The Road NEVER BEFORE Taken…

Every year, I teach Robert Frost’s ‘The Road Not Taken’, whether it’s on the course or not.

I love it. And I love passing his wisdom on to my students. Sometimes, the hardest decision is the best one to make. The obvious, “easier” route may be more appealing; safer even, and yet those who took the road less travelled, will always in hindsight, confirm that it was the right road to take.

I love to use it as an encouragement to my students that they shouldn’t always follow the crowd, that they don’t HAVE to take the road that they feel has been laid out or paved for them. That when it comes to it, they must follow their gut and trust their instincts, and that no matter which road they choose, it will carry them onwards, to somewhere.

And yet this year, for the class of 2020, I cannot use this as I always do. Because this particular class group are not in control of their choices as they should have been. They have all been directed towards a new road; a road NEVER taken by any of us before them.

“knowing how way leads on to way…”

And unfortunately, the lay of the land means that there is no safe or usual road for them to pass through the end of school and on to the next stage of their journey.

It’s new and unchartered territory for them, for their parents and for all staff in the schools they attended.

And yet… this time next year, they WILL have travelled this new road. It will have brought them to their next destination.

A year from now, they will have moved through the current chaos and will be looking back on this time, glad that it has passed and no longer stressed by the situation.

Some of them will be working, or in college, or at university; physically or virtually…who knows? They might still be at home, having taken a year out, waiting for the course they plan to do to start, excited and ready to begin the next stage of their lives.

And while there is still uncertainty for our Leaving Cert students, and none of us can know where their roads will take them, this is not new. This uncertainty is the one thing that they ARE getting to experience like every other LC group before them.

And yet, for all of them, in a few months time, that uncertainty will have passed and they will be travelling on the next road of their journey. They will not still be standing at the crossroads wondering which road to take.

The road onto which our young adults are stepping, is new. None of us have been through it. So really, none of us are in a position to tell them how they should feel or how it will go.

I used to always tell mine “You’ll be fine, just like everyone who has done it before you.” I can’t say that this year. (Firstly, because they are not in front of me, and secondly, because they are trailblazing a new road.)

We old fogies have not been through this before them. We can not fully understand. We shouldn’t pretend to.

This group have lost much. They’ve lost their right of passage through the final weeks of school. They’ve missed their last classes with favourite teachers (and the joy of a final class with not so favourite!).

They’ve missed prizegivings. They’ve missed graduations. They’re missing their end of year celebrations; parties, masses, whatever events and celebrations that are traditional to their individual schools that they have expected and looked forward to for the past six years. For many, they’re missing the ending of 14 years together, through national school to now.

And as adults, we shouldn’t dismiss their sadness at missing these things. These losses are as important to them as our problems are to us right now.

But onwards they WILL go. And while they are indeed on a road never before taken, they will travel onwards.

To our school leavers, (especially to my own brilliant and inspirational young people) I want to wish you well. You are bright and talented and the world is yours for the taking. Trust and stay positive.

A year from now, you will look back. You will have moved on. You will be on the next stage of your journey, and while you will have travelled there on a new road, an uncertain road and a perhaps frightening road, there was a road. And you took it and it is taking you forwards.

And I truly hope that you know that wherever it has taken you, it is the road you were meant to be on.

As Frost said, “I-I took the road less travelled, And that has made all the difference.”

When this is all over Mammy…

“Mammy, when this is all over…”, Mammy will need to have won the lotto.
 
I hear this line at least 5 times a day, from both of the girls.
And I find myself agreeing to pretty much everything that follows this phrase…
 
So far, I have agreed to:
 
Sleepovers with their cousins
A trip to Aberdeen
Dinner in Backstage EVERY night
A trip to Harry Potter World,
A trip to go see Santa in Euro Disney
A trip to Disneyworld Florida, where we will apparently swim with feckin dolphins
To have all of their cousins here for a sleepover
New clothes in Penneys like Arianna Grande
A visit to Uncle B in London
Playdates with EVERY BFF and general acquaintance in the world.
 
In fairness, they are also asking for things that are so heartbreakingly simple and genuine, that I find myself nodding in fervent approval when they say Mammy, when this is all over can we…
 
Go hug GannyGanda
Go play in GannyGanda’s back garden
Go to get icecream in the shop
Go in the car
Go out for pancakes
Go in to see Daddy’s gym
Go to dancing
Go to Glenveagh
Go to the beach
Go to school
 
And these I eagerly agree to because I can’t wait either. Actually, they’ll have to get in line for some of them, because ‘Me first yeah?’.
 
I had a catch up with two mates last night. And all of our kids have taken to using this line. We wondered where they heard it…but we know where. Well, obviously, they heard it from us, because let’s face it, we’re ALL using this line.
 
We’re all dreaming of the things that we once perhaps took for granted.
We’re all dreaming of doing the things that we are not able to do currently.
We’re all dreaming of the places we’ve wanted to or love to visit.
We’re all dreaming of seeing the people we are missing.
 
And it’s perfectly normal to miss and to plan and to dream.
 
Yes, we are all finding our grooves in this “New Normal”. I’ve used that phrase many times. And yet, now, while I am indeed living in my new normal, I know that it is thankfully, NOT going to be normal forever.
 
This new normal is temporary and we must all remember that. We must all accept it for what it is, for now, and look forward to when we can start to move on.
 
Because, thankfully, nothing lasts forever and everything changes eventually.
 
So, when this is all over, and it WILL be all over, we will all have things that we can’t wait to do and places to which we can’t wait to go…
 
We’ll have energy and determination to get or do things that we’ve perhaps procrastinated about or put off until now.
 
And the things that we CAN arrange and afford and aspire to, (mostly the hugs and playdates), will be done with joy and enthusiasm.
 
And while, short of a lotto win, there’s not a hope that I’ll follow through with the full list of things that I’m agreeing to right now, I will continue to let my kids enjoy the momentary dreaming that they get when they start a sentence with “Mammy, when this is all over…” because we all need to look forward and dream of when it is.
shadows

Whispers on the Wind – a Bedtime Story

Whispers on the Wind

Two little sisters played on the beach

And just when their parents had stepped out of reach,bwbeach

Wee Sis asked Big Sis in quiet hushed words,

“What’s going on Sis? What’s wrong with the world?

 

Everything’s changed in the last few days.

It seems like all that we do now is play.  

I miss my school teachers and I miss going to school.

I miss all my friends and I don’t feel too cool.

 

What happened to dancing, gymnastics and drama?

I just  want to cuddle my Granny and Granda.

I like it that Mammy and Daddy are here

It’s nice, and I like, but it’s getting quite weird.

 

So what’s going on Sis, what’s wrong with the world? 

I know something’s wrong but I don’t have the words.

I don’t like to see all our grown ups so sad

They say it’s OK, but I know something’s bad.”

 

The Big sister listened and squeezed her hand tight,

And she thought of how she could make all of this right.

For she was scared too and it all felt disastrous,

She missed all her friends and her teacher and classes. 

 

But she closed her eyes tight and for answers she longed,

To share with her sister and make them feel strong

And just as she was going to say “I don’t know”

A voice on the wind whispered into her soul.

 

It tickled her ears and it kissed her cold face

And suddenly everything fell into place.

She turned to her sister, she pushed back her hair,

And started to speak words she magically heard…

 

“The world has gone funny, and everything’s changed

But it won’t last forever, it’s only a phase.

We’ve gone from being busy and rushing and spinning

To not going anywhere, morning or evening.

 

Mammy and Daddy, who work all they’re able,

Are still working hard, from the one kitchen table.

And yes there’s a virus and yes, it is scary, 

But if we stay home and if everyone’s wary

 

We’ll hopefully stop it from getting too massive,

And the Doctors and heroes will manage to smash it.

So don’t you be worried, just know there are reasons

And this too will pass, it’s simply a season.

 

When all this is over, when all of this ends

We’ll get back to normal, We’ll play with our friends.

We’ll go back to our classes and have lots of fun, 

We’ll have parties and playdates and hug our loved ones. 

 

We just have to trust that the grown ups have got this,

And that they’ll do everything that they can to protect us.

Then Mammy’s voice called them with ”Girls, time to go!”

And they looked at each other, and they smiled in the know

 

That they would have lots of adventures together

On beaches, in sunshine, or in rainy weather.

They ran to their Daddy and called to their Mum

And as they were running, the clouds showed the sun.

 

For nature can comfort the fears that we’re feeling

And breezes keep whistling their secrets and healing;

And all of your worries will soon disappear

Like the wind on the faces of two little girls.

 

Maria Rushe 

March 2020 

Vote Vote Vote

It’s almost time to vote.
And the sooner the whole thing is over, the better.
Much like recent ‘votes’, this election is fizzing with emotion and anger and frustration. And so I think that most of us will be glad to see it done and dusted and to get back to normality.
polling station
How you vote is YOUR decision.
How I vote is MY business.
We all have things that we hope for and expect from our candidates, and we all have our own checklists of characteristics and qualities that we want to see.
We all have opinions; strong and valid opinions, but as I have said eleventy billion times, OPINION IS NOT FACT.
For me, it’s simple.
The candidate who stands for the people who live in this country, ALL the people people, not just the freckled few, gets a vote.
The candidate who can voice their opinions with respect for others, and without dictating that anyone who differs in their opinion, is wrong, will get a vote.
The candidate who is knowledgeable and has educated themself on the issues that they will discuss, will get a vote.
The candidate who sees all Irish citizens as equal, regardless of skin colour, physical appearance, profession, ancestry or heritage, will get a vote.
The candidate who recognses that their opinions are ONLY opinions and NOT FACT, and who can tolerate disagreement as a right, will get a vote.
The candidate who stands up for the rights of all, and who I believe will genuinely work towards making things better as much as possible, will get a vote.
I will put a number beside the names of most of the candidate.
[gallery ids=”5211″ type=”rectangular”
Some, I will leave absolutely blank. Some do not deserve and will never get my vote.
I will not vote for the person who stands up ONLY for themselves and people who they deem to be like them.
I will not vote for the person who uses misinformed, exaggerated language to create hysteria and incorrect scarmongering about issues, just because they are uncomfortable with change.
I will not vote for the person who attacks an alternative opinion, or who demonises people who think differently to them.
I will not vote for the person who preaches to be holier than thou and who yet casts all the stones.
I will not vote for the person who thinks it acceptable to write another candidate’s name on their posters to ridicule and criticise.
I will not vote for the person who is spouting racist, homophobic and quite frankly disgusting vitriol about people in our society.
OUR community.
OUR country.
vote1
Many will argue that “they’re all the same” or “They’re all as bad as each other”.
We live in a country where it is hard to trust those in power. Where “jobs for the boys” and “who your father is” has always had a lot to do with who got what and who climbed which ladder.
But today, we must vote.
We, the people, the public… ALL citizens of Ireland.
Whether you have followed every interview, listened to every debate and read every manifesto, or whether you’ve simply been vaguely aware of the political rhetoric which has overcome our airwaves and twitter feeds for the past few weeks, you still must vote.
Our vote is our voice.
A physical manifestation of our being.
A chance to have our say.
If we do not vote, really, we have no ground to stand on when it comes to complaining or commenting on how things go for the next 4 years.
If you can vote, go vote.🇮🇪
If you know someone who isn’t able to get to the polling station, drive them there.
If you have a young adult at home, get them to the booth. Make sure their voice is heard.
(Let them vote with their own mind and their own heart. Remember that how YOU vote is not necessarily how your child will vote.)
To the candidates who have put themselves out there, (for reasons other than imposing archaic and bigoted opinions on the county), whether or not I agree with your general policies, good luck.
It is not an easy thing to do; to put yourself into the public domain, to open yourself and your family and your entire history up to the scrutiny and criticism of the world, to take on such a challenge.
It is brave and it is honourable, and I salute you.
Here’s to an eventful weekend.😘
As with all democratic events, some will celebrate and some will not. Everyone cannot win (and not everyone deserves to), but we all must use our voice.
Reegardless of the outcome, cheers to the future my Lovelies.
Now, use your voice.
Vote.

The Night Before Christmas – by Mammy

moon-3021005__340

‘Twas the night before Christmas and all through the land,

The magic was starting and all was in hand.

The trees were lit up and the turkeys were prepped,

The dog was quite cozy by the tree where he slept.

The sugar-filled children were bouncing and reeling,

The reindeer dust sprinkled, the cookies still cooling.

They hoped for and wished that the Big Man would bring

The gifts that they’d ask for, to make their hearts sing.

They stared at the skies, with eyes that were bright

As the stars they were searching, for Santa’s sleigh lights.

The parents enjoyed the excitement and fun

But hoped they’d soon sleep.  There were jobs to be done.

Santa’s snacks were set out and the stories were read

As the children got tucked in and snuggled in bed.

With a sigh of relief and ten checks that they’re sleeping

Mammy opened the nice secret treats she’d been keeping.

They finished their jobs and left everything right

For the Big Man in red who would visit tonight.

And they danced in the kitchen, and with Bublé they’d sing

Excited themselves, for what morning would bring.

For the joy and excitement, the gifts and the hugs

For the fact they’re together and truly know love,

For their family and friends, far away and close by,

For the innocence and magic that can’t money can’t buy,

For the dinner and chocolates and all of the food,

For the laughter and smiles, for the contented mood,

That comes with the sunrise on each Christmas Day,

And they counted their blessings as they ended their day.

So, tired but happy, Mammy turned off the light,

“Merry Christmas to all and to all a goodnight!”

(Maria Rushe 2017)

Wishing you a magical Christmas

This Mammy wants to wish all of my wonderful readers a truly magical and wonderful Christmas.  I hope Santa is good to you all and that you have everything you dream of.

The S-Mum xx