That time…..

A time of good cheer. The one day when all is good and well and the whole world is happy….. right?

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Tick tok, tick, tok……….

it’s nearly that time when all should be fun

and children are laughing and no one is glum

where people are frantic and rushed off their feet

presents to buy, people to meet

buy all the groceries, prepare all the puds

get on that list, on the side of the ‘good’.

just stop for a minute and look all around

see whats in front of you, and who’s on the ground

the homeless, the needy, the battered and bruised

no christmas for them, do not be confused

the lost and the lonely, bereaved and bereft

those without faith or an ounce of hope left

so yes it’s that time to share some good will

offer a hand, don’t let time stand still

help the downtrodden, do a kind act

lets stick together, lets make a pact

share out your good fortune, offer it with grace

see dark sad eyes brighten and lift up their face

let the magic of christmas truly begin

open your hearts and let kindness in

teach to your children the magic they have

by accepting indifference to their fellow man

the beauty of giving with a simple pure heart

is a priceless reward and that’s just the start

so yes, it’s that time, to be humble and good

and remember to help all of those that we should

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don’t beat yourself up or put yourself down

you only can do what your means can allow

the money, the toys, whether small or big

matters not one single jot, cos’ you’ve far more to give

the love in your heart, a kind simple word

a long tender hug lifts up the whole world

the gift of love, is the best you can give

and be thankful and grateful for as long as you live……….

The Power and Powerless

When the powerless is better than the powerful. When time stands still, perspective is key……

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There is havoc, chaos and even tragedy in the storm, when the winds are so strong they have the power to knock tress down and knock power lines out too.

Last week storm Barra visited us and we had just moved in to our new home and we brought our grandson up with us for a few days.

This new house has not yet had the gas fire connected or the new gas hob so we were only left with the oil central heating for heat and the electric hob…… both of which do not work in a power outage.

So here we were in the midst of a powerful storm with no heat, no way to cook, no phone or wifi. ‘At least we have a roof over our head’ I said ‘and blankets, food and candles.

We lit so many candles that it created a nice bit of heat and we even tried to boil water to make tea from the candles. We succeeded but it did take nearly 3 hours!

The next day out we went to buy a camping stove and some battery operated lights. We stopped at the charity shop and bought some books for our grandson. One of which was a a book of Christmas Carrolls.

That night, for our entertainment we played the game, eye spy, followed by singing a few Christmas Carols and a game of ‘go fish’.

Had the power not gone, this would have been a missed opportunity. Like most people in today’s modern world, evenings are often spent in front of the TV. Our grandson loves the TV (just like his grandad!) and they both love to watch movies.

I am not saying there is anything wrong with that, it is good to spend time together, whether watching a movie at home or going to the cinema, but I just felt thankful that the power did go and that it wasn’t another night spent watching TV.

My grandson, really enjoyed the games and the singing, as did we. We all had a good laugh playing and guessing the eye spy so much that we didn’t even notice that there was no heating or all the other power filled luxuries that we are accustomed to.

To be powerless, as in having a power cut, can be beautiful. The stars in the sky shone brighter and the moon reflected in the windows and the chatter and laughter in the house was louder. It makes us more connected, more focused and more appreciative of the little things that matter more than all the other stuff. The lack of electricity brought us back, for a while, to a time when, that is how the world worked.

Don’t get me wrong, I wouldn’t like to be without power like in the ‘olden days’ all the time, but for just a while, it is not ‘just an inconvenience’, it can be beautiful, absolutely powerful to be power-less.

heating the water with candles….. authors own..
singing around the candlelight….. authors own….

Dinner for two

I took you to dinner that night
We sat by the window
A view of the river Lee flowing past
A beautiful orchid and candle
Central on the table
I layed my napkin, carefully, thoughtfully, on my lap
I hung my head a few seconds longer
Composing myself
Before looking at the chair opposite me
Smiling, imagining you sitting there
Knowing
That sometime after dinner
We would have our very last factime
It would soon be time for you to go
You were being called home
To your eternal rest
I had to prepare myself
To face the reality
That this was it
And so, I took you to dinner
And I stared at that chair
Smiling at you, as though you were there

Toasted you, our friendship
And told you I loved you forever
I thanked you for being my friend
I told you I was blessed to have met you

45 years wasn’t long enough
I explained I would forever keep you with me
I raised a glass to you
I told you I was sad that you had to go
But I understood it was time
Acknowledged that you were tired
And ready to go
Told you how much you would be missed by us all
But you already knew that
You knew how special you were to us
I didn’t want dinner to end
I didn’t want any of it
I wanted you here
To be in that chair for real
Laughing and chatting
And being healthy and well
I wanted that, more than anything
And I know
You did too…..

This house…

This House….

When I leave this house I wonder

Will it miss me and the noise within its walls?

Will it wonder

Where did we go and are we coming back?

Will it be silent or will it groan with the emptiness?

When I leave this house I wonder

Will I miss the space and the fit of it?

All my things, in familiar places

Nooks and cranny’s

The creaks of the wood as it gets warmer then colder

Will the sound of it spark fear in the new owners?

When I leave this house will the memory of my ordinary days here

Stay with me

The view from the window as I wash the dishes

The colour of the sun as it rises and sets, front and back of my garden

The light and dark of the shadows it casts

The light and dark of the noise that the house was privy to

Family banter

The hustle and bustle of yesterday

when they were all here

When I leave this house, will it feel betrayed

Will I remember the colour of spring in the garden that I planted?

And the new light of autumn as the leaves fall from the trees

The laughter of the summer days

Children playing

Daisy chains

Will the weeping willow continue to weep?

Or will it wither and die

When I leave this house that I built from scratch

From the foundations to the roof

And filled its cavity with strong walls to bring to life

a home

Will I feel deep sadness too difficult to describe?

Then will I pretend 

that it is OK

it is only a house?

Evidence

When the clutter is not really clutter, can you just let it go?

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Evidence

It’s the final countdown

Countdown to leaving

Leaving this place

Where do I begin

To bring it to an end

How do I decide

Decades of ‘collectables’

The pleasure they derived

Stored, hoarded, and boxed away

Time to decide in the next few days

Boxed away neatly large and small

Could I really get rid of them all?

Time to let go

They are all in the past

Give them a future in

Someone else’s hands

Take the step

Shed that old skin

Wriggle on out

 like a snake, Slithering

hard as it is, it must be done

the countdown is on

you’re on the home run

liberation from ‘things’ that

simply are that

but, they give us our memories

and bring us back

a time to remember

when we did this and did that

it’s not so easy to ‘just let go’

some things must be kept

just because, it is so

the trinket gift, given with love

no price would ever be enough

the child’s little drawing

given with pride

or the pottery they made

with such great strides

it’s hard to abandon or just

throw out

it’s not all ‘clutter’

I have no doubt

So time to discern and

And pick my way through

I can’t turn my back on

Evidence of you

Down through the years

We’ve gathered so much

Does it matter, if it still collects dust

Knowing they’re there

In the dark attic space

Brings comfort to me

And a smile on my face

The clothes, the bags, the furniture too

Can all be discarded

But not evidence of you

You when you were little

And all you achieved

To throw it all out,

I would be aggrieved

One day I would hope

When you go through these things

The memories come back

And your heart, too will sing.

So clutter me this, you are coming with me

To a new home to live

To be stored and to be……

Downsizing….. What it means

Sometimes we just have to let go, feel the fear and do it anyway. When we let go it is exciting, exhilarating and liberating

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It’s nearly completion date and that can only mean one thing….. time to start packing and sorting and selling off/giving away what I no longer need, the ‘stuff’ that is surplus to requirements.

We all have it,’stuff’ even if we don’t mean to have it, but the ‘stuff’ piles up, in our homes, our cars, our bags, everywhere.

We accumulate over the years. We change our cars, our furniture, our decor and style, and our homes.

Now I am changing my home, yet again, but this time, for a smaller home. I have lived in small before.

When I first left home at age 16, I lived in a bedsit, tiny room, shared bathroom and shared kitchen. I owned very little, as it was furnished. I owned easily removable things, like my record player and records. Some pictures and a few ornaments.

Over the years my properties have got bigger and bigger and so has the amount of stuff and furniture. This one is the biggest, the one that I am about to leave. This one I designed, on a piece of paper, handed it to an architect and then proceeded to build it. From start to finish, it was my project, my taste, my style, my design.

It has housed my husband and I and our children for 23 years. We have fostered 13 children and have 4 grand children who have all walked the floors of this house, slammed the doors, laughed and cried within the walls and played out in the garden.

The decor has been changed numerous times. The rooms have been re organised many times and we have ran a couple of businesses from it over the years.

We have accumulated a lot of stuff in the process and now I have to undo the doing, because now, we are going smaller again, but big enough to still be a down size….

Will I miss my house? yes of course. Do I feel emotional about it? certainly, but the time is right for our next adventure.

The only thing is, most of my stuff is too big for the new house, or the wrong style. I have a very eclectic taste and I have some wonderful pieces of furniture, from Edwardian to Victorian to very modern.

When we decorate rooms we always feel better about them and are pleased with the changes we made, but eventually, we tire of it, well, I do anyway, and so we change it again.

We do the same with cars and clothes and they seem much easier to shed and to move on without any major emotional distress, right?

That is what I keep telling myself now, about shedding this house, and all we have done here, with all the aforementioned people that were here with us.

I keep telling myself, ‘it is just stuff, you take the memories with you’. But I do feel a little bit attached to some of the stuff too.

Then I think, but someone else can get the pleasure out of that beautiful piece of furniture and I can get excited about sourcing a new piece for my new house. I get a buzz from finding ‘nice things’. A new project, a new beginning, a new style, a new neighbourhood. Exciting, daunting, liberating, all at the same time.

The sorting and packing and picking and choosing, now that is the real dilemma, but it has to be done and so today I made a start.

I cannot tell you how many times I changed my mind about things, but then said, just let it go, like Anna, in Frozen, time to let go.

My pictures, my paintings, my bits and bobs, they can be easily packed. My books, now that is a different matter, I would nearly need a small van for those alone, I cannot let go of them quite so easy….

The procrastination has come to an end and the ‘sorting’ has begun. It is with mixed feelings, but ultimately, happy and excited ones about the change that we are heading into as we progress to our downsizing.

Were going from 6 beds to 4 beds from 3000 square feet to 1600 square feet and from an acre garden to a quarter acre and can finally get rid of the ride on lawn mower and cut down on the mowing!

I look forward to a smaller house to clean, to paint, to decorate, to garden in and to have new walks, new views, new people to meet, new places to discover, a new place to make and call home, for our family to come and visit and enjoy with us.

So it’s full steam ahead and on the home stretch now, into completing the transaction for our new home! Watch this space……….

Emotion

Big boys don’t cry…… This to me is a damaging statement, because boys have feeling too and like us girls should be able to be free to express how they feel…. right?

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I collected my grandson from school last week. He thought he was staying in after-school club because his mother was working, but I rang and told her that I would collect him early and bring him over to his aunts house, so he could see and play with his cousins. He hadn’t seen them in a few weeks as both my daughters have been busy with work and other commitments.

When he was in the car I asked him if he was surprised that he was being collected early and he said he was, because he thought he would have to stay in all day. He is only 6 years old, I might add. He also had to be dropped to school early for breakfast club, so that his mother could get to work on time, so it can be a long day for him.

As I looked at him through the rear view mirror, I thought he looked pale, tired and also he looked like he had been crying. I asked him if he had been crying to which he replied no. I said ‘oh you look tired, maybe that is it’. He confirmed yes he was a bit tired as he had been in school for breakfast club.

I asked him how he felt when the teacher told him that ‘nanny’ was collecting him early. He then said that he was happy and excited and that he remembers now that he did cry then, ‘happy tears’ and that he could feel the tears coming again now because we were going to see his cousins and he was happy about that.

This made me feel both happy and sad. I know lots and lots of working mothers have to avail of child care so they can work, before school and after school. I had to do it myself when my girls were little. It’s not easy to do, to juggle, but it is the life for many working mothers. I couldn’t help but feel sad a little because it is a long day for him. I also felt happy that he could express himself. He is very good at articulating what he thinks and feels.

I told him it was OK to cry, whether they are happy or sad tears, as that is the Emotion, he was feeling at that time. ‘What’s emotion’ he asked me, looking back at me in the mirror. I explained that when we feel happy or sad, angry, excited or frightened for example, our body reacts somehow to that emotion.

‘So when you were told you were leaving early you felt happy and excited and your body reacted by your eyes welling up and having happy tears. Likewise, sometimes when you feel angry, you might shout and your body might also want to slam a door, punch the pillow or throw the toy’ I said, eyeing him carefully in the mirror as we drove.

‘You might also cry because you feel angry because you are frustrated, same as when you feel sad and upset you may cry. That is your body’s way of dealing with the feeling and that is what ’emotion’ is.

I explained how the body also reacts when hungry, in that it lets us know by our tummy growing and rumbling, that it is your body telling you it needs food.

‘oh, he said, so sometimes I get ‘hangry’ when I want food and so does mammy’ he said, matter of fact. ‘ Yes I said, that’s right, when you are hungry you very well may get a little agitated and angry, because it’s your bodies way of saying ‘feed me’.

I explained that emotions are good to have as it helps people see or read how another person is feeling by the way the person looks or by the way a person is acting and that lets us help, if any help is needed.

I asked him to think of his mother and how that makes him feel. He closed his eyes, his face softened and he smiled saying ‘I love my mammy’ as he opened his eyes looking at me in the mirror.

See, that is emotion I said, and your face, your voice and your body all reacted to that feeling, so don’t be afraid to cry, whether happy or sad or angry tears because that is just your body reacting to your feeling and that shows other people how you are.

It made me think about boys and crying and how they are sometimes told ‘big boys don’t cry’ or man up as they get older, especially into their teen years. This in particular concerns me. Why is it viewed that it is OK for girls to cry, but not boys.

I am quite the feminist and all for strong independent women and for equality and parity , but I also believe it is OK for girls/women to cry, AND also for boys/men.

They say that women can ‘cope’ a lot better with life’s stresses because they talk to their female friends and ‘offload’ about how they are feeling. A problem shared and all that.

Shouldn’t we be teaching our boys that not only is it OK to cry, it is essential, so as not to suppress that natural emotion that they are feeling, for to do so, they are denying a fundamental biological process. If they denied themselves food, when they are hungry, they would starve.

With so many mental health problems, especially amongst young men, isn’t it crucial that, from a very young age, we not only say it is OK to cry, WHETHER happy or sad tears, but it is essential and normal, as it is the body’s way of dealing with the feeling?

I would hate to think that my grandsons, when they are going through the rigours of the teenage years, when they are trying to navigate puberty, emotions, fitting in and identity, that they would feel that they cannot openly cry, without fear of being called a ‘sissy’ a ‘girl’ a ‘whimp’ for example, by their peers. It makes me want to cry!

Why is is OK for girls and not boys? What is wrong with showing emotion. In my mind, it is a sign of strength, not weakness to be able to express oneself, in order to be true to oneself and to feel whole. To suppress any emotion is damaging and the last thing we want to do to ourselves, to our children, is to damage them, right?

So, I say to all the boys out there, when your body wants to cry, whether they are happy or sad tears, go ahead and cry the same as you would laugh, if you saw something funny, the same as you would feed your body, when it is hungry. Not only does it give you a release to cry, it allows someone close to you to try to help and share the burden/problem with you in the sad tears as well as the joy in the happy tears.

There is pure strength in being in touch with your feelings and in my mind any boy/man than can openly cry and express or try to express how he is feeling, is a man I would want in my life, because it lets me know he is honest, open and compassionate.

Cats

If anything I prefer dogs over cats. Having said that, I wouldn’t be cruel or leave them out. So what do you do with a stray???

feeding time…. author’s own

We always had dogs, growing up, in our our house. Most of them your usual mongrel or mixed breed, whichever you prefer to call them. We loved them and they loved us.

When my eldest girl was 8 years old I promised her I would get her a dog. We were moving to Ireland and I intended to be home more, taking a part time job, instead of working full time. This would be a factor in getting a dog, so it wouldn’t be on its own all day.

We go a lovely mixed breed dog and called her Sally. Half sheep dog half collie and she looked like an old English Sheep dog. She was such a loyal and friendly dog and we had her for 10 years. It was pure heart break when she died. So much so I swore I would never get another.

People often say that after drinking too much and getting so drunk. They swear they will never touch the drink again. Like the drunk, with his self promised promises, I did indeed relent and get another dog a few years after Sally died.

This time it was at the begging of my other children (twins) who at the time were 14. We got a little miniature Yorkshire terrier and called her Indiana. She was cute. Not very smart, but cute and she was loved. Sadly, she came to a very sad end and was hit by a car after getting out of the drive. It was torture and we were all devastated…. again

‘Never again’ I said, and I meant it. It is too heartbreaking.

Again, I relented. A year or so after Indiana died, my eldest asked me if I would take a little west highland terrier, who would face certain death if I didn’t….. Well that isn’t blackmail….. much!

I took the said little Westie, Jack, and he too became part of the family and stole our hearts. He was 6 months old when we got him, but by the time he was 12, he was quite ill and deteriorated very quickly. We prepared ourselves to be heartbroken again. Indeed, we were. That was 15 months ago now, and I can categorically say, I will not have another dog. It is too too sad knowing, that they will pass before you and I don’t want to set myself up again for heartache. However, watch this space!

During the years of the dogs we have also been frequented by stray cats…. It started with the farmer at the bottom of our garden. He had cats, but they would wander down to us and of course, we began to feed them as they always seemed hungry and anyway, they are good to keep the mice and rats away.

After the farmer died the cats were taken by the WSPCA to be re-homed. However the odd stray would still come and hang around our house. As we live in the Country I would feed them as they are a good deterrent for the mice and rats.

Rusty has been coming to us now for a few years. We feed him daily and tend to his medical needs when he has gotten into a scrape, but he is feral and goes away after feeding, grateful for his daily nosh. Sometimes he hangs about in the yard, but he is a bit of a loner.

About 6 months ago or so, a black cat appeared. Quite a friendly cat with a lovely shiny coat. I advertised on all the local platforms trying to find its owner but to no avail. he would come, around the same time as Rusty and then off he would trot, back down the drive and to, well I am guessing, his own home.

Cats are like that aren’t they, they like to wander off.

Anyway, not only was he coming ‘at feeding time’, he would now push rusty out of the way and start eating his food. Well, I couldn’t have that, so reluctantly, I would also put a plate out for him. I couldn’t let him watch on, and not give him anything.

Black cat, affectionately named Blacky, how original, is cheeky though and if we leave open a window, will climb in and lay up on a bed or a sofa like he is King of the hill. What a cheek!

Rusty, wouldn’t have the same amount of cheek or nerve, he is far more ‘reserved’ and not so presumptuous or impertinent as Blacky.

This morning, I went to go out the door to feed them. Both of them on the step, waiting and the black cat, actually had the nerve to slap poor old rusty in the face to get him out of the way, so he could get the lion’s share. I was utterly gobsmacked!

Because of this I wrote a little ditty….. I hope you enjoy it!

Cats

I feed these cats

They are not my cats

But aside from that, which is a fact

I feed these cats

I don’t like cats

But they are good scare the rats

So I feed the cats

So they can do that

1st came the ginger one

Feral, shy, coy

I’m only grateful, that he is a boy

Takes his food then off he goes

To where I wonder,

Nobody knows

Then came blacky

He is black

He is a more forward cat

He is not at all shy, not one little bit

In fact, I would say, he is a cheeky little git

He pushes in first when I open the door

Knocks rusty out the way

Hoping he will get more

He is quite a greedy black cat

I cannot say much more than that

Soon as he’s fed off he goes, strutting

Wagging his tail, and swaging his but

In all the style like a cat walk model

Unlike rusty with his old man waddle

Sits on the bench like he is the boss

Licking his fur and shakes off the dross

Sits all day, til he gets a more peckish

And scratches at the door like it’s some sort of fetish

I looked out once and guess what I saw

Roland rat scurrying on all fours

Blacky the cat, didn’t even blink an eye

Let old Roland just strut on by

Am I too soft or feeding these too much

Cos I’m sure it’s nature they should hunt their lunch

Off he goes not even a hissing sermon

Coming from the cat to this passing vermin

Rusty plods back late in the evening

Head hung low, as if he’s been grieving

Jumps up on the window sill

Patiently waiting for me to give in

Black cat though has no such reserve

Can’t even open a window, cos in he will swerve

He has no shame nor decent good manners

I do protest and I don’t mean with banners

I chase him out like a cat and mouse game

I’m sure he’s laughing cos he has no shame

He’s quite cunning that little black cat

But he won’t best me you can be sure of that

Rusty comes like a big drowned rat

When the heavens open, but I let this cat

Come in side and eat his grub

He seems so grateful and I give him a rub

Mr black cat I swear has a home

He’s Just so greedy he comes here to roam

Costing me a fortune, cos I couldn’t leave him out

When I’m buying all the cat food to share it about.

But when it’s raining I don’t let him in

Now it’s my time with a big Cheshire grin

I watch him dash back out of the drive

Properly sulking and goes home to hide

He’s not one bit feral, shy or coy

He’s just cunning this little boy

Edging his bets to get all he can

That’s when I know, that animal is like man

Blacky with his full tummy, now he is swaggering off….. authors own pic.

The best laid plans

Making plans is all well and good, until life decides to throw you a curve ball…. that is a whole new story

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Fail to plan, then plan to fail…. that is how the saying goes, right?

I have always lived by this motto, to a certain degree anyway. I always like to have a plan or a project, a goal to work towards. Whether it be skill based, knowledge based or pleasure based, like going on a nice little week-end away or holiday.

I like to keep evolving, growing and developing one way or another and I encourage those around me to do the same. At the same time, however, I like to be spontaneous, dive in, take a risk. Some you win, some you lose, but at least you tried.

I would rather fail by trying than regret that I didn’t try.

Years ago, my husband and I decided to try to invest. We had a lot of equity in our home and well, it was boom time, so we thought we would release some equity and buy another property abroad as an investment for our future and for our children.

Long story short, we handed over our cash to our Solicitor, who also happened to be the developer of the property we were buying. He is now very famous, here in Ireland. michael lynn, Solicitor, Developer, Gangster. He took our money and that was the last we saw of it. He did a runner with our money, the full purchase price of the ‘property’ we were buying, that of other ‘victims’ and lots of financial institutions.

We tried to be savvy, we thought we could invest in our future. We understood property value could go up or down and it was a risk we were willing to take. We thought we could trust a Solicitor. We were wrong. Having fled the country for a good few years, hiding from what he had done, he is now back, after being extradited from Brazil. I think he thought he was Johnny Briggs. He certainly seemed to want his notoriety.

That was a long time ago now, 2007, and we are still paying for that risk, but we survive. ‘We have our health, we have our home, the kids are healthy’ are what I said to my husband at the time it happened, ‘it’s only money’. We had both worked hard for what we have. I meant it. As difficult as it was to loose such a large amount of money and a picture of future we had envisioned, I had to look at what we still had.

‘Your health is your wealth’, is another saying and I would hear my parents say it all the time. They are right. If you have health, you have everything. No amount of money can replace it. Now of course, we expect, as we get older, for our health to let us down and fail us somewhat, so we have a responsibility to ourselves to not abuse our bodies with the wrong food or total lack of exercise.

We have a responsibility to not indulge in the excess. Everything in moderation, as it were. That includes stress. We all need a certain amount of stress, that is healthy, but stress in the excess, can cause untold damage to us and we may not even realise it, until it is too late.

So how do we know if we have too much stress. How do we know how much stress is healthy stress. Getting on with our day to day lives. Working, eating, relaxing, exercising, sleeping and repeat, over and over and over until one day, whilst doing this, you start to get aches and pains, you feel a little bit more sluggish. You want an extra 5 minutes in bed. Is that the time to say, enough is enough. I am over stressed.

Tell tell signs, are they always there? My husband had been feeling stressed lately, more so than usual at work especially, lots of pressures going on there. He felt so stressed he began to get chest pains, which lead to a doctor’s appointment, which lead to a hospital admission, which has lead to needing surgery, cardiac surgery. What a shock it has been for him, for me, for all who know him.

He is not yet even 60. We had made plans of what our future would look like when he retires. We hadn’t anticipated or bargained that he would ever suffer with poor health, not at this age. We thought we were clever. We thought that we had our plans for the future sorted and what we would do when he retired. He was planning on retiring a few years before retirement age, maybe 62. We thought that from that age and for the next 10 years after we would seek out an adventure and go travelling and/or trying living in another country for a while.

Having cardiac issues was not on our radar, at all. It is not predominant in his family history. His parents were in their 80’s before they needed any sort of health intervention. He is in his 50’s.

The moral of the story is, yes we can make plans and for the most part, we may be successful in executing them, but sometimes, we are thrown a curve ball and it knocks us off the path of the plan. Because of this, live life well, live in the moment, this moment, still take the risks, be spontaneous and be as healthy as you can be whilst living your day to day lives, but remember, take nothing for granted and while we are all busy working, making a living, making a better life for ourselves and our children, make sure we don’t neglect our health or put it on the back burner, because it really is our wealth.

I’m 18 now…..

Who is controlling whom? Who is taking responsibility and who isn’t? It’s a difficult job being a parent and a teenager!

Photo by cottonbro on Pexels.com

I’m 18 now….

Childhood is really fleeting; it only lasts for 18 years.  That is what we are told, according to the laws of our land. 

Once we reach 18, we can drink alcohol, smoke and buy cigarettes, vote and best of all earn our own living and live by our own rules……

In the country where I live you can legally have sex at 17, so technically you can get or get someone pregnant too. 

Not many 17 year olds have left home, have a full time job or are self-sufficient.

So where does the responsibility lay?  Whether pregnant or not once a person is 17 or 18 and still living at home, does that give them an instant right to live their life their way, under their parent’s roof?

At 18 the parent is still paying for the house that they all live in.  Is still going to the grocery store to buy the groceries.  Is still paying all the utilities.  The most important one, especially for the 18-year-old, is the electricity which is needed for the broadband which is needed for the 18 hours per day that they wish to spend on their phone, snapping, tick tocking or you tubing.

When I was 18 the only ‘snap’ I had heard of was a game of cards or if someone had worn or bought the exact same thing as me and we saw that in the real world when we bumped into each other, not in a virtual world where we may never have ever met, but are ‘best friends’.

Yes, call me old fashioned, if I were 18 I probably would too.  I would probably think that I am ancient because I have just turned 56…. practically one foot in the grave!  But I am not 18 and neither do I think that I am ancient.  I do think that I am a responsible parent though.

Having raised 5 girls, I can honestly say that the worst time raising them was during their teenage years.  They are sulky, moody, stroppy, self-indulgent, untidy, cheeky, and often very lazy. 

They are still my children and I  love them but I do not like what they morph in to during these testing years.

I have one left.  The other 4 have gone and are all living their own lives, with their own rules, in their own independent ways, some raising their own children and I say hallelujah, praise the lord and best of luck to them, for the world is a great place to be!

This last one, as lovely as she is, and she is lovely, has always pushed my buttons and tested my boundaries.  She is the ultimate social butterfly…. Or wants to be.

Covid 19 couldn’t have come at a worse time for her.  She was looking forward to turning 18, to finishing school, getting a tattoo, to going out with friends to pubs and night clubs, to flying off to Italy and be an au pair for the summer before college started in the Autumn.   Except, none of that happened except college did, sporadically, between online and on campus.

Now I understand her frustrations at all of that.  Covid 19 has not been a particularly welcome or pleasant experience for all of us.  It has been scary, frustrating, difficult and also for some, fatal. 

There have been some positives for people, getting more creative, re-evaluating their lives and changing direction etc. 

So what can we do with our 18 year olds that want to go against the rules, the Governments rules and hang out with their friends.  We have to say No, right.  That isn’t us being ‘controlling’, that is us being ‘responsible’ ‘conforming’ ‘adhering to the rules’. 

Friends are important, I know that and understand that.  I miss my friends too.  But, when my 18-year-old wanted to go and spend the Easter Break up where her digs are, where she attends college, and hang out with her friends, I put my foot down.  Why?

I couldn’t trust that they would social distance properly.  I couldn’t trust that she would become complacent and bring the dreaded virus home to us and then ultimately our other children and grandchildren.   But, not only that, I was actually hurt and disappointed that she did not want to spend the Easter break at home with her family.  That she felt she had no responsibility or even desire to be here. 

When she is here, she is like a lodger.  She comes out of her room for food and back she goes again on the phone.  She is constantly with her friends in the virtual world.  Is it wrong to want her to be a part of the real family in the real world?  To participate in family life for more than just meal times?  Am I wrong in thinking she has an addiction to her phone?

She does not work. She has a college grant. That pays for her lodgings when in college.  Yet, she wants to go hang out with friends over Easter ‘because she’s 18 now’.

Ok so let’s compare.  At 18 I was working full time.  At 18 I had a bedsit.  At 18 I did my own shopping.  At 18 I did my own cooking and laundry.  At 18 I had a boyfriend and went to the pub. At 18 I was totally independent and could live by my own rules.  At 18 if I went home and my boyfriend did I slept in my bedroom and he slept in my brother’s bedroom.  At 18, if I went home I abided by the rules of my mother’s house.  At 18 I called that being respectful and responsible.  At 18 I just knew, that is the way that it was.

I have been a strict parent.  I want my girls, all of them, to be strong independent women.  I want them to stand on their own two feet.  I want them to challenge things, including me but, when at 18, they are not ‘earning’ their own money, not doing their own shopping, cooking, cleaning, bill paying etc. etc. and live under my roof, is it too much to ask that they abide by my rules.

I have a rule that she goes to bed the same time as me.  I usually stay up ‘til midnight or after.  It has always been the way.  Unless they were out with boyfriends, clubbing it in which case they would just come home and go straight to bed.

This one cannot go clubbing it because of Covid, so the last thing I want is her up all night on her phone, leaving it charging, being a fire risk or keeping me awake with chitter chatter and burning lights all night.  She already can’t get up in the mornings.  We are lucky if we see her before lunch time. 

Yes, yes yes teenagers need more sleep, or so they say.  Go to bed earlier then, is what I say…

The point is, when does their ‘responsibility’ kick in.  To converse, to observe, to happily want to participate in family life.  To happily want to seek a job and work during the holidays and earn a few bob?

Has this generation gotten so bad that it actually thinks that they are just ‘entitled’ to do very little by way of being helpful or respectful, and expect to spend every waking moment with friends, either online or offline.

Do they all think they are just going to be the next big sensation on you tube or be the next big influencer in applying a shiny nose in a ‘trowel it on’ make up tutorial where everyone looks the same as a Bratz doll? 

I mean, come on people.  Surely you want more for yourself than that.  Something that you can achieve and be proud of based on your own judgment of yourself and your effort.  Surely you don’t really need the approval of ‘strangers’ in a world that you may never ever meet them.

If so, I ask of you to ask of yourself, why.  Why do you need that?   Why not put your phone down?  Talk to the people in front of you.  Take an interest in what is going on in your own home, in your own family and balance your life with real family and real friends. 

Your family cared for you, nurtured you, protected you, loved you, even when you were sometimes not very lovable. 

Your family are not asking you to forsake your friends or to forsake yourself.  They are saying the exact opposite.   Be happy in yourself, with your own approval.  Work hard, real work, where you can have a sense of achievement.  Ask, ‘is there something I can do for you’ and take some ‘responsibility’ for the lifestyle that you want to live. 

The Government are controlling all of us at the moment because of the Global Pandemic.  Yes it sucks, but in order to get rid of it, we must abide by the rules, don’t we?

If you want to live how you want, when you want, with whomever you want, then do it.  Get a job, get a flat, get the bills and all the paraphernalia that goes with independence.  It really is a fantastic thing.  I know I loved it when I was 18, standing on my own two feet, whilst also going home and spending time with my family.  Go on, just do it!

Turning 18 is not a licence to say, I will do what I want, whether you like it or not.  Turning 18 is about growing up.  Being a grown up means, taking responsibility and not just expecting to still keep ‘playing’ like you did when you were a child, then throwing dolly out of the pram when you don’t get your own way.  After all, you are 18 now!