So Not Trendy Mammy

Notions.

This Mammy is full of them.

Oooooooh lookit! Look at the pretty floaty girly dress which would look lovely with heels or flat sandals,

Look at the patterns and colours and floatiness of the gazillion samey dresses in all the shops.

Mammy could pull that off.
Mammy could look as smashing as the Holly of the Willybooby in these dresses.
Mammy could begin to wear patterns even though Mammy knows full well that patterns swallow her up and make her look like a 1970s curtain has puked on her.

Mammy will look boho and chic and funkiful and cool.
Mammy may even try to match it with the white runners that everyone is looking so fablis in all over the instaworld…

And then Mammy TRIES ON one of the summer floaty stunners, and promptly turns into Nora Fuckin Batty.

“That’s GORGEOUS on you!” goos the 11 year old shop, impossibly beautiful assistant, through her perfectly puffed up lips. “You could try it with white runners? They are so in right now!”

(Yeah… they were in when thirty years ago too Lovey, and even then I knew how impractical white runners were. They wouldn’t last a day on me… And I’m pretty sure that if I added them to this get-up, I’d look like my 8 year old self, dressed in handmedowns from my older cousin which hung on me like curtains again too!)

Mammy looks at her unfortunate self in the mirrors, sees her Great Great Great Grandmother staring back at her.
She’s laughing.

Mammy smiles politely at the shopchild.

“Naw, it’s not really me. Thanks anyway!”

“Really? I think it looks AMAZING on you!”

(Of course you do.)

“I look like Nora Batty.”

“Heeehehehee! I have no idea who that is!”

Of course you don’t… FML

Mammy gets back into her tracksuit, with her NOT white runners, and run-walks out of the shop, wondering if Last of the Summer Wine is on Netflix and if that dress would look better with curlers in my hair.

White ones obviously.

Notions I tell you.

*that dress is beautiful Obviously. On her!

Thoroughly Modern Mammy -Does Ma Face look Bovad?

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 forget to put something into the schoolbag and worry that your minion will get in trouble?

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 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…

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

obama.jpg

One of the memories she describes has stood strong in my head since I read it, is 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 that they had to make out that the 4th of July carnival they had to attend was for 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.

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 Aunty 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 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 had to go away again…

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 put out at Christmas, or that the spuds get burnt, or that there are no Pringles.  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.

 

Being Mammy, Still Me – It’s Showtime!

“Where do you find the time?”

“How can you be bothered?”

“It can’t be worth that much work?”

Evita

Musicals.

I’ve been on stage my whole life, first as an Irish Dancer and for the past 15 years, as a member of Letterkenny Musical Society.

This year, we’re doing Andrew Lloyd Webber and Time Rice’s masterpiece, EVITA.

Every September, we meet to begin our winter of rehearsals and of fun.  It begins as once a week, and by February each year, it’s 2 to 3 nights a week and Sundays.  At the minute, I’m eat, sleeping and breathing Evita.  I feel like Eva Peron has become my best friend… I’m living and breathing her.

Eva2

The Incredibly Talented Caitríona Solan as Evita

I’m having ideas at 3am that are sending our Producer into tailspins.  I’m dreaming that Elvis sings Magaldi’s songs and that the Wicked Witch arrives in the funeral scene.  Last night, there was a Bull in the wings as the curtain was going up… and it wasn’t me.

My kids are singing the songs; they know every single word, some of which terrifies me as there are a few choice words in some of the songs.  They have sat behind me during rehearsals and Mini-Me could probably step in to any of the roles by now.

My head is spinning.

I don’t KNOW how I find the time, but I do. I always have and I hope I always will.

In fairness, I rehearse when the girls are in bed. They’re tucked up dreaming and are well looked after by Daddy or Granny. They don’t miss me one bit.   The Sundays are hard but it’s only for such a short time.  The LMS gets me through the winter. It’s my other family.  It keeps me out of trouble.

Yes it’s a lot of work. Yes, it’s busy.  Yes it’s a lot on top of being a Mammy AND working a job-job AND trying to write… But it’s worth it.

Every member has a busy life.  We all have day jobs.  We all have families.  We all have commitments.  We all get stressed and tired coming up to the show, but then?  Get-in day arrives and the curtain gets ready  to rise, and we remember WHY we do it.

Today, as you read this,  the side door to the stage is rolled up, sunlight flooding the stage.(I hope!)   Lighting rigs are hoisted at head height while the crew work on them. Dust is floating around us, like little magic theatre fairies getting ready for some celebration.

The production team are creating the world for the characters to inhabit.  This year, they’re building a full sized Casa Rosada and we are taking you all to Argentina.  It’s a scaffolded wonder and I’m so exited for the cast to join us in a few hours to step into the world that our producer has created for them.

I’ll arrive in the middle of it at around 1pm and walk onto the stage. I’ll close my eyes.  The familiar voices of Hubby and the usual suspects calling instructions to each other, co-operating and working together will make me smile.  The sounds of the cordless drill…the smell of fresh wood and sawdust…the muffled conversation of the sound guys from the auditorium… it will be beautiful.

I’ll open my eyes and look at the chaotic scene in front of me, wondering (not for the first time in my theatre life), at how within just a few hours, this chaotic canvas will be transformed into a completely believable world into which our amazing cast will step.

 

image

And then I’ll do what I do and get together with my colleagues to get our heads around the problems and challenges that only a production team can face, and by the time our cast arrive, we’ll be ready.

So how do I have the time?  How can I be bothered?  Is it worth it?

Yes.  Because this is ME.

Yes, I have children.

My girls are the most important thing in my world.
They are my show.
They are my production.
They are the choreographed chaos of which I’m most proud, and I’ll direct them through life with the same dedication and love that I put into the shows.

But they are also only a part of me.
Yes, I am their mummy, but I’m still me.
I’m still the drama queen that lives for the stage.
I still love the theatre.

I still love how pretending to be someone else can bring me to emotions that I’ve never experienced.  I love to entertain.  I love to make people laugh. I love that I can make people cry…

I still get goosebumps when I hear someone hitting that note.
I still get so carried away watching my closest friends on stage, that I cry because I absolutely believe the pain they are conveying.

And even though this year, I am standing in the wings watching the cast on stage, I am proud and excited that they are bringing my version of Evita to life.

And so, standing here today,  I won’t feel guilty.

Yes, it’ll be a week of rushing and balancing, but my girls are quite safe and well looked after (the dog is so responsible!), and they know that show week is important to Mammy and to Daddy.

My girls will grow up in rehearsals for shows.
They’ll see the stress and work and time and effort that goes into this “hobby”.
They’ll learn confidence, respect, organisation skills.
They’ll experience the fruits of the long months of hard work, and they’ll learn that if you want something to happen, you must work to make it happen.
They might even perform on stage with me at some point.

Maybe they’ll work backstage with their Daddy.
Maybe they’ll hate it all.  That’s OK too.

But if I can’t continue up to be who I’ve always been, just because I’ve been blessed with two little darlings, I’m not doing anyone any favours am I?

I might Be Mammy, but I can still Be Me.

MadamD

 

Evita opens on Tuesday 26th and runs until Saturday 30th March. 

Tickets for Friday and Saturday are almost sold out, so if you fancy being swept away by a super cast, a beautiful script and incredible music, get your tickets here.

Buy tickets here

I am S is for Special – Happy World Down’s Syndrome Day

It’s World Downs Syndrome Day. ❤❤

It’s a day to celebrate the extra chromosome that makes some people just a little bit more special.
One of the first images I saw on Facebook today was of my good friend Lee Gooch’s handsome little man Noah.

And oh! How it melted my heart.

What an angelic, gorgeous and perfect little face.  There is mischief in those eyes.

FB_IMG_1553159958953.jpg

Photo with permission from Lee Gooch

This image, like all of the beautiful images on my Timelines today, melts my heart, not only because of the joy it shows, but also because of the memories it provokes in me.
Lee and his family are blessed.

I know this, because my family too were blessed. Actually, we still are.

A child with Downs Syndrome isn’t just their extra chromosome.

A child with Downs, is special.
Special in every sense of the word.
My own Aunty Carmel was special.
She was beautiful, mischievous and intelligent. She held more love in the tip of her finger than ANYONE I have ever known. She was witty, bold and an absolute rascal, loving nothing more than to get the craic going with whoever was visiting.

She loved to dress up, adored The Rose of Tralee and loved to dance.  Every single person who walked through the door of my Grandparents’ home, fell head over heels in love with her. She was the most head-strong, determined and fearless Ladybelle I’ve ever met.  She kept our family on our toes.


And she taught me many lessons.

The main one being that we are all different and that different is good.
I remember being in the Shopping Centre with her and my other Aunty when I was about 5.

Other kids were staring at Carmel. It was the first time I realised that she was different because I suddenly became aware of other people’s reactions to her.

Her reaction to one teenage boy who stopped to look at her? She stuck out her tongue at him, laughed her hearty laugh and waved at him mischievously as we pushed her past.😂😂
There and then, I was proud of her. Even at that young age, she taught me that you must NEVER let anyone bring you down, that you must be YOU, and that there IS no other You to be.
She was perfect.

She was the strongest woman I ever had the pleasure of knowing.  Carmel had no tolerance for nonsense, seeing the world without political correctness or prejudice. She also had no filter! (I take after her like that!)  She simply saw people.  She recognized and delighted in kindness. She had no time for people who were not kind.

She was more brave and more caring and more wonderful than I could ever put into words and I miss her every day.

She was indeed my Special Aunty, but for so many more reasons than her Downs Syndrome.

Special doesn’t even start to describe her or the love that she gave or more importantly, the love that she demanded.

Love.

Pure and true…

Like the love on wee Noah’s face in that photograph and every day.
A family who have been blessed with an extra chromosome, know a love that is beyond words.
So there.

We miss Carmel every day and she lives on in our hearts and in our memories. Knowing and loving her is responsible for so much of who I am today.
And I send my love and respect to every single family who are fighting every day for the rights of Downs Syndrome children, and who are helping to make people realise that the “S” in DS should not stand for “Syndrome”…

It stands for “Strong”.

It stands for “Smile”

…and it stands for Special.
#worlddownsyndromeday #smile #love #special

(Lee has given me permission to post this pic. Thanks Lovely. And kisses to Noah.)
Follow me on Facebook @the.s.mum and instagram @the.s.mum 

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.

trainpink.jpg

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.

trainstationold.jpg

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?

tumbleweed.jpg