I am Some Bridey Love Mum

Ok so it’s a bit off topic maybe, but my Lovelies have asked for more Lifestyle content, and sure why not?

So tonight is Mammy’s advice to any Brideys in the audience.

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The Him and I got married on a Wednesday, over Christmas in 2009, which was (you might remember) the year of THAT BIG SNOW.  I’m sure it was a huge inconvenience to many.  I’m sure some people grumbled about our choice of date.

But here’s the thing about weddings, they’re a lot like parenting really.  Because everyone has an opinion (or ten) and if you try to please everyone, you’ll spin right through the whole event in a whirlwind of stress and worry.

So from an oul married woman to you, the lucky Lovely who is planning your big day, here are some of my words of wisdom…

  1. Firstly, you WILL get opinions thrown at you.  As usual, people usually don’t mean any harm or to interfere, and yet it can be exhausting.  There is NO WAY of avoiding this.  We had our whole wedding arranged and booked for 18 months before we even put a ring on.  We got engaged just 10 months before the wedding, announcing our engagement and the date and venue etc in one go… and even then, we had “You need to look at this venue/band/DJ etc.”   We didn’t.  We’d booked what WE wanted.  And it was perfect.

2.  Do what YOU want.  Don’t book a hotel just because that’s where your 4 sisters got married.  Don’t get married in a chapel/church/field because that’s what people expect.  Don’t have a video if you don’t want one.  Don’t wear heels if you don’t want to. Don’t have a top table if it terrifies you.  Don’t have a traditional first dance if you hate the thought of it.  Decide with your partner how YOU see your day, and WHERE you see it happening, and do it.  You’ll be married the same as everyone else whether you have fancy cars or 47 priests on an altar. Your Day, your way.  And yes you may have some people grumbling about how THEY would have expected it, or done it, but unless you’re marrying your great Aunt Jacinta, her opinion isn’t that important.

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3. Don’t get caught up in who can and can’t make it.  Whoever wants to be there and CAN be there, WILL be there.  Life gets in the way some times; illness, no babysitter, kids suddenly sick, weather… And while you might be genuinely sad that someone can’t make it, or doesn’t turn up, the wedding will go on without them and you’ll still be married to the love of your life.  The only people who NEED to be there, are you and your partner and whoever is celebrating the marriage for you! We had some guests who didn’t make it (or used the snow as an excuse not to make it!) and yet, the day went on and we’re still married.

4. Stick to your means:  Don’t put yourself in debt for 5 years for one day.  You don’t NEED most of the things you think you do. Why do you need the most expensive hotel?  Why do you need 6 Bridesmaids? Why do you need eleventy billion people there? If you WANT them there, go for it.  If you don’t, why are they invited? If (like us) you are both from huge families, don’t be afraid to set limits.  Only aunts and uncles, or first cousins only, or adults only… or only the family members you see and spend time with?  Imagine!  Imagine NOT inviting the cousin you haven’t seen since you were 4, or the aunty who you’re pretty sure despises you? Imagine!

If you are going to be paying for this wedding yourselves, YOU are in charge of what, when, how and who…(If getting help, of course the people who are helping to fund it should be respected and included in plans.) Yes of course, many of us want to keep everyone happy, especially our parents, but it is YOUR day and if you are going to have to leave out your team mates or workmates so some schoolmate of your Mum’s (who you don’t know) can come, it might be time to have a chat with Mum.  Surround yourselves with the people who mean the most to YOU.  (Both of our sets of parents hosted a table each at ours.  It worked perfectly for everyone. Just a suggestion!)

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5. Say NO.  “We want to get you a magician as a gift.”  “We’d love to get you doves as a gift.”   “I’d love you to wear my veil.”   ALL of these are kind gestures and if they suit you, go with them.  But if you hate magicians, don’t want to see any birds on the day (unless they’re on your plate) and don’t want to wear a veil, JUST SAY NO.  But I might offend someone… Are they you?  Are they your partner? Are they getting married? No? Well then, they’ll get over it BECAUSE IT’S NOT THEIR WEDDING DAY!

6. To Kid or not to Kid…  OOOOOOOOOh, yes.  I am going there.   You can probably guess where I’m going with this.  Do you WANT kids at your wedding?   Then THAT’s your answer.  If you have kids, chances are you’ll be glad of some company for them.  If you have nieces and nephews, you’ll most likely want them there.  I’m talking OTHER people’s kids.  It’s so difficult to draw a line here and you’ll always get “Well if the kids aren’t invited, we can’t go…”  And while this is sad, it’s not your problem.

If we are invited to a wedding and the kids are invited too, unless it’s their aunt or uncle, they ain’t going NOWHERE!  If we’re invited to a wedding and can’t get a babysitter, we don’t go.  Or one of us goes.  It makes us sad, but our kids come first.  If we are invited to a wedding without the kids, usually we highkick it up the road, delighted at the prospect of a date day!

Of course, every situation is different and there are things to consider, (eg. Your friend’s Baby is 5 weeks old and she’s breastfeeding tends to be a genuine enough one), but if it’s someone who has 3 kids and just wants to bring them, then NO.  This is hard to do.  It causes problems.  It did at ours.  But we stuck to our guns and only had the first cousins, the youngest of whom was 5.  Outside of that, nope.  Some people didn’t come.  We were sad.  We’re still married though.

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7.  Delegate:  If (like me) you are a complete Monica, this can be hard.  But rather than getting stressed about what needs to be done the week or day before, delegate.  I only had one grown up BM. Thankfully she is as OCD as I am, but she took charge of things like collecting dresses and flowers and such, allowing me to spend the day before my wedding relaxed, getting my nails done and going for tea with Himself.  I did the same the day before hers. She gave me a to-do list. I dood it.   And never mind the BMs, I bet you have a friend or two who aren’t in the wedding party but who’d love to help with stuff? Let them.  Don’t spend the week before your wedding so busy that you miss the excitement of it.

8. On the Day:  1.  Between courses at the meal, we went to 2 or 3 tables to say hi to our guests.  It only took a few minutes and it meant that we didn’t feel obliged to spend hours after the meal walking around tables.  2.  Every so often, we’d meet to take it all in. Just us. He’d nod across or I’d catch his eye and we’d go to the bar, on our own, have a drink and watch the fun unfolding around us.  If we hadn’t, we wouldn’t have seen each other all evening AND we’d have missed his cousins doing a human pyramid on the dancefloor!

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9.  Does it matter?  Problems will arise and issues will present themselves.  The people you THINK will be problematic or stressful, are usually the opposite.  No.  The drama Llama usually comes in the person you’d least expect.  No matter what arises, stop and ask yourself, Does it really matter?  Does it really matter if John Joe and Jacinta won’t come if Nancy is invited?  Does it really matter if your hotel tell you they have to change the layout of the room.  Does it really matter if your invitations have the wrong shade of mauve on the ribbons?  Does it really matter if Uncle Jenny doesn’t like the band?  NO.  So unless the problem is going to affect you and your Him or Her getting married and declaring your love to each other, feck it.  It doesn’t matter.

10.  Enjoy.   Yes it’s cliched and it’s easier said than done sometimes, but your wedding day REALLY should be THE best day EVER.  And it will be if you remember that table plans and flowers and bouquets and all that jazz are superfluous.  Only have them if you want them.  (Ditch the table pan.  I’ve been to so many weddings recently where bar the front row of tables of immediate family, the rest of the hall was free-for-all.  Worked great.    Allow other people to help, do what YOU want and remember what’s important to YOU.

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And if you disagree with anything I’ve written, that’s fine too.  My way obviously isn’t how EVERYONE would do it.  You don’t have to agree.  You do what is right for YOU.

I loved every second of being a Bride.  I loved every second of our wedding day.  I’d do it all over again in the morning… and I’d even marry the same Him.

If you are getting married, I wish you all the love in the world.  Enjoy every magical moment, however and wherever you’re doing it.

Mammy x

I am Start Taking the Compliments Mum

“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 knowthat 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 5 years old, she doesn’t find it strangethat someone would praise her or compliment her.  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 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 now, 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.  You never know whose day you’ve just made.

By the way, you have a lovely smile.


I am Swearing-Mum

Last night, my Mini-Me said her first proper swear word.

Jeeeeeesus anyway,” she announced as she sat on the toilet.

Now, I know that children will copy what they hear, and I’m quite able to admit that I am no stranger to the odd expletive, but as a family, we do try not to use bad language in front of the kiddies.

Obviously, at some point, we’ve failed.

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Not only did she pronounce “Jesus” quite beautifully; She used it in the same context that a grown up might.  She was frustrated (still no poopoo!). She was trying hard and getting nowhere.  She was exasperated and she knew exactly how to express it!

She also knew that it wouldn’t be acceptable, because those pretty blue eyes immediately darted to my face to see how I would react.  She was challenging Mammy.

We’ve been here before.  The first time she ventured into Bad-word-land was with “Shup-up”.  My reaction to that was an automatic scold.  “No!  We do not say Shut-up to Mammy.  That is not nice!”

The result? “Shuppy-up” is what she now reverts to if she wants to push Mummy’s patience.

This time, I was armed and ready. I did what any clever parent would do. I did the opposite of last time. I pretended it hadn’t happened and continued talking about Mr. Poopoo needing to go for a swim.

Not getting the reaction she wanted, she said it again…this time, more slowly and dramatic. (A born actress I tell you.)

Jeeeeeeeeesush.”

This time, I decided to take the bait, but on my terms.

Yes Honey! You saw Baby Jesus in the crib at Christmas! Aren’t you a clever girl?

This wasn’t what she’d anticipated in her brilliant toddler mind, but it seemed to work.  She began to talk about Christmas and Santa and her pretty dress and her Christmas Tree.  And so, I thought I’d won.

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I thought that I’d done well.  I thought I was clever. I thought I’d distracted her and had taught her how to use the word properly. I’d turned the word back into what it is, rather than allowing it the status of swear-word.

That ‘Supernanny‘ doll should move into my house to see how it’s done.  I have it.  I’m in charge.

Smug and quite delighted with myself, I carried on with my evening. Husband would be so proud of how I dealt with the situation.  I’d be admired by friends with toddlers when I told them how to deal with their little Darling’s attempts to use bad words.  I might even win a prize of some sort.  I’d start giving lectures to parents on “Expletives and Toddlers: how to survive.”

Then I woke up.

Princess was throwing a strop.  She pulled off her Elsa dress and was screaming about her Tinkerbell Dress.  Whatever she wanted, I obviously wasn’t doing it.  It was one of those tantrums that began over virtually nothing and resulted in fire-alarm pitch screaming and stomping. She stormed into the hall…and suddenly, all of my smugness dissappeared…

BAAAABY JEEEEESUS ANYWAY!”

So, not only had I NOT dealt with this situation properly, I had given the little genius a way out.  A safe pass.  A golden ticket.  At only three years old, she had manipulated me and my words. What I’d actually done, was teach her how to use it, without getting into trouble.

I was gunked.  My jaw actually hit the floor.  I listened to hear if she’d say anything else.  She didn’t. She was waiting to hear my reaction.  She’s still waiting, because although I actually snorted with laughter, she didn’t hear me.  A few minutes later, she popped her pretty head around the corner. I carried on as if nothing had happened.

I know some people will be disgusted.  I know I shouldn’t have laughed.  I know it’s terrible that a child is able to use language like this.  But I also know, that sometimes, laughing is all we can do.

I’m not a psychologist.  I’m not a child specialist.  I’m not a genius.

I’m a mum.   I’m a mum who, once upon a time, thought smugly that my little girl would NEVER behave like that.  I’m a mum who is learning every single day. I’m a mum who will sometimes just laugh, because really, what other option do I have?

On a positive note, she’s learning. She’s testing boundaries.  She’s experimenting with language.  She’s establishing her little self in the grand scheme of things. And every day, I “Thank Jesus” that she can!

I am Swearing-Mum x

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I am Silly Mum

imagineSilly Mammy!” I hear this daily. Sometimes it’s true.

I have found that since Mini-me suddenly turned from baby to toddler, that my inhibitions have pretty much diminished.  I went from thinking I didn’t care what people thought of me, to actually not giving a toss what people think of me.  It’s changed my life for the better and I owe it all to her.

I’ve always been a performer.  I’ve dressed up. I’ve worn ridiculous costumes.  I’ve danced ridiculous dances.  I’ve even stripped to my undies…but always in the safety of the stage.  My local theatre stage has allowed me to be dozens of different characters; the Liesl, the lady, the bitch, the hooker – and more times than enough, the blonde bimbo.

But no stage equates to the characters a Mummy can assume when raising a toddler!

At present, Mini-Me often assigns my character to me.  “Look Elsa!”  or “No Anna. I have to find Sven“.  Games that require the adoption of instant imaginary persona, are even coming more naturally to my Husband, who more often than not has to break into sporadic song, (whether he likes it or not!).

I’ve been every Disney Princess imaginable.  I’ve been an elephant.  I’ve been a spaceship.  I’ve been a mouse and I’ve been a scary monster. Whatever she wants me to be really.

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Today, I am Tinkerbell (apparently) as I am donning a green bobbed wig and am dressed from head to toe in green for our St. Patrick’s Day celebration at school.  I look ridiculous.  A part of me feels ridiculous.  I wouldn’t have dreamed of dropping her to childcare and driving to school like this a few years ago. I nearly didn’t this morning!

I can’t do this…can I?” was my first though when I looked in the mirror. Then, she bounced around the corner and her wee face said it all.  She grinned and announced “Oh Mummy! Your gween hair is boooootiful! SilleeeeMammeeeee!”…and so, feck it, it stayed on.

Yes, people are laughing at me.  I made quite a few students giggle and snort as I flounced to my classroom. I’ve had colleagues shake their heads, baffled…but people are smiling.  I decided to teach my first years Ceilí dancing instead of Poetry. They loved it. So did I. They think I’m silly (or crazy as one of them happily told me!).  So do I!

But I’m having fun and if nothing else, I might just be teaching some of them that standing out and being different is harmless. If they think it’s silly, good! If they think it’s fun, even better! If they don’t like the wig, they can ignore it. Some people will always be uncomfortable with fun.  There’s not really much we can do about that is there?

Mini-me has taught me how to play again. She’s teaching me that it’s OK to be silly.  It’s much more fun than being serious all the time.  I adore how she’s happy to wear her Elsa dress into town.  I admire how she smiles happily when people tell her she’s beautiful.  I love how she spins around when someone tells her that they love her dress.  My response to that is “Penneys best!”, automatically dismissing the compliment.

We don’t take compliments very well.  We don’t usually put ourselves in the spotlight… well, off the stage anyhow.  We dress as fashion allows, so as not to stand out too much.  We’ve forgotten how to be silly.

But we should be silly.  We should wear what we want.  We should sing at the top of our voices, even if it’s awful.  We should wear green wigs if the occasion presents itself. We should teach our kids to be who they want to be, how they want to be, and not to worry too much what people think of them.

She’s teaching me to be silly.  I’ll happily oblige!  It’s liberating.  It’s free and it’s fun!

And while, I’ll be teaching Shakespeare in about 20 minutes time and being very serious, I’ll also be wearing a green wig.  What my LC class make of that, is completely up to them.

Because today, I am indeed Silly-Mum! x

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