The Real vs the Reel – Morning Mammy Mayhem

What we see…

Mammy had a lovely relaxing morning. Mammy had time to meditate, do yoga, have a shower, and do her makeup and hair. The children were angels. Mammy had all the clothes chosen, ironed and laid out beside the children’s shoes and clean underwear, before she went to bed at 9.30pm (where Mammy read her selection of Wellness and Good Parenting manuals in an attempt to ensure that she was indeed giving her children all of the positive assurance and interweb proven behavioural techniques possible to ensure that they will grow up rounded and functional humans.) The children ate ALL of their healthy and nutritious breakfast, packed their bags and put on their own coats before carrying their respective bags to the car (must encourage responsibility you know. It says so on page 34 of Clever Mammy Manuals) #clevermammy

Mammy was calm and chilled as she sipped her herbal tea and created Michelin Style breakfasts, not forgetting to snap pics for Instagram to make sure everyone could see how easy it was to eat exciting, colourful food all the time. Mammy was on time and no one needed to rush or shout or be stressed. The very good little girls sang nursery rhymes in the car while Mammy listened to them lovingly, smiling and wishing that she was able to capture this moment of Mummy perfection on her phone too, so she could show the world just how fabulous and perfect her morning was. She dropped the children at school and drove on to her wonderful job, already excited to get home to her spotless home and enjoy her little ladies in the evening. What a wonderful morning. Life is good. #soblessed #youseewhatIshowyou

What we don’t see.

Mammy got up at 6.30am, wishing she’d gone to bed earlier instead of sitting up with Hubby watching another episode of Cobra-feckin-Kai on Netflix. She showered quickly, ignoring her hairy legs in favour of washing her face, made her coffee, made the lunches, packed the bags, found the shoes, dried the uniform cardigan, remembered it was PE Day, found the kit, tumble-dried it, put on a load of washing, woke the kids, negotiated with the Oldest, bribed the youngest, dressed one of her girls in the tumbledried kit, (hoping that her body heat would flatten the creases before she got to school,) while singing the “Will you get dressed please” song over and over and over at the oldest, drank one mouthful of the cold coffee, swore a little under her breath, screamed at oldest to EAT SOMETHING off the plate, proffered Coco-Pops as bribery, cursed her own weakness, put nappy BACK on the baby, put clothes back on the baby, searched for PE runners, took the box of Quality Street from the Baby, wondered WTF she had found them, remembered to grab her own gym bag, put the lunches in the bags, packed the car, put the coats on her children, (because who the fuck has time to watch a 2 year old zipping up their own coat at 8am?), fed the dog, turned off all the lights, set the alarm, locked the house, strapped them in their carseats, swore at the straps and then swore (again) to buy a new carseat once she gets paid, ran back inside, unset the alarm, grabbed her handbag and coat, set the alarm, locked the house, nearly ran over the Horsedog, drove to school thinking about what she needed to do today, tried to hear herself think over the noise of the cat fight in the back seat where the youngest is repeating EVERYTHING the oldest says and driving her insane! “Stop it!” “DOPIIIT” “SHE’s COPYING MEEEEE” “SHEEEtoppeeeeeemeeeee!, turns on radio to distract, listened to Despacito being murdered by oldest, arrived at childcare, took girls and all their bags out of car, put coat back on the baby, told Oldest to lift her coat off the ground as she walked, tripped over oldest’s coat, kissed and hugges both girls singing Cheery “See you Later” and “Have fun at schooooool!” and “Mammy loves youuuuu!”, wondered if she’d have time to go to the shop enroute to buy the earlier proferred CocoPops, stopped at shop, did a dash around grabbing things she remembered she needed, remembered a bag as she approached the till, drove to work and parked the car, went into the staffroom, made a cup of coffee and drank it, sighed as she remembered that she hasn’t brushed her hair and that the washing is still in the machine and will need redone this evening, but other than that, what a great morning. Life is good!

I know which one I am.

And I’d rather have the chaos and craziness of my normal any day, than live under such notions of perfection that I see my life as a fecking TV Show.

Be real and Be you. You’re better to be a Mammy who knows she needs to shout less and that she really should try to iron her children’s clothes sometimes and that some mornings will be smoother than others, than one who lives under the pressure to seem “perfect” to the virtual friends and followers in your virtual life. Perfect is my kids safe, healthy and fed and loved.

Great mornings are the ones that keep coming. Enjoy them. They’re perfect already, just like you.

And you don’t need Social Media to tell you that.

M

Friendship Bras… Does Yours Still Fit?

This year has been weird. And the whole idea of friendship has been weird too.

Many of us will say that we’ve had friendships change, for better and for worse.

We’ve tightened our circles. We’ve made new friends. (Isn’t the tinterweb amazing in fairness?)

We’ve been chatting to strangers online and some really fun connections have been made. Some of us have made an effort. Most of us have retreated into our own wee worlds and only let a few in. Maybe you’ve had zoom calls or been in Wattsapp chats or messenger groups. Maybe you’ve removed yourself from chats that you found to be zapping the life out of you.

The list of ways that we have been dealing with social interaction, or lack thereof, is infinite.

And we’re all different.

I’ve been through enough “friendships” in my lifetime to know that they don’t always last.

We’ve all had friends not reply to our calls or messages.

We’ve all had the message group that has stopped pinging.

We’ve all had the realisation that we’ve not been invited to something.

We’ve all had the friends who’ve unfollowed or deleted us.

We’ve all had the friend who took themselves out of the message group for some reason.

I’m sure every one of you reading this can empathise with some of this. Maybe you’ve reassessed who your friends are. Maybe you’ve been hurt. Maybe you’ve felt left out. Maybe you’re the friend who has cut ties with someone.

I saw a meme about friends last week announcing that If they don’t check in on you, they’re not worth your time….” or something to that effect. So many people were commenting and agreeing…

BUT

In the past year, we have all been through so much.

Most of us have literally had to put all of our energy into keeping things going. Or “between the ditches” as one of my mates says.

And for most of us, our priorities changed.

We’ve all coped, (and not coped), differently.

And maybe the friend who “cut you out” or “didn’t bother about you”, just couldn’t. Maybe they just had a million other things happening and you weren’t a priority.

It may seem harsh, but the reality is that no one owes us anything.

No one is required to message or call or include us in anything.

Everyone has been fighting their own battles for the past year and yes, there may be relationships that will need effort to be rekindled and rejuvenated, that will eventually be OK again.

But maybe there are relationships that were intended to fizzle out.

So maybe, let them go?

Friendship is a two way thing. If there isn’t effort from both sides, it won’t work.

Everyone comes into our lives for a reason, and if they leave, they might have left memories. They might have left scars or hurt. But even those people teach us something, either about people, or about ourselves.

I care deeply about people I let into my life.

I try hard to make people feel valued and cared about.

But if I think for one second that I am upsetting or having a negative impact on someone’s life, I feel sad.

I don’t get annoyed if someone removes me from their circle or from social media. If what I say or post makes someone feel badly, then I’m pretty damn proud of them for hitting block. Or whatever button they press.

We all got caught up in the glamour of all of the friendships and social circles in the chaos of pre-covid life. And I think many of us blurred the lines a bit.

We called people we really didn’t know very well, “friends”.

We called acquaintances from events or different communities we were in, “friends”.

We have the added complication of social media where genuine and brilliant connections CAN and are formed. But until the person you’re connecting with has seen you at your best and at your worst, should we really call them “friends”?

We all define friends differently.

I have a very small and very tight little circle. I’m so very lucky. There are three ladies who have been in my life for many, many years. I have one or two buddies who I adore and who give me such joy in our conversations. I’ve always been open to making new friends, even as an adult. But I try not to confuse all of the different ‘types’ of friends.

True friends are like a favourite Bra; the ones we go to for comfort. The ones we don’t need to put on frills for. The ones who have been in your drawer for so long, it would be empty without them. They’re safe, comfy and supportive. And they might not be worn every single day, but they’re our go-to every time. And they don’t need matching knickers. They’re perfectly fabulous all on their own. These are your friends.

Yes it’s nice to have the fancy, frilly, sexy or sassy boobie-baskets in the drawer for different occasions or “events”, and they’re just as fabulous, but only worn the odd time. They are for certain outfits, or have certain functions, or make us feel a certain way. These are your acquaintances; you pals.

Then there is the bra that broke on you, or whose wire snapped and stabbed you in the ribs… or that left marks on because it really just didn’t fit properly. But you keep it in the drawer just to remind yourself not to wear it again and not to buy that particular brand again. These are your lessons learned.

So there. Friends are bras.

All different style and sizes; Some a good fit, some not so good. Some to be kept forever, some to be worn by someone else. Some to be admired and appreciated for their style and beauty, but some that really just weren’t your style.

And when we realise that not all bra CAN fit us, and that indeed we won’t always be the right fit for the bra, we can appreciate that sometimes, gently removing the bra, popping it in the recycle bag and wishing it all the better boobies in the world, is the only way forward.

Yes, there will be some people who have disappointed us or hurt us this past year, but actually, the only person who controls YOUR disappointment or hurt, is YOU.

And maybe we’ve been the “friend” doing the disappointing?

If you’ve felt ignored by someone, ring them. Say hi. Maybe they’re feeling the same way about you.

But remember that only person who owes you anything, is yourself. And if someone needs to remove you, that’s their right. None of us should wear an uncomfortable bra.

And none of us need to stay in “friendships” that really, really aren’t.

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


It’s World Down’s 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 Instagranny today was of my good friend Lee Gooch’s handsome little superhero, Noah.

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And oh! How it melted my heart.

What an angelic, gorgeous and perfect little face.  There is mischief in those eyes and he has his Daddy wrapped around his little finger by the looks of this. (Image shared with permission as always)

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 and his beautiful Mummy and big brother too.)

Are YOU rocking the socks today? You can support Down’s Syndrome Ireland by posting with #LotsofSocks4DSI

My girls and I rocking our socks today for World Down’s Syndrome Day

Maria ‘The Mammy’ vs Maria ‘The Múinteoir’

Maria the Mammy thinks...

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 us.

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

How am I going to manage to be both in class and at the school gate on days where I have to pick up my own kids?

I’ve had 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 Home-learning DID NOT happen as much or as well as it should have done. (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 thinks…

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 teaching some classes in school and the rest online?

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 anyone outside of my own bubble, 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.  We did it in the autumn and we’ll do it again now.

So many of us are experiencing all sorts of emotions tonight, 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 current 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.

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 again in January was huge… but that’s a whole other article. 

So while Maria the Mammy might fall apart in the utility room a few times today 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 my “other babbies”… 

And it will all be absolutely grand. 

Grill? Aye, Grill…

The Golden Grill.

Bella’s Club. Millionaire Club, Club 2000, Rouge… However you remember it and whatever name your generation used, one word said it all.

You going the Grill? Aye.

I am saddened to see the news today that the famous building that housed Letterkenny’s legendary Golden Grill, is being demolished.

Well, saddened might be the wrong word. It’s been lying unopened for years, and it is approximately 14 years since I was last in it, so really, I have nothing to be sad about. But for so so many of us who grew up in and around Letterkenny, the Grill, for a huge chunk of our youths, was Life.

The queues. The bouncers, The joy of finally getting through the door with that ID… (I NEVER did this Mammy I promise…) The big hallway where immediately, we read the atmosphere and decided which direction in which to strut (sorry walk) first. Into the strobe lit, smokey deep and cavernous mayhem of Millionaires, later to become the uber cool and very funkified Club 2000? Or into the deep and dulcetly dim dens of Bella’s.

Millionaires. Oh the podiums…The steps… The raised levels… We all had our moment on those podiums, didn’t we? I’m pretty sure I spent FAR too much time strutting my not-quite-as-funky-but-slightly-so-drunky stuff on those podiums. We knew the spots. We knew where to stand, to see and be seen. We knew the corners certain people would surely be in. We knew the tricks of heading out to get coats before the final songs. We knew which bar to head towards.

Or maybe we shuffled towards Bella’s…to the cooler and less “Ooooooonce-oooooncey” music, the lesser jammed dance floor, the dare I say, older and “cooler” crowd, who preferred a drink, a boogie and shock horror, even a conversation to the full blown rave happening across the hall.

And then, the supper. Oh the SUPPER!

The free supper that you held your ticket tight all night to ensure that you got. How many supper tickets were produced from sweaty bras in those days eh? And the crush at the counter, calling for “curry chups and coleshlaaaaw” or “battered sausages”.

The joy.

We knew that the craic. We were cool. Everyone in the grill was cool, even those of us who really weren’t.

The Grill Letterkenny - Home | Facebook
Image from The Grill’s Facebook page

The music. The crowds. The chaos. The squashed bodies. The shared sweat. The swapped saliva. Jesus lads, how did we survive? The glares and stares. The flirty glances and coy looks. The full on shift right there in the middle of a few thousand people. The dancing. The freedom. The buzz. The giddy energy. The drunkenness. The invincibility… Christ I could write a million more words and I still wouldn’t explain it all.

Even as I type this, the memories are making me smile.

The style. The heels. The nakedness. The slaps when a hand wandered too far. The protective brothers stepping in. The square-ups. The puffed chests. The bouncers. The scuffles. How a crowd of sardines could split instantaneously as bouncers removed whoever dared ruin the mood.

Friendships started and ended in the Grill. The problems of the world were solved in bathrooms and on sofas. You went in to the loo for a pee but came out with wisdom, advice and possibly a new best friend. Oh, and remember when we shared lipsticks and hairbrushes with strangers? Jaysus wept!

Relationship started (and ended!) in the Grill. Some of us old fogeys, now long past the joys of a packed nightclub, can attribute first kisses with the current partner to The Grill. Oh indeed, The Grill has a lot to answer for in some cases.

And yet, I sit here now, having heard that it’s going to cease to exist and I find myself reminiscing.

It was a huge part of life for us in the 90s and noughties. And it most certainly was a huge part of life for those who frequented it in the 70s and 80s. (I’ve heard the aunts and uncles telling stories!) I’m sure younger people have fond memories of events there in the past 10 years too, but of course EVERY generation thinks that THEY have the monopoly on the memories, don’t they?

I have fond memories (mostly) of my many many nights in it. Some are a bit blurry. Some have possibly been edited a bit in my mind. Some have been blotted from my memory accidentally on purpose. But in general, they are fond.

Memories of friendships, of dancing, of flirting, of laughing, of boogying, of eating, of dancing. Did I mention the dancing? Oh, the dancing!

The strobe lights. the smoke and even sometimes, fireworks for dramatic effect. The Grill was an icon. It will never be replicated. And I’m a little sad that my own daughters won’t get to experience it for themselves.

For now however, it moves into the history books, joining The Fiesta in the stuff of Letterkenny Legends. In the same way that I grew up listening to stories of The Fiesta from my parents, our kids will listen to stories of the Grill.

And they’ll roll their eyes and never understand how absolutely fecking EPIC it was to be us.

And if walls could talk, the walls of that building, while it still stands, could tell some stories. And when those walls do fall, the stories will stay with us. You can’t demolish memories.