Rushe to Raise from Home!

It’s that time of year again. Rushe to Raise is back!

Everything might be different this year, but Emmet and I are still running their annual Christmas Movie fundraiser… However this year, we are moving it online, with all proceeds going to the Jack and Jill Foundation. 

Usually, hundreds of families and friends meet at Century Cinema to ring in the festive season with the our wee family.  Over the last three years, we’ve shown The Polar Express, Santa Claus The Movie and last year, who could forget the rascality of The Grinch?

But this year, we are simply asking that you join us, VIRTUALLY, to watch your favourite Christmas movie, from the comfort of your own home.

 Anyone anywhere can join in. 

 Simply choose YOUR favourite Christmas movie, donate, take a photo/selfie and post it on your social media using the hashtag #rushetoraise.  Remember to tell us what you are watching too! 

 The photo can be of your family/housemates, of your telly, of the hot chocolate you’re drinking… as long as it’s Christmassy!  

And of course, you can also take part and donate without sharing on social media.  Every little helps.

We are gutted that we can’t meet as usual this year to enjoy the atmosphere, but obviously, an event is impossible.  So instead, we are hoping to flood social media with images of smiling faces and in doing so, to raise much needed funds and awareness for the Jack and Jill Foundation. 

Jack and Jill provides families with nursing care, support and end of life care, to babies and young children.  So many families around Ireland and indeed here in Donegal, have needed, currently need and unfortunately will need the services of this incredible charity. We only hope that we can help them, even in a small way, in the amazing and important work they do.

  Rushe to Raise is always a wonderful family occasion and many people see it as part of their annual tradition now.  We can’t wait for 2021 to bring it back to the town and to celebrate together, but this year, we will celebrate together, apart.

Usually, tickets to our event are €10 per person.  Obviously in the current climate, we could never specify an amount. It’s been a tough year for everyone.  Every donation, no matter how much, will help.  €16 provides ONE HOUR of care to a family, so that might be a guide to people who can donate.   We truly will be grateful to everyone who joins in.

Rushe to Raise will take place on Sunday 29th November and you can post and tag anytime that day. 

 Make it an occasion. 

Dress up. Stay in your Pjs. Have popcorn and hot chocolate. Light the fire.

But most importantly,  enjoy!

We can’t wait to see your smiles and movie choices on the 29th.  Don’t forget the #RushetoRaise

Lots of Love,

Maria, Emmet and our girls.

Dumping the Notions…

It is midterm.

Mammy knows that she needs to try to decompress and relax while one has time off the job job.

And so one does the equivalent of booking a spa day for Mammy… one demands a skip from the husband.

No, this is not a euphemism.

A lovely big skip arrived today.

Mammy started with the kitchen. Just a long overdue “spring clean”… nothing major.

And yet 3 hours in, Mammy is questioning why, in fucking fact, one started this… and Mammy is really quite exhausted from the physical exertion of hauling all but the kitchen sink outside.

But therapeutic it is.

So much so, that Mammy has actually learned quite a few things about oneself today; I doubt I’d have had such revelations after an hour of essential oil infused meditation goat yoga in an outdoor tub…

Mammy reconnected with younger Mammy and realised/recognized/comprehended…that pre-C Mammy was actually a naive and ridiculous twatgurl who was full of NOTIONS.

(And Pre-C is Pre-children, not Pre-Covid… that’s a whole other post.😂)

Mammy dumped eleventy squillion tiny little pretentious shot flutes, which were bought on the Portstewart promenade 20+ years ago, when Mammy was not a Mammy, and before Mammy had an actual house to fill with such shitery.

Said pretentious little shot flutes were fablis you see. They were used to serve dainty and delicate desserts and sweet sherry to the very fanciful folks Mammy served in the super posh restaurant Mammy worked in at the time.

They were required, you see, to fulfil Mammy’s notions of throwing dinner parties if and when Mammy ever owned a kitchen.

And they have sat in the glassy glass fronted glass presses of both of Mammy’s houses for the past 20 years.

What have they been used for?

Dust.
Holding dust.
Looking fancy holding dust.

Mocking and scoffing at Mammy’s notions and dreams of being a Domestic-fucking-Goddess…

Until today.

Mammy took great joy in smashing those little feckers. They were too dusty and dainty to pass on to someone else, and in truth, they’d simply have taken up someone ELSE’S notiony notions and humbled them in 20 odd years time as they realised that actually, they never DID get used for those dinner parties that never happened.

And then, Mammy found the scallop shells, which were OBVIOUSLY necessary for all of the seafood delicacies and scallopy starters which Mammy NEVER actually cooks or serves, even on the very rare occasion that Mammy does have/did have actual adult people around for dinner.

Add to said scallop shells, countless ramekins and glass trifle bowls…even though the only trifle Mammy EVER eats is in GannyGanda’s on Christmas day… and one had a very literal representation of one’s utter fucking NOTIONS laid out on the kitchen counter today.

And don’t even START me on the pestle & mortar choppy sets. What was I going to do? Grind my own fucking pesto?
Mash my own ketchup?

Cop my own on more like.

And so yes, Mammy has been humbled and taken down from her domestic goddess pre-C notions.

Mammy is quite content however that these accoutrements are no longer required for Mammy to KNOW that she is in fact, a dinner party Queen.

And Mammy is MORE than happy to admit that since the arrival of my cherubs, any “dinner party” occasion that HAS happened in our house, usually required someone to collect it from the Chilli Shaker.

But you’ve never seen ANYONE set out a takeaway as fabulousitified as Mammy.
And that’s WITHOUT the never used fancy shot flutes or scallop shells.

Notions I tell you.

Plan B and Banana Bread?

Banana bread; I never actually did get around to baking one.

I did eat a slice that someone else baked, but that was the height of my lockdown success.

Lockdown as we know it has passed, thankfully, and yet there is a new type of lockdown coming at us tonight.

It seems to be a steam train that we can’t stop… maybe using trains as a metaphor is futile here in Donegal. A big bus? A huge tractor… whichever you use, it’s coming at us and the brakes aren’t working.

But as always, with every cloud, we can look for a silver lining. Can’t we? For me, that silver lining is school.

This time, hopefully, lockdown won’t include homeschooling, and with all the luck in the world, will not be as restrictive as the first one. At least with the kids still in school, those of us who work from home can ACTUALLY work, as opposed to trying to work between feeding the kids and you know, parenting?

And those of us with kids of school going age, might actually be able to GO to work as our children will be continuing with school.
Hopefully.

But most importantly, our kids won’t have to go through as much upheaval as we will this time around. And that can only be a positive.

For me, trying to teach from home was the highest height of lows in my almost 20 year career. I hated every single sorry minute of it, and while I did my very best to teach from home for the months of April through to June, I am absolutely not afraid to admit that it almost broke me. Almost.

Despite what some will have you believe, teachers did our best. Damn it we did a good job, but my own children were pretty much ignored for chunks of the day and homeschooling of my OWN daughter did not happen as I tried to keep providing education for my other babbies.

But hey. I’m not complaining. I’m really not. I just don’t ever want to go back to that again. I love being back in school, and as difficult as it is, (and by God it is difficult), being back in classrooms with young people is good for the soul. It’s what teachers AND students need. Teaching is never just about passing knowledge and hitting curriculums. It’s about so much more than that. Masks and all.

So even with the impending restrictions that we face again tonight, hopefully, we’ll be able to keep the constant of school going for everyone.

There was a camaraderie about the last lockdown wasn’t there? All in this together and finding our way through the “New Normal” and all that zoomyjazz?
I wonder however, how much of that is lost.

Because this time is different. We’re all fed up.

We’re all scundered as we say here in Donegal. We’re all disappointed that it’s come to this.
The novelty of Lockdown has well and truly worn off.
And people’s patience is thin.

The seeming contradictions of the plans and restrictions are not helping. If anything, they’re pitching people against each other. And that is the main difference this time.

Why can he do that but I can’t do that?
How is she allowed to do that , but I have to do this?

The list of questions like this is pretty endless right now.

And yet, on we must go. Once more into the abyss I suppose.

The next few weeks will determine the next few months. We all need to buckle down and try to keep the chins up.

We might not have the lovely weather or same sense of newness that wound us together last time round. But we do still have each other and this time, thankfully, our kids will have some semblance of normality.

And if we can all keep that going, and try to remember that we’re all facing this shitstorm together, who knows, we might actually get things back under some control.

I probably still won’t bother baking a banana bread however… I don’t even like banana bread.

But I’ll happily cheer you on as you bake yours.
Because that is how we are going to get past this.
By cheering each other on.

And by letting each other do what we have to do, whether we agree with them or not.

Chins up Chickies.
We’ve got this.

#holdfirm

The End of One Chapter leads on to a New One

I know things are hugely different this year, but the sentiment remains.
💙💙💙💙💙💙💙

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.

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.

Our young people are incredible. And no class before has ever been tested like our class of 2020.

These young adults are like no others before them. They have had a LOT going on…

They have given their ALL for 2 years, and didn’t get to sit the papers. This will never be understood fully by the rest of us.

Some of them are dealing with trying to live up to expectations that might be unrealistic.

They were playing the match of their lives, and the goalposts not only changed…they disappeared.

Today is the biggest day in many of their lives to date.

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.

NO assessment can fully know our children. It can’t measure the whole person.

It doesn’t see their kindness.
It can’t recognise their wit or humour.
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 it certainly can’t understand or fully reflect the strength, resilience and bravery required to face final year in a global pandemic.

Be proud, because regardless of what is on that page, your children have come through the most trying end to school life imaginable…and we must remind them that they CAN do whatever they want.

Because WE know what they can be.

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 this long chapter is finally over. It’s time for the next one.

Today, I send love to all of the young people (especially my own Babbies😘😘) and to all you exam parents who await the results today.

And remember, those numbers do NOT hold the key to their future. They hold that key already.

It’s right inside them.

And no piece of paper or words on a screen can change that.

M XXX

Mammy Vs Múinteoir…Back to School.

Maria the Mammy…

Nope. 

Not a hope. 

Not sending them ANYWHERE NEAR schools. 

Need to keep them safe.

Can’t control things when they’re away from me.

Fuck the government and their ineptitude.

I don’t want them to be away from me.

I don’t want them to be frightened or worried or scared by anything.

I don’t want to think about how they can’t hug their friends or play with other kids who aren’t in their pod or whatever.

I don’t want them to go on a bus, mixing with kids from 6 different schools.

I don’t want to have to send them to Afterschool

I’ve had 6 months of keeping them close and knowing they’re safe.

BUT… 

They miss school 

They need school

They miss their friends

They need more social interaction

They need more than Myself and their Daddy

They need normality. 

They need education…because Homeschooling DID NOT happen here. (Kind of difficult when both of us were working full time from home.)

They need other adult voices.

They need routine.

They’re in a wonderful school and have wonderful teachers who I know will do everything to keep them safe and secure.

Maria the Múinteoir…

I don’t want to put myself or anyone of my colleagues or students in harm’s way.

What if I get it?

What if I’m an Asymptomatic carrier?

What if one of my kids gets sick and it’s my fault?

What is it going to be like going into work?

Am I going to be able to do my job properly?

Am I going to be able to make the kids feel safe and secure?

How can I support the students who need support?

How can I teach in my usual groupwork and collaborative style when they have to be socially distanced and I can’t sit beside them?

What about my students with extra needs?

How can I not meet more than 5 friends for dinner, but I can stand in a room with up to 30 young adults for up to 80 minutes?

How is under Jesus is this going to work?

BUT

I can’t wait to get back to work.

I miss my colleagues.

I miss my babies.

I miss teaching.

I need routine.

I need adult conversation.

I need some sort of normality.

My students need school.

I know it’ll be OK

I trust my management to keep us safe.

I will absolutely do MY best to keep my students feeling safe.

Teachers are a resilient bunch. 

We’ll do our best.

And it WILL all be OK.  

We are not in control and we can only deal with things as they come. 

Our front line workers back in March had to navigate their way through terrifying times with little or no guidelines, and they got it done.

They did such an incredible job in the “unprecedented” waters they had to wade into, and they adapted as they went.  They are heroes and while we as teachers are nervous and worried, and our fears should not be dismissed, we too will navigate and learn as we go. 

So many of us are experiencing all sorts of emotions this week, especially those of us who are parents also.  We are genuinely torn.

I need the Mammies and Daddies who are feeling the exact same way as I am as a Mammy, to trust me in the same way that I have to put MY trust in my daughters’ teachers. 

I need the parents who are sending their kids into me, to trust that I will do my absolute best to make sure that their children are able to learn in the new environment, and that they feel safe and secure in my presence. 

I need the parents to understand that I understand THEIR worries, because I too am a Mammy who is nervous (terrified) about releasing my little girls into the big scary world right now too.

I ask the parents of my school babbies to remember that none of us have worked in the current environment before, and that all of the newness in schools is new to us too. 

We are frightened.  We are worried.  We are anxious.  And our fears are real.  

But we are determined and we are professional and we are fully qualified to educate.  And as teachers, we care about your kids. 

The emotional chaos of the sudden closure of schools in March was huge… but that’s a whole other article. 

So while Maria the Mammy might fall apart in the utility room a few times this week at the thought of MY precious babies leaving me every day to go to a whole new world, Maria the teacher will pull myself together, take a deep breath, hang up my tracksuit and go back through the doors of my much missed school, to teach and to support your precious babies. 

And it will all be absolutely grand.