You are Now Approaching Station Baby Brain

You are now approaching Station Baby Brain…

Imagine a train network.  (Yeah I know that this is an alien concept to us up here in Donegal, but hey!)

Your brain is like this: a series of tracks, each with a destination and with all sorts of trains on them.  On any given day, millions of thoughts and signals travel through this network.

You are the Mammy Train.

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Most days, we have so many things to do and stations to visit that we wonder if we’ll have enough steam to get it all done!

We recall information and remember things by reversing back to a station we’ve already been in.

We learn how to do things by going to a new station and continuing on and on.

Sometimes, we turn onto a new track and realise we should have been on it all along.

Sometimes, we need to get off a track asap.

We keep going everyday, sometimes not having a clue where this particular track is going to take us. But always chugging on.

Some days are like rush hour.  Every track is moving, it’s fast and furious and how all of the trains manage to NOT crash, is a miracle.  (Most days if we’re honest!)

 

Other days are slow and quiet with just a functional service running.

But there’s a magical station that is known only to Mums.

It’s the station called Baby Brain.

It sometimes appears on the track during pregnancy and appears more and more frequently in the early months of exhaustion fog.

You start a sentence and can’t remember what you were going to say.

You forget people’s names.

You go into the shop to get…something.  You just can’t remember what that something is.

You forget words.  Yes, actual words that you have used your whole life, evade you when you are at Baby Brain station.

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Baby Brain station is derelict.  It’s grey and brown and draughty and cold. Tumbleweed blows by on the platform which is full of Mums staring into cupboards, trying to remember why they opened it, or of the Mum who is looking for the phone she has in her hand.

Thankfully, it’s only a temporary stop and often, your Mammy train is back on track and functioning after only seconds there.

But the station ever goes away.  I thought that Baby Brain was a temporary thing.  Turns out, many years into Motherhood, my train pulls up at Baby Brain Station more frequently than I care to.

I forget names.  All the names.  Always have, but it’s worse since I had the girls.

My “Somewhere safe” has become synonymous with “Never to be seen again”.  If I tell The Him that I put something “somewhere safe”, he rolls his eyes, knowing that I may as well have emailed it to fecking Narnia.  It shall never grace daylight again.

I often walk into a room and genuinely have to wonder why I came in in the first place.

I remember doing things, but doubt if I am remembering planning to do them or actually doing them.  Have you ever replied to a message or email in your head, but never actually typed the reply?

I’ve put the beige food in the oven but not turned it on more times than enough.

I could list all of the silly things that Baby Brain has made me do, but I’d be here all day.  I’d be parked up at that station trying to find my keys for the the train and trying to remember where I was going in the first place.

The station never goes away.  And really, we should rename it shouldn’t we.  Because it’s not “Baby Brain” really.  It lasts way beyond the Baby phase.

Let’s call it what it is and stop blaming the poor kids!

It’s Mammy Brain and whether you like it or not, your Mammy train will continue to pass through it until you are no longer chugging.

Now, what was I saying?

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I am STOP TOUCHING ME Mum

This Mammy loves hugs and squeezes and little chubby fingers on her skin.  Mammy loves kisses and Eskinosies and the feel of Mini-Me’s arms crawling around her neck for a hug.

Mammy is aware that when you become a Mammy, you are going to be touched, a LOT.  But Mammy is still, many years on, not ready for the CONSTANT touching.
It’s 24/7.

It’s mostly lovely, but JESUS, there are times when Mammy just wants to NOT be touched, even for a little while.

LIke, a half an hour.

Now, there is no harm in the Touching. It is usually quite acceptable and welcome. In fact, if we delve into the minds of the TOUCHERS in the house, it is clear that the touching is a sign (usually) of love and affection and it is important for affirmation of love and all that jazz, but sometimes, Mammy considers pretending to have Scabies, just so that everyone will piss away off for 20 minutes and stop TOUCHING her!

The Wobbler thinks:

Oh! There is Mammy.  I will touch her.  I will swing off her legs while she walks.  I will stand on her feet while she cooks.  I will sit on her head while she snoozes.  I will sit on her knee instead of on my chair.  I will sit on her chair along with her.  I will hold on to her hand so hard that if she tries to sneak away as I fall asleep, I will know.  I will insist on being lifted when I see her standing with nothing to do.  I will make special effort to ensure that if her tellyphoney rings, she will not forget that I am here, because I will tug at her leg until she lifts me and then I will rub her face.  I will stick my finger in her mouth.  I will stick my finger up her nose.  I will shove my finger in her ear.  Oh Lookit. Mammy is on the sofa.  That is my sofa.  I will sit on her head.  I will stick my hand down into Mammy’s bra to find the dodee that I didn’t hide there earlier.  I will touch her every time she walks by.  I likes to touch Mammy.  Mammy is soft and squishee and she smiles when I touches her so that is what I must do.  Always.  Forever. I am the bestest witto wobbler around.
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The Mini One thinks:

I will ignore Mammy until I notice little sister sitting on her, and then I too will sit on her.  I will make sure she doesn’t feel lonely while she pees.  I will look after her while she showers. I will remember to ask her EVERYTHING when she is trying to talk to Granny on the phone.  I will ignore her in the coffee shop until her friend sits down to talk to her.  Oh Look! Mammy has sat at the the table. I must sit on her knee to make sure she doesn’t drink all of the coffee.  It is bad for her.

I will hug Mammy’s armpit.  I will stick my fingers in her armpit.  For some reason, I like armpits.  I must keep touching Mammy so that she doesn’t forget my existence for three minutes.  She must be touched as often as possible.  Even when Mammy asks me to let her think, I will add my thoughts to her thoughts to make sure she has all options of thinking available to her and that she never feels alone in her thoughts or her head.

Mammy’s minions go to bed and Mammy wonders what feels so strange.  Is it the silence? Is it the calm? Is it the peace?

NO.  It’s the lack of touching.
Daddy comes home.

Daddy thinks:

Oh look.  There is my beautiful wife. She looks extra sexiful in those baggy PJ bottoms and my teeshirt.  I’m glad she hasn’t brushed her hair or washed her face today.  I like the smell of Bolognese on her face.  I have missed her so much that I must touch her everytime she walks past.  I will touch her.  I will slap her bum every time I pass her..  I will huggle her.  Mammy looks lonely there without the girls hanging off of her.  I will make her feel better.  I will hang off of her.  Maybe Mammy would like some hanky panky.  She has been here on her own with the kids all day after all.  I wonder did the baby hide her dodees in Mammy’s bra today..  Maybe I will check…
Oh.
Mammy is looking at me with sexy eyes…or maybe those are her I shall hurt you eyes… I can never tell.
“Don’t FUCKING TOUCH MEEEEEEEEEEE” screams Mammy.
‘Ok,’ thinks Daddy, ‘not her sexy eyes’.  Daddy realises. For some reason, Mammy doesn’t like being touched tonight.  She must be hormental.  
Actually no.  Daddy remembers that this is The Touching Hour.

Mammy needs her Touching Hour every evening.  It is like the Witching Hour, only more dark and dangerous.  And the chances of further touching depend on the success of the Touching Hour.
‘Where is the chocolate?’ Thinks Daddy.  ‘I should sit in the corner here and throw chocolate at her until she calms down’.  Clever Daddy.

“Will I make you a cup of tea?” asks Daddy.  Mammy snarls at him.  Daddy pours her a glass of wine.  Clever Daddy.

“Here you are Darling” he says, trying not to touch her.
Mammy sips her wine, remembering a time when she used to pay people to touch her; When it was relaxing to have hands all over her in a smellified dark room in a spa or salon.  She would love to go for a massage, but that would mean someone else touching her and at this moment in time, that might make Mammy hurt someone.

She looks at Daddy, who used to be the only person who touched her.  He is so lovely, she thinks.  He has a very nice bum.

After a while, Mammy walks past Daddy in the kitchen and slaps his bum.  Yay! thinks Daddy.  The Touching hour is over, but Daddy lets Mammy pour another glass of grapes before he suggests such.

Daddy is clever.

Mammy sometimes feels like she lives with a squad of fecking Octopus…octopi?

But they are cute little octopi and by the morning, she will be ready for all the touching, all over again.

Because while of course Mammy knows she is a lucky Mammy to have so many people wanting to touch her, sometimes…well, it’s a touchy subject.

And if you have kids, you’ll know.

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“Mam-Me Time” at The Silver Tassie Hotel & Seascape Spa – Review

The Silver Tassie Hotel has been a family favourite with my parents since I was a child. We’ve have many family events and two family weddings there. The Him and I have stayed many times and always delight in being invited to weddings or functions in their ballroom.

Once upon a time, this Mammy spent summers pulling pints behind the bar there too. Rightfully, The Silver Tassie is known as one of the gems of Donegal; a family run affair which can easily combines chic, country coziness with contemporary glitz and class.

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So when they invited my Mum and I to celebrate International Women’s Day with them at their Seascape Spa , followed by Afternoon Tea in their Conservatory, we were only delighted to say yes.

We had some of their Spring Treatments in the spa and then had an Amazing Afternoon Tea It was much needed after a few very busy weeks and we thoroughly enjoyed our afternoon.

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The current Spring Specials

We arrived to the spa to a friendly and efficient welcome, where we filled out the usual forms and were shown to our changing room. Mum headed off with her therapist, Martina, for the Perfect Retreat which by all accounts, was exactly what it said on the tin. She said that the Indian Head Massage was the best she’d ever had.

Alison took me for my treatment which was the Voya Mindul Touch package. I’ve had many massages in my time; some good, some that left me needing physio afterwards. But this was wonderful. The hot stone massage was incredible. My neck and back were in bits when I went in. By the time Alison was finished working her magic, my back felt like warm butter.

I then stepped into the Seaweed Bath. I’ve had this in Seascape before and every time I sink down into the water, I ask myself why I don’t do it more often. I love the slimy feeling of the seaweed on my skin. I love the smell. I love the exfoliation of some of the weed and I love how silky my skin feels afterwards.

We were then shown to the relaxation room which had a selection of teas and fruit. A little bowl of sorbet was a lovely touch and very welcomed after the treatments.

The Seascape has it right on so many levels. It’s a boutique spa, intimate and calm. The decor is classy and subtle and the smells are a sensory treat throughout. They offer special packages throughout the year and can adapt many treatments for pregnant ladies. The therapists also specialise in treatments for people who are fighting, or have fought, cancer.

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Proper Bum Coverers!

Can I also say that they also have proper disposable Ninkernankers! Not the teeny tiny cheesegrater/dentalfloss type that are virtually invisible and therefore quite pointless. Proper comortable disposable pants, for all bum sizes. Very important.

What Mum and I both agreed on is that the spa is accessible to everyone. It’s one of the few spas where you don’t have to wear a swimsuit and can keep your robe on at all times, and so is perfect for women who perhaps don’t love the prospect of parading about in a swimsuit or bikini. The Seascape is dignified and subtle for anyone.

Yes, I know this isn’t an issue for all women, but there are many who say no to spa trips with friends simply because of the fear of having to get undressed or be semi-naked. If that is something that you can empathise with, try the Seascape. And bring your friends.

After our treatments, we went into the conservatory of the hotel where we were served a beautiful afternoon tea. There may have been enough food for 4 people, but Mum and I managed! The conservatory is spacious and elegant and the table setting was stunning.

Three trays of treats awaited. The bottom tray had open sandwiches; one with goat’s cheese and chutney, one with smoked chicken and one with smoked salmon and prawn. Divine.

Fresh, warm scones with jam and cream sat on the second tray, and the top tray had a selection of fruit, chocolates, profiteroles and sweet bites. The tea was served in a huge pot, perfect for Mammy Bear, and the coffee was so good, I asked for a second pot!

It really was a lovely experience and it’s right outside Letterkenny. We could actually see our houses across the Swilly while we ate our tea.

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Pinky Out

The Spring Specials are available all month and afternoon tea can be booked at reception on 0749125619.

And don’t forget that it’s Mother’s Day on Sunday 31st. This would be the perfect treat for you, or for the special lady in your life.

As stated, we were invited guests of the Silver Tassie Hotel, however as always, my review is my own. I was under no obligation to write it and my account of our experience is honest.

Does my Face Look Bovered?

Does my face look Bovered?
Grab a cuppa! Reality check a comin!

Have you ever felt like you’ve let your kids down or made a mess of things?

Have you ever felt like a failure because you didn’t reach your own expectations of how things should be?

Like when you’ve had the morning from Hell and then you spend the day feeling guilty that your kids will be upset all day?

Or a part of a birthday gift didn’t arrive on time and you worry that it’ll ruin the whole surprise?

Or you find something after Christmas which you meant to use or do and now you feel like you’ve messed up?

Or you spend the whole of the weekend cleaning and doing housework and are sure that you are ruining their lives because they’ve had to entertain themselves all weekend?

Or you don’t think to book a magician for her First Communion and then it’s too late?

Or you’ve had to work late and feel like you are not giving enough attention to your kids?

Or you’ve not been able to organise (or afford) the cake you wanted to get your 3 year old?

Or you’ve told your 8 year old they can invite 4 friends to their birthday party, but Jacinta up the road has the whole class at little Vincentula’s?

I could go on and on…and on…and on… and on…

We set ourselves so many standards and expectations around our children’s experiences. We feel like a failure if their experiences are not what we intended them to be… But when things do not go to plan, do they look “bovered?”

Nope. The only one whose face looks “bovered”, is Mammy.

I’m currently reading Becoming by Michelle Obama. It’s an incredible memoir. Everyone really should read it.

One of the memories she describes has stood strong in my head since I read it. It’s about her daughter’s tenth birthday. She describes how it fell just weeks before the Presidential Election, when they were in the midst of the campaign trail, constantly surrounded by a management team and journalists and Secret Service.

She remembers they had to use the 4th of July carnival they had to attend to ‘celebrate’ their daughter’s birthday; How they spent the day passing disappointed glances at each other; How they longed for the day to be over so that they could get an hour on their own with their daughter that evening; How they both felt like failures because they couldn’t take a day off work.

The guilt that they both felt that day was immense. And even when they did get to the hotel, their “private” party still had about 20 of their team present.

Michelle talks about the plain hotel function space, the “store bought” cake, the gifts that one of the team had had to go to buy as she was unable to go to a store alone… and she spoke of the desultory disappointment she felt in herself.

She spoke about the shame she felt that her daughter’s birthday was spent working, dragging her along and not at home with her friends. And she describes the guilt she and her husband felt in a way that every parent can understand.

I felt her pain as I read. I’ve just returned from a 4 day work trip. I had the worst dose of Mammy Guilt before I left and while I was there. I felt that my girls were being passed from Granny to Daddy to school, and that I was the worst Mum in the world for not being close at hand for a few days.

But when I returned, I realised something. My perspective to the trip was so incredibly different to theirs.

While I was teary eyed about leaving them on what happened to be my Birthday, they saw only that they were getting to go play with their cousins.

While I worried that they’d miss me, they saw time alone with Daddy where Mammy wasn’t there to interfere!

Where I felt the guilt of sending them to my Mum’s house again, they saw the utter, imcomparable joy of getting a Sleepover in GannyGanda’s where they’d get pancakes for breakfast and 37 stories at bedtime.

Where I felt that I’d need to make it up to them when I finally got home, they only saw their Mammy, who was home safe with them.

The hugs were brief but tight, and after 5 minutes of showing me EVERYTHING they had made or done since I left, Mini-Me looked into my eyes and announced that they’d had a lovely time and asked when I could go away again… Cheers Babe.

Just like Michelle Obama’s daughter bounced over to her parents on that birthday and hugged them tight announcing “This has been the BEST BIRTHDAY EVER!”, My two girls saw things in a very different way.

Because that is what kids do.

And as parents we need to remember that. Most of the things that we worry about, would NEVER be considered or noticed by our kids.

Kids don’t dwell on the bad morning. They remember the kiss on the nose or the promise of “See you in a wee while!”

They don’t give a damn about the thing Mammy forgot to get, or that the cake is from a shop, or that the spuds get burnt, or that there are no crackers at Christmas. Kids are paying attention to a whole other set of things…

So ease up on yourself Mammy.

Are your kids loved? Are they safe? Are they fed?

Yeah? Well chances are, that even if YOU are feeling guilty or disappointed, or that you feel a failure about something, your kids don’t care.

They only see you.

And if you look closely at them, you’ll see that their face certainly does not look “bovered”.

Let’s Hear It For The Girls…Disney Princesses and All!

Here’s to all the strong and powerful women on International Women’s Day…and EVERY DAY! 

Kiera Knightly recently broke the Interweb with her announcement that she has banned her three year old daughter from watching The Little Mermaid and Cinderella.  She feels that they teach her daughter wrong and even misogynistic lessons; that you need to wait for a man to save you and that you must give up your voice for the man you want…

Kristen Bell has issues with Snow White because of how consent is conveyed in it.

 

Fair enough.

Who are we to judge? If these Mamas don’t want to let their kids watch these movies, that is absolutely 100% THEIR DECISION!

In fact, the portrayal of women in Disney is something I have discussed with my students many, many, many times, and while I agree that many of the traditional “princesses” are frustratingly meek and mild and oh so obedient to their hearts and menfolk, I also am aware that the stories are not the cause of inequality and misogyny in our modern society.

They are only stories; fairytales, make believe… it is HOW we read them that is important.

 

Yes you can say that Prince Whatshisface kissing Snow White while she was sleeping is wrong.  Of course it is, but why do we hone in on that, rather than the previous 60 minutes where she was a servant and cleaner and feck knows what else,  for seven little men?

(And does that not insult men, suggesting that seven of them together couldn’t function without a teenage girl to look after them?)

Yes, Cinderella needed magic and spells and fab shoes to get her prince.  And ‘tut’ to her that she needed a man to save her, but such was the world, the IMAGINARY world, in which she lived.

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Shakespeare wrote some of the most incredibly females in history. Lady Macbeth calls upon evil spirits to “Unsex me here” because obviously she couldn’t be evil as she was a woman. (Any men getting offended here?)  And then he also wrote Ophelia, who is worse and more weak and frustrating that ANY Disney Princess in the world. Don’t start me on Ophelia…

Why did Shakespeare write her?  Because he was a woman hater? NO.  Because that was the society and cultural norm in the time in which he lived.

And actually, he did have Portia save the day when a crowd of men made a mess of everything… and then he went and ruined it all by having her marry her Prince Charming, after saving his ass.  Bad Shakespeare…

 

But we don’t ban our teenagers from reading Shakespeare do we?. In fact, we encourage it because we know that they can recognise the injustices and gender issues for themselves. Because we’ve given them those skills.

As for the Disney classics, remember that Cinderella and Snow White and The Little Mermaid were written in the early 1800s… of course their messages and social concepts are different to ours.

We however, get to choose how we read them.

And while there are valid arguments about the negative messages some of the classics send out, there are also plenty positives…and a few weird things, to pay attention to.

Cinderella was good and kind and she felt good in new, sparkly shoes. She also spoke to mice and birds.

Snow White was happy that Prince Whatshisface kissed her. He saved her. She wasn’t dragged off kicking and screaming to the castle to live happily ever after, was she?

The Little Mermaid was a defiant strong-willed rascal, who followed her heart.  Her best friends were also a crab and a fish… so let’s differentiate reality from fairytale.

Our daughters are no fairytale princesses.  They will not NEED to wait for a man to save them.  They will be able to look after themselves. They will be self-sufficient and well able to provide for themselves, to follow their dreams, to be “anything they want to be”… but can we stop already with telling them that they DON’T need to be girly?

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This teeshirt made me mad when I saw it a few weeks ago.  Yes, of course our daughters can be pilots.  Of course they can be engineers.  By all means encourage our daughters to believe that they can achieve anything they dream of and work for, but why do we need to tell them that being girly or wearing pink or dreaming of being a movie star are signs of weakness?

What the feck is wrong with wanting to be a movie star?  Are Megan Markle or KatyBaby failures because they found their Princes? I’m not a fan of the Royals in general, but what I see are two strong, determined women who have given up a hell of a lot for the man they love.

My daughters love dresses.  They love sparkles. They love makeup and dressing up and singing and being all round princesses.  They also love superheros, dressing up as Hulk,  football and Pokemon and they play ninjas and wrestle.

There is no “That is for girls” or “That is for boys” in our house.

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Because that is not how to teach our children equality.

I like football. I like MMA. I swear more than a lady should. I can hold my own when I train alongside the menfolk in our gymand I prefer Marvel movies to Chickflicks.  In my work and projects, I take no prisoners and do not see any man as better than me.

And yet, I love to do all things “girly” too. and I love to dress up and I like sparkly shoes.

Does that make me less?

Does the fact that I like pink and glitter and girly stuff make me weak? Because it seems to me that we’ve gone beyond telling girls they can be anything, we’ve gotten to the point that being girly is snubbed and scoffed at and actually looked down upon.

Well not on my watch.

I dress up and get my girly on, for me. Not for my Him or for anyone else.  For me.

Because I am comfortable with who I am. And let me tell you, there is NO ONE who has watched as many Disney movies in their childhood (and still), as Me!

And my daughters will do what they want, how they want, Prince Charming or no Prince Charming, but they certainly will not be banned from watching Disney Movies, because all they see is a mermaid who sings songs and fights evil octopus monsters.

It’s a movie.

If you want your daughters to grow up strong and independent, teach them to be strong and independent…point out how old fashioned some of those Princesses are. (not all of them, for the newer ones are WICKED!  Merida, Mulan, Ana anyone?)

And teach them that to be feminist does not mean hater of men.  It means equality for all. It means being able to stand up for themselves and to be a strong and independent woman, who can change the world and kick ass…whether in trousers and flats or in a skirt and glittery heels.

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Otherwise, they’ll end up offended by every man in the world and will need a big box of Man-sized…sorry, “extra large” Kleenex to wipe their offended eyes. I wonder when Manchester is being renamed? Peoplechester has a ring to it, don’t ya think?

Wear the pink, wear the glitter, wear the lipstick. Or don’t if you don’t want to … But be yourself and be strong and don’t let others tell you that you’re wrong. And then you might just live happily ever after.

 

Happy #Internationalwomensday

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