I’m brushing my youngest’s hair and we’re chittering away.
‘You’re my beautiful Baby girl’ I say as I kiss the top of her inexplicably fuzzy head when I’m done.
‘I am not a Baby Mammy. I am FOUR.’ she replies.
‘Yes I know, you’re a big girl…but you’re still my wee baby.’
‘You don’t got no babies no more Mammy…’
There we go.
She’s right of course.
There are no more babies in my house. All evidence of babies has been reduced to smudge marks on walls and a few baby toys which managed to evade my preSanta clear out.
My girls are now “big girls” and I no longer have babies apparently.
At 4 and almost 8, they’re my Little Women.
And while this makes me sad, it makes me happy at the same time.
I love the age that they’re at now. Still so dependent on us, but fully capable of doing things like getting a drink for themselves and getting dressed themselves… (Well. Sometimes!)
I love that when they waken on a Sunday morning, they can play together in the bedroom for an hour before coming near us.
I love that the pram is gone… (literally, it’s in Dublin!) and that there is no longer a need to bring half the house with me when I leave it.
I love the craic we can now have with them; enjoying their company and genuinely having fun as they unleash their personalities onto the world.
And while every age poses its own challenges…(stubborn 4 and emotional almost 8 anyone?), I have to say that this stage of our little family, is enjoyable.
Do I miss them as Babies?
Of course I do.
I look back at photographs and videos of them as newborns and wobblers and toddlers and my heart stops and starts at the same time. It swells with nostalgia and love and pride.
But it also sighs with relief, because while I loved much of the Early Years, there was much about it that I wouldn’t go back to for all the tea in China.
I would have no urge to go back to the blur of the first few months.
(I’m not in the slightest bit broody either before anyone gets excited and throws THAT particular tuppence in. 😂)
I don’t miss very much about the baby phase, except for THEM. My baby children.
Their faces, their hugs, their smells… of course I miss the little voices and first words and mispronounced phrases and funny waddles and baby giggles.
But I enjoyed them while they lasted and now, I’m enjoying the hilarious questions, and little notes on our pillow at night and listening to them play together and random conversations with two little ladies who are trying to make sense of the world.
The pudgy, sticky little arms that used to go around my neck, are now simply longer. (Still sticky sometimes!)
The beautiful blue eyes which used to stare up at me with utter trust and love, stare now with suspicion and curiosity and sometimes with annoyance, but still with trust and love.
Always with trust and love.
Rather than pushing them in front of me, I now walk beside them. Sometimes behind them as they run ahead, exploring the world.
And I am loving every second of it and savouring every second, because this too shall pass and soon, there’ll be a new phase if my Little Women with new challenges and new fun.
They can run ahead all they like.
They can get as tall and big and independent as they like.
I’ll always be right behind them, or beside them, or wherever they need me to be.
So while my Princess was correct, she was also wrong.
Because even when they’re all grown up, they’ll still be my babies.
Happy New Year my Lovely Ladybelles.
By now, the trees are possibly down and the house looks alarmingly bare.
It’s back to uniforms and routine and lunches and gymbags…and after 2 weeks of hibernating with my little cubs, I for one am ready for normality.
I took my tree down on this morning and very quickly realised just how DIRTY my house is.
There is a layer of dust, of handprints and of pawprints and of glitter on every surface in my home and I have decided to give it a new name: it is my “Layer of Love”.
Giving it a nice name like that makes it easier to tolerate. Clever eh? I don’t feel so bad about the dirt now, when I consider that it was my own little munchkins who happily caused it.
In the midst of the New Year’s Resolution BS of January, here are a few precepts or mantras that I intend to try harder to follow this year. They’ve been the same for the past few years; not resolutions, just notes to me, from me, with love.
I’m not changing anything. I simply try to employ these in order to try to keep my sh*t together.
These would the Rules of Mammying if I were Queen of the World.
- Embrace the Layer of Love. Yes, our houses must be safe and generally clean, but handprints on the glass or dust on the TV aren’t really good reason to stress, are they?
- Let it go. The things that bother you? The things you can’t change. The people who annoy you? The opinions that upset you? Are they really worth being bothered about? If it’s outside of your own 4 walls, it’s not important.
- What people think of you, is none of your business. If people don’t like you, it’s THEM who has the problem, not you. You won’t be everyone’s cup of tea. Stop trying. The most important thing is that you like you. Work on that.
- Believe that you can. Who says that you can’t? Tell that committee of negative thoughts in your head to sit down and shut up.
- Stop Comparenting. Comparenting is my favourite word. It’s clever isn’t it? It’s when we compare our parenting to others. And it’s never positive or productive, so stop it! (and especially don’t comparent yourself to Sanctimammies… another cool word eh? I should write a Parenting dictionary…)
I’m not going to change in 2020.
I’m quite happy with who and how I am already thank you. I manage (just about!) to keep it all between the ditches just fine as I am. I will be focusing a bit more on balance. I have a lot of plates spinning and it’s time to make them work for me a bit more, rather than me working for them.
I will continue to try to keep implementing these ideas in my daily life.
Especially the Comparenting one. I don’t care if Shaniqua’s Mum lets her sit in the front seat. I don’t care if Tarquin’s Mum gives him Football Special in his lunch. I don’t care if Jezzabell’s Dad brings her to every dance class going. Good for them.
Parent for your kids, in your home.
I hope your layer of love is only beautiful after the holidays.
It’s finally here.
The big one.
What we’ve been working towards.
Christmas is like putting together a musical: you decide on the show, get the cast together, go through your routines, rehearse, use the essential props, take a deep breath and GO!
Once Christmas Eve hits, it’s curtain up and the show will go on, whether you’re ready or not. It might not be perfect, or guess what? It might be the best one yet.😚
Maybe someone misses their cue or their line. Maybe a prop got misplaced.
Maybe a cast member is missing…
Maybe a scene change didn’t go smoothly.
Maybe there’s a technical hitch, but the Show WILL go on.
Expectations are high and the production must be timed perfectly.
Even if there are hiccups, or someone makes a mistake, mostly we leave the theatre of Christmas with a warm, fuzzy feeling.
We’re glad that it’s over, because while entertaining, sometimes the show is a long sit.
Sometimes, it’s not quite what we expect.
Sometimes, we’re sad or even disappointed by it.
Maybe we expected more? Maybe we expected better?
Maybe, we’re just knackered! 😅
Because we parents are the show.
We are the production; the Producer, the director, the choreographer, the MD, the Prop manager, set designer…and usually, the absolute star of the show, but in reality, we’re the support act.
Because while we bust ourselves making our Christmas shows as perfect as we can make them for OUR families, in OUR circumstances, to keep alive the traditions that WE feel are important, the true stars are our children and grandchildren.
And their starring roles cannot be rehearsed.
Kids are those annoying stars who turn up on opening night, oblivious to the preceding 3 months of rehearsal and preparation, who walk on-stage, unrehearsed, under no obligation to anyone…and they steal the show.
Mammy meanwhile? She stands in the wings, making sure everything is as wonderful as it can be for her cast, making the most of the budget she has and the theatre she’s working in.
And she smiles, because only a Mammy can happily run the show and sit back to let everyone else enjoy it and shine.
And of course sometimes, Mammy is smug because her show went without a hitch, all because of her and her helpers and all their rehearsals and preparations.
So regardless of how your own particular Christmas musical is going right now, Mamma Bear, you did great.
And if you’re a Daddy who has put this year’s performance together, you too are brilliant.
Your show is perfect.
And nothing else matters.
Very soon, it will be over for another year, and all we’ll have left are the memories we’ve helped to make.
Happy Christmas Lovelies.
Hope Santa was good to everyone. 💖💖💖
The one thing that I love about the long, dark evenings of winter, might seem strange to some.
“You’re doing it again aren’t you?” Himself will say to me in the car as we drive along, if I’ve gone quiet beside him.
I’ve been doing it since I was a little girl, sitting behind Mum and Dad in our seatbelt-free VW Golf, as we drove through the winding Donegal roads at night.
Maybe it’s the writer in me, but I love looking through the windows of people’s homes.
I don’t mean that I walk around playing “Peeping Tomette”.
NO, of course not.
But when you’re sitting in the passenger seat of a car and it’s dark or getting dark, and people have yet to close their curtains, it’s amazing the little glimpses you can get into the worlds of strangers.
And for a split second, I see a tableaux; a freezeframe – a photograph if you like, of the home and sometimes the people in it.
I imagine who they are; what they’re saying and what it’s like to be there, among them. Who has just walked into the room to make the child jump up like that? Where is he going? What are they talking about? My imagination creates full scenarios for the “characters” of these snapshots.
Christmas is my favourite time to do this, and with Christmas trees in windows, it’s the perfect time to catch beautiful moments.
These are where the real Christmas-Card-worthy moments happen; A Granny laughing by the fireplace. An uncle arriving home. Windows being cleaned. A dog being scolded for jumping on a sofa. A child being lifted up high.
Snapshots, if you will.
Obviously, on Christmas Day, I don’t do this… because I’m not in the car much.
And so, I thought I’d get glimpses into the homes of others in a different way. I asked some of the top Parenting writers in the country what I would see if I happened to look through their windows over Christmas?
Each of them has kindly sent me a description of their very own perfect freezeframe; what they hope you’d see and what they hope to be doing while the world drives by on Tuesday.
Sandra from – Prosecco Powered Mum
Christmas day is an early start with 2 very excited small boys…by 7am the stove is lighting and we are surrounded by discarded wrapping paper, Santa wraps here, he has even been known to wrap the door -but this year I’m trying to be more environmentally friendly so am thinking that I’ll use what I have left from last year but may change it up from 2020. We have visitors in our house as early as 7:30 and that’s the start of what our day looks like, people coming and going all day, but we generally don’t budge ourselves.
The husbag cooks a fry and while we’re cleaning up after breakfast we are also preparing for dinner, (you see a pattern?) We have 9 for dinner this year, and we share the work, my sister brings the staters and she and my mum bring desserts. After stuffing ourselves, we normally have Irish and calypso coffees. The evening sees more family members arrive so we play games, last year was 30 seconds, and generally ones that go We then hit the turkey sambos, cheese boards, more desserts, and obviously quality street. If you look through my window on Christmas day you’ll see a busy, noisy and very happy family enjoying my favourite day of the year!
Ross from – The Stented Papa
“If you were to take a peek through my window on Christmas morning, you’d see a busy, excited household.
The funny thing is it depends on what time you’d be taking a peek! We’ve actually had to wake Nip #1 up for the last two Christmas mornings!! Even knowing Santa was coming, she was happy to sleep in! But I’ve a feeling this year will be a bit different.
So once everyone is awake, it’s a busy & excited place. Wrapping paper everywhere, the nips playing with their new toys, showing & telling us all about them. Christmas tunes in the background, dressing gowns on, fresh coffee brewing.
Then we get dressed & head over to Granny’s house for a big breakfast & more presents. Then around 1pm we head for Great Grandad Shay’s house with about 30 family (my in-law’s side) for some fun & yep, you’ve guessed it – more presents!!!
Finally back to ours this year for Christmas dinner with all the usual trimming & the odd glass of vino – sure it is Christmas ya know!! Cheers to the perfect day!”
Kellie from – My Little Babóg
“I would love to say all happy and merry but in reality you will probably see absolute carnage. One parent night be swigging from a bottle of Jack Daniels by midday. Christmas morning with a baby, and 2, 3, 4 and 8 year olds is gonna be like any other day except with a skip full of new toys, wrapping paper and boxes upon boxes of selection boxes like the old days. It will be messy but hopefully full of fun and laughter.”
Jolene from – One Yummy Mummy
“Daddy of the house running down the stairs in his PJs to check and see if Santa came; He lets us know with an excited roar up if he has.
Bursts of excitement from my 6 year old running down and crashing thru the living room door to see all the presents. Then you’ll catch a glimpse of few tears as I get caught up in the emotion of it all. Then to the kitchen were you,ll spy a few of my dance moves with a bucks fizz in hand, basting the turkey, with Christmas FM in full swing.”
Jen from – Mama-tude loves Christmas Eve most.
If you were to look through our window on Christmas Eve, you’d see a house fit to burst with excitement. We are very early risers in the hope that tired children will fall asleep more easily on Christmas Eve night – I’m sure one year that plan will actually work!
Having so many younger siblings has kept the magic of Christmas alive for my older children and it’s the older ones who will gather the littles and log online to track Santa’s journey across the world via Norad. It is they who’ll ensure the site is checked again several times during the day just so they keep up with Santa’s progress.
After an outing that morning for a special Christmas Eve hot chocolate and muffin my daughter, in the afternoon, will make cookies with her brothers ahead of Santa’s visit that night. It can be a painstakingly slow process because every child will want to be involved and do their bit! After that it’s Christmas music on while the children open their presents from their Nana and Grandad.
Himself cooks the Christmas meats on Christmas Eve – it’s one less thing to do on Christmas morning and the smell of the turkey and ham cooking just adds to the Christmassy mood! My daughter and I used always go to mass on Christmas Eve and join the choir singing Christmas carols but we’re not going to this year because it put pressure on us time-wise. Instead we’ll all battle the crowds at Christmas morning mass.
There is never as much excitement and anticipation of bath-time as there is on Christmas Eve.
Afterwards the kids are bundled into their new Christmas Eve pjs, we check the Norad Santa tracker one last time and all of us clamber onto the couch together to watch “the snowman and the snowdog”. It seems much more poignant since our beloved 17 year old pooch Rodney died last year.
He’ll no doubt get a mention as will the absence of his sock which no longer hangs beside the children’s.
Then it’s milk, one of Santa’s cookies (for testing purposes) and the setting out of carrots, water, milk and cookies for Santa and his reindeer before the littles head to bed.
The teens go up shortly afterwards as mum and dad need the time to rearrange the sitting room so that Santa can easily lay out the gifts he’ll bring for the children. That organising takes a lot of time and it’s usually well into the small hours before mum and dad finally get to bed – exhausted but also so excited for the next day.
Becky from – Cuddle Fairy
“Christmas morning if you looked through our window you would see all of the Christmas lights on. Three kids happily tearing off wrapping paper and parents assembling toys. We are all in our pajamas with sleepy heads and unwashed faces. It’s straight downstairs when the kids wake up. There’s nothing as magical as Christmas morning.”
Benny from Daddy Poppins
“What would you see if you looked through out window on Christmas morning? In a word, Mayhem. We’ve two hyperactive children at the best of times but the magic of Christmas will send them over the edge. Think Santa’s elves high on sherbet and candy canes (but in child form, obviously). There’ll be wrapping paper everywhere and our little terrors will be flitting from toy to toy, unsure which to settle on for their first proper play. Mammy and Daddy will be trying to coax them into posing for pictures with their new acquisitions but it will all be in vein. Nothing will hold those little magpies attention for long as they dart from one shiny new thing to the next. Mayhem, but the good kind.”
And as for THIS Donegal Mammy?
Well, the carpet shall be clattered and camouflaged by wrapping paper and toys. Michael Buble will be crooning from the tellybox in the kitchen, with the fake fire on the screen. The Daddy shall be building stuff and Mammy shall be in her Christmas PJs, eating, starting the day with the obligatory Football Special and Terry’s chocolate orange!
The girls will be hyped up on life, excited to the brink by cousins and presents and Grandparents and fun. Mammy and Daddy shall be screenfree, intent on not scolding for the day and stealing kisses every time we pass under mistletoe… And yet, there still shall be tears and jobs to do and maybe the odd tantrum, and probably a few spills and stinky poos, but in the midst of it all, there shall be glitter and sparkle and love.
And even the jobs and poos and fights and tears shall be dealt with with extra smiles and magic; with that special, inexplicable feeling that comes only with Christmas Day.
Whatever is happening in your window frame this Christmas, I do hope it is wonderful and joyful and as stress free as possible. I’d love you to share your snapshot in the comments.
Sending much love and Christmas wishes to all,
The S-Mum xxxxxxx