You Drive you, I’ll Drive Me…

“Drive for yourself and let other drivers worry about themselves…” 

Words of wisdom from my much missed Granda Pops.  

He said these words to my Mum many times and he said them to me when I drove my first car up to his sitting room window many years ago. 

He looked out from his throne, cast his eyes over it, nodded that it was a “good big safe car” and then added these words. 

 I’d heard them before of course. It was one of his lines that my Mum had taken with her when she left home, repeating it at many opportunities, much like the one or two clangers that I constantly repeat from my Dad.

And like Daddy’s “Remember who has the problem” line, this one has stood the test of time and lingered on in our memories, not just because of who used to say it, but because it’s so so true. 

Mum still likes to remind us of, especially when one of us comes home giving out about someone who pulled out in front of us, or didn’t use an indicator, or almost caused a three car pile up at the roundabout. 

But this past week I’ve thought about it and said it more than once…and yet, I haven’t even been driving. I haven’t left the house.

In a few different conversations and phonecalls, and in the current climate of the JudgyMcJudgerson and AngryMcAngryson, I have found myself comforting people by using Granda’s line.  

Let’s get metaphorical, shall we? Buckle up… (see what I did there?)

Car, Pink Car, Thunderbird, Drive

We all drive our own car. ( We all live our own lives). 

We’re all responsible for our own vehicle. (You worry about you, I’ll worry about me.)

We all have our own passengers. (My family is my responsibility.)

We shouldn’t drive too fast. (Calm yourself woman!)

We can’t drive with an empty tank. (Fuel that body up!)

The car needs regular services. (Self care is important… Let your imagination go where it will there Jacinta!)

If you’re on the wrong route, you can always turn around or change lanes.  (You’re NOT stuck in that job/rut/relationship. Do what you need to make yourself happy.)

Make sure the tyres are fit for purpose. (Shoes are also important…)

We should all stay in our own lane (Mind your business Polly…)

Actually, this one is pretty important.  Drive to get yourself where you need to go, but try not to bump into anyone else on your journey eh? Don’t be a roadhog and remember you’re not the only car on the road.

Traffic, Highway, Lights, Night, Speed

But joking aside, there’s a reason cars and driving are so frequently used for analyses of life.  It makes sense.  Life is a journey and we are all travelling through, trying to navigate potholes and flat tyres and other cars.

You can’t control how other drivers drive their cars or react on the road.  And you can’t control how other people live their lives or react to things. 

You can disapprove of a person’s driving style or behaviour on the road, but there’s very little you can DO about it. Same goes for life and other people’s decisions/business/choices.

You can watch in horror as someone overtakes on a corner, aghast at what might happen, but there is nothing you can do about their decision. People have to make their own decisions.

You can disagree on the style or colour or size of someone else’s car choice.  Guess what, it’s not YOUR car and really, what they drive is nothing to do with you.  Stop comparing yourself to others.  You’re not them.

If people are reacting or behaving a certain way towards you.  If people are commenting and disapproving of what you do.  If people are unhappy with how you are driving YOUR car… whatever.   

Are they your passengers?  

Are they in danger because of how “drive your car”?  

Do they pay for your car?

Well if not, does it really matter what they think?

No. 

And if someone decided to flash their lights at you, or give you the one fingered salute as they pass, or shout out the window at you…or even if they sit in their car bitching about yours, once again, you can’t control that. 

And actually now that I think of it, my Granda’s words of wisdom AND my Daddy’s words of wisdom go quite well together. 

“You drive for yourself and let other drivers drive for themselves”.  Oh and if someone doesn’t like your “driving”, “remember who has the problem”.

Vintage 1950S, Pretty Woman, Vintage Car

Here We Go Again…

What a week it’s been eh?

We’re all feeling a bit incredulous really. This past few days, it’s felt like we are slowly sliding into chaos once again.

  We’re trying to adapt to all of the changes that are coming at us faster than Sonic the bloody Hedgehog, while trying to maintain a “calm” in front of our kids. 

 And with the indecisiveness, “we will , we won’t, we might-iness” of our Government, we can be forgiven for wondering what the actual feck is going on.

Once again, we’re back to working, whether at work or online, all while minding and homeschooling our kids, trying to keep them occupied and fed and generally trying to do eleventy billion jobs from our kitchen tables. 

And this time, we don’t have the long sunny evenings or unusually warm weather to soften the blow.  

And as I try to get my own head around this new situation in my own house, I’m trying to remember the things that worked (and that did NOT work) for me last time we were in this type of lockdown. 

One thing that became VERY clear to us last March, was that Homeschooling was NOT something that we were successful at.  Trying to pivot your business online and trying to teach online for the first time ever, after almost 20 years of standing in an actual classroom, meant that finding time to sit with our girls to “homeschool” was impossible.  

 I felt like crap about it to start.  How is it that a teacher, for God’s sake, couldn’t manage to educate her own children?  Disgraceful… 

And then I copped myself on.  I couldn’t do it.  I was trying to make up a whole new version of my job AND we were trying to keep our family business alive.  And it’s going to be the same this time to be honest. (Also, I could teach Shakespeare to a duck, but 3rd class maths? Nope!)

I will get them to do some of the work their angels of teachers send, but it’ll be done within the realms of OUR ability and only as long as it isn’t adding more stress to our lives. 

Here we go again I suppose. 

One of the biggest mistakes that loads of us made last time, was to think that we had to do it all.  Think about it…

There aren’t enough hours to combine the 6/7 hours your kids spend at school, with the 8/10 hours you work, the few hours you need for cooking, cleaning etc… never mind homework, exercise and trying to stay on top of things.  You’re trying to fit about 30 hours of “stuff” into a 24 hour day.  When do you sleep Mammy?

It’s not physically possible to do it all. 

SO choose what you NEED to do and do that. 

Give yourself a break.  We’re in a global pandemic.  

Here are some things that work for me. 

  1. Routine:  Make a plan for the week, just as you would if you were all getting up to go to work/school.  For me, I tend to get up at 6am as usual to do a few hours of school work before the girls get up and then a few more in the afternoon.  I’ll allocate a time for the kids to do some school work.  The girls will have playtime and downtime and bedtime will remain as normal as possible. And they’ll know that Mammy and Daddy still have to work for certain hours.
  1. Eating:  If your kids are anything like mine, they’re ALWAYS hungry.  I’m going to try to keep the idea of “breaktime” and “lunchtime” etc going at home.  Otherwise, Princess’s bum will be stuck out of the fridge constantly. 
  1. Get dressed:  seems obvious, and yet it’s so easy to stay in the pjs.  But from tomorrow, it’s up, shower and get dressed. Just without heels or makeup. See the positives where you can!
  1. Don’t overdo the Mary Poppins act:  I’ve already seen social media influencers who have done 3 weeks worth of arts and crafts activities in the first 2 days of no school.  Calm yourselves.  Let the kids play. Let them be bored. Let them read or draw.  Put on their coats and open the door if you can!  Not every activity needs to be organised or planned. Save those for the really long rainy days where they are genuinely bored or need cheered up.
  1. Follow people who inspire you:  Social Media has been a dark place this past few months.  Don’t allow yourself to become bogged down or overwhelmed. Switch off the phone. And try to have a switch off time in the evening.  And only follow people who are making you smile. Please learn to use the unfollow/mute button on accounts that make you doubt what a Queen you are. 
  1. Keep active:   We’ll train together every morning with our Rushe Fitness members and most days, I’ll try to get out for a run/walk. Sometimes, just getting OUT is amazing.  While it’s cold and slippy, it’s still gorgeous out there. Go for a walk or jog.  Fresh air is good for everyone. Get as much as you can.  If you’re used to training but can’t do it alone, join us for our online programme which you can follow from your home at a time that suits you.
We run Opti-Mum, Ireland’s leading at home training system for Mums
  1. Read:  If you’re like me, you’ll have a pile of started and unread books in the house.  Put down the phone and start to read.  Let your kids see you do it.  Have a “reading time” block in the day where you all sit and read. Monkey see, Monkey do.
  1. Cook:  Again, most of us cook functionally and conveniently.  Rather than firing on the slowcooker or  cooking in a hurry, set your inner Nigella alight and get chopping.  Let the kids cook too.  They love it.  And if you have a few of those “Betty” quick brownies in the press for the really long days, you’re winning at life AND you have something sweet and tasty for your cuppa.
  1. Stay in touch:  For many of us who are used to social interaction with colleagues or clients, the sudden isolation and lack of communication can be upsetting.  Talk to each other.  Message friends. Set up messenger groups with people who you would usually see each day and check in on each other.  Make phonecalls.  Pick up the phone and call someone rather than always messaging.  Some people might not hear another voice from one end of the day to the next.  Communicate.
  1. Stay positive:  yeah it’s easy to say isn’t it? But it’s hard to do. We all have good days and bad days. But go easy on yourself.  You’re allowed to be scared. You’re allowed to be upset.  Grief and fear are not signs of weakness.  In order to deal with things, we first have to process it; to let it sink in. So allow yourself time to process.  Then, look for the positives and focus on those.

We are in weird times.  We are dealing with disappointments and stresses that are unprecedented.  Much of what we are facing is bleak. and yet in the middle of it all, we’re seeing glimpses of hope and finally, an end is in sight. 

Mind yourselves.  Go easy on yourselves.  You are not in competition with anyone.  Do what you need to do, for you. 

The Stinging Truth…

Mammy found herself minion free today. 

Off I trot my solo self to the big homeware shop where I have all the time in the world to wander and dander and ponder how fablis all-the-everything would look in my house. 

As I stand in the lighting section, wondering if the NYC skyline touch lamp would be cool and quirky, or just tin and tacky in her bedroom, Mammy experiences a level of chill that, quite frankly, Mammy has not experienced since March 11th.  

I put my hand back on to the bar of the trolley, deciding that actually, this light would look ridonkulous in my bedroom and as my hand hits the bar, I jolt it back immediately as what I think is an electric shock blasts through the palm of my hand.  

What the FECK?

As I lift my poor hand away from the jaws of the trolley handle, I quickly realise that it’s NOT an electric shock.  The MONSTER is still in my hand and is busy burrowing its pointy arse into my hand… 

I shake it off, and watch as the little wanker of a wasp spins across the floor and under the shelf full of NYC skylines. 

I have been stung. 

I have been stung by a chuffing wasp… 

I have let a yelp out of me and am frozen to the spot… I dance around a little bit, suppressing a scream and glad that my mask is hiding my Crazy Lady grimaces from the poor child who watching me from behind her Mum’s leg.  

The last time I was stung by a wasp, I was 9 years old and my Darling Granda fixed it immediately with a blue ink teabag, icecream and a hug…  

RIddle me this…What the Fuck does an adult do when stung by a wasp? 

 I want my Granda.  I want my Mammy. I want my Him.  I want someone to ADULT right now so I can cry like a 9 year old and feel very fucking sorry for myself. 

The burn is real now and my hand is pulsing. I look down, fully expecting a gaping fleshy bloody wound to be ravaging my skin.  Of course, there is nothing but an angry little pinprick left by an angry little prick… But my poor hand is growing red and angry.  

I reach into my bag with the not stung hand, searching for my phone.  I need to TELL someone I have been stung. My phone is in the car… Feck. 

I’m not really sure what my Mammy or my Husband could have done through the phone to be honest, but I needed to TELL one of them that I have been stung by a wasp.   I can’t ring my Darling Granda… (If he answered, a wasp sting would be the least of my worries…) 

I am stung and phoneless and adult-less and now I DO want to cry. 

My brain begins to entertain the unfolding imaginary drama of having an allergic reaction and suddenly DYING in the middle of the aisle of cheap curtains, and I have to slap myself with a dose of cop-the-fuck-on and wise up.  

And of course, because I am a feckin grown up, and the only person in the store who KNOWS that I have been stung, I carry on as if I’m fine.

I’m FINE… 

 I head towards a quieter corner of the shop, pull the mask from my face for a second to allow some deep-deep-puff-puff-blow breaths, shaking my throbbing hand vigorously. 

Yeah.  Because we ALL know that shaking the burning limb makes it ALL better, doesn’t it?

I wander aimlessly, possibly a bit frantically through the store.  I find myself back in the lighting aisle, and spot the wanker wasp lying dead on the floor. Little shit will get no sympathy from me. 

Feeling in some way vindicated, I hiss at the wee fecker and head for the checkout. 

I can’t say I wasn’t in some way traumatised by the experience. I arrived home and unpack packets of clothes pegs, egg cups and a bottle of Zofloraaaah from the bag.  I genuinely do NOT remember putting them in the trolley. 

Husband arrives home and I’m like a 9 year old, showing him my no longer throbbing, but still fricken sore, poor wee hand. 

He does not have an ink teabag.

He does not offer my icecream.  

But he does give me a hug. 

It’ll do. 

Once Upon a Normal…

“I don’t know what’s wrong with me.” 

I’ve said these words more than a few times over the past few weeks. Mainly, because I found myself absolutely bricking it over things that ‘once upon a normal’, wouldn’t have taken a fizz out of me. 

I’ve found myself anxious and sweating and with all the fizzy fingers at just the thought of having to go into the town. 

As someone who generally is not in any way worried about going places, or being out in public, this new found worry, worried me.  

I’m the type of person who can happily spend a day wandering around London on my own. I won’t care if someone I’m meeting in a restaurant or coffee shop is 20 minutes late.  I’m more than used to going to events on my own.  It wouldn’t have cost me a thought to go to a new place before lockdown.  

So how come, after going in to do the Big shop (not for the first time) a few weeks ago, I found myself in an absolute tizzy when I got back into the car?  I’m talking palpitations, sweats and a frustration that had my shoulders up at my ears. 

I was engulfed with a rage at myself, at how stupid I felt and how anxious I was over something that only a few weeks earlier, had been one of the banal, ordinary, boring even, activities of my previous normal. 

And so for at least 6 weeks, I refused point blank to do the shopping.  I’m lucky I have someone that could do it instead.  We had been taking turns anyway, so he didn’t mind, but I simply could not face going back in. And because I didn’t have to, I didn’t.

Ridiculous yeah?

Then, when the phases began to move, we went to a local park with the girls.  I looked after the girls. Himself it turns out, had to look after me.  Because I was so terrified of them going too close to people or doing something wrong, that I was on ‘fight or flight’ mode from the second we parked the car until we got back into it.

The following week, my best friend messaged about a coffee date.  Yay and hurrah… 

We were sitting outside a cafe, having a long overdue catch up, but we were at least an hour in before my shoulders lowered to where they’re supposed to be and I actually relaxed. A bit. 

Sitting outside a cafe I’ve frequented for years, with my best friend of almost 20 years, waving and saying hi to people we knew as they passed… I was calm on the outside, but a trainwreck inside.  I wasn’t calm and confident.  I was buzzing on nervous energy and on high alert. 

“I don’t know what’s wrong with me!” I said to my parents a few days later.  

And as usual, they had the answer. 

“You’re afraid. We’re all so afraid.”  They’re wise, and usually right are my parents, but don’t tell them I said that.

So armed with the fact that if my Daddy and Mammy can be afraid of normal stuff too, I decided that if I was in fact afraid, I had to face it. 

I sent a few messages that night and arranged a different coffee date or walk for each day that week.  Having just one thing on my schedule (and yes, I wrote them into my diary which has been lying redundant since March 12th) made me face a different place each day. 

I had coffee with a friend on a bench.  I met a mate for a donut and cuppa on the square. I even had coffee and cake with a friend in the back of her husband’s van which has a table in it… A-TEAM, eat your heart out. 

And as nervous as I was about each of these, making myself do it and speaking to familiar faces who I have missed so much, was the tonic that I needed.  Even better, each and every one of them said that they were feeling the exact same. And my message had made THEM get up and get out of their own comfort zones. 

I’m not a psychologist. I’m not a councillor.  I’m a hot mess and like everyone, I’ve been affected by the changes of the past few months. 

 I am however, able to admit my weakness.  I learned a few years ago that if I’m not feeling “right”, that saying it out loud leads to figuring it out. 

I figured out that I needed to face my fear and make myself get up and go out. And I’m stubborn enough to make myself do it. 

And considering that I have to go back to work in our gym at 6am tomorrow morning, I really had no choice but to get up and out. 

Now, I still haven’t faced the big shop.  And I still have to take a breath and plan where I’m going beforehand.  And I still sigh with huge relief when I’m safe and back in my car. But I’m another step closer to being back to my old self. And we have to keep taking those small steps to get to where we want to go. 

So if you can relate to ANY of this, I hope that you can get out and about.  Go for that coffee.  Meet that friend for lunch. Take the kids to the park. Go to the shop you’ve missed. Go back to the gym.  Book that restaurant. Go get your hair done.

With care and planning and abiding to social distancing guidelines, we can stay safe and keep each other safe.  

And soon, our “Once upon a normals”, will be “Happily Ever After Lockdown.”

The Click between the Phases…Bedtime.

“Goodnight my little darlings!” sings Mammy.

Mammy is hopeful…

Mammy is closing the hall door. The minions are tucked up and have been tucked in after their bedtime stories, kissed and snuggled and are as snug as two bugs.

Mammy has had the glass of grapes poured and ‘breathing’ since before the bedtime routine began.

Mammy slowly closes the door, to a chorus of “Night Mammy!” and “wuboooo!”

In the seconds before the click of the door of phase one, Mammy dreams.

Her mind jumps forward to an evening of feet up, of peace and joyful quiet, of adult conversation and grown up tellybox. Mammy’s muscles begin to relax and the excitement rises in her that she is about to cross the glorious finish line of another day of the race that is parenting.

Click…

Silence.

Joy.



Mammy reaches for her wine, sighs and smiles. She lifts it, smells it, for that is what one does, is it not?

Mammy does NOT whisper sweet nothings or declare love to the glass, for that would be weird, would it not?

Mammy sips the glorious grapejuice and allows the bitter beauty of the grapes to seep into her gums.

And as Mammy allows her muscles to relax, she listens to the silence…

It lasts 0.6433 fucking seconds.

“MAMMEEEEEEEE!”
“MAMMWEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEE!”

FML

And so begins phase 2 of the bedtime dance.

The “needs” range from a hug, a blanket fixed, a lullaby (wtf?), a wee dwink (you and me both chick), a teddy which has been lost for approximately 5 months, an answer about why white blutac isn’t blue and doesn’t stick as well, a promise of another playdate (she knows I’d promise the Crown Jewels to get them to sleep), among many, many, many other things.

In fairness, these are mostly things that u can and happily do provide. Good Mammy…💙

And so, eventually, they are in bed and are quiet. I am experienced enough to know that they are probably not asleep.
But I am also KNACKERED enough to know that as long as they’re quiet, they’ll eventually fall into the snoozy slumbers.

And so I sit, sipping the rest of the earlier started grapejuice, glad that they are a phase closer to sleep.

Maybe.
Possibly.
Who knows?

They could be back up the hall 629 times before Mammy eventually loses her shit, but then again, they might get bored and just go to sleep.

Mammy too need a hug and a lullaby and a promise of a playdate with MY friends, but tonight, I’ll settle for a wee dwink myself!

Cheers Mammies. You’re smashing it. Bring on phase 3…😘

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