A Mum Was Born Too

“A Mum Was Born Too”

Oh! Congratulations, you’ve become a mum,
However you got here, come join in the fun.
It’s really the most natural thing in the world
And women have done it forever you know…”

“So why then, please tell me, for many of us,
Do we struggle and worry and panic and fuss?
How come it all comes so easy to YOU?
And how does SHE always know just what to do?

Why do I feel like a haven’t a notion
No matter how long I’ve been swimming this ocean?
Why does it never seem so obvious
If what I am doing is the right thing for us?

Why, even though I’ve been Mumming for years,
Can zipping a coat up reduce me to tears?
Why do I spend my whole day so uptight
Convinced that nothing I do could be right?

Why does it feel, that for all of my thinking
That I’m possibly, certainly, definitely sinking?
How can ‘the most natural thing in the world’
Continuously spin me and throw me in whirls?”

Well, stop and I’ll tell you, you beautiful lady
We all have these days with our beloved babies.
And no matter what age they are; wee tots to teens,
They test us and try us all the days in between,

And as for you asking why you find it tough?
You’re not on your own, we all have it rough.
Remember that day that your child came to you?
Well remember that day, that a Mum was born too.

The first little cry that announced their arrival,
Set YOU on a path to ensure their survival,
You instantly put yourself second and third
And started to navigate through this new world.

You nurtured and cared and you directed their way
Through the phases and stages and good and bad days,
But while you are focusing on helping them through,
Did you stop to consider that Mums are new too?

We’re all learning daily. And we all make mistakes.
We all doubt ourselves and we all need our breaks.
We need to go easy and give ourselves credit.
We’re all writing books we have no chance to edit.

So don’t look at others and start to feel bad.
And don’t beat yourself up if a day turns out bad.
Give them a hug and take a deep breath,
And give yourself credit for doing your best.

There’s no graduation. There’s no interview.
There’s suddenly more love than you ever knew.
And nothing prepares you for what is to come,
Each day that our kids grow and learn, so does Mum.

Maria Rushe
2020

Get Set, Back to School

So it’s time to finally get back into our grooves, however wobbly they may be this year, and return to normality and reality with everyone back to School, Childcare, activities and work.

I don’t know how you other Mammies are feeling this morning, but I for one am exhaustipated even thinking about beginning the balancing of all the plates. It’s been a long 5 months.

Even though the girls have been up at Stupid O’Clock most mornings over the past 5 months, suddenly having to have everyone out the door, fully dressed and even partially fed, is giving me the heebyjeebies. I may have to set their alarms for 5am to get out of the house by 8am.

It will take a few weeks to get back into the swing of it, but here are a few things that I do each year which do help, if only a little bit.

Meal plan: I do out a plan for the week of what meals we’ll be eating and then base the shopping list on what I needed for these.  I’ll get back into the habit of making extra dinner for me to have as lunch the next day too. Especially now as space and time will be limited in the staffroom. Ready to eat lunch boxes are going to be essential for me.

Planning the week’s meals might seem a bit boring, but it saves a fortune and allows me to plan meals around how much time I have each evening too.  Less waste and an empty fridge by the weekend.

Also, chop fruit (Melon etc) before you put it into the fridge as you unpack the shopping to allow for faster lunch making! Oh. And I have a keep the stuff they like in sandwiches in one container in the fridge so I just have to lift it out when making lunches.

2. All hail the Slowcooker: Unfortunately, with The Him and myself working 482 hours per week, family dinners are only a weekend thing here, so yes I usually end up cooking twice a day as the girls are often in bed before he’s home. When I’m off, this is not a problem, but now back at work, where you have to condense your whole day into 2 hours, it becomes one. And so my trusty slowcooker will be returned to regular use.  Also, big pots of curry/chilli etc can last a few days and freezing random portions allows for the evenings where my plan fails! 

3. Get up early: Yeah yeah, cliched I know, but it is so true. I’m an early bird; not because I like getting out of bed. No. I LOVE my bed. But I also love having an uninterrupted shower and a full hot cup of coffee. If I’m not up at least 45 minutes before the girls, morning melts into mayhem. But if I can be up, washed, caffeinated, dressed and have the lunches packed BEFORE the noise in the hall begins, things are a whole lot more peaceful. If all I have to do is to focus on getting THEM ready, we can do it with a LOT less stress than if we all fall out of bed at the same time.  

4. Daily Drawers: I introduced this little trick when Mini-Me was in Naionra and it’s worked a treat for the past 5 years. It’s now in my youngest’s room as she starts school. I bought this stack of drawers and labeled the front. Every Sunday, I put clean pants and socks into the drawers.

Year 6 of using these drawers. Tried and tested.

Her PE gear/swimming stuff goes into the day she has PE and her shoes go into the bottom drawer every evening when she takes them off and the uniform hangs beside it. She loves it and it means we don’t have the “Wherethefeckareyourshoesforgodssakewewillbelate” debachle every morning! It’s also great for encouraging them to dress themselves.

Begone Messy dumping of schoolbags on kitchen floor!

I have also invested in these shelves for the utility. So now, each of us has a place to keep school/gym bags, coats and shoes. I’m hoping it’s going to stop the kitchen floor or back hall being crammed with bags etc. Every little helps eh?

5. Clean on a Thursday night: Since I have been working, even before I had the girls, I have always tried to be in the habit of cleaning on a Thursday. I do whatever washing needs done, clean the bathrooms, hoover and mop, and give the kitchen a once over. It means that when we get home on a Friday evening, the house is more pleasant than usual. And while the breakfast dishes and mess from Friday morning might be waiting for us, the house itself is generally clean and so apart from throwing uniforms and work clothes in the machine on Friday night, Mammy can focus on important things when they go to bed on Friday night… like what I’m going to watch and whether I want red or white!

Now, do NOT get me wrong. Mary Poppins I am not, but these are 5 things that are GENERALLY easy to turn into habits. Apart from the odd week, I’ll manage to maintain most of these goals and therefore, most of my sanity!

If you have any other tricks of #parentingwin hacks, please share them in the comments.

Riddle Me This… HOW is the ‘Big Shop’ Suddenly Causing Meltdowns?

So if you follow me on Instagranny, you’ll have seen me having a huge rant/meltdown after doing my shopping yesterday.

Not because of anyone else.
Not because of anything negative.
Not because of the shop.

Just about me.

And the realisation that something as simple and “normal” as doing the “big shop” had reduced me to a nervous wreck.

Yip. Me.

The very weirdo who doesn’t mind being in a bar or crowded place alone, who can happily spend a full day wandering around London on my own, and often, whose very joy DEPENDS on wandering around Dunnays ON MY OWN, got into the car after doing the shopping yesterday and freaked the feck out.

My heart was racing.
I was out of breath.
I had the fizzy fingers that I used to get when my anxiety was being a bitch, and I needed to decompress before I could even think about driving.

It was like a tidal wave of relief CRASHED over me once I closed the door.

What used to be one of my favourite things to do, has become something that I dread.

I hate it.

I hate the silence.
I hate the lack of eye contact.
I hate the absence of small talk and polite hellos.
I hate the heightened awareness of EVERY move made by everyone.
I hate the fear of stepping too close to someone by accident.

I hate the apocalyptic soft voice over the intercom reminding me to stay safe… it reminds me of ‘Children of Men’…a movie which I once taught as futuristic dystopian escapism, but which rings far too true these days.

I hate the whole thing.

But mostly, I hate my own weakness and how something so normal can freeze me to my core.

I hate feeling so weak.
I hate wearing the mask.
I hate the fact that so many of my friends and family are working on various frontlines every day, wearing these masks, and I can’t help.

I hate the fact that I melt down after wearing it for 30 feckin minutes.

I felt weak that I was complaining about doing the shopping. I mean Jesus wept, seriously Maria. Aren’t you lucky you having little else to be stressing about? Poor you my arse.

Yip. Absolutely. And I hate feeling so pathetically weak and I hate that I allowed something trivial to upset me so much.

But then, I read the hundreds, and I mean HUNDREDS, of messages from followers last night and this morning.

From women (and men) just as usually confident and capable as me, for whom the big shop has also become a terrible gauntlet run that frightens and stresses them.

And I don’t hate my weakness anymore.

I’m certainly not alone.

And yes, I’ll get on with it, and I’ll continue to do it for as long as it’s deemed essential by the people who are working to keep us all safe.

And I’ll pull up my big girl knickers and keep doing it, (in turns with Himself mind!), because, kids need food and all that jazz.

And I’ll remember that were all in this together, even though we have to stay 2 metres apart.

And I look forward to the day when this is all over, because then, I can promise you, I shall be skipping through the aisles, singing and smiling and hugging EVERYONE.

And there’ll be nothing they can do to stop me!

So Not Trendy Mammy

Notions.

This Mammy is full of them.

Oooooooh lookit! Look at the pretty floaty girly dress which would look lovely with heels or flat sandals,

Look at the patterns and colours and floatiness of the gazillion samey dresses in all the shops.

Mammy could pull that off.
Mammy could look as smashing as the Holly of the Willybooby in these dresses.
Mammy could begin to wear patterns even though Mammy knows full well that patterns swallow her up and make her look like a 1970s curtain has puked on her.

Mammy will look boho and chic and funkiful and cool.
Mammy may even try to match it with the white runners that everyone is looking so fablis in all over the instaworld…

And then Mammy TRIES ON one of the summer floaty stunners, and promptly turns into Nora Fuckin Batty.

“That’s GORGEOUS on you!” goos the 11 year old shop, impossibly beautiful assistant, through her perfectly puffed up lips. “You could try it with white runners? They are so in right now!”

(Yeah… they were in when thirty years ago too Lovey, and even then I knew how impractical white runners were. They wouldn’t last a day on me… And I’m pretty sure that if I added them to this get-up, I’d look like my 8 year old self, dressed in handmedowns from my older cousin which hung on me like curtains again too!)

Mammy looks at her unfortunate self in the mirrors, sees her Great Great Great Grandmother staring back at her.
She’s laughing.

Mammy smiles politely at the shopchild.

“Naw, it’s not really me. Thanks anyway!”

“Really? I think it looks AMAZING on you!”

(Of course you do.)

“I look like Nora Batty.”

“Heeehehehee! I have no idea who that is!”

Of course you don’t… FML

Mammy gets back into her tracksuit, with her NOT white runners, and run-walks out of the shop, wondering if Last of the Summer Wine is on Netflix and if that dress would look better with curlers in my hair.

White ones obviously.

Notions I tell you.

*that dress is beautiful Obviously. On her!

Thoroughly Modern Mammy -Does Ma Face look Bovad?

Have you ever felt like you’ve let your kids down or made a mess of things?

Have you ever felt like a failure because you didn’t reach your own expectations of how things should be?

Like when you’ve had the morning from Hell and then you spend the day feeling guilty that your kids will be upset all day?

Or a part of a birthday gift didn’t arrive on time and you worry that it’ll ruin the whole surprise?

Or you find something after Christmas which you meant to use or do and now you feel like you’ve messed up?

Or you forget to put something into the schoolbag and worry that your minion will get in trouble?

Or you spend the whole of the weekend cleaning and doing housework and are sure that you are ruining their lives because they’ve had to entertain themselves all weekend?

Or you don’t think to book a magician for her First Communion and then it’s too late?

Or you’ve had to work late and feel like you are not giving enough attention to your kids?

Or you’ve not been able to organise (or afford) the cake you wanted to get your 3 year old?

Or you’ve told your 8 year old they can invite 4 friends to their birthday party, but Jacinta has the whole class at little Vincentula’s?

I could go on and on…and on…and on… and on…

We set ourselves so many standards and expectations around our children’s experiences.  We feel like a failure if their experiences are not what we intended them to be…

I’m currently reading Becoming by Michelle Obama.  It’s an incredible memoir.  Everyone really should read it.

obama.jpg

One of the memories she describes has stood strong in my head since I read it, is about her daughter’s tenth birthday.  She describes how it fell just weeks before the Presidential Election, when they were in the midst of the campaign trail, constantly surrounded by a management team and journalists and secret service.

She remembers that they had to make out that the 4th of July carnival they had to attend was for their daughter’s birthday…how they spent the day passing disappointed glances at each other, how they longed for the day to be over so that they could get an hour on their own with their daughter that evening.

The guilt that they both felt that day was immense.  And even when they did get to the hotel, their “private” party still had about 20 of their team present.  Michelle talks about the plain hotel function space, the “store bought” cake, the gifts that one of the team had had to go to buy as she was unable to go to a store alone… and she spoke of the desultory  disappointment she felt in herself.

She spoke about the shame she felt that her daughter’s birthday was spent working, dragging her along and not at home with her friends.  And she describes the guilt she and her husband felt in a way that every parent can understand.

I felt her pain as I read.  I’ve just returned from a 4 day work trip.  I had the worst dose of Mammy Guilt before I left and while I was there.  I felt that my girls were being passed from Granny to Daddy to Aunty to school and that I was the worst Mum in the world for not being close at hand for a few days.

But when I returned, I realised something.  My perspective to the trip was so incredibly different to theirs.

While I was teary eyed about leaving them on what happened to be my Birthday, they saw only that they were getting to play with their cousins.  While I worried that they’d miss me, they saw time alone with Daddy where Mammy wasn’t there to interfere!

Where I felt the guilt of sending them to my Mum’s house again, they saw the utter, imcomparable joy of getting a Sleepover in GannyGanda’s where they’d get pancakes for breakfast and 37 stories at bedtime.

Where I felt that I’d need to make it up to them when I finally got home, they only saw their Mammy, who was home safe with them.  The hugs were brief but tight, and after 5 minutes of showing me EVERYTHING they had made or done since I left, Mini-Me looked into my eyes and announced that they’d had a lovely time and asked when I had to go away again…

Just like Michelle Obama’s daughter bounced over to her parents on that birthday and hugged them tight announcing “This has been the BEST BIRTHDAY EVER!”, My two girls saw things in a very different way.

Because that is what kids do.

And as parents we need to remember that.  Most of the things that we worry about, would NEVER be considered or noticed by our kids.

Kids don’t dwell on the bad morning.  They remember the kiss on the nose or the promise of “See you in a wee while!”

They don’t give a damn about the thing Mammy forgot to put out at Christmas, or that the spuds get burnt, or that there are no Pringles.  Kids are paying attention to a whole other set of things.

So ease up on yourself Mammy.

Are your kids loved?  Are they safe?  Are they fed?

Yeah?  Well chances are that even if YOU are feeling guilty or disappointed, or that you feel a failure about something, your kids don’t care.  They only see you.