S is for Special – Happy World Down’s Syndrome Day x


It’s World Down’s Syndrome Day. 

It’s a day to celebrate the extra chromosome that makes some people just a little bit more special.
One of the first images I saw on Instagranny today was of my good friend Lee Gooch’s handsome little superhero, Noah.

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And oh! How it melted my heart.

What an angelic, gorgeous and perfect little face.  There is mischief in those eyes and he has his Daddy wrapped around his little finger by the looks of this. (Image shared with permission as always)

This image, like all of the beautiful images on my Timelines today, melts my heart, not only because of the joy it shows, but also because of the memories it provokes in me.

Lee and his family are blessed.

I know this, because my family too were blessed.

Actually, we still are.

A child with Downs Syndrome isn’t just their extra chromosome.

A child with Downs, is special.
Special in every sense of the word.
My own Aunty Carmel was special.
She was beautiful, mischievous and intelligent. She held more love in the tip of her finger than ANYONE I have ever known. She was witty, bold and an absolute rascal, loving nothing more than to get the craic going with whoever was visiting.

She loved to dress up, adored The Rose of Tralee and loved to dance.  Every single person who walked through the door of my Grandparents’ home, fell head over heels in love with her. She was the most head-strong, determined and fearless Ladybelle I’ve ever met.  She kept our family on our toes.


And she taught me many lessons.

The main one being that we are all different and that different is good.
I remember being in the Shopping Centre with her and my other Aunty when I was about 5.

Other kids were staring at Carmel. It was the first time I realised that she was different because I suddenly became aware of other people’s reactions to her.

Her reaction to one teenage boy who stopped to look at her? She stuck out her tongue at him, laughed her hearty laugh and waved at him mischievously as we pushed her past.
There and then, I was proud of her. Even at that young age, she taught me that you must NEVER let anyone bring you down, that you must be YOU, and that there IS no other You to be.
She was perfect.

She was the strongest woman I ever had the pleasure of knowing.  Carmel had no tolerance for nonsense, seeing the world without political correctness or prejudice. She also had no filter! (I take after her like that!)  She simply saw people.  She recognized and delighted in kindness. She had no time for people who were not kind.

She was more brave and more caring and more wonderful than I could ever put into words and I miss her every day.

She was indeed my Special Aunty, but for so many more reasons than her Downs Syndrome.

Special doesn’t even start to describe her or the love that she gave or more importantly, the love that she demanded.

Love.

Pure and true…

Like the love on wee Noah’s face in that photograph and every day.
A family who have been blessed with an extra chromosome, know a love that is beyond words.
So there.

We miss Carmel every day and she lives on in our hearts and in our memories. Knowing and loving her is responsible for so much of who I am today. 

And I send my love and respect to every single family who are fighting every day for the rights of Downs Syndrome children, and who are helping to make people realise that the “S” in DS should not stand for “Syndrome”…

It stands for “Strong”.

It stands for “Smile”

…and it stands for Special.

#worlddownsyndromeday #smile #love #special

(Lee has given me permission to post this pic. Thanks Lovely. And kisses to Noah and his beautiful Mummy and big brother too.)

Are YOU rocking the socks today? You can support Down’s Syndrome Ireland by posting with #LotsofSocks4DSI

My girls and I rocking our socks today for World Down’s Syndrome Day

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. 

Through the Christmas Window

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.

“Yup”.

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.

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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.

I look.

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.

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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.

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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.

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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.”

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There’s so much to see, if you only look closer…

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

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J

So Mathematagically Challenged Mum

Once upon a time, in a damp and draughty classroom, Mammy here remembers asking the loveliful and unfortunate lady charged with the torture of teaching her Mathematicalisms, a question.

“Why and Where on the Great Jebus’s flat Earth, will I ever need to know this Sin, Cos and Tan crap like?” I asked poor Miss Jacinta.

Because Mammy knew that unless she wanted to train as a fecking astronaut, or be the woman who waved the fricken Ping Pong bats at landing aeroplanes, “Sin, Cos and Tan” would only be at best the name of a band she’d never listen to and at worst, a cocktail she’d never order.

And Miss Jacinta, in her genuine loveliness, somehow managed to keep her shit together with the mathematically challenged Mammy. 🙄
… even on the day when I answered get gentle “What is a+b?” with “Ab” – Duh.

(The difference in a literary and mathematagical brain I guess?)🤣

Miss Jacinta either had the patience of a saint, gin in her flask, or she felt absolute PITY for the Half-wit in front of her for those five long years.

Don’t get me wrong now, I could and can (usually) do the basics.

Like figuring out what 27.3% off a pair of shoes will save me in 0.3 seconds? No problem.

And for some reason, I “GOT” triangle angles which have come in handy for, well… walking around corners and loading chilli on my nachos.

And as for the theorems? I learned those bad boys like bad poems and yet I never understood a single fecking digit. Not even 1…(boom…)😉😉

I have indeed never used “Sin, cos or tan” in the sense of the words she taught. Obviously, I have never sinned, being the saintly legendary Ladybelke that I am… I use “cos” only to describe the foot that goes into those discounted shoes, and my tan is where it should be. In the bottle.

So imagine my annoyance, when 20 years after waving at the lovely Miss Jacinta as I left her classroom for the last time, I suddenly find my mathematilda being challenged again…

Because my 7 year old needs help with her fecking HOMEWORK!🙄🙄

I am however, quite contented and optimistic about the future of person-kind, because let me tell you, by the time our 7 year olds are in 5th class, they will have the mathematical intelligence to decipher NASA’s most secretful codes and be bringing fecking mermaids into existence with their imagination, a calculator and a spatula, just for fun.

This was one of tonight’s questions.👇👇👇

Of course, the child (eventually) saw logical mathe-magical patterns and formulae. (which of course have some pedagogical purpose known only to math whizzes!)

Mammy here, I wondered why the tiger had pink blocks on her back.

I saw a KNACKERED Mammy Tiger, with 57 tabs open on her brain, only a part of her former self, shellshocked and wavering under the weight of a big pile of blocks fecked on top of her.

I wanted to write a short story explaining how the blocks might be metaphoric of the invisible pressures a Mum has to deal with in order to NOT LOOK LIKE A BLOODY NUMPTY in front of her child because of homework that is clever-er than Mammy, or any other adult born before project Math…

So much for singing “Toodalloooooo Jacinta” and smugly thinking I’d never have to feel stupid because of Maths again.
I got THAT wrong too.

Somethings never change eh?

How was your evening?

#FML

I am Section Mum

“Are you hoping to do it properly this time?”

I kid you not.  This is what I was asked recently by another Soon-to-be Mum with whom I was having the “When are you due?”conversation.

She’d asked if this was my first.  I’d answered that it was number two.

“Me too” she smiled.  Then she asked if I’d had a tough time last time.  I replied that I’d had to have a planned section.  Her next line floored me.

“Aw, so are you planning to do it properly this time?”

 

Now in her defense, she was an absolute stranger, who probably didn’t intend any harm whatsoever.  I don’t think she even realised that she’d said it…but she had.

I smiled politely and said Goodbye.  As I walked away, my smile remained on my face, somewhat forced… I wasn’t quite sure whether I wanted to laugh or to cry.

Smug I-push-mine-out-Mum carried on, oblivious to the fact that she could have just offended or upset the other very pregnant lady.  I carried on about my day, and it was only when I was telling my friend about the conversation that evening that I realised that her comment was lingering in my mind.

The word “properly” has been bothering me since.

Because not only did it dismiss my first childbirth, it suggested that I did something wrong; that my first birth was improper.

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Did she automatically assume that I was “too posh to push”?  Did she think that I asked to have my stomach sliced open and my baby lifted out by surgeons? Did she really class a c-section as a sub standard, improper way of delivering a child?  If she’s told that she needs to have one this time, is she going to say No because it’s not the proper way to do it?

What is the proper way?  I listen to conversations all the time about childbirth and babies.  There seem to be so many proper ways to do things.

Without medication.  With just gas and air.  With classical music on in the background.  Without bright lights and alarm.  Mammas who breathe through the pain are fantastic.  Those who refuse drugs are wonderful.  Those who have 60 hour labours are phenomenal. But those who take as much pain relief as we can have are equally as brilliant.

I don’t know of any new Mother who had Andy Peters standing waiting at the bottom of the bed to pin a Blue Peter Badge onto their properly born child afterwards.

I applaud and congratulate these warrior women, in the exact same way as I applaud and congratulate the woman who, for whatever reason, may it be medical, personal or indeed emergency, has to undergo the trauma of childbirth on an operating table.

A caesarean section is not what any woman anticipates when thinking of how their baby will be born. It’s terrifying.  It’s painful.  Your body goes through all of the same physical and indeed hormonal reactions to having just given birth as the body of a woman who has been lucky enough to give birth naturally.

There are stitches.  There is afterbirth.  There is pain…by God is there pain.

There is recovery time.  There are hormones.

But most importantly, with the help of some higher power and whatever wonderful staff that are on hand in the hospital, there is a baby.

And that is what childbirth, in any form, is about.

It’s about getting your precious little darling out of your big swollen tummy as quickly and safely as possible.  It’s about causing as little trauma as possible to your newborn, regardless of what your own body must go through.  It’s about love.

And there is absolutely nothing proper about any of it.

Every woman dreams of a quick, pain free labour and uneventful delivery.  How many do you know that have achieved that?  I’d love to meet them.

Of course I’d love to have experienced childbirth like most women do.  But do I feel like I have missed out on anything?

Erm, no.

Do I feel that my darling daughter is any less born than her friends or cousins?  Nope.

If my next child is born by VBAC, will that be more proper than Mini-me’s birth?  Eh…no!?

But If I do manage proper childbirth this time, does that mean I’m finally a real mum and that I can finally be admitted into the proper mum club? Well I think you know where I’m going with this!

I’m already a real mum.   I’ve already had a proper baby.  I’ve already been through the horrors of childbirth, perhaps just a little differently to others.

In the same way as some women judge others for not breast feeding, or for taking whatever drugs are safely available to them from the doctors, or for giving their baby a dodo/soother/pacifier, that lady judged me for having to have a c-section to bring my baby to me safely.

And of course she didn’t intend to offend, but when we so flippantly share our own opinions on bump and baby matters, (and we do!), we sometimes dismiss experiences that we have never had ourselves.

And we should consider that before we speak.

My experiences of pregnancy, birth and of being a Mummy are very different to every other Mummy’s experiences.  My experience isn’t exclusive.  There is no such thing as properly when it comes to being a Mum..

So if this time round, my consultant advises me that I should have another section, I’ll listen to her, because guess what? That’s her job.  She knows best and I trust her.  And because it’s my job too…the only job a mother has when they go into hospital, is to get their little bundle out of their belly!I

And I will happily hang upside down from the rafters, singing Jingle Bells, buck naked and high on horse tranquilizers if that ‘s what it takes to get my little one here properly.

I am Section Mum

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