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. 

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.

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

Play It Again Mam…

We don‘t stop playing because we grow old, we grow old because we stop playing. George Bernard Shaw

Over the past 4 months, playing has changed.

Our kids went from playing every day with a variety of other kids, enjoying all sorts of games and having all sorts of fun, to playing at home with the same person or people.

On a typical day, my eldest daughter would have gone from playing with the bus kids, to playing with her classmates in the classroom, to playing with other kids in the playground, to playing with whoever was in afterschool, to playing with her sister at home.

On other days, add in the kids she played with at her drama/gymnastics/dance class and maybe even a play with cousins at the weekend…

It was Play Central really.

Rediscovering the simple pleasures…

But isn’t that what childhood IS? Learning to make sense of the world through play and interaction?

The novelty of playing at home was great for a few weeks. And of course, my girls were so lucky to have each other. For every scrap or fight, there were hours of games and being best buddies. It helped.

It helped both them and us.

They spent most of lockdown outside in the garden. Swings, huts, dens, make believe adventures, talking to the cows in the field… I watched them living my 80s childhood, (with the added bonus of more than 4 TV channels and Disney Plus in the evening.)

I did have to stock up on lego and playdoh and crayons after about 7 weeks… but I didn’t mind. I like that they played so much with these.

It was lovely mostly. And the reality that our previously far-too-busy lives had been denying them such simple pleasures was not lost on me.

But they, like ALL children, got to the point where they missed their wee friends. Mini-Me took part in maybe five Wattsapp calls over the few months we were at home. She was so excited by them and so glad to see her wee friends, but in the final few weeks, didn’t really want to take part.

On the last call she had with one of her wee pals, she was so quiet that we thought the call had ended. When her Daddy looked into the room, she was sitting at her desk, colouring, with the phone set up beside her. Her friend was playing with her dolls on the screen. They weren’t really talking.

When Himself asked what they were doing, she looked at him as if he were stupid and answered, “We’re playing together.”

Simple. They aren’t grown ups who thrive on conversation and empathy. They aren’t teenagers who need laughs and craic and affirmation. They don’t yet know that they need conversation or companionship.

They simply wanted to play. Together.

That broke us a wee bit if I’m honest.

All she wanted to was to play alongside her friend. So when last week, we were able to let her meet said friend for a play in the park, I’m not sure who was more excited, her or me.

The playpark was open. Both of us Mammies looked at each other, trepidation about whether to let them in on both of our faces. We were afraid. The kids were not. We both had hand sanitizer with us and figured they deserved to have fun, so they ran and down we calmed.

We sat watching them and listening to the sound that I never really listened to before; The sound of children playing; of running and laughter and squeals of delight and roars of fun. We listened to parents calling out to ‘be careful’ or to ‘stop that’. We listened to the sound of playing.

And we both agreed that it was just lovely. And that there are some things that can’t be done on a wattsapp call.

As the sun finally sets on lockdown…

As the sun sets on the “lockdown”, our children will have to learn many things over the next few months. They’ll need to learn about social distancing, and how to behave in certain situations, about hygiene and danger and how to go to places with new procedures in place. But they’re faster learners that we adults are.

And one thing they won’t need to learn again, is how to play.

They are heroes and play is their superpower…

You’re not a Machine, You’re Amazing

I haven’t learned a new language.
I haven’t made banana bread.
I haven’t decluttered my house.
I haven’t painted the house.
I haven’t organised my life.
I haven’t sorted my garden.
I haven’t watched box sets.
I haven’t made a mood board.
I haven’t lost loads of weight.
I haven’t found zen.
I haven’t had a calm and relaxing time.
I haven’t caught up on the stuff I always thought I just needed “time” to get done.
I haven’t used this time to research stuff or “better” myself.
I haven’t cut out caffeine or alcohol.
I haven’t found positives in every feckin moment.
I haven’t found that I LOVE zoom calls or quizzes.
I haven’t finished that novel I’m writing.
I haven’t got the cleanest house ever.
I haven’t cooked wholesome meals every day.
I haven’t found harmony that was apparently missing from my life.

I haven’t learned loads about myself.

Well actually, no.

That I HAVE done.

I’ve learned that I’m a fricken machine.

A machine who is able to admit her weakness and fear and know that it is OK to be overwhelmed.

A machine who kept her family relatively well, fed and feeling safe throughout a global pandemic.

A machine who up until last week, worked more than full time at my job job while simultaneously being Mammy and Wife and keeping my kids entertained, fed and even someday, educated (😂😂😂😂I say this lightly).

A machine who has tried to fully support her other half as he fought to maintain our family’s business.

A machine who has been “fine” until the kids are in bed, when I’d then cry or rant.

A machine who dealt with loss and fear and all of the anxiety and stress that came to us all with this shitstorm.

A machine who has missed people and longed for interaction and normality.

A machine who hid her own stress and fear from her babies to make sure that their fears were, and are, minimal.

Actually, I’m not a machine.

I’m just a Mammy.
I’m a me.

And just like every one of you, I’ve had my good days and shit days and I know there’s more of both to come.

But today is sunny and beautiful and so I’m raising a feckin glass to MYSELF and to each of you…
To all of us machines who don’t need to have done loads of shit that Instagram tells us to, to feel validated and strong.

It doesn’t matter if you’re riding out of this on a gilded unicorn, farting glitter and fablis and enlightened… or sliding out sideways, glass in hand shouting “woohoo!”… like a badger’s arse, clawing towards whatever finish line you’re aiming for, you are here and you are brilliant just as you are.

You are not a machine.
You are simply amazing.

Cheers Ladybelles.

M x