FAIL…First Attempt In Learning

Failing to Fail…

Why are we so determined to make sure our little darlings never know what it’s like to fail?

Why do we expect everyone to be a high flying “success” at everything?

When did failing at something become so terrible?

I grew up failing. I failed plenty. I failed often.

I’m still failing.And yet, each and every one of those failings was, and is, a learning.

Sometimes, no matter how many times I try and try and try at something, I fail.

Maybe I’m not meant to do it.
Maybe I’m not good enough at it.
Maybe, it’s not within my skill-set.
Maybe, someone else is better than me…

If it’s not happening, I have two choices; I can keep going until I (maybe) do succeed.

Or I can be proud that I tried but move on to another project, accepting that it’s just not going to happen.

But either way, I’ve learned something.

I’ve either learned the right or successful way to do something, or I’ve learned something about ME; about my abilities and my limitations.

Because, it’s OK to have limitations.And shock horror, it’s OK to know what YOUR Limitations are.

It’s actually quite liberating.

If children don’t run, they won’t fall… so how will they learn NOT to?

There is a massive problem in our society and it’s not just with our children.

There is and has been for many years, a mistaken perception that we should teach our children that they “can do anything”; that they “can be anything”; that they can not lose or fail at anything.

That failure is NOT an option.Well actually it is.

And I’d go so far as to say that failure is necessary.

The fear of failure is everywhere.

None of us want our children to experience rejection or failure.

It’s evident at the school sports days, where we make them “race” and “compete” but then give them ALL a certificate or medal.

We see it in dance classes or drama groups, where they audition but ALL get onstage anyway.

We see it at football training, or where the only options are “win” or “a tie”, so that no one has to lose.

Of course, equality and inclusion are inherently important in schools and clubs. And most of these societies and organisations have individualized and tailored policies and programes in place to include everyone.

And so they should.

Inclusion is not what I am talking about here.🥰

But when in general, we are not rewarding the “winners” for fear of upsetting the person in 2nd place, or indeed 24th place, what we are creating is a generation who feel entitled.

We need to stop telling our kids that they can be “anything they want to be”.

We should be encouraging our children to try and try.

We should be telling them they can be what they want to be… IF they have that ability and are willing to work for it.

What is wrong with encouraging them to learn what their strengths and passions are?

What is wrong with encouraging them to try and to work to earn and to deserve the end goal, may that be a degree in medicine or a place on the football team?

What is wrong with our children knowing what they are good at and recognising what they are not so good at?

How are they supposed to work towards improving and learning if they simply think they are entitled to an ‘A’ in an exam, or to the place on the team, or to a certain job because they’ve always been told they can be anything or do anything they want to do?

We do not all have the same skills.

We do not all have the same strengths.

I can teach Shakespeare to a brick, but I couldn’t be a math teacher for all the tea in China, no matter HOW much I worked for it.

And I wouldn’t be able to be a Doctor or surgeon, because I am way too emotional for such a job (and I’m probably, actually, certainly not that academically able!)

Does that mean I am a failure?

Eh no.

Every Irish dancing feis I didn’t win, was a lesson. It spurned me on. Every time I saw that a certain ‘Leah’ or ‘Clare’ was there, I knew that I most likely hadn’t a chance of anything higher than 3rd place.

Did that mean I couldn’t dance?NO. I could dance. Still can. 😂

It just meant that those girls were better than me.

They trained harder. They had more talent. They deserved every medal and cup they won. They inspired me to push harder.Sometimes I won, sometimes I didn’t.

It’s called life.

When I tried gymnastics, the day that I gave myself a black eye with my own knee was the day that I decided I was done.

Funnily enough Mum agreed.

Did I fail? No. I was just shite at gymnastics!

When I got average results in my Junior and Leaving Cert, did I feel like a failure?

No. I got what I deserved and I got out what I put in. I had done my best. And as long as I did my best, that was enough for my parents and it was enough for me.

However, when I have won, or achieved or succeeded, it was celebrated.

Because each time, I bust myself and tried and grafted and worked and any other synonym you can imagine.

And if I do succeed, I am proud of it, because the achievement is mine and I have probably failed ten times before managing it.

If you burn the omelette and don’t try to make it again, how do you eat?Every failed friendship I have, (and there are many), while heartbreaking to deal with, have all been for the best.

Every failed romance (yup many of those too😂!) teaches us something else important about ourselves and the person who is not right for us.

Every failed job or project or application or interview teaches us something.

For me, every time I auditioned, and was rejected, for a part in a show, broke my heart a little.

Of course it did (and does). Let’s be honest, if I didn’t want the part, why would I go for it?

But rather than stomp my foot and think myself too good to return, I pulled up my big girl knickers and still joined the group; may it be to a smaller role or into the chorus.

Because I love it.
I don’t have to be the leading lady to have fun.

And our children need to understand that they don’t have to always win to be winners.

That they don’t always have to score the goals to be important to the team.
That even though they are doing their best, sometimes the person beside them is just a little bit better.

And sometimes, THEY will be that person and someone else will lose to them.

When we started to walk, we all fell…And then we learned how NOT to fall.

And eventually we walked, all by ourselves. (And sometimes, we still fall!) If we keep carrying our kids and our young people over every obstacle, how can we expect them to learn how NOT to fall?

Direct them, encourage them, support them.

But let them feel disappointment sometimes. Let them learn to accept the success of others.

And when they DO succeed, celebrate with them.We have to sometimes fail to really appreciate succeeding. We’re not entitled to anything.

We have to work and try and earn things.

Life will not simply give you things because you think you deserve them.

You get out what you put in.

And while we don’t want our kids to repeat our mistakes, we have to let them make their own, so that they walk by themselves.

Who knows? They might even fly…

Mammy

The Unspoken Reality of (most) Hotel Stays with Kids.

‘Let’s stay in a hotel’ they said.

‘Let us pack up our minions and go on an adventure and stay in a lovely family room in a hotel.  It shall be fun!’ they said.

Forgetting momentarily that

  1. Most “Family rooms” are simply big rooms with two beds.

  2. Children do not automatically behave themselves when in hotels.

  3. Scolding and voices must be conrolled by Mammy and Daddy as whatever frowning might be done at the chaos caused by minions, more frowning will be done if Mammy or Daddy use their usual shouty voice.

  4. Children, regardless of being up since 5am and walking the entirity of Dublin zoo after a 3 hour drive, shall NOT be “so knackered that they’ll conk out straight away” (Me. This was MY fuckwittery. Not Him’s in fairness.)

  5. Children who are used to their own rooms, will either complain incessently about the sibling being “on their side” or cackle incessently together, or both at the same time, for no apparent reason other than to drive Mammy and Daddy up the bathroom wall…

  6. Because the bathroom is where Mammy and Daddy invariably end up EVERY SODDING TIME WE STAY IN A HOTEL with the kids.  Daddy lies in his clothes, in the empty bath, with his phone, Mammy on a cushion of towels with a glass of grapes and, quite often, a book.  Professionals I tell you!      *We learned after the first time to treat ourselves to a nice, full, cold drink at the bar before going up to do the bedtime dance, because there’s not much to do in a bathroom while awaiting your feral one’s to concede to the long overdue sleep in the bedroom, is there?

  7. After 45 minutes of complaining and cackling simultaneously, with random hisses of “Go to sleep!” and “If I have to come into that room” from OUR side of the bathroom door, children will eventually have to be placed by Daddy into separate beds.  After a few minutes, they will go to sleep, usually lying horizontally across the pillows, leaving Mammy and Daddy to wonder where the hell they are going to sleep, not that they can finally remove themselves from the bathroom.

  8. Parents will debate whether to poke the bear…as in try to replace small child into the bed beside her sister, risking said child wakening again… or to simply climb into a bed each, beside the horizontal sleeping feckin cherubs.

  9. Parents will not poke the bear…figuratively, physically, metaphorically or other.

  10. All members of the family shall be asleep by 8.45pm, with both parents sporadically wakening throughout the night to check that miniest minion has not fallen out of the 8 foot high bed, or indeed wet it, just for the craic.

 

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Mammy

I am Same Clothes Forever Mum

“We won’t get much longer dressing them in matching outfits” says Me to He as we walked along the promenade in Salou.  We were on the last night of our holidays and the girls had been wearing beautifully matching outfits every evening for the full week.

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With 4 years age difference, I’ve been becoming aware that Mini-Me will soon protest at  being dressed identically to her 3 year old sister.  And I was OK with that.

But then, something happened that has ensured and concreted the plan in my head, that while we are away in strange places, they shall be wearing matching clothes, until they are AT LEAST 35 years old.

Princess went missing.

Ladybelles.  She ran out of our sight and literally disappeared. In an EMPTY FOYER.

She was gone for about 7 minutes. 7 Loooooooooooong minutes. And I can honestly tell you they were the longest, most painfully dreadful 7 minutes of my life.  While trying to remain composed to FIND her, my brain had already jumped ahead to what would need to happen to get her found.

We were walking back to our rooms after the entertainment had finished.  A friend and his kids were along with us, and as we all waked through the hall to head towards the lifts, I made a MASSIVE mistake.  I caught the glint in her eye and said “Wait for Mammy please” which she heard as “Run Princess RUN!”

She scuttled off ahead of us, no more than 20 feet into what we knew was an empty foyer and when we all turned the half corner, there she was…gone.

We started calling.  Him belted up the stairs and started running through the halls on each floor, roaring her name.  The friend ran straight to the main door to ensure she hadn’t gone outside.  I started hitting the buttons for the lifts, automatically all assuming that she’d gone into one of the lifts and that it had gone up with her inside. (Fast closing wee buggers those lifts.)

Mini-Me started to roar and cry and Friend’s kids didn’t know what to do,  Wee pets.

She wasn’t outside.

She wasn’t in the lifts.

Every 20 seconds Him stuck his head over another balcony, roaring “Did you get her?” before taking off to the next floor.

Within 1 minute, the hotel staff had locked all the main doors and maybe 5 other dads had joined in the running.

Why will they always be dressing the same? Because every time someone else joined us to help, I was able to point at Mini-Me and say “She’s wearing the same outfit” and off they ran…

Just when I thought it was beyond a case of her innocently getting lost, and was about to step Mental Mammy up a notch, a big bald English guy stuck his head over the balcony and asked “Are you guys playing Hide n Seek with a little girl?”

The poor fecker was greeted with a herd of people running at him and some sort of gutteral wail that I’m pretty sure was coming from my mouth, even though I had no real control at that point.

I took those steps 5 at a time and met Himself on the corner of the big long corridor and there, peeking her curly little fecker head out from behind an corner, was Princess.  Half laughing, half terrified and by the time I reached her to scoop her into my arms, half sobbing.

We thanked everyone, went to the room, tucked them in and then did what all parents would do… sat on the balcony like two weins and cried for an hour.

But the scariest thing was that she was with a gang of adults, in a safe place, with no crowds and she still went missing right in front of our eyes.

Next morning, Mini-Me scolded her at breakfast.

“You shouldn’t go into the lift on your own.  It’s not funny.”

Princess looked at her as if she were absolutely insulted.

“I did NOT go in the lift” she admonished. “I went up the stairs.” before continuing to eat her porridge as if THAT made it all alright.

Oh well that’s OK then I suppose… Seriously.

Lessons learned? We only think we’re in charge, kids are fast, other parents are incredibly fast at helping when you need it… and matching clothes should be worn at all times, for the foreseeable forever.

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Mammy in Training…

My journey through the jungle of Mammyhood so far has many things. I am always learning and yet it feels like I never learn! 😅

Regardless of how you become a Mamma: pregnancy, IVF, adoption, fostering, marriage… if you are responsible for loving a child, you’re a Mammy.

And it’s quite a job.  A career.  A vocation even!

Let’s face it.  If I want to embark on any career, I generally need to spend 3-5 years being educated to qualify me properly to attempt it.  Being a Mammy (and indeed a Daddy!) doesn’t require a degree, and yet it is the most challenging career in the world.

As parents, we become educated in life and often hilariously terrifying ways of the world that no university could ever teach…
but if they did…IF there was a degree in parenting, here is what I imagine it would look like:

“Bachelor of the art of Perfect Parenting”

* Pregnancy and Parenting: A beginner’s guide

* Preparing for your new arrival – Required equipment

* Food preparation for the healthy family
* Techniques for sleep and Behaviour

* Planning your child’s play and Sensory Scenarios

 * First aid for Mummies

*Relationships; maintaining healthy romantic and familial relationships

*Positivity, Mindfulness and Sleep Deprivation – How to deal with it.

*Language and Speech Development.

And at the end, you would be a QUALIFIED parent.  You would have folders of notes, and a brain bursting with facts and figures, and lesson plans and medical references.
You’d be sorted. 😉

But as a Real Mammy, who knows that most of the above is utter crap, and that these headings only SCRATCH the surface of parenting, let ME suggest what a parenting degree outline should look like!
“Bachelorette of Thoroughly Modern Mammyness.”

Module 101 – Pregnancy and Parenting: A beginner’s guide – Life as you know it, ends here.  You only think you know what pain, fear and exhaustion are now.  Pregnancy is like a “One size” bra.  It fits some women better than others. Mine fit like a 4 man tent.  You may glow, or you may puke.  It’s great fun.  But at the end of it, there’s a wonderful thing.  And there’s  also the Love. I won’t even try to prepare you for that. I can’t. 💗💙💗💙💗💙💗

Module 102 – Change everything – The house, the layout of your rooms, the car.  Everything.  And enjoy your magazine perfect showhouse with your fancy candles and FengShui… That shit ends once your minion is able to move about on your once-but-never-again-clean rug.  All ornaments and valuables should be put up on a high shelf, or locked away for approximately 15 years.  Actually, just sell them.  You’re going to need the cash for the Stuff. 👇

Module 103 – All the Stuff.  Get your list of Baby Essentials.  Got it? Now, rip it up.  You do not need 250 steriswabs, or 5 pairs of scratch mittens.  The only thing on those lists that isn’t exaggerated, is the quantity of industrial sized sanitary nappies, sorry, towels.  Buy ALL of those bad boys.  And then buy extra.

And as for the list of furniture, equipment and travel accessories?  Get your basics.  Car seat, cot, baby bath, changing mat.  Depending on YOUR own house and YOUR own situation, you’ll know what you need as you need it.  Do not buy all the everything!  Trust  me, you’ll end up with a house that looks like a Baby shop has puked on it and, in approximately 8 months time, as you put the only-used-once-stuff in the attic, you’ll wonder why the hell you bought it in the first place.

Oh! And those lovely nursing chairs that we all want for our idealistic moments of feeding baby in the nursery?  They are the most glorified clothes storage devices in the world.  Your baby will more than likely be in your room for the first 6 years…sorry months… anyway, and when you ARE doing night feeds, you’re more than likely going to want to do them in the heat of your bed,  rather than in an empty room.  Yes, they’re lovely and I’m sure someone will disagree here, but that’s how I see them… A clothes horse.

Module 201 – Techniques for Sleep and Behaviour  –  Pray, wing it and go with your gut.  You can’t control your baby’s sleep.  You can’t control your baby’s behaviour.  You can only go with what you get on a daily basis and trust me, often, as cliched as it is, it IS just a phase.  And if you do find yourself genuinely struggling with either of these issue, ask for help.  There are brilliant (and actually qualified with real degrees) professionals in our community and there are SO MANY brilliant resources that Mums and Dads can access easily.

Google Parent Hub. Parent Hub, Donegal

You’ll be amazed at what they offer. Or talk to your PHN or GP.

Module 202 – Planning your child’s play   – Buy toys.  Watch child play with boxes, lunchboxes, remote controls and ANYTHING they shouldn’t have that could pose danger to them.  Shake head at the amount of educational crap in the toy corner and get out the saucepans and wooden spoons.  Oh and get down on your knees and play! 😅

Module 203 – First aid for Mummies – Have a meltdown everytime they cut themselves, bump their head, break a sweat, have a strange poo or get a temperature.  Slowly learn to recognise your own baby’s physical reactions and signs.  Google symptoms, freak out…ask on a Mammy forum…freak out…

But seriously, we’re mums.  Unless you ARE a Doctor, if you’re concerned about Baby, GO TO A DOCTOR!  And follow your gut.  While it may be sick with worry, Mamma’s gut is always right.

Optional Modules 

Relationships – learning how NOT to murder your partner at 3am

Sex – You will want to think about it again some day… 😈😉😈

Alcohol – It shall be frowned upon, but some days, even the most Sanctimonious of Sanctimommies thinks about gin at 11am.  They just won’t admit it.

Swearing control – Any parent who has never sworn behind the back of their child, or at least mouthed a profanity when they hear “Mammy” for the 387th time that day, is either sedated or a liar…

Disney lyrics – because you will need to know them.
And so there you go. I hereby declare the Bachelorette of the Thoroughly Modern Mammyness open for application.

**No previous experience or qualifications required. 

It’s a tight course, but the end result is something that no amount of paper or letters after your name can measure.  But if you really want to show off your qualifications, just start signing off like this…
S-Mum (Mum.Mum.Mum.Mum.Mum.Mum.Mum.Mum.Mum…)
Suggestions for extra optional modules on a postcard please. 😙😙😙

How do you measure up? 😂😂😂

You’re Doing Just Fine Mammy #maternalmentalhealthweek

Sanctimammy

Noun – A Mammy who believes that her way of parenting is the correct and proper way; judging and dismissing other Mums who do not parent as she parents.

Adj – Sanctimammious

‘Live and Let live’ they say.

But once you dip your toe into the world of Parenthood, that seems to change for some people. It becomes ‘Do as I do, Think as I think’.

There is no area in our lives which can cause heightened levels of self-doubt and self-criticism as parenting. And often, it is the outright self-righteousness and shared opinions of other parents which makes us doubt ourselves.

Have you ever been asked something about your child, only to have an eyebrow raised, or a lip pursed at your reply?
Have you ever been nervous of telling someone how YOU do things, because you know that they do it differently?

We all have. We’ve all been there.

Parenting styles and beliefs and practices vary, not just in countries, or counties or communities, but within homes.

For twenty houses in an estate or on a road, there will be twenty different parenting styles happening at once.

But here’s the thing.

Just because YOU do things differently, doesn’t make you better.

Just because you work AND have kids, doesn’t make you better than the Mum who is working her ass off at home.

Just because you’re able to stay at home with your Puking minion, doesn’t make you a better Mum than the Mum who had no choice but to leave hers with Granny, because she couldn’t get off work.

Just because you Breastfeed your baby, doesn’t make you better than the Mum who, for WHATEVER reason, has to (or chooses to) Bottle feed. You don’t know why they can’t (or don’t) breast feed. You don’t have to. IT’S NONE OF YOUR BUSINESS!

Just because you use organic, reusable nappies, you are not superior to the Mammy who stocks up on Packets from Aldi-Everything.

Just because your Baby sleeps well, does not mean that the Mum who hasn’t slept for 14 months is less brilliant than you.

Just because you’ve decided to wean your Baby by the guidance of some book, feeding Quinoa and avocado and peppers, doesn’t make you better than the Mum who feeds her kid mashed potato and gravy, or (shock horror!) fishfingers and waffles.

Just because your little Japonica goes to 5 activities a week at 11 months old, does not make you a better Mum than Jacinta next door, who can just about leave the house to do the shopping, because her PND is so crippling that she can’t breath.

Just because you gave birth without drugs, in a calm and wonderful experience, does not make you a better Mum than the lady who has had 3 sections.

Now, I am NOT saying that you shouldn’t make an effort to do what’s best and what’s healthy for your baby.

What I am saying is that what YOU deem right and important, might not be the same as another Mum. Our priorities are all different. And that’s OK

Every Mum does what SHE has to do for HER family. And the only person who knows what is right for your family is YOU.

You don’t know another Mum’s circumstance.
You don’t know her.
You don’t know if she’s happy, or watching you getting into your car to go to work, longing to be you.

You don’t know if she’s driving to work in tears because her Baby cried again as she was dropping him off.

You don’t know how many times a day the Mammy in the office feels a gutwrenching guilt at being away.

You don’t know how the Mum in her kitchen is longing for a conversation with ANYONE.

You don’t know how much the Mum who has to pay bills rather than pay for Baby swim classes longs to be able to sign her baby up.

You don’t know how much time and effort that Mum, looks fab at the school gate, took to just get out the door this morning, because she cried all night.

You don’t know how much the Mum who SEEMS to have it all, wishes that she had something else.

You don’t know how much the Mum who is mixing up formula berates herself.

You don’t know how many false smiles you see in a day.

You don’t know how Mary-Jane never throws a birthday party for Junior because the stress of it might just not be tolerable right now.

You don’t know Jack sh*t.

As long as your children are fed, and loved and looked after, you’re doing great.

How we parent our children, is nobody’s business but our own.
And more importantly, what OTHER Mums think of your parenting, is absolutely none of YOUR business.

And if you EVER hear yourself dismissing or tutting at another Mammy because she’s doing it differently to you, lift your hand, grab a wooden spoon and hit yourself a good hard slap on the arse with it.

No one likes a Sanctimammy.
You DO know that.

So however YOU are doing things this morning Mammy, stop, close your eyes, take a breath…and smile.

Because, do you want to know something else?

You’re doing JUST FINE as you are…