Toodles 2020. Off You Feck!

I’m a big bungled bag of mixed thoughts and emotions as I sit to write this. 

Usually, my last blog of the year flows easily; full of nostalgia and positivity and hope and excitement… and actually, I’m feeling all of those things right now too.  I just can’t seem to write them down in a way that will be meaningful to everyone. Because now, more than ever, none of us can fully understand how anyone else is feeling.

We’ve just come through the weirdest year of our lives.

  I could start to talk about how “while it was bad, it was actually good”, or “In the midst of the chaos, was joy”, or “the lessons I’ve learned this year”.  God I could write 20 pages on each of those titles if I’m honest. 

It was good, in its own way. 

I did learn loads about myself and about life in general.  (80 pages coming on that…next year!)

In the midst of the chaos, there was joy.  

We did make loads of memories. 

Yes, 2020 was good for lots of reasons. 2

The main lessons I learned were that actually, life did NOT need to be as busy and chaotic as it was and that actually, as long as I have my own wee family safe within my own four walls, then all is right with the world, no matter how frightening the world is.  (I wrote a LOT about our own four walls this year.  I spent a lot of time looking at them I suppose!)

And while I could sit here and wax lyrical about how we must all look at the positives of 2020 and be grateful for this, that and the other, I can not let the year end without acknowledging that it was the hardest, most frightening, confusing, frustrating and heartbreaking fecking year that we have ever faced. 

I am grateful.  I’m so grateful for my family and for health and for work.  And personally, I know so many people who have had too much sadness and hardship to bear this year. I’ve cried with lots of friends (virtually) and like everyone, I’ve had moments of WTF?

 But as always, perspective is key.  I can, and will, only ever speak for ME.

I’ve been afraid.  I’ve been stressed.  I’ve struggled.  I’ve freaked out.  (I’ve had panic attacks about going to do the fricken shopping for God’s sake.)  I’ve spent more hours than I care to remember, looking at my children, terrified that they’re not OK.  I’ve spent hours and hours stressing with my husband about our family business and wondering how many more slaps it can take,  I’ve cried onto my laptop as I tried to figure out a whole new way of trying to do my job, while trying and failing to homeschool my own children. I’ve missed family.  I’ve missed my friends.  I’ve seen my best friend once since March… I’ve been angry.  I’ve been frustrated.  I’ve been sad.  I’ve even been judgemental. Show me someone who at this stage, has NOT given out about someone else’s actions this year (and then send me whatever magic potion they’re using please.)

And yet, tonight as I sit watching the clock tick towards 2021, I can’t help but feel proud.  I’m proud of myself.  I’m proud of my kids. (Kids are amazing!) I’m proud of my husband. I’m proud of every one of my family and friends who have clawed their way through the shitshow that was 2020. 

We made so many memories this year.  We found joy we’d never realised we could find within our four walls and indeed on our own doorsteps.  We’ve been surprised by the things that we’ve missed and the things that we found that, actually, we didn’t miss at all. 

We’ve been torn apart by the ferocity of missing people and being apart from people we love. And yet, we’ve also realised quite abruptly who is important to us and who is, maybe, not.

On top of Muckish Mountain on a rare day out with some of our Rushe Fitness crew last summer.

I can look back through my camera roll tonight and share my “highlights”.  It is filled with photographs of 2020, each one telling a story to anyone who looks at it, and yet each one holds so many memories that no one but us could ever understand. Behind lots of those smiles are a million other emotions. Some of the smiles are real. Some of them are hilarious. And yet, some are frantic and frightened. Some don’t reach the eyes. 

I have looked at some today. They’ve made me smile and laugh. But I won’t be sharing them anywhere. I’m not looking back. I’m too tired to be honest! And so I’m looking forward. I can’t wait for it to be tomorrow so I can close the metaphorical door on a year that I’ve been wishing away since March.

I’m ready for it to be over.  And while I know full well that at midnight tonight, absolutely NOTHING but the date is going to actually change, I am excited for the new year.  Every day will bring us one step closer to getting back to some sort of normality, where 2020 is a distant memory that we talk about and reminisce about. 

So whether you’ve come through 2020 enlightened and empowered and energised, or you’ve skid towards the end, glass in hand, roots to your armpits and a bit delirious, I raise a glass to you tonight and wish you a better and more fablis 2021. 

Give yourself a round of applause.  You made it!

 And no matter what 2021 brings with it, it’s a brand new year that we are at least a bit more ready for than last year. 

From Emmet and the girls and myself, I wish you every best wish for 2021.  May it be filled with brighter days, good health and hugs and smiles that reach your eyes. Love to all. 

Until next year!

Me x

To-Do and Ta-Dah!

It’s Christmas… I keep reminding myself of that.

Personally, it’s been a crappy week. I can’t pretend it hasn’t. I can’t sit here and write upbeat Christmassy inspiration, when I’m a wee bit broken to be honest.💔

Grief and sadness and disbelief engulfed a community that I’m part of, that has always and will always be my other family.

I’ve missed hugs since March, but never more so than this week.

And yet compared to others and what they’re going through this week, I have no right to be sad. No right at all.

As I write this, my list of things I need “to do and get” sits glaring at me. It’s mocking me I think.

It’s like it’s laughing at me, screaming “Hey Ria. Here’s that list of all the things you thought were important and urgent on Monday. Haha! Not so fecking important now are they?”

I feel a bit stupid now that THAT was the list that just a few days ago, I deemed vital.

OK. Maybe not vital, but important. And in fact, the list IS important. It’s mostly food in fairness, but still.

It’s indulgent. It’s mostly superfluous and it’s far from necessary, and yet, this week, I still need to drag myself to the shops to get it.

Because while I might not feel very Christmassy at this moment, it’s still coming and it’s still going to happen. And it’s my job to make it happen in my house.

And so while I KNOW that in the grand scheme of things, the list is nonsense, I’m going to start to tick it off.

I like lists. They make me feel in control. A good list can make me feel organised and accomplished. The strike of a pen through words can grant the illusion of competency.

A list can make me feel like I’ve actually got my shit together, especially in times where I actually, certainly, definitely, do not.

And so this weekend, I’m making my lists, checking them twice, thrice and then a few more times.

And then day by day and step by step, I’m going to tick things off. And maybe, by pretending I’ve got my shit together, it might magically happen.

My very wise friend Mr Porter, posted last week about his “Tah-Dah!” list and I absolutely LOVE it.


I’m going to look at my To-Do list from last week, strike off the stuff that REALLY doesn’t matter and create a new list of the stuff that I DO want/need to do.

My TahDah list!

And every time I strike something off it, I may sing TahDah! In my most Mary-of-the-Poppins voice. Sure why not?

But seriously, Take a look at YOUR list. How many of the things on that list are absolutely necessary and essential? How many of the things on that list could be deleted? How many of the things on that list are adding unnecessary stress to you?

Start ‘tahdahing!’

Whether you’re easing and relaxing into the Christmas festivities calm and full of the joys of the season, or sliding in sideways, a complete train wreck and filled to the brim with worry and chaos, I wish you the best that you can have.

My best and your best don’t need to be the same. And realising that the only person who needs to be happy with YOUR choices this Christmas, is YOU, is honestly and truly the key to contentment.

Hugs to all, especially to all who need one x

My Four Walls

Christmas.

I LOVE it! I love everything about it.

I love the sparkle, the sounds, the smells, the smiles.

I love the kindness. I love how it brings out the best in so many people.

I love the glitter, the happy and the magic…

But what I don’t love,  is the pressure placed on us by the interweb to create magical, Christmas card worthy Hallmark moments.

It’s started already; Instagranny and Bookface are full of pictures of beautiful trees and perfect living rooms.  None of us posted the mess of them being put up though did we!? 

Myself included.  Of course not.  We want to show the world our best smile don’t we? We want to give the general idea that we’ve got our sh*t together inside our own four walls.

And this year, not being able to visit our friends and families has led to more people sharing their images online.  

Any newsfeed is filled with festive fun; trees going up, garlands being made, fancy glasses with tipples by the fire, smiles and joy.  Houses now seem to be “themed”, and showhouse worthy. 

 It’s rather cool to look at in fairness and isn’t it wonderful how we can share ideas and get inspiration simply by watching other people’s posts?

And it’s lovely for us to see inside the four walls of the cousins or friends who we know we probably won’t be able to visit this year.  

Stupid Covid…

The selfies from Christmas shopping trips have been largely replaced by snaps of boxes and packages arriving on doorsteps, accompanied by hashtags joking about the #postmanismybestfriend or #cantrememberwhatIordered.

The staff parties and large get-togethers are whittled down.

It’s all pretty different isn’t it? 

And yet, what stays the same is that you don’t have to do what everyone else is doing. 

Maybe you have one tree that is still in the attic and will stay there until the 20th?  That’s OK.

Maybe you have two different trees with a mishmash of colours and decorations as old as you?  Fablis.

Maybe you’re quite happy to leave the tree as it is after the kids have decorated it and it warms your heart to see all of the decorations around the bottom.  Class. 

Maybe you let them at the tree, but absolutely fix the whole thing after they’ve gone to bed?  You are my people Mammas.

Maybe you don’t give a hoot if your decorations are multicoloured and not in any way planned.  That’s brilliant! 

Maybe you prefer to put the tree up yourself rather than creating an illusion of family fecking JOY.  Go for it. 

Maybe you don’t see the point in matching Pjs.  Don’t buy them.

Maybe you hate turkey.  Don’t buy turkey. 

Maybe you don’t like mulled wine…or the smell of cinnamon?  Don’t buy those candles.

Maybe you don’t wrap every single present… once again, my people. 

Maybe you don’t get professional photos done.  There is no law in fairness.  

Maybe you can’t face going to see a Santa this year.  Your call Mammy. Your call. 

Maybe you are devastated that you can’t see certain people this Christmas. We all are.

Maybe you are quietly NOT devastated to not see certain people…that’s OK too! 

Maybe Christmas is grating on your nerves and you can’t even begin to process it because of your own personal circumstances.  To you, beautiful Queen, I send all my love. 

If this year has taught us anything, it is that what happens outside our four walls (or outside of our own bubble), really does not matter. 

Christmas will happen, whether it’s quiet and understated, or extravagant and instaperfect. 

On the 25th, we’ll wake up.  We’ll do what we need to do and then on the 26th, we’ll get on with it again. 

I adore Christmas.  I love it. I’m missing some things and some people this year.  We all are. 

I’m looking forward to closing the doors of my own messy four walls and to spending some much needed down time with my own people…

 But I’m very very aware that it’s not the same for us all.  Especially this year. 

Remember that what you see online is contrived.  It is not always real.  In fact, even the most “real” people that you follow, CHOOSE what to show you. 

If you find yourself doubting your choices, or second guessing your Christmas, or feeling poop about yourself, do yourself a favour. 

Hit mute or unfollow. 

Don’t watch people who make you feel second, or less. 

Your Christmas will be what you make it.  And what happens within the four walls of other people, doesn’t matter one iota. 

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?)