I am Stop Asking Silly Questions Mum

“I’m not your best fwend Mammy.  I’m Emily’s best fwend”…

And there it was. In one simple sentence, I’d been categorically dumped by my one of my daughters… AGAIN.  I’ve been through this before and yet, like all things parenty, it doesn’t matter how many times you’ve experienced something, with each child you have, it’s all new again.

When I had my first wee girl, my aunt told me that I’d been blessed with my very own best friend forever.  We see signs and cards and photo-frames everywhere, stating that a daughter is a friend for life etc.  And this is largely true.

In my own case, I’ve been blessed with a wonderful Mum who I can happily call my absolute, all time, unconditional BFF.  We had our moments while I was (am) growing up, but we typify that stereotypical Mother/Daughter relationship and I know how very lucky I am. Friends may come and go.  Let’s be honest, only a handful are reallythere for the long haul, but Mamma Bear is a constant. 🙂

As my girls pass through the baby stages and began to bloom into the pleasant-if-sometimes-terrifying little personalities that they are, I fully appreciate their roles as my besties.  We do everything together; we have fun, we fight and we laugh and we cry. We bake, we go shopping, we play and we are wonderful at doing absolutely nothing together.  We work.  (OK yes, sometimes we work like a chocolate teapot, but hey. No one is perfect are they?)

In a world where everyone is busy and where as parents, we can often find ourselves a little isolated and out of the social loop for whatever reason, our friendships with our toddlers become more important to us than we can ever give them credit for.

My girls are my wee companions and they will always be 100% on my side (except for when they’re not!).  I know they’ll have my back and I have to admit that this tie, with Princess, I once again fell into the false security that I did indeed have my very own, custom made best friend.

Until again, (three years after the first time I made this mistake), like Snow White’s stepmother I asked the stupid question.

How quickly we forget the lessons taught to us by previous children.  For the past few months,  I had allowed this to become a daily certainty; an ego boost for me even.

Every day, “Who’s Mammy’s best friend?” has been answered with “Meeeeeeeee!” and usually accompanied by a giant cuddle and slobbery kiss…until Friday.

Princess was in her car seat, engrossed in a Paw Patrol book.  We were driving to playschool and I was chattering about what we’d do that afternoon when I collected her.

I may as well have looked in the mirror and chanted “Baby, baby, in the chair, Who’s your bestest friend in the world?”  Without a second’s thought, she announced “I’m not your best fwend Mammy.  I’m Emily’s best fwend”... and with that, the mirrors and illusions of my assumed Disney-perfect Mother and Daughter world, shattered into a thousand pieces.

Initially I laughed.  What else do you do? (For the record, the little girl in question is a wonderfully perfect BFF for my precious one.)

She’s branching out.  She’s socially accepted, popular even.  She’s making her own friends and she’s growing up far too fast.  It’s wonderful and it’s terrifying all at once, because while we parents encourage our little ones to grow and bloom every day, realising that you’re not the only thing your child needs in life, is just horrid.

We might be smiling, but we don’t have to like it.

Instead, we treasure every second, count every milestone, and celebrate every chapter.  We capture special moments in our memories, (or on our phones if we can!) We post on social media with pride.  We entertain others with our cute kiddies and we get through each day as best we can.  But sometimes, we get an inevitable slap in the face from our little angels as they take their own uncertain little stumblings through the big dark forest of the world.

As time goes on, I’m probably going to assume the persona of the Wicked Witch in both of my daughter’s eyes, rather than the perfect loving Queen.  That seems to be inevitable, but what is also inevitable is the certainty that some day, they’ll realise that Mammy IS actually their best friend again.

And until then, I can keep on asking the question and hope that the odd day, I get the answer I like!

20180725_120853

So Hands Up Who’s Done Their Homework?

Homework…

As a teacher, I can never discredit the importance of homework. It compliments learning and encourages independent study and learning.

I do however have a strange attitude to homework, it seems.

The teacher in me says that it is necessary…essential even. It allows students to check that they understand what was covered in class. It promotes responsibility for learning and pride in their own work, and it allows the teacher to evaluate who, and how well, their students have been learning. It also lets parents see what their kids are doing and how they are getting on.

But all of these advantages ONLY work when children do their homework for themselves. And it seems to becoming more and more ‘normal’ that the homework being sent home is becoming the homework of the parents.

When we were at school 359 years ago, we did our homework and went to school, where the teacher commented on it. If it was incorrect or insufficient, she or he told us; marked where we went wrong and showed how to fix it. If we made mistakes, we realised them.

If we couldn’t do it, we asked our parents to help and show us. They didn’t have Google, so if they couldn’t help us, they told us to ‘ask your teacher’. We learned to ask for help if we needed. And we learned that needing something explained again was normal.

IF a child doesn’t get the little x or the comment or the example of how to improve from the teacher, how are they ever supposed to learn?

Homework can be viewed as an essential part of learning, but with the increase in pace of life and the massive timetables and routines in most homes nowadays, it can also be seen as a torture.

Me? Now, as a Mum to a dizzy seven year old, I am absolutely aware of the royal pain in the bum that homework is.

I would like to see less written work some evenings, especially for little ones. I like the idea of set homework days. So many of us spend evenings taking them to other classes or activities, all of which are important for their development and confidence too.

And in some houses, there is very limited time between home-time and bedtime, and family time is limited because it’s spent trying to get through hills of homework, never mind cooking and feeding them and trying to fit your whole day into a few hours.

I don’t know about your kids, but mine is knackered after a full day at school. She wants to play with her toys, or read her books, or go bounce on the trampoline, or sometimes just watch TV … and by Thursday, she’s as done in as I am.

I see more and more parents online and in groups stressing about their kids’ homework. I had this conversation with a few friends recently. One stated that she feels like the homework is testing HER, rather than her daughter. Another commented that he feels useless as he’s unable to understand the homework his 8 year old gets.

And another said that the homework was taking nearly 90 minutes in the evening. Her children are 4 and 5. I stood pretty quietly if I’m honest, the Mammy guilt creeping in, because I am one of those BAD parents it seems. Because Mini-Me’s homework is HER homework, not mine.

You see, in our house, SHE does the homework.

I check it and I sign the diary. If I see letters back to front or a very silly mistake, I’ll point it out in a question. ‘Do you think that’s long enough?’ ‘Is that 3 written right?’ and ‘Will teacher be happy with that?’ work.

If she thinks it’s fine, I won’t correct her, even if I know that it’s not good enough. I’m very aware of how she is getting on and what she is struggling with, but I don’t fight with her. Because to be honest, she won’t listen to me anyway. Me telling her something is wrong goes over her head. Teacher telling her something is wrong however, is GOSPEL. And I won’t have my children growing up thinking that their school work is my problem. It’s theirs.

Why? Am I cruel? Am I lazy? Should I not be sitting down and guiding her through the work every night so she can present perfect homework to Teacher every day? Because that is what many parents do. And the kids go to school with perfect work and get no red marks and every one is happy… until they do a test and it becomes apparent that actually, Nancy doesn’t get long division, or Jimmy doesn’t know his vowel sounds.

How she learns and grows is not going to be dependent on how well I understand her multiplication or Irish verbs. And when she gets to secondary school, she needs to be able to manage her time and to take criticism. (And trust me here, that is a skill that our kids need. Because the number of teenagers who are genuinely unable to take criticism of ANY kind is unbelievable.)

The New Junior Cycle is so full of home-based projects and self-evaluation, that if we don’t allow our young children to do their own work, take the comments on it, apply them and understand, we are simply setting OURSELVES up for a lot of work when they get to secondary school.

I asked my followers what they thought about homework during the week. Here are some of the replies:

71% feel that their kids get too much homework.

“I feel I am putting more pressure on my child after school is over.”

“Yes. My son is 7 and his concentration is gone by the time he gets home”

“Yes. It’s a struggle everyday, especially if they have activities or classes to go to too.”

“I stopped checking their homework in senior infants. 100% result not true. They need to see the x marks.”

“Not every night, but my 9 year old is overwhelmed sometimes.”

“Life is too precious for homework, get out and explore!”

Then I had a few primary teachers reply:

One said that as a Mum, she hates it, but that as a teacher, she has to give it.

Two said that they hate to think they are putting pressure on parents but that it is a necessity for learning.

Another said “Under pressure to give it!”

One said that if she didn’t give homework “there are so many kids who would spend the whole evening in front of a screen,” and this of course is also true.

And a few reminded me that there are time guidelines that should be adhered to.

So it’s very much a double edged sword and I am the perfect example of the sword bearer.

The teacher in me gives it (although I limit it. I feel that if they’re engaged and attentive in my classroom, they don’t need daily home activities from me.) The parent in me hates it, but agrees that it is important too…

But ONLY if they are doing it themselves and it is functional and meaningful.

It’s her homework not mine. She needs to be able to take comments and criticism if necessary. She needs to learn the process of what she’s doing. If I do it for her, she’s learning that I’ll do it for her and that she can opt out.

But am I going to stand up in her exams and give a talk on how I created something? Am I going to sit her exams for her? Am I going to be there to explain to the teacher how I got an answer that she couldn’t do?

No.

But I will be there to smile at her when SHE gets 8/10 or to let her rant about being scolded. I will be there to cheer her on when SHE gets the best mark SHE can get. And I will be there to praise her when she finally figures out that maths thingy that she couldn’t do.

Because I’ve been to school. (I’m still there!) I’ve done my homework. I learned what I learned and I failed if I didn’t work. But NEVER, did my parents do any of it for me. And NEVER did they make excuses for me if I didn’t do it right or didn’t do it at all. And as much as I grumbled and complained about that as a teenager, I am now grateful for it.

There is no right or wrong here. Each house is different and every child has different strengths and abilities, and every parent knows what works for their kids.

But I’d love to know your general thoughts on homework.

I am Some Time, Sometimes Mum

Happy New Year Lovely People.

I’m not one for New Year’s Resolutions. If you follow me, you’ll know that I hate the ‘New Year, New You’ rhetoric. I hate the constant stream of “You need to change” and “You are not enough” marketing that is prevalent throughout the 83 days of January.

I’m pretty sure that in reality, we’re all already doing our best and so deciding to change everything in January is really unnecessary. With that in mind, while I don’t make resolutions as such, of course I think of January as a new start, full of opportunity and possibility. There’s nothing wrong with that is there?

And today, as we sit on the Sunday of “back to school” and on the brink of routine, I’m already anxious about how suddenly busy life will become again from 7am tomorrow.

And then I read this. I wrote it last year. I read it often.

As the Christmas break comes to an end and we Mammies take a breath, getting ready to begin to chaos of spinning all the plates again, it does us good to sometimes remember that sometimes, even when we feel like we’re running against time, we should appreciate it.

Myself included.

I am Some Time, Sometimes Mum

We’ve “no time” for dancing, We’ve “no time” to sing.

We can’t play that game or go play on the swing.

There’s washing and cooking and things to be done

And sometimes the last thing we think of is fun.

And this is all normal and life does get busy,

But if it’s so hectic it’s making you dizzy,

It’s time to consider the things that mean more,

The small things we all take for granted, I’m sure.

Like breathing and laughing and reading and such,

Like the fact that our lives are each made up of much,

Much more than our jobs or our grades or successes.

They’re made up of giggles and family and messes,

Of routines and drop offs, of friends and of breaks,

Of worries and stresses, of plans and heartaches.

If we knew every morning, what would lay ahead,

There are mornings we’d probably stay in our beds.

But know we do not. Of nothing we’re sure,

Except that we’re here and have one morning more.

So take all the compliments, laugh all the time,

Always give hugs and sometimes drink wine.

Build all the jigsaws, take all the smiles.

Walk in the countryside, drive one more mile,

Say if you’re sorry, cry if you’re sad,

Don’t waste time fighting. Fighting is bad..

Look at the sky and take time to see

the colours and patterns, reflect on the sea.

Don’t waste time worrying about what MAY be

Think of your present. Enjoy memories.

Follow your dreams, Make all the plans,

Never let anyone tell you you can’t.

And while we have problems and things might go badly,

Remember that others would swap with us gladly.

So if you love someone, please make sure that you say;

Tell them and give them memories to replay,

Because we just never know when that last hug or kiss

is being given. So make sure it’s one you don’t miss.

Breathe it all in and live life as you must,

Be kind and polite and remember to trust.

Travel and wonder and read all the books

See all the beauty we’d see if we looked.

When life is good, live it, and take every chance

And never look back wishing that you had danced.

Leave “no song unsung and no wine untasted”

For time spent being happy is never time wasted.

So play all the games and run to the swing

And always make time to dance and to sing.

(Maria Rushe 2018)

I am Stop the Nonsense, Wear the Dress Mum.

Loves me some Yellow!

Mammy is pretty shocked at the response my instastories got yesterday.

I wore this dress to a wedding 5 weeks ago and I happily wore it again yesterday.👇

Different shoes and bag.
Different day.
Same feeling of Queendom.👑

When did it become unacceptable to wear the same thing twice? I got so many messages yesterday saying “yay!” and “Go you” and even “thank you”?

I didn’t think it was such a big deal, but apparently the pressure is real for many real women.

Well here’s my opinion on that… If I buy a dress or OUTFIT, and if I like that dress, and if I want to wear it to more than one event or function…I WILL.

Just because you’ve been seen in it or posted Pics on Instagranny or Bookface, should NOT mean you can never wear it again.

I’ll be wearing THIS particular bad-boy again. Because it’s mine and because I like it.

We need to get past this “I can’t wear that again” culture. (How the hell people can afford a constant turnover of wardrobe is beyond me.🙄)

Wear the feckin dress.
Apologise to no one.
Get your money’s worth and if it makes you feel fablis, wear it doing the ironing on a Wednesday night if you want to.

Remember.

What other people think of you is NONE of your business.

Turn your back on that negativity and Shake your fine ass at it!

#wearitagain
#beyourowntrend

I am Solo Traveller Mum

Don’t you just love hairyports?

Places of excitement, of anticipation, of promise. A place where, if you are sans Minions, even the THOUGHT of the airport instills notions of SATC-esque soloness and general peace..
.
Mammy shall find a quiet corner, order a large sauvignon and people-watch until it’s time to board. Mammy shall look altogether calm and fablis, just as if she does this “All the time Darling”. Mammy shall be soooooooo relaxed…

But no matter how much you like the hairyports and are excited by them, travelling solo is always the same.

And right now, as the snap suggests, Mammy is indeed sitting in a corner, Sipping sauvignon and looking quite appropriately bored and nonchalant…

Reality however?

Mammy queued in the impossibly long queue, cursing herself for not having paid for fast track and listening to Greg from Newry giving out STINK about having to queue. Ridiculous apparently. Perhaps, Mammy wonders, the Newrywegians have been keeping a new and improved system as a secret, all to themselves…

Mammy obviously, as feckin always, Beeped in security and was given onesided foreplay by the woman who seemed confused by the concept of an underwired over-the-shoulder-pepple-holder. She should try one but Mammy was certain that suggestion of such might end with Mammy being arrested.

Mammy then did what EVERY solo traveller does on arrival into the shiny brightness of the Dutyfulfree. She avoided eye contact with the shiny bright sales staff, found the Chanel section and spryed herself liberally with Coco Mademoiselle before scampering before anyone could challenge her liberal spraying or make her give it back…

Then Mammy wandered through the various bars and food venues, trying to look like she knew where she was going, whilst simultaneously trying to gauge which would be best suited to Mammy’s trying to fit in but wanting Poole to leave her the feck alone mood. Add to this Mammy trying to figure which of said watering establishments might serve wine of the non-pish variety without charging 16quid a glass… and suddenly Mammy’s head becomes quite fuzzy.

Mammy eventually chose a fairly classy looking joint, approaches the bar and awaits the teenager to notice that I am awaiting.
“A large glass of sauvignon please” Mammy says and is secretly pleased when said teenager opens a new bottle to pour. “What part of Donegal are you from Lovely?” Asks a 154 year old beside me. “Erm…” (Don’t talk to strangers!) “Let me guess. Letterkenny?” (Fuck.) “Yes that’s right. Well done you! K gebye!!” (Wtf is my wine?)

Mammy gets wine and calmly and cooly tries to find a seat AWAY from 154 year old stalker type. Sees 134 year old man Sipping red grapes and reading a battered copy of “The DaVinci Vode”. Figures he’s been here since 2005 so is safe enough to perch beside. Mammy is correct. 134 year old barely flinches.

Mammy is now safe to sip and watch and DESPITE promising to never be THAT woman who sits tappety-tapping her phone in the airport, Mammy also realises that this is a good chance to write my Lovelies a wee chuckle. 😂😗

And now Mammy has precisely 14 minutes to board her flight and approximately 6 minutes to eat something to ensure that the large glass of sauvignon does not render Mammy incapable of actually getting into London.

Mammy may now also berate herself for choosing THIS particular trip to London to fly into the one fecking airport she has NEVER used before!

Tit.

#smartmammy
#notAsCalmAsILook