But no stopping them. 

Sunday, 14 February 2016

Valentines Day. Not Just For Mammies

There was a radio advert played ad nauseam last week.  Something along the lines of buying valentines flowers and chocolates for twenty euro at your local participating petrol station.  How romantic.  Not!

I’d prefer the twenty quid.  Then I’d go straight to Eason’s and buy Marian Keyes new book for myself.

We don’t “do” valentine’s day here.  As such.  Ok, there were a few red love heart balloons, some foil confetti red lips and two small boxes of chocolates from a petrol station.  For €2 each.  Ahem.  Leave me alone!

See my boys were all chat about this great loved up day during the week.  I think their lovely teachers were hammering home the notion so the mammies would get a few chocolates and/or a lie on this morning.

In case you are interested, in a recent online poll sleep was the greatest gift you can give a mother lady on this day.  Or any other for that matter.

Anyway, when I asked my boys what did they think their daddy would like for valentine’s day there was a collective intake of shocked, horrified little breaths.

“It’s not for daddies!  It’s only for mammies.  He doesn’t get anything on valentine’s day!”

And then they did that “she’s losing it again” look at each other.

So I explained valentine’s day is for everyone.   Not just for mammies.   It’s for both mothers and fathers, boyfriends and girlfriends and for everyone who wants to do something nice for the person they like or love.  And most importantly it’s a bit of fun!

I was told that I could not get up in the morning.  That I was to stay in bed when the food was being cooked.

“Oh, lovely.”  I said to the (almost) five-year-old.   “What are you going to cook for me for my breakfast?”

*I hate breakfast in bed.  In fact, I don’t normally eat until I am up and awake for at least two hours*

He actually snorted.  “I won’t be doing any of the cooking.  Daddy will.”

God help us and save us.

So I had to put my thinking cap on as to what I could possibly stomach at 9am of a Sunday morning because, whether I liked it or not, I was getting fed in bed.

Croissants were bought and instructions were issued to the boys as how exactly how l liked my coffee brewed.   

I managed a tiny corner off a croissant and gulped down a half cup of warm coffee whilst living in fear that my feet were going to get broken by four young boy children hopping, jumping and bouncing on my bed.

Then I got up and went for a hard and fast 5k.  Alone.  With the poor dog howling her head off because I snuck off without her.

I don’t care.  It’s valentine’s day.  That was my treat to myself.

So what we all came up with that day in the car was to have an extra special valentine’s day dinner at home.   It was decided steak was on the menu, (I ask you!  Their taste buds have finally woken up and it appears they have expensive ones.) with Aunt Bessie’s roasts spuds, curly fries (by special request) button mushrooms with onions, pepper corn sauce and loads and loads of green beans.  I love my green beans. 

And it was lovely!

However you celebrate valentine’s day, or even if you don’t, I hope you enjoyed it.  

Tuesday, 2 February 2016

What Would Teresa Do?

In bad form?  For no discernible reason other than you just are. Do you feel niggly and a bit frayed around the edges and keep having arguments with people in your head?  Are you smashing the cups down a bit harder than usual?   Do you have to count to seven hundred and twenty-eight and shout at the kids anyway?  Have you forgotten about not sweating the small stuff?   Does the small stuff seem like huge stuff that just keeps on mounting up?

I’m experiencing all of the above at the moment.  I keep waiting for that shift, where it all rolls off my shoulders and the sun is bright again.  Sometimes I can literally feel it lifting and other times it happens as quickly as the weight appeared in the first place.

I’ve made a list of the things I like to do when I am in bad aul form in the hope that I might feel a bit better, a little less stressed.  You might like to try some of them yourself.

Exercise.   Don’t shout at me.  Honestly, this stuff works.  It can be as simple as a walk or as brutal as a hard and fast 4k run.  Just get out there and do it.   I find that it is on the days I couldn’t be arsed with exercised it is the day I need it most. 

Read something.  Buy a magazine with lots of pictures in it if you want a bit of escapism or buy a book for something a bit more involved.  Only you can know.   Curl up somewhere or, like me, sit on the stairs with a cup of tea and ignore every sentence that begins with, “mammy!” or “He hit me!”

Buy a coffee.   This morning I was seriously contemplating driving the twenty minutes to get my favourite take out coffee.  I didn’t.   I’m still kind of sort of kicking myself about it.  But I went for that brutal hard and fast 4k run instead.   I’ve put the coffee off for tomorrow.

Disconnect.  From everyone and everything.  I find this very hard to do as it can take me as long as three hours to even start the process and then the kids are home.   But I try.   I move slowly.   Try to shut off negative thoughts and prioritise housework.  The basics are good enough. 

Make a list.  And cross stuff off.   I love lists yet at the same time they can make me anxious when I see how many things that are on it.  I usually dissect them and put, on a separate bit of paper, all the small jobs, the things that can be done in town in an hour. Then I do them so I’m not looking at them anymore.  The bigger ones that need to wait don’t look so menacing then.

Three things.   Write down three things that you like about yourself, including physical attributes, recent achievements and something you’re proud of.  Put them in a notebook and add to them each day.   Don’t be modest.  You are your best cheerleader. 

Get your nails/hair done.   Or whatever it is you enjoy doing, chose what relaxes you the most.  Of course, if you aren’t up for small talk this little pamper could be more of a pain than an enjoyable treat.  Take the first step.  Maybe you can’t face it today but pick up the phone and make the appointment for the weekend or early next week.  Something to look forward to.  We all need that. 

Be kind to yourself.  So I’m having a shite bad week.  I roared at the kids.  I hate, more than usual, the kitchen.   I’m letting the small things get to me. I mixed up the lunches.  I’m not focused and when things don’t work out I allow myself to wallow in moments of terrible self-doubt.   So I make made sure I get enough sleep.  I don’t function well, or nicely, when I’m tired.  I make quick and easy meals like bolognaise or stir fry’s so I’m not in the kitchen longer than I need to be.  I drink loads of hot tea.  And I have accepted that this week is tough.   But I also know that it will pass.  And next week, possibly tomorrow, will be better.

Drink wine.  You were waiting for that one, weren’t you?  I know you’re supposed to steer clear of alcohol if you’re in a blue.   I would agree.  But it’s ok to pour that glass, take the book or magazine, sit on the stairs, and be kind to yourself.   If it is wine you need, then drink the damn wine.  God knows even the nicest cup of tea in the world won’t take that edge off.   It’s ok to put your own gas mask on first.  Actually, it’s necessary to put it on first.   It’s been a long time since I was on an aeroplane but I’m pretty sure the advice given in their safety talk is to tend to yourself before your kids.

After all, if you are starved and gasping for oxygen, how can you assist others?

Life is the same.         

If you have tried all of those and you still feel murderous, change the sheets on your bed, get into it and sleep it off.

Failing that, ask yourself what would Teresa do?  *Sorry, a little bit of lightness and frivolity at the end*