Splash Pinched nose Eyes squeezed tight Holding breath in An adrenaline rush Push up Resurface Like a dolpin Exhale and let go Of lifes little troubles Bask in the joy And splash Again and again and again….
When the powerless is better than the powerful. When time stands still, perspective is key……
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.
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?
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.
People say they are non-judgmental, but I think people judge all the time, if only for a while…
My grandson turned 5 yesterday. He is a very clever, observant and smart boy. He is definitely in tune with his feelings too. The night before his birthday, he go very upset, thinking that once he was 5, he would no longer be able to do crafts or colour in pictures of spiderman etc as he would be too old. His mother reassured him that not only could he still do his crafts and colouring, but that he would get better and better at it and anything that he did, the older he gets. He was very reassured and of course, believed his mother.
I went to see him on his birthday, well to have a social distance visit with him so I could leave his birthday present in the garden for him. After thanking me, he proceeded to tell me that he been upset the night before his birthday because he thought that he would not be able to colour or craft once he was 5 but that his mammy told him that he would be able to and not only that, but that he would get better and better. I also reassured him that yes, that was the case and that I am now 55 and I can still paint, draw and make things and that I got better with age. He smiled and nodded.
We were both painting at my house about a month ago, I was doing an abstract. He told me that my painting looked like a child had done it! Now thinking back to our conversation yesterday, I am a little perturbed that when he smiled and nodded at me, he was being polite, thinking that by 55 I should be able to paint better than something that looked like a child had done it! I think he may have been judging me!
These are very different times which we live in, especially the last few weeks and it is having an impact on everyone, all ages, across the world. This sensitive 5 year old picks up on everything around him and he is alert to everything in his environment and the people around him.
Last week he and his mother were having a chat which lead to how he views the family around him and it goes something like this:-
Nana L – drinks tea
Grandad L drinks champagne
Nanny M smokes
Grandad J builds
Nanny C Judges (means bosses everyone) 🙂
Grandad K works all the time
Daddy drinks cans of boost
Mammy drinks milk (no I don’t) she says
Jess watches Netflix
Jake says cool stuff
Uncle D gives out to B every day!
Aunty S tells C not to tease
Little J goes to school
and S…. poos
Well, we did have a giggle. Out of the mouths of babes hey. Well me being Nanny C, I took a little time to reflect. Am I really ‘Judgey/ bossy’? Well, yes I guess I am. It’s not the first time and I don’t think it will be the last time that someone will say that to be honest
I Judge EVERYTHING, straight away, and I am not ashamed to admit it. However, I am not the only one. You do too! People like to say that they don’t judge but, we all do. You are judging this piece of writing right now. I first wrote this in a notepad in a beautiful leather bound case which I bought in a shop in Dingle. I judged it as soon as I saw it, thought it was beautiful and bought it. Others may have seen it and thought it was just OK or too expensive, that would be their judgement on it.
The dictionary definition of to judge is:-
to form an opinion or conclusion
We all form opinions everyday, from the weather to what to wear, eat or how people interact with each other etc, etc. The dictionary definition is to form an opinion OR conclusion, not necessarily both, at the same time. In my defense then, I would say that when I form an opinion I do not always come to a conclusion on something, that there is room for manoeuvre. For example, lets take the weather. I may say ‘I don’t think it will rain all day’. That is not a foregone conclusion, merely my opinion. A meteorologist may be able to put me right, given that she/he is more expert in the field of weather, but even experts sometimes get it wrong.
I mind this particular grandchild 3 days per week whilst his mother is at work and sometimes at the week end too, until she gets back from work. He spends a lot of time with me, in usual circumstances, at this moment he is locked in at home with his mammy and loving every minute of having her home! He has been known to call me mammy 2, in the absence of mammy 1, but mammy 1 is his absolute number 1 person in his life I might add. As much as I love him and my 3 other grandchildren, I am known to somewhat spoil them more than I did their mothers when they were little. That is a grandmother’s prerogative is it not? Having said that, I still have to ensure he is ‘fed and watered’ properly and nutritionally first. I also have to ensure he is ‘bathed and bed’ by a reasonable hour, so I can absolutely understand his view of me as being ‘bossy’.
Also, I still have two teens in the house and boy oh boy do they test my patience at times. My little 5 year old is often a vicarious party to the conversations which go on between us plus the fact that they often have to be coerced, encouraged and told what to do and how to do it by yours truly, moi! Hence, of course I am a bossy boots.
I would imagine he has taken in a great many of the conversations we have had regarding, teens, indulgent and otherwise, boys, clothes, and make up styles to name but a few. Make up, especially seems to be a regular topic in the house in that I see lots of people contouring their faces to within an inch of their lives. Making themselves look like drag queens with the over made up eyes, lips and enormous eyelashes, that a bird could build a nest in. Then of course, there are the eyebrows and the shiney noses. Who really in their right mind wants to look like Groucho Marx about the brows and Rudolph with the ‘shiney nose’. Girls, put down the high lighter and step away from the brow pack…. Dont you know you are to only enhance what you already have, not recreate it with a pencil! See there I go again with the judging.
I started this piece by saying my 5 year old grandson is a very clever, observant and smart boy. I have judged him correctly on this occasion, not only is that my opinion it is also my conclusion about him. I also observe that he too can be a little bossy at times….. he must take after his nanny C.
In conclusion, however, to his list, when I am no longer ‘actively’ parenting or childminding grandchildren, I propose to be more like grandad L, and drink Champagne…..
When everything else looks the same, when you are looking at what you expect to see, take a look closer. Look for something that seems different, look for the unexpected and you many well have your mind opened and be so totally pleasantly surprised……
I think of the words of R.E.M…… just look at them and think about them…
Oh, life is bigger It’s bigger Than you and you are not me The lengths that I will go to The distance in your eyes Oh no, I’ve said too much I set it up
That’s me in the corner That’s me in the spotlight Losing my religion Trying to keep up with you And I don’t know if I can do it Oh no, I’ve said too much I haven’t said enough
I thought that I heard you laughing I thought that I heard you sing I think I thought I saw you try
Every whisper Of every waking hour I’m choosing my confessions Trying to keep an eye on you Like a hurt lost and blinded fool, fool Oh no, I’ve said too much I set it up
Consider this Consider this The hint of the century Consider this The slip that brought me To my knees failed What if all these fantasies Come flailing around Now I’ve said too much
I thought that I heard you laughing I thought that I heard you sing I think I thought I saw you try
But that was just a dream That was just a dream
That’s me in the corner That’s me in the spotlight Losing my religion Trying to keep up with you And I don’t know if I can do it Oh no, I’ve said too much I haven’t said enough
I thought that I heard you laughing I thought that I heard you sing I think I thought I saw you try
But that was just a dream Try, cry Why try? That was just a dream, just a dream, just a dream Dream
These words can be interpreted in many different ways. For me, it brought to mind my wonderful grandson. Last night he participated with his school and other schools in our National Opera House in a concert called ‘Sing out Loud’. The Irony is, my grandson cannot speak. He is non verbal and has autism.
As I watched him, with immense pride, I was amazed at how he managed to stay on the stage for an hour and a half, with others, singing and dancing and playing instruments. It was indeed a spectacular show. I was truly mesmerized. I was particularly in awe and mesmerized with my grandson.
Children/people with autism are very sensory and react, often in a negative way to sensory overload. The noise on that stage, to him, must have been so bombarding on his hearing that he must have thought his ear drums would burst. Instead, my heart bursted with pride, at how he stood there, and at times sat, but nevertheless, he remained there, on the stage, at all times, with his peers, PARTICIPATING in a SING OUT LOUD, concert.
It was a full house. I knew he had autism, his father and his brother and a few other people who know our family, know he has autism. The rest of the audience did not. I imagine most were too busy watching with pride, their own family members on the stage. However, if they did happen to notice the boy, wearing the ear phones, NOT SINGING, and wondering, what he was doing there, let me tell you. He was being INCLUDED. He was being acknowledged and recognised by his teachers, by his school, as a person who could and should be allowed to participate in, and be engaged by, and with, what they were doing on that stage – having fun!
At school he has begun to communicate through a model called R.P.M. (Rapid Prompting Method). He touches a stencil, one letter at a time, in between his stimming and perceived lack of concentration, and his teacher (and his mother, my wonderful daughter, manages to get some words down, spelled out by him – (by the way he has taught himself to read and spell out words, because before RPM, it was considered that he would not learn like ‘typical’ children learn…. How wrong was EVERYONE!
Today, his teacher did an RPM session with him in school :-
Could we, as his family, be any more proud or in awe of him? NOOOOOOOO . He is wonderful. He is incredible. He is astonishing. He is important. He is entitled to be included. He is not an empty vessel. He is trying, so hard, to communicate. He is patient. He is kind. He is funny. He is sometimes isolated. He is amazing. He is hope. He is our everything. He is ENTITLED to be loved and acknowledged as a typical person. He just cannot speak…… He tries. He stimms… Do not think he is not a worthy person. He is, and more. He has to do more to prove is worth. He has to stand on a stage, with his peers, with them singing and joining in, while he stands there, with his toothbrushes, which he loves, and he has to look on, and endure the noise and the lights and the heat, and the stares and the knowing looks, some may give him, but he perseveres and he stays there, and he enjoys himself, BECAUSE, he has been included. He has been ACCEPTED as an equal to his ‘typical’ peers.
So, the next time you see a person, who may look or act or seem a little strange, remember our boy and the joy he communicated the day after he was treated like his ‘typical’ peers.
Always look for the extraordinary, for the odd one out, for the boy in the corner, and you may well be so suprised with what you will find out! Smile at him, accept him and know how amazing he actually is. Believe in the unbelieveable and never judge a book by its cover…… There is a whole new world inside!
Is it too much to ask for sunshine everyday? Is it too much to be ‘happy’ every day? If it never rained, then the grass would never be green and if it wasn’t green, we wouldn’t try to get to the otherside…. right?
It’s raining outside, in fact there has been another weather warning! Status yellow, gusty wind and heavy rain. No hurricanes, no real structural damage predicted, just drive with caution, take it easy, keep your distance from the cars in front, for to be too close you will surely skid into them if you need to suddenly break!
A similar warning could be or perhaps should be announced for stormy relationships. After all, they are not always sunshine and flowers. Sometimes they are thunderous and and miserable. Sometimes it may only be a ‘status yellow’ where a little ruffling or prickling of just ‘uncomfortableness’ rears it’s nasty head
The weather, unfortunately, we have no control over. We have to wake up and hope for the best. The ‘best’ depends on what you are hoping for. If you are a farmer for example you may welcome the rain. If you are a sun worshiper you may always hope for sunshine. To always have rain or sunshine is not realistic or healthy, so mother nature gives us a measure of both, this side of the hemisphere anyway, to try to keep the ecology balanced, lush and green.
We do, however, have control over our relationships, but it does depend somewhat intrinsic or extrinsic motivation, needs and wants. It also depends on our patience, tolerance, and level of self worth does it not? Some may think grass is greener on the other side, no matter what type of relationship they are in…. Whether it parent/child, peer to peer, siblings or a romantic relationship. Far away fields often look greener.
The thing is, should we try to cross the fence and see, just how much greener it is, how much better it is, how better life would be? I heard a piece of advice last week during the Wexford Literary Festival, where an author said ‘if we were in a room full of people and we were all to put our disabilities, struggles, stresses etc into a magic bowl in the center of the room, and were asked to take one out, we would probably all take our original one out.
Think about that for a minute, then answer honestly, would you take the same ‘thing’ out of the bowl? Better the devil you know sort of thing, OR, would you chance it, would you edge your bets, would you risk taking a risk? Would you check out the potential of the lush green grass in the far away field or would you hide under the duvet?
It depends! It always depends on many different varying factors, on motivation and other things. Isn’t it exciting though, like when a weather alert comes, it can be somewhat ‘exciting’. The anticipation of what is going to happen! Yes we prepare, we batten down the hatches, we stock up on essentials and we wait it out. We may see something spectacular or extraordinary in the storm, like flashes of fork lightening brightening up the skies. We may see or hear something devastating too. The thing is, we see or hear or feel something, something different. Something out of the ordinary. Something that takes us out of our comfort zone.
What we do after the storm is up to us. We can go on as normal like nothing ever happened and continue with life as we know it, OR, we pick up the pieces, rearrange them, re build them and begin again.
Sometimes to remain is the scariest thing of all, because, what if, what if we miss something, something truly magnificent in taking the risk to not only learning to dance in the storm, but to embrace it, to throw caution to the wind, to be flung from one place to another, without a safety net and to take the risk of trying out that greener grass.
Better to fail by trying than to fail by not trying at all……..
For some it is a great sense of relief to get back to school after the long summer holidays of missing friends and routine. For others it is a sense of dread, angst and trepidation, knowing they are going back to face the bullies. So what can be done to ensure that our children are safe when they leave home to go to school?
I remember when I was young thinking that the school summer holidays were way too long. I went to school in the UK until I was 14 and we had 6 weeks off in the summer. SIX weeks, wow that was such a long time. I loved school and I missed my friends and classmates over the holiday period. I couldn’t wait to go back to the ritual of the routine, and slot back in again to student life. It was a happy time. That was until I moved school because we moved to another country. I was made to feel unwelcome almost immediately, mainly by a particular teacher. I was different you see. I spoke with a different accent, an English one, a very unwelcome one, back in the ’70’s in rural Ireland. Even though my parents and grandparents and entire set of ancestors were Irish, I was an outcast from the offset.
I had a hard time a lot of the time. It was bad enough trying to readjust to my new surroundings, my new home, a new country, away from my friends and all that was familiar to me without the added dread of going to school to be ridiculed, ignored, picked on and verbally insulted. It was outright bullying. It gave me feelings that I didn’t care to have. It made me feel sad, bad, ostracised, unwelcome, angry. I went from loving school to dreading school. I went from thinking six weeks summer holidays was way too long to 3 months in Ireland being not nearly enough. Looking back, the only thing I am thankful for is that back then, when I got home, I was safe. Home was my sanctuary. Home was where I did not have to worry, I did not have to be on high alert, I would not be tormented there.
These days it is a different story for kids going back to school. This is the technocological age of progress and ‘all things can be done in an instant’. The sad thing is, that goes for bullying too, and there is no escape, there is no sanctuary of home anymore. Why, because these days most of the school age population (secondary school) have mobile phones, have some form of social media, whether it is snap chat, facebook, instagram and some other things I haven’t even a clue what they are! The bullying does not necessarily stop at the school gate, or the school bus stop. It follows you home. It doesn’t stop. It can be constant. It is exhausting. It is often SILENT. It is ALWAYS dangerous. It gets into the mind and can be so destructive that some victims cannot cope. They may appear to be ‘functioning’ on the outside, but what is going on, inside, inside their heads. Do they have regular tummy ache? are they distracted, quiet, forgetful, preoccupied, depressed, hiding in their room with their phone. Are they asking for more money? are they irritable, aggressive, weepy, off their food, having sleeping problems. Do they have unexplained bruises and pass it off as, ‘it happened in P.E’. Are some of their belongings missing, pens, bag, purse, books etc. Are they making excuses for skipping school, lessons, homework.
All to often the problem is that bullying has not gone away. Despite everywhere having an anti bullying policy. Despite the fact that there is more awareness and education about bullying in the education system, it is still very prevalent today. So what can be done if your child is being bullied or if you suspect your child is being bullied? Talk. Talk to them, talk to the school and if possible, talk to the person doing the bullying in a safe environment. Often a bully has issues of their own, that they are finding difficult to deal with and so take it out on someone else – a ‘kick the cat’, sort of response and misplace their anger and frustration onto someone weaker, more vulnerable, an easy target is the perfect option.
Monitor your child’s use on their phone. Have strict rules around the phone and do not let it go into the bedroom with them. Talk to them about keeping them safe and protected. They are young and have young and immature and very impressionable minds. You are their parent, you DO KNOW best. If they need a phone to contact you, consider buying a handset that is NOT a smartphone. Let home become their sanctuary. Let home be their safe place. Work on strategies that your child can use to help them protect themselves, to help them stand up for themselves and ultimately stand up to their bully. A bully will soon tire, if they are not getting anywhere with a someone they perceive to be weak, and leave them alone.
Out of all of the children I have had and looked after 2 were bullied at school and after school waiting for their bus. Two children separated by 12 years in age, but both were 16 at the time of their bullying and assaults. At the time of the first one, there was no such thing as social media, so she would come home and tell us what was happening and we dealt with it the best way we could and it was soon nipped in the bud. Home was her safe place. The second child that was bullied did have a phone at the time, but it was not a smart phone, so there was no social media bullying for her either. We chatted about what happened. We spoke about strategies and ways in dealing and coping with the bullying and how to build up my child’s strength and resilience. Not only to challenge herself but also to challenge her bully. To stand up to her bully, no matter how scared she felt, and let the bully know, in no uncertain terms, that the bullying behaviour was not acceptable and that there would be serious repercussions if it continued. We were lucky, in that it worked and the bullying stopped and my child’s confidence, resilience and resolve grew stronger.
There are however, cases of bullying which have dire circumstances and ultimately very tragic ones. I particularly remember the case of Phoebe Prince, the Irish girl who moved to America and was bullied so much she took her own life. The only positive to come out of that tragic case is that the people who bullied her were held accountable and were charged and convicted of harassment and civil rights violations. Stricter bullying laws were introduced also as a result. Many more children, home and abroad, are victims of bullying and have also attempted or committed suicide. Isn’t it time, we took stock, isn’t it time we did something more, especially as far as social media is concerned, to keep our children protected and safe. They may look fine on the outside. You may think they are just sullen, cranky teenagers, but maybe, there is something more going on.
It is very frustrating for parents who know something is going on but feel that they or their child is not being listened to or heard. We have a crumbling and almost broken mental health service. People are being left crippled with fear and anxiety over what can they do next. They say it takes a whole village to raise a child, so we need to come together, as a community to help and support each other. To help and support our vulnerable children. To talk and keep talking to our children. To reassure them, to empower them, to help them, even if it is they who are doing the bullying, understand why, get to the bottom of it. Lets stop treating the symptoms of bullying, lets try to get to the root of it and eradicate it ….. for everyone’s sake.
Never judge a book by it’s cover is what they say and there are always two sides to a story, right? Or is it that it only begins with two sides ?
‘You don’t look old enough’ is generally what people say when I tell them I have 4 grand children. People are kind or say what they think you would like to hear. We do it all the time, it just trips off the tongue, usually to make the receiver feel good, flattered and the giver feel appreciated, liked. Sometimes, its just true!
I am certainly not too young to be a grandmother, being a 53 year old, but I do try to keep myself looking as well as possible. I was married at 23 and had my first child at 24. That was considerably old, if you compare it to when my own mother got married or indeed my grand mother. In their day, 18 was a general ‘good age’ to be married by, and have a baby within the first year.
These days lots of women are having careers before marriage and babies and lots are having babies from age 18, but without the marriage part. My eldest was almost 19 having her first, not far off my mother’s age, when she had her first. My mother was married, my daughter was not. My daughter since married her childhood sweetheart and went on to have two further children with him and they are happy……. most of the time.
Can we be happy all of the time? I think not. I am married to my second husband for 23 years, love him dearly but at times could quite happily commit murder. We have, however, endured our ups and downs, swam rivers, climbed mountains and gotten over every bump in the road to arrive at a happy place together having raised our children.
Why couldn’t I have ‘endured’ my first marriage too? Met him aged 21, married him at 23, baby at 24, separated at 26. We didn’t even get to a 7 year itch stage. We had a grand total of 5 years, and did it all the right way round…. Met, bought house, got married, had baby and it all went wrong and no, no one else was involved, we just grew apart. There was no real good cop bad cop, it just wasn’t ‘right’ and I guess I knew it never would be, so it was best all round, to walk away.
He will have his side, I will have my side, but then my daughter will have her side. There can not be just two sides, can there? What we do, as adults, will of course impact on the child, right? It has to, it can’t but not impact, one way or another. It will however, be up to the adults on whether that will be a good or bad impact, or a somewhere in between.
With all the best intentions in the world, there were times it was difficult. Some of the times it was amicable, others, it was a battle of the wills. I tried to never let it get in the way of her relationship with her father, no matter what I thought about him. I always encouraged her to have a good relationship with him. He loved her, as I did, and she loved him and she loved me. She was entitled to that. I reasoned I wished her to grow up with two happy parents living apart, rather than two miserable parents living together.
The worst thing I could ever have said to him was that I was taking her away, to live, in another country. I knew it would cut him in pieces as it would me if the shoe was on the other foot. I cried at the thoughts of telling him, knowing how he would feel. When I actually told him, I cried even more, after he had left my house. She was 7 years old. She wanted to ‘move’. Did she know her mind well enough to know this, you might ask. I asked myself the same question over and over again.
Of course, he took me to Court to try to stop it, as I knew he would and of course I couldn’t blame him. I would have done the same if it were the other way round. The funny thing about that was when I first ‘thought’ about moving to Ireland, I didn’t actually think I would, but because it was a thought, I felt he ought to know.
Things of course turned fairly nasty, he was understandably upset, hurt and bitter. I knew and understood that, but that all had an impact on our child and for the first time we found ourselves needing the courts to ‘intervene’ . I wanted to have the ‘choice’ to go back to my family in Ireland if I so chose in the future, even if it meant taking my child away from her father, as she too had expressed a wish live in Ireland.
She was 8 and a half when we moved and right up to the day of moving I asked her if she wanted to stay in the UK, so she could see her dad, as always, I would unpack all the boxes and we would stay. She said she loved him but wanted to move.
She is 29 now and though it was a very difficult time for her father, and of course I did feel a certain amount of guilt, I knew ultimately, it was the right thing to do for us as a family. What further made my mind up to actually move, was the amount of conflict between us that was generated from my first telling him of the ‘thought’ to go to finally being granted consent to go. I was not trying to stop their relationship, indeed I still encouraged it and did so from the time we came, in that she saw her father for half of all the holidays, and he could come see her whenever he wished,and ring her whenever he wished, which he did on a daily basis.
The distance between us turned out to be a good thing because the impact on our child was a positive one, in that she did not have to be caught between any crossfire. She has loved living in Ireland and has had a nice life here. She has continued to love her father and has never regretted moving here. We will never know how things would have been had we stayed in the UK, but for our family, this had a positive impact.
The thing is with separation and family break down, even with the best will in the world, it is a very difficult road to navigate and know if you are doing the right thing. A child, however, must always be at the center of the situation. If one or both of the parents cannot reasonably agree then of course, the courts will have to decide and in the meantime be very mindful of any impact and upset you are putting on the child in the middle of it all.