Mammy Vs Múinteoir…Back to School.

Maria the Mammy…

Nope. 

Not a hope. 

Not sending them ANYWHERE NEAR schools. 

Need to keep them safe.

Can’t control things when they’re away from me.

Fuck the government and their ineptitude.

I don’t want them to be away from me.

I don’t want them to be frightened or worried or scared by anything.

I don’t want to think about how they can’t hug their friends or play with other kids who aren’t in their pod or whatever.

I don’t want them to go on a bus, mixing with kids from 6 different schools.

I don’t want to have to send them to Afterschool

I’ve had 6 months of keeping them close and knowing they’re safe.

BUT… 

They miss school 

They need school

They miss their friends

They need more social interaction

They need more than Myself and their Daddy

They need normality. 

They need education…because Homeschooling DID NOT happen here. (Kind of difficult when both of us were working full time from home.)

They need other adult voices.

They need routine.

They’re in a wonderful school and have wonderful teachers who I know will do everything to keep them safe and secure.

Maria the Múinteoir…

I don’t want to put myself or anyone of my colleagues or students in harm’s way.

What if I get it?

What if I’m an Asymptomatic carrier?

What if one of my kids gets sick and it’s my fault?

What is it going to be like going into work?

Am I going to be able to do my job properly?

Am I going to be able to make the kids feel safe and secure?

How can I support the students who need support?

How can I teach in my usual groupwork and collaborative style when they have to be socially distanced and I can’t sit beside them?

What about my students with extra needs?

How can I not meet more than 5 friends for dinner, but I can stand in a room with up to 30 young adults for up to 80 minutes?

How is under Jesus is this going to work?

BUT

I can’t wait to get back to work.

I miss my colleagues.

I miss my babies.

I miss teaching.

I need routine.

I need adult conversation.

I need some sort of normality.

My students need school.

I know it’ll be OK

I trust my management to keep us safe.

I will absolutely do MY best to keep my students feeling safe.

Teachers are a resilient bunch. 

We’ll do our best.

And it WILL all be OK.  

We are not in control and we can only deal with things as they come. 

Our front line workers back in March had to navigate their way through terrifying times with little or no guidelines, and they got it done.

They did such an incredible job in the “unprecedented” waters they had to wade into, and they adapted as they went.  They are heroes and while we as teachers are nervous and worried, and our fears should not be dismissed, we too will navigate and learn as we go. 

So many of us are experiencing all sorts of emotions this week, especially those of us who are parents also.  We are genuinely torn.

I need the Mammies and Daddies who are feeling the exact same way as I am as a Mammy, to trust me in the same way that I have to put MY trust in my daughters’ teachers. 

I need the parents who are sending their kids into me, to trust that I will do my absolute best to make sure that their children are able to learn in the new environment, and that they feel safe and secure in my presence. 

I need the parents to understand that I understand THEIR worries, because I too am a Mammy who is nervous (terrified) about releasing my little girls into the big scary world right now too.

I ask the parents of my school babbies to remember that none of us have worked in the current environment before, and that all of the newness in schools is new to us too. 

We are frightened.  We are worried.  We are anxious.  And our fears are real.  

But we are determined and we are professional and we are fully qualified to educate.  And as teachers, we care about your kids. 

The emotional chaos of the sudden closure of schools in March was huge… but that’s a whole other article. 

So while Maria the Mammy might fall apart in the utility room a few times this week at the thought of MY precious babies leaving me every day to go to a whole new world, Maria the teacher will pull myself together, take a deep breath, hang up my tracksuit and go back through the doors of my much missed school, to teach and to support your precious babies. 

And it will all be absolutely grand. 

Soft Play Hell…or Heaven?

Once upon a time, the words “Let’s meet at soft play” instiled a sense of dread in me.

I hated it.

Gasp… yes I just typed that out loud… HATED it.

All of it; The noise. The crowd. The which eats little people into pits of puff. The sensory overload. Crying, screaming… Yip. Hated it all.

But until the girls were a certain size, the joy of having to drag my adult arse through multicoloured jungle jaws into forests of foam to supervise or save a wobbler or toddler from the pits of hell…

Nope.

But being the mother of the fecking year that I sometimes am, I put MY dislike of it aside and brought them, sometimes. But unless I absolutely HAD to, I admit I avoided it. I was clever actually. I offered it as a fun activity for them to do with Daddy.

Pahahahah! Take that Daddy Bear. Off you crawl.

But I must say that once the toddler phase has passed and your little one turns into a more sturdy little Fuman bean, (human being) soft play can be JOY.

JOY I tell you.

For now, at the grand age of four year bold, my youngest can hold her own and happily throws her shoes at me as she runs in… in some cases never to be seen again, until hometime. Or until the thirst takes over and the rosy red panting leads her to come running for water…

I can now bring my laptop WITH me and if I position my adult arse correctly, I can write, watch them AND drink a coffee all at once.

Getting them OUT of the place is often a challenge, but hey. It’s one I’ll take. For they are happy and sweaty and exhausted.

And I’ve had a full hour of coffee.
And I’ve written this…

Thank you Soft Play.

I may now promote you from hell to heaven. (Well, baby steps eh?)

A Train to Somewhere Special…

We’re going on da train Mammy.”

“Are we really?”

I do enjoy how much of a novelty the concept of a train is for my kids. Mini-Me will probably GET that ticket for the Hogwarts Express before we see trains in Donegal in fairness.


“Come on Mammy. Get on!”
“Where are we going?” Mammy asks.
“Somewhere special” answers my wee conductor.

The closest my Donegal Babies will get to a train is the Hogwarts Express


She’s turned the sofa into a train, using cushions to create compartments.
Quite frankly, I’m all for any game that involves Mammy getting to sit her arse on the sofa for a bit.

As I grab my cuppa and walk towards the sofa, sorry train, she is putting the passengers into their “carriages”.

“You sit in here Chase, aside Marshall.”

Aw.

She turns to the ponies… “You guys go in here togever.”

She puts two members of a Sylvanian Family of hedgehogs into the last carriage. “You girls go in here…”

I’m about to ask where exactly Mammy is supposed to go, seeing as that all the carriages are now taken by fluffy bottoms.

“Why don’t you put them in beside your PawPatrol…(sorry POP a Troll)… so I can sit in that carriage I ask.”

“Because of Cowona viwis…”

“Sorry what now?”

“COWONA VIWIS… Only bruvers and sisters can be togever Mammy. We can’t mix them up…”

Fuck.

“You sit here.” I plonk myself at the end of the sofa train and watch her jump on the other end and start to “drive” the train, choochoo sound effects and all.

And while she is off in her imagination, on her way to ‘somewhere special’, I sit at the back, a little bit broken that no matter how much I’ve tried to normalise and downplay the effect of this shitstorm on my wee angel, the impact of it and the reality of it is there in front of me, as plain as a big feckin train.

Fuck you very much Corona Virus.

I never did find out where the ‘somewhere special’ was… I suppose I was already there.

You’re not a Machine, You’re Amazing

I haven’t learned a new language.
I haven’t made banana bread.
I haven’t decluttered my house.
I haven’t painted the house.
I haven’t organised my life.
I haven’t sorted my garden.
I haven’t watched box sets.
I haven’t made a mood board.
I haven’t lost loads of weight.
I haven’t found zen.
I haven’t had a calm and relaxing time.
I haven’t caught up on the stuff I always thought I just needed “time” to get done.
I haven’t used this time to research stuff or “better” myself.
I haven’t cut out caffeine or alcohol.
I haven’t found positives in every feckin moment.
I haven’t found that I LOVE zoom calls or quizzes.
I haven’t finished that novel I’m writing.
I haven’t got the cleanest house ever.
I haven’t cooked wholesome meals every day.
I haven’t found harmony that was apparently missing from my life.

I haven’t learned loads about myself.

Well actually, no.

That I HAVE done.

I’ve learned that I’m a fricken machine.

A machine who is able to admit her weakness and fear and know that it is OK to be overwhelmed.

A machine who kept her family relatively well, fed and feeling safe throughout a global pandemic.

A machine who up until last week, worked more than full time at my job job while simultaneously being Mammy and Wife and keeping my kids entertained, fed and even someday, educated (😂😂😂😂I say this lightly).

A machine who has tried to fully support her other half as he fought to maintain our family’s business.

A machine who has been “fine” until the kids are in bed, when I’d then cry or rant.

A machine who dealt with loss and fear and all of the anxiety and stress that came to us all with this shitstorm.

A machine who has missed people and longed for interaction and normality.

A machine who hid her own stress and fear from her babies to make sure that their fears were, and are, minimal.

Actually, I’m not a machine.

I’m just a Mammy.
I’m a me.

And just like every one of you, I’ve had my good days and shit days and I know there’s more of both to come.

But today is sunny and beautiful and so I’m raising a feckin glass to MYSELF and to each of you…
To all of us machines who don’t need to have done loads of shit that Instagram tells us to, to feel validated and strong.

It doesn’t matter if you’re riding out of this on a gilded unicorn, farting glitter and fablis and enlightened… or sliding out sideways, glass in hand shouting “woohoo!”… like a badger’s arse, clawing towards whatever finish line you’re aiming for, you are here and you are brilliant just as you are.

You are not a machine.
You are simply amazing.

Cheers Ladybelles.

M x

Might We Eventually Miss Some of this Loathed Lockdown?

Lockdown.

We’re all so looking forward to the lockdown being over and to returning to “normal”…but I’ve been wondering how much of this we will eventually miss.

Now, don’t get me wrong. There is a LOT about this current situation that deserves our frustration and hatred.

The sudden crash of everything, the sudden and immediate changes that none of us were prepared for, the emotional rollercoasters that we’ve been on since March 12th.

We’ve all had our worlds turned upside down. And for those of us who are parents, alongside trying to deal with our own grief and fear, we’ve had the added challenge of trying to provide security and stability to our kids.

And trying to keep one’s shit together so that our kids had to deal with minimal upheaval has been hard.

There is much to despise about Lockdown; not seeing family, not hugging, being limited to our homes and minimal journeys, the gauntlet that is the foodshop, the stresses of trying to save businesses, the “joys” of homeschooling our kids… all of these things have had us reeling.  I know they’ve left me reeling anyway.

And for many of us, we’ve been trying to keep working while parenting.  It’s been, erm, interesting to say the least.

And of course, MANY MANY MANY of you have continued going out to work on the frontline and in essential services, putting yourselves at daily risk to try to keep some normality going. (You are all heroes.)

We’re all at the point where the novelty has well and truly worn off. 

We’re all at the point where we’re done with this situation, and yet we are a long way from returning to the “normality” that we all crave so much.

We are all different, with different realities and different “normals” and we all have our own struggles and triumphs right now.  As with all things parenting, we can not compare our homes to other, nor should we.  Some of us are LOVING this. Some of us are hiding at least once a day in the utility room or bathroom.

We might be all in the same storm, but each and everyone of us has our own boat, and those boats differ greatly.  We shouldn’t judge each other’s boats.

BUT. 

Dare I say, there have been positives that maybe we have yet to appreciate. 

For me, the biggest change has been slowing down.

I’ve gone from having a schedule which literally had something every hour of every day, for myself and the girls, to slowly realising that much of my running and “Busyness” was unnecessary.

I’ve realised that being Busy all the time is not conducive to being happy.

I’m enjoying spending time with my girls… and yet it’s still PERFECTLY acceptable to admit that some days I just want to scream and hide.  You can be a good parent while admitting to needing a break.  It’s not a sign of weakness, but that’s a WHOLE other article.

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I love that the girls are getting this HUGE chunk of time with Myself and Daddy in the house with them.

I love that we’re getting to spend this chunk of their childhoods with them, with no interruptions or “other” stuff to do. We’ll never get this back.

I’m loving spending time with Himself.  We’ve been together a LONG time, and yet I don’t think we’ve EVER spent more than a week or two in each other’s constant company. Certainly not at home. That joy is usually only achieved when we’re on or family holiday.  (And yes, it has been an adjustment and a challenge for both of us!)

I’m struggling with plenty, but as we step into phase one of our reawakening, I find myself taking note. 

Because some day soon, I’ll crave the nothingness, if only just for a day.

Some day soon, I’ll wish I was back at home watching the girls playing with the dog.

Some day soon, I’ll wish I had nothing to do or nowhere to go.

Someday soon, I’ll find myself missing Himself, because we’ll be back to our usual Sunday night joke of “See you Friday Baby!”…

Now, for fear of sounding romantic and idealistic, I’ll NEVER miss the zoom meetings, or teaching from home, or constant worry that has coated every day of my life since March 18th.

I’ll NEVER miss trying to work and train and teach and parent and feed and comfort and exist all under one roof, in a constant whirlwind of our new normal.

I long to get back to my jobjob, to get my girls back to the joy of their school and seeing their friends, to get back to having a hot cuppa in the staffroom with a friend, or sneaking a coffee date with someone in before doing the school run, to get the door of our gym open again, to wander around Dunnes at my leisure without fear or anxiety.

I long to hug my family, to see my brother and his family who are so near but yet so far right now, to visit my friends, to get back to rehearsals, to go for dinner, to go to the theatre, or the cinema, or just for a quick bite to eat.

I long to book a flight to see a sibling, or book a hotel for a night away, to visit a park, to drive to Glenveagh, to climb Errigal, to walk on a beach, to see outside out my own 5k.

And yet, I’ve never been so grateful for my own 5K…

This weekend, I took the girls down one of our fields on our family farm, and we had a picnic in the grass.  It was where my siblings and I played daily as kids.  It’s right on our doorstep and yet I do wonder if I EVER would have “had time” to take them down the field for a picnic in normal life.

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Last week, we spent two hours on the shore near our house, again in a spot that I haven’t visited since I was a child.  We’ve driven past it to go ANYWHERE for years.  I don’t think we’d have ever visited under normal circumstances.

Himself has finally had time to walk the route that I’ve been walking my whole life.  He never understood why I loved it until he learned to love it himself.  He never would have walked these roads under normal circumstances.  He never would have had time.

And so while I am very aware that lockdown is going nowhere for the foreseeable, with the glimmer of hope that is upon us tonight in the final night before Phase 1, we can begin to look forward.

But in looking forward, I think that many of us will begin to look back at this time too.

We’ll take certain parts of this experience with us as we walk towards our individual realities, and for me at least, I’ll be bringing a few new priorities into mine.

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And while I won’t miss this one little bit, and I’ll embrace as much of my old life as I can, I’ll also look back and be glad of the time that I got with my wee team. (even if some of that was spent hiding in the utility room.)

(Remind me of this when I’m back fitting 38 hours into 24 and complaining about the things I’m currently missing!  Because we’ll al do it!)