You Hold Your Own Key

Although it is many moons ago, Mammy remembers getting her Leaving Cert Results.

Mammy was certain that the contents of the little brown envelope were going to change her life. Had Mammy’s life REALLY depended on the contents of that little brown envelope, quite frankly, I’d be living an utterly dreadful, mediocre and half-arsed attempt at one. 😂

Because the results printed on my little scrap of yellow paper were quite awful, if I’m very honest.

The only mark I remember (or tell anyone about!) was my A1 in Honours English. Go figure.

As for the rest of them? I’d say the examiners only passed me so that they wouldn’t have to read my verbal diahorrea again the following year. 😂I’m not exaggerating either.

But the other grades didn’t matter. The A in English was all that mattered to me, both then AND today. Yes, I got into college, but not until I had spent a week back in the brown uniform 😣😣 convincing myself that I needed to repeat the Leaving Cert.

It wasn’t until the second round offers and a trip to meet (attack😛) the Dean of the English Department in Coleraine, that I finally got my place on the degree course. (I might have only been 17, but I was a stroppy one!😂)

English was all I loved. It was all that I wanted to study and, as the little brown envelope told me, it was apparently all that I was good at… All that I was good at THEN.

At 17.

As it turns out, I’m good at a whole load of things.

It just so happened that I didn’t get to take Leaving Cert exams in singing, dancing, shopping or eating.

The Big LC recognised my ability to understand Shakespeare and write stories off the top of my head, but it didn’t (and couldn’t) know how strong I was at things like organisation, being a friend, laughing or leading.

So I was crap at French. Biology for me ended after the section on photosynthesis. But although my maths grade was dismal, I challenge you to find ANYONE who can work out a % as quickly as me when I see the word “SALE”. 😂😂

So there.

Now, over 20 years on, I’m an English teacher.  I’m a writer and I’m a businesswoman.  I’m a whole lot of things that that little piece of paper could NEVER have predicted me to be.

Of COURSE, as a teacher, I value the Leaving Cert.

I love teaching the course and I try my best to encourage my Babbies to give it their best shot.

But I also know that they are young adults. That they have a LOT going on. That some of them have things going on in their lives that are a WHOLE lot more important that exams. 😢

That while some of them will have given it their ALL for 2 years, on the day of the exam, it might just not happen. That some of them are dealing with trying to live up to expectations that might be unrealistic.  That some of them just haven’t yet realised their strengths or abilities in certain areas.

And sometimes, that at 18, they’re just not quite ready for the ridiculous pressure of the state exam.

For a whole load of reasons, Tuesday is a huge day for our young adults. But that little brown envelope is only that.

An envelope.

Despite what it is inflated to be, it is NOT the most important piece of paper in the world.

Yes, the letters and numbers inside it will have an immediate effect.

Yes, some doors will open and yes, some doors will close, but what is written on the page does not define them.

The Leaving Cert does NOT know our children. It doesn’t see the kindness. It doesn’t measure their ability to change things. It can’t recognise their skills as motivators, or thinkers, or makers, or doers. It does not define them, nor should it.

And as parents, yes, some of us might be disappointed for our kids on Tuesday.

But mostly we should be proud, because regardless of what is on that page, they are OUR children and they have done their best and we must remind them that they CAN do whatever they want.

Because WE know what they can be.

Untitled design (1)

There are ALWAYS options and sometimes, the path that they are so determined to be the ONLY one for them right now, was never the right one for them…it usually takes a few years for them to realise that however.

But they will. 💕

So in the meantime, tell them how brilliant they are. And leave them under NO illusion that no matter what words and letters are on that piece of paper, that you are and will always be proud of them and that you will help them to get to where they want to go, may it be straight through the college door or in a longer, roundabout way.

But all roads lead ahead. And before they know it, they won’t even remember what was printed on the page!

It might be over 20 years since I opened my little brown envelope and had my heart broken in a million pieces, but trust me, everything happens for a reason. 😇

Todayt, I send love to all of the young people (especially my own Babbies😘😘) and to all you exam parents whose minions face the brown envelope this Tuesday.

And remember, that little brown envelope does NOT hold the key to their future. They hold that key already.

It’s right inside them.

And no piece of paper can change that.

Mammy  XXX

The Unspoken Reality of (most) Hotel Stays with Kids.

‘Let’s stay in a hotel’ they said.

‘Let us pack up our minions and go on an adventure and stay in a lovely family room in a hotel.  It shall be fun!’ they said.

Forgetting momentarily that

  1. Most “Family rooms” are simply big rooms with two beds.

  2. Children do not automatically behave themselves when in hotels.

  3. Scolding and voices must be conrolled by Mammy and Daddy as whatever frowning might be done at the chaos caused by minions, more frowning will be done if Mammy or Daddy use their usual shouty voice.

  4. Children, regardless of being up since 5am and walking the entirity of Dublin zoo after a 3 hour drive, shall NOT be “so knackered that they’ll conk out straight away” (Me. This was MY fuckwittery. Not Him’s in fairness.)

  5. Children who are used to their own rooms, will either complain incessently about the sibling being “on their side” or cackle incessently together, or both at the same time, for no apparent reason other than to drive Mammy and Daddy up the bathroom wall…

  6. Because the bathroom is where Mammy and Daddy invariably end up EVERY SODDING TIME WE STAY IN A HOTEL with the kids.  Daddy lies in his clothes, in the empty bath, with his phone, Mammy on a cushion of towels with a glass of grapes and, quite often, a book.  Professionals I tell you!      *We learned after the first time to treat ourselves to a nice, full, cold drink at the bar before going up to do the bedtime dance, because there’s not much to do in a bathroom while awaiting your feral one’s to concede to the long overdue sleep in the bedroom, is there?

  7. After 45 minutes of complaining and cackling simultaneously, with random hisses of “Go to sleep!” and “If I have to come into that room” from OUR side of the bathroom door, children will eventually have to be placed by Daddy into separate beds.  After a few minutes, they will go to sleep, usually lying horizontally across the pillows, leaving Mammy and Daddy to wonder where the hell they are going to sleep, not that they can finally remove themselves from the bathroom.

  8. Parents will debate whether to poke the bear…as in try to replace small child into the bed beside her sister, risking said child wakening again… or to simply climb into a bed each, beside the horizontal sleeping feckin cherubs.

  9. Parents will not poke the bear…figuratively, physically, metaphorically or other.

  10. All members of the family shall be asleep by 8.45pm, with both parents sporadically wakening throughout the night to check that miniest minion has not fallen out of the 8 foot high bed, or indeed wet it, just for the craic.

 

Don’t forget to follow me on all my Social Media Platforms.

Mammy

Taking the Compliment…

” Your daughter is beautiful!” Aw she is, isn’t she? Thank you.

“I love her coat.” I know, isn’t it gorgeous?

“Your son is so funny.” Yeah, he cracks me up.

“You look gorgeous.” Aye right, I haven’t even brushed my hair.

“I love your top” Penney’s best.

“Those are nice jeans.” Oh I’ve had these old things for years.

“Is that a Hilfiger shirt?” It was on sale!

Notice anything?

We don’t know how to take a compliment.

Nothing new there. We all know that the Irish don’t take compliments well. We are suspicious of them. We don’t like them. For some reason, they make us feel very uncomfortable.

But when someone compliments our kids, we are more than happy to agree with them. If someone points out something positive about your little minion, chances are that you will be delighted that they’ve noticed and you will nod in agreement, as proud as punch.

However, if the same person tells you with their next breath that YOUR hair is lovely, you will most likely find yourself disagreeing and parting your hair to show them just how badly your roots need redone.

So what the hell is wrong with us?

If I tell Mini-Me that she looks beautiful or that her hair is pretty, she smiles at me and says “Thanks Mum” or “I know!” (shock horror!)

She takes the compliment. She doesn’t NEED it to feel better or to affirm her or any other such nonsense. She takes it, because at 7 years old, she doesn’t find it strangethat someone would praise her or compliment her.

She is indeed beautiful x

It is not unusual to her that someone might point out something positive.

She is not suspicious of compliments.

She doesn’t need to be.

So when does that stop? When will she suddenly begin to apologise for her positive features? When will she become flushed with embarrassment because someone comments on how well she dances?

What will happen to make her suddenly feel that she should disagree with someone who tells her she is clever, or pretty, or talented or funny?

Will she simply wake up some morning, feeling the need to apologise for being good at something, or for being nice?

Now, of course I know that we must teach them to be humble also. No one likes a boaster. But why the hell should we teach them that they should apologise for being good at something?

Why should we teach them to disagree with someone who is genuinely being nice to them?

When did humility become the same thing as humiliation?

Because somewhere along the way, we’ve confused the two.

If someone admires your hair today, reply by saying “I know! It’s sitting nice today isn’t it?” I dare you. And watch their reaction.

It’s pretty likely that they’ll flinch in surprise.

If someone admires your top, try “Thanks, I like it too.” (Would you have bought it if you didn’t?)

If someone points out something that you are good at, thank them and tell them “Yeah, I try hard.”

If they walk away from you thinking you’re big headed or conceited, then who has the problem? If they meant the compliment, they won’t mind that you agree with them.

Does it not make sense that if we were to let our kids see us accepting compliments more comfortably, maybe we’d be helping them?

Our kids learn by watching us, our behaviours, our responses. Someday soon, when Mini-Me hears me answering “Oh God, this old thing?” or “Aw my skin’s a mess” or “God no, I sound dreadful!”, then she’s going to store it in her bank of “Acceptable grown up things to say” isn’t she?

And therein begins that humiliation.

We all do it.

I do it. I did it yesterday when a friend praised me. I automatically told him he was full of nonsense.

Why? If he hadn’t thought I was good, he wouldn’t have bothered to tell me I was, so why did I disagree with him?

Because we are trained, somewhere along the line, to apologise for ourselves.

Because acknowledging our own strengths and positive characteristics is seen as terribly obnoxious and wrong.

Because one day, without even realising it, we learned that to accept a compliment was wrong.

We’re hardwired to think the worst about ourselves; to worry about what others think. Being a parent brings a new level of this.

We are constantly comparing ourselves, berating ourselves, apologising for our decisions, for our behaviour, for our children’s behaviour.

But the sooner we can rewire ourselves to look more closely for our own positives, the more chance we have of teaching our children that it’s OK to say “thank you” when someone compliments us.

Plenty of people will thrive on bringing them down, on highlighting their weaknesses and flaws. We need to teach them to recognise those people. And we need to teach them that if someone feels the need to comment on them in a negative way, then it’s that person who has the problem, and not them.

So accept the compliment.

Let your children hear you accepting it. Let them see that it’s OK to be proud of yourself sometimes and that you don’t need to ever apologise for being good, or kind, or talented or clever.

And give someone a compliment today too. Feel free to compliment your friends in the comments below.

Let’s SHARE some love today!

You never know whose day you might just make.

By the way, you have a lovely smile!

I am Safety First, Logic Later Mum

What Mammy sees vs What Daddy sees…

mememumdad

Yesterday, we were exploring our beautiful county, as we love to do.

We were on beaches, we found the Boardwalk, we drove off the main roads and over mountains. And as we passed Loch Salt, Mammy said to Daddy “Let’s pull in and have a look over the Glen.”

Silly Mammy.

We got out, jacketed up and started to wander.

Himself and Mini-Me took off up the hill, their big long legs like deer, bouncing over the wild landscape.

Myself and Short-Bum had to move a bit more slowly, with her taking a bit more care on the uneven and new floor below her.

66159708_356890855002316_7312085240510414848_n.jpg

Me and Princess

I looked up to see Himself and Mini-Me standing on the horizon, in the distance, FAR too far away from me for my liking.

66008538_2488295634766913_3217759600895852544_n

They weren’t as far away as it looks, but in my head? MILES!

From where I stood, it looked like they were on a cliff, standing perilously close to the edge of a sharp cliff which obviously, they were going to fall off… In reality, there was lots of ground around them and of course they were in absolutely NO danger, whatsoever.

Still, Mamma Bear felt that unwelcome surge of Mamma-Bear-dom where I needed to get closer.

“Hi Mammy, Look at us!” shouts Mini-Me.

“Hi Darling. Be careful!” singsongs Mammy

I am inwardly screaming “GETDOWN GETDOWNGETDOWNGETDOWN!” and wondering why many long years of marriage hasn’t yet qualified us for psychic abilities so he can hear me threatening in my brain “HUSBAND, I WILL KILL YOU IF YOU DON’T GET MY CHILD OFF THAT FECKING NON-CLIFF IMMEDIATELY!”

Instead, myself and Princess make our way over to them where yes, I can see and confirm that they are perfectly safe.  I even managed to stop my inner shaking to snap some truly beautiful photographs.

“OK it’s time to come down now!” says Me, hoping the panic and fear isn’t obvious to the girls.

“Not at all! Come up so you can see this properly” says Twat boy, clearly oblivious to the utter panic that, (for no real reason) is seeping through my pores.

“It’s time to come down please. NOW!” says Me. (Frantic eyebrows not being observed)

“Pass Princess up to me so I can let HER see!” says HIM.

ARE YOU HAVING A LAUGH? HAVE YOU LOST YOUR MIND? NOOOOOOOOOO! NOT HAPPENING. FECK OFF DADDY BEAR…

“No. She’s fine here with me thanks.”

It was bad enough watching the big girl up there, out of my reach.   I’m aware that I can not pass my dislike of heights on to my girls, so I can stay quiet knowing that she has a bit of sense and knows to stay close to Daddy, holding his hand and that she won’t go too close to the edge.

The Threenager who thinks she’s a Ninja however?  No.  She is not stepping even one inch away from me.

I won’t bore you with the rest of the exchange.  There may have been expletives and growls and a short argument about me being ridiculous and him being a twat, but soon, we started back down the mountain, both cubs perfectly safe and Mammy seething like a she-witch at Daddy’s inability to see what the problem was.

Yes, I WAS being completely irrational and completely ridiculous.

NO, of COURSE Daddy would never put them in any danger or in harm’s way.

They were both perfectly safe and in absolutely NO DANGER whatsoever.  They were with their Daddy, who would never let anything happen them.

But the long and the short of it is, I wasn’t comfortable with my babies being out of my reach.  I have an overactive imagination at the best of times. While he saw a fun opportunity for #makingmemories with his girls on top of a mountain, I saw a full on, slow-motion trauma play out, as my imagination foresaw them plummeting off said mountain in my mind.

I’m also a big believer in following your gut.

While things like this never usually bother me, (I’m quite adventurous usually and I encourage them to do things that I wouldn’t do) for some reason, yesterday, it did.  It didn’t only bother me.  It absolutely TERRIFIED me. I had genuine FEAR. And when a Mamma Bear gets THAT level of fear in her belly, she must act on it.

A few Mums replied to my instastory last night by sending me similar snaps of THEIR Hims with their minions in similar situations.  So it seems that it’s a thing? Maybe it’s confidence that Daddy knows he can protect them. Maybe it’s just logic and rationale. Maybe it’s just MEN!

But I don’t think it means that we’re cowards or silly or chicken or anything else.  I think that we are Mammas and we just see things a bit differently, especially when it comes to our wee cubs.

The journey home was quiet. 🙂 We got home safely and everyone had a wonderful day. But even looking at the snaps last night, I don’t feel like I over-reacted. Because keeping them safe is all that matters and if I have to throw an absolute strop on top of a mountain, indeed I shall.

66514118_2393162080919696_5490663745707311104_n

I cwimbed a mountain Daddy!

 

I am Same Clothes Forever Mum

“We won’t get much longer dressing them in matching outfits” says Me to He as we walked along the promenade in Salou.  We were on the last night of our holidays and the girls had been wearing beautifully matching outfits every evening for the full week.

65209924_504812043591082_8811073872431415296_n

With 4 years age difference, I’ve been becoming aware that Mini-Me will soon protest at  being dressed identically to her 3 year old sister.  And I was OK with that.

But then, something happened that has ensured and concreted the plan in my head, that while we are away in strange places, they shall be wearing matching clothes, until they are AT LEAST 35 years old.

Princess went missing.

Ladybelles.  She ran out of our sight and literally disappeared. In an EMPTY FOYER.

She was gone for about 7 minutes. 7 Loooooooooooong minutes. And I can honestly tell you they were the longest, most painfully dreadful 7 minutes of my life.  While trying to remain composed to FIND her, my brain had already jumped ahead to what would need to happen to get her found.

We were walking back to our rooms after the entertainment had finished.  A friend and his kids were along with us, and as we all waked through the hall to head towards the lifts, I made a MASSIVE mistake.  I caught the glint in her eye and said “Wait for Mammy please” which she heard as “Run Princess RUN!”

She scuttled off ahead of us, no more than 20 feet into what we knew was an empty foyer and when we all turned the half corner, there she was…gone.

We started calling.  Him belted up the stairs and started running through the halls on each floor, roaring her name.  The friend ran straight to the main door to ensure she hadn’t gone outside.  I started hitting the buttons for the lifts, automatically all assuming that she’d gone into one of the lifts and that it had gone up with her inside. (Fast closing wee buggers those lifts.)

Mini-Me started to roar and cry and Friend’s kids didn’t know what to do,  Wee pets.

She wasn’t outside.

She wasn’t in the lifts.

Every 20 seconds Him stuck his head over another balcony, roaring “Did you get her?” before taking off to the next floor.

Within 1 minute, the hotel staff had locked all the main doors and maybe 5 other dads had joined in the running.

Why will they always be dressing the same? Because every time someone else joined us to help, I was able to point at Mini-Me and say “She’s wearing the same outfit” and off they ran…

Just when I thought it was beyond a case of her innocently getting lost, and was about to step Mental Mammy up a notch, a big bald English guy stuck his head over the balcony and asked “Are you guys playing Hide n Seek with a little girl?”

The poor fecker was greeted with a herd of people running at him and some sort of gutteral wail that I’m pretty sure was coming from my mouth, even though I had no real control at that point.

I took those steps 5 at a time and met Himself on the corner of the big long corridor and there, peeking her curly little fecker head out from behind an corner, was Princess.  Half laughing, half terrified and by the time I reached her to scoop her into my arms, half sobbing.

We thanked everyone, went to the room, tucked them in and then did what all parents would do… sat on the balcony like two weins and cried for an hour.

But the scariest thing was that she was with a gang of adults, in a safe place, with no crowds and she still went missing right in front of our eyes.

Next morning, Mini-Me scolded her at breakfast.

“You shouldn’t go into the lift on your own.  It’s not funny.”

Princess looked at her as if she were absolutely insulted.

“I did NOT go in the lift” she admonished. “I went up the stairs.” before continuing to eat her porridge as if THAT made it all alright.

Oh well that’s OK then I suppose… Seriously.

Lessons learned? We only think we’re in charge, kids are fast, other parents are incredibly fast at helping when you need it… and matching clothes should be worn at all times, for the foreseeable forever.

65617563_1333467866810079_1808927928860278784_n