It’s your birthday this weekend and you’re going to be turning two years old. If you could stop growing now, that’d be great. You’re eating us out of house and home and bursting out of your clothes. It won’t be long until you’re heading off to college and then I’ll feel really old.
Anyway, your cousins are coming up for your party on Sunday and we have games and balloons and surprises but before all the madness starts, I wanted to give you your present.
I wanted to give you me.
Don’t worry, I have a noisy shiny toy for you as well – it’s Buzz and Woody! (Your Dad said they were too dear, but I forced him to buy them, so remember that when you’re deciding which one of us gets to go in the good home.)
Anyway, on top of that I’m also giving you back your Mam. You might not have realised it, but for a while there, I was missing.
When you were a few weeks old, we had an unwelcome house guest come to stay.
His name was Depression and He tried to steal me from you.
He slithered in, inconspicuous at first, and took up residence, really making Himself at home. He started slowly, telling me that I wasn’t a good mother. That I didn’t know what I was doing. The fucker.
He told me that you would be better off without me, that I should just pack my bags and go. Anywhere. Away from you. He told me to divorce your Dad.
He even told me that you didn’t love me and that you never would. Big smelly liar.
One night He told me that I could get rid of Him, and myself, if I just stood at the top of the stairs and simply … let go.
And then one afternoon he told me to put you safely into your Moses basket and then to go into the bathroom and swallow all the paracetamol in the medicine cabinet.
There was enough there to do the job. He had checked. That one scared me. I’m well used to dealing with fuckers and liars but standing in that bathroom, He scared me.
What He didn’t know though was that I lived with a superhero, one who was already on to Him. Yer Man might not wear a cape (or his underpants outside his trousers), but Seán, your Dad is a superhero.
He threw himself bodily between me and Depression – at times it was like he was ten feet tall. He comforted and reassured and hugged and talked and then he sat me into the car and drove me to the doctor.
It turns out your Dad knows lots of other superheroes too. The doctor – who was wonderful and who prescribed a course of antidepressants to help – was just the first.
There was also your Nana and Gaga who swooped in to look after you, day and night. There was Granny who cleaned the house until it sparkled and who forced me to bring you for a walk and to get some fresh air, even when I didn’t want to. (“Come on now, it’s not really raining anymore and they’ve downgraded the weather warning to an amber alert, be grand.”
There were my friends who were always there in person or on the phone to talk to, to tell me I was normal, that Depression was the problem, not me.
There were even strangers on the Internet who shared their stories, who listened, who told me that I couldn’t look after you until I looked after myself first.
Between all of them, they helped me to fight Him. Gradually he stopped taking over the whole house. Gradually He moved upstairs. Then into His own room. Then into the attic.
But He was still there and from time to time He’d reappear, grinning, to taunt me again. With that little swagger that said ‘I’m here now’.
I was determined to beat Him though so I just continued on day after day, never giving Him the satisfaction of crumbling, cushioned by the support around me. It took a long time, longer than I had expected, He really wrapped Himself around me, determined not to let go.
Two months ago however, quite suddenly, I just decided that I’d had enough of Him. Really, enough. It was time to show Depression the door. I needed a repeat prescription for my meds and in order to get it I had to see the doctor. I felt that by that stage I was almost using the medication as a crutch and that if I could get off it, I could show Depression who was boss.
I sat in the doctor’s office, you on my knee, and blurted it all out. How tired I was of giving Depression space in my head and my heart. How much stronger I felt, how I didn’t want to have to take meds for the rest of my life to feel normal.
The doctor agreed with me. Doc had met Depression before and knew Him of old and knew the only way to beat Him was to meet Him head on and to be strong.
So we agreed a plan whereby I’d wean off the antidepressant medication as I didn’t need it anymore. The doctor gave me some counselling information to have in my back pocket, should I need it, ensured the superheros were still available to help and then told me to go for it.
I lowered the dose for a month, weaning off the meds, and then went off it completely. I started to practice some mindfulness, where I would focus on the positive things (and there are so many, I mean, come on, peanut butter) and each day count my blessings. I felt good and Depression didn’t like that one bit, He didn’t like that he was losing his grip on me.
But tough. Because He did lose. The withdrawal went well, it was physically hard, but I handled it. And now seven weeks later I’m completely free of medication and free of those negative thoughts.
So today, I kicked Depression out.
I wanted Him gone by time your party came around as your birthday is a joyous celebration and He has no place here. So this morning I just got up and threw his clothes out of an upstairs window. Fucking gleefully. He hasn’t won, He didn’t beat me. I won. He’s gone.
Depression, however, is like a bad smell that you can’t get to the bottom of. He hangs around, He lingers. I can’t guarantee that He won’t be back. He’s only moved into the hotel down the road and in the future He could come knocking again.
But at least this time I’ll be prepared, I’ll know where to go for help, I’ll know what to do. If He returns I have so many people on my side that really He doesn’t stand a chance. I may not have won the war, who knows what the future may hold, but right now, today, I’ve won the battle.
You’re too small now to read this but I’m writing it to keep for you in the hope that in years to come you will read it and you’ll understand. I wasn’t there for you in the beginning as much as I would have liked; I had to call in other arms to hold you, other lips to kiss you, other hearts to love you. But I did that FOR you. And I’m here now, all of me, so I hope that counts for something.
Happy Birthday my beautiful, sweet, precious, clever, funny, charming little man. To infinity and beyond.
I REMEMBER waking up on the morning of my wedding feeling like I was going to throw up and die of excitement all at the same time.
We had been planning our big day for well over a year and had poured money, time and energy into making it the perfect day to celebrate with our friends and family.
We were (and still are) so in love and we wanted to shout it from the roof tops. We had the big day with the pouffy dress and the fancy hotel and the vintage car. I even wore a tiara, for God’s sake. Looking back at 2011 me, I still roll my eyes at that bit. I did lose the run of myself.
But the point is, it was our special day and we wanted to celebrate it our way, so we did. We had 130 guests, we fed and watered them and spent the night dancing the feet off ourselves on the dance floor. True story that, I still have bloody stumps where my toes should be.
When Yer Man got down on one knee at the top of the Eiffel Tower, I had no hesitation in saying yes – in fact I quite literally jumped up and down with joy and almost deafened him by bellowing my acceptance. And I practically danced up the aisle.
I said yes then and I’m writing this today because I believe in marriage.
I believe in love. I believe in fidelity. I believe in promises. I believe in joy. And I believe, more than anything else, that marriage should be open to all who choose it.
Currently in Ireland marriage is only open to opposite sex couples. LGBT people are not allowed to marry, they are excluded simply by virtue of their sexuality.
And I believe that this is wrong.
On May 22 Ireland will hold a referendum asking the Irish public to widen the definition of civil marriage in our Constitution, to allow same-sex couples to marry.
It’s going to be a simple Yes or No question – you either agree with it or you don’t. I agree with it and here’s why I think you should too:
- Marriage isn’t a delicate flower, available only to the chosen few. It is a strong and robust institution, one that gives so many such happiness and joy. And just as importantly, one that confers legal rights and security on the two people involved and their families. Why should a whole section of our society be excluded from that?
- Allowing LGBT people to marry won’t damage marriage, it will only strengthen it. It will only enhance it. After May 22 if the referendum is passed, I – and all other currently married couples – will still be married. Nothing will have changed. My marriage will still be legally recognised by law and all the current legal security I and my husband and my son enjoy will be maintained. This is fact. All that will happen after May 22 is that more people will be given the right to marry if they choose to do so. That’s all. Marriage equality will not take anything from my marriage, it will only add to it.
- Telling people they should be happy with civil partnership is like telling them to sit at the back of the bus. Currently there are 160 legal differences between civil partnership and marriage – it’s not fair and it’s not good enough. It’s second best. I wouldn’t choose it for myself, so why should I impose it on others?
- No campaigners talk about ‘redefining marriage’ as if it’s a bad thing. In my eyes, it’s not and frankly, marriage has been redefined about a bajillion times before. In days of yore marriage meant that your husband owned you. You were literally his property. Marriage used to mean that if you worked in the civil service you had to give up your job once you walked down the aisle. It used to mean that your husband could rape you, and nothing could be done about it. Thankfully, marriage doesn’t mean those things anymore because – you’ve guessed it – it was redefined. The meaning of marriage, the laws behind marriage have all grown and changed and evolved as society has evolved. And this latest move, to extend civil marriage to same-sex couples is another chapter in that evolution. If voting Yes on May 22 means that marriage gets redefined to be more inclusive, then fuck it, redefine it.
- Allowing same-sex couples to marry will mean more security for children. Currently the children of LGBT parents live with a lot of uncertainty. There are questions over guardianship and succession rights that don’t arise for the children of opposite sex married couples. These very real children exist today in limbo and they deserve to be catered for.
- It’s the only fair way to vote. If you vote No you’re saying that you think LGBT people don’t deserve the right to marry. You’re saying that they’re not equal to you. You’re saying that they’re second class citizens. You’re saying that you don’t care about them and their welfare. And when it comes down to the bare bones of it, you’re saying you don’t care about marriage. Marriage will only continue to thrive and to grow and to sustain if it is open to everybody. The more sectors of society we cut off from marriage, the weaker it will get.
I’m not a lawyer or a human rights expert, I’m just an ordinary woman with a blog, so perhaps I’ve oversimplified above or made mistakes, perhaps I haven’t grasped the legal situation correctly, but here’s the thing – I don’t care. No doubt there’s a No campaigner waiting in the wings to tell me how wrong I am, but I’m not interested.
When it comes down to it, this referendum is simply about extending civil marriage to same-sex couples. It’s about love and fairness and equality. Everything else is just noise.
Vote for love. Vote Yes on May 22.
For more information visit Yes Equality, the Campaign for Civil Marriage Equality
IT was our fourth wedding anniversary yesterday and we went out for the whole day. By ourselves. AT NIGHT.
I did look around in the cinema for the lift to carry the buggy before realising that I had no buggy with me, and I did lean over and cut my husband’s steak up into bite sized pieces at dinner, but apart from that I behaved normally.
We thrun The Beast into his Nana’s and skipped off into town for a wander around the shops, an afternoon at the flicks (Insurgent, was good) and then dinner in a very adult restaurant.
There were no buggies here let me tell you, no high chairs either and the only noise was the buzz of the blender as the barman made cocktails for the table next to us. It. Was. Fucking. Bliss.
After dinner then we hopped on the Luas and went to the Point for a gig. Sting and Paul Simon were playing and as Yer Man is a huge fan it was the perfect way to end the day.
Laughing, we jostled and bumped our way onto the tram and stood closely together, delighted with ourselves. Young, free and in love, what could go wrong?
“I can’t wait for this now,” sez Yer Man. “Last time I saw Paul Simon I was only 19 and the rest of the audience were oul lads. Probably 40!”
I could almost see the thought process churning behind his eyes before he arrived, skidding, to the conclusion.
“Oh Jesus,” he gasped, horrified. “Now WE’RE forty!”
He was right. Not quite forty, but not far off.
Nervously we looked around the tram. There were some people there older than us, in their 50s and 60s, but quite a lot younger than us. Like, DECADES younger than us.
We’re no longer the youngest people at anything. We certainly weren’t the youngest at this concert. They were all there, with their hipster beards and their iPhones; drinking copiously and enjoying themselves.
When did that happen? When did I stop being a young wan and start being middle-aged? I know it’s all about how you feel, I know that, but seriously, to the young ones on the tram yesterday, I was middle-aged. Past it. I mean, I still type www into the address bar for God’s sake. It’s true, I’m getting old.
HOW did that happen?
Once the realisation hit me I couldn’t relax. Even though rationally I knew that being close to 40 is not old at all, I could almost physically feel myself ageing as I sat there.
Jealously I looked at the couple in front of me, barely in their twenties, cuddling and enjoying themselves. Bet she doesn’t know what it feels like to pee every time you sneeze, I thought bitterly.
I’ll bet that lad over there doesn’t obsess over keeping the grass cut and making sure the house insurance is up to date, I mused, hysterically.
Shake it off, I told myself, relax. Think about Yer Man. He’s a bit younger than you and he has a really young-looking face. A baby face actually, nobody could think he was middle-aged.
I looked over and took in his unlined smiling cherub face, his sparkling eyes, his full head of hair and felt my blood pressure start to drop.
Then I looked again.
He was Dad dancing.
That’s right, up on his feet awkwardly shaking his hips and clapping along to the music, like a drunk Dad at a wedding.
Ah Jaysis! In a way there’s a part of me that doesn’t mind getting, and certainly looking, older but I comforted myself with the knowledge that at least I have a young husband.
Not any more, apparently. At least he was enjoying himself though; shuffling away, raising his hands above his head and whooping along with the young fellas.
After the concert we slunk off home for a mug of Horlicks, before putting on our nightcaps and sliding into our separate twin beds. Well, not really. But we did go home cos we were wrecked and couldn’t face trying to beat our way to the bar in a crowded pub.
So it’s pretty official now. I’m a young wan no longer. But I suppose at least I have an oul fella to keep me company. Still crazy (about him) after all these years.
WHEN I was a kid there was no such thing as a foreign holiday. We got a week down the country with Mammy Dunne’s relatives and that was our lot.
We’d all cram into Dad’s Renault 16, my three siblings in the back, me on my mother’s knee in the front, with ne’er a seatbelt between us and set off – Dad chainsmoking and cursing in equal measure.
There’d then be a week of sleeping on sofas, sitting on walls, getting lashed on, hanging around and generally being bored rigid. This was the way it was and we just accepted it. Man, the 80s in Ireland were grim.
Anyway, if it was good enough for me, it’s good enough for The Beast so this past week we carted him off down the country for a few days over the Easter holidays, to have a bit of a break.
We’d have some good old fashioned Irish holiday fun, make some memories, have some laughs, soak up the Vitamin D, really bond as a family, you know?
God, it was miserable.
I mean, truly miserable.
It pissed rain for the entire week, temperatures hovering around Baltic, nowhere was open, the child was sick at one stage; if you looked up ‘shit holiday’ in the dictionary there’d be a picture of our family right there, looking miserable.
On the first day it lashed rain, the wind howled until about 7pm when finally, delirious with cabin fever, we decided to go for a walk down on the beach. Delighted the child rushed off to get his sunglasses and his bucket, ready to build sandcastles.
By the time we bundled him up in a coat, hat, scarf and gloves however, the tide had come in so there was no sand. He gamely settled for collecting stones in his bucket however and we marched up and down for an hour, freezing the holes off ourselves.
Look, here we are. Smiling to hide the tears.
No matter though, we consoled ourselves, the next day would be better, we had plans to visit a seal sanctuary and the Beast was beside himself with excitement. It’d be grand. Great.
The website said they were open daily. The gate was open. The sign on the door said they were open until 5pm but alas, even though it was only 1pm when we got there, the seal sanctuary was closed.
For fuck’s SAKE.
But sure look, not to worry, it had turned into a gorgeous sunny day so we decided to go to the playground instead. Squealing, The Beast headed for the swing and swung happily delighted with himself.
Look at him there, with the happy head on him. Note the blue sky in the background?
Approximately 49 seconds after we sat him in that swing, it clouded over, like fucking Judgement Day, and started to hailstone. No, hail boulder. No, no, wait, hail SLAB. We were forced to run for cover and ended up cowering in a bush – I am honestly not making this up – in an attempt not to get soaked.
We did not succeed.
Towelling ourselves off we decided we’d treat ourselves to a pizza that evening, to warm us up after two solid days of freezing our bollixes off.
We got out of the car and strode up to the door of the pizza place. It was closed. We pulled ourselves together and walked down a little further to another pizza place. Also closed.
Panicking now, we went further down the street to a third place that while, not a pizzeria, had pizzas on the menu. And it was open! Result!
They were out of pizzas that night. Sorry about that! Nothing they could do. Before I could slash my wrists, Yer Man took the shiv off me and ordered sausages for the child and pressed the bread basket into my hand.
Ok, I was ok. It was all good. We were out, the child was happily playing with his toys while waiting for his sausages (another huge treat), there was food on the way, what could possibly go wrong? I even took a snap of Dad and Son together, to celebrate. Look!
Towards the end of his meal, The Beast gagged on a piece of food and threw up into my hand. At the table. Again, I really wish I was making this up, but I’m not. I have witnesses! Covered in puke, we left, heads held high, holding onto our sanity by a gossamer thread.
Wednesday was a new day. We had plans to go to the local pet farm. Amazingly it wasn’t raining and even more amazingly, the place was open. So in we went to frolic with the llamas and the lambs and the goats and the iddy biddy baby bunnies …
The Beast had no interest whatsoever. He barely glanced at the animals before legging it towards the sand pit and sitting there filling the same bucket over and over for a full 90 minutes.
We spent €21 to get into a pet farm, to sit on a freezing wall watching him dig in a sandpit. When we couldn’t feel the tips of our fingers anymore we went into the cafe for lunch and then miserably trailed off home.
I did get to hug a baby lamb though, so I suppose it wasn’t all bad.
On our final day we didn’t bother planning anything or attempting any of that happy family shite, we just went to a shopping centre, had lunch and bought some new books and clothes, to cheer ourselves up. When in doubt, throw money at the problem, that’s my motto. It was by FAR the best day of the holiday.
So all in all I gave The Beast a holiday exactly like my childhood holidays of yore. Ah nostalgia, it make-a the world go round. Still though, as Yer Man said as drove off out of Dodge, at least it’s a holiday we’ll never forget.
A WHILE ago The Beast decided that he wasn’t going to eat any dairy anymore. Apart from cheese, which he adores, he went on an all out strike.
Any time I introduced anything with yogurt, cream, milk, he looked at me like it was weapons grade plutonium and point blank refused to even entertain it.
I wasn’t overly worried as he has a balanced diet and I add milk to things like scrambled eggs, baking, soups, curries, plus all the cheese so I didn’t think too much about it and let it go.
But from a handiness point of view I missed it. It’s so handy to throw a yogurt into a bag when you’re heading off for the day, or to lob a dollop of cream into a pan of pasta, and hey pretso, dinner. But The Beast would just give me a look that clearly said ‘I have spoken’ so that was that.
However when I was approached by Claudi & Fin – newly launching their brand of frozen yogurt lollies into Ireland this week – and asked to review their product, I jumped at the chance to sample their wares, thinking that this might be a way to reintroduce an element of dairy.
And yeah, I also wanted to eat them myself, enormous heifer that I am. So, to the review.
Claudi & Fin lollies are the brainchild of UK businesswomen Lucy Woodhouse and Meriel Kehoe who were looking for a tasty treat to give their kids (after whom the lollies are named) every now and again but couldn’t find anything in the shops that wasn’t full of junk.
So they bought up a load of fruit and yogurt, got their blenders out and made their own. And as the saying goes the rest is history.
The frozen lollies come in strawberry and mango flavour and contain full fat Greek style yogurt, full fat whole milk and fruit puree and some sugar. They come in box of four and are presented in a gorgeous sweet little box with an illustration of the lollies on the front. I’ve doled out loads of these lollies to pals to try and EVERYONE has commented on the packaging, it’s really lovely.
The first thing I did when I received my samples of the lollies is check the ingredients and was happy to see a short list of ingredients with no artificial ingredients, no sweeteners and no E numbers or junk. The lollies also contain 30 per cent of your RDA of Vitamin D, something Irish children can be lacking in, so that was all good.
Cautiously, as if disarming a bomb, I unwrapped a strawberry lolly for The Beast and handed it to him.
“Look! Lolly! On a stick!” I gurned, with a demented encouraging face on me. Silently thinking ‘Eat the lolly eat the lolly eat the lolly.’
Cautiously, he examined the lolly, suspiciously glancing up at my rictus face. Achingly slowly he picked it up and even more slowly he brought it to his mouth and took a first lick …
Well, see for yourself.
HE LIKED THEM! It took a while, he’s not used to food on a stick, but before long he was licking with gusto and even grabbing the lolly with his other hand and licking it off his fingers. Success! He didn’t finish his, it was a bit too big for him, but he really enjoyed the amount he ate.
I really liked them too, as did Yer Man. Creamy, fruity and not too sweet, they’re delicious. Both flavours are lovely but the mango one tastes like a Solero and is very very moreish.
I gave some to my neighbour for her four boys and she reports a very enthusiastic two thumbs up, with the boys demanding to try both flavours one after the other, just to make sure that they were nice. Research, you see!
My other pal reported happy children too, with her little man liking the “ellow” ones best!
Overall, I’m very impressed with Claudi & Fin lollies. They are, of course, a treat and not something you’d give after every single meal, but as an occasional snack they’re perfect. I’m sure some of you are thinking that you could whizz some up in your blenders yourselves rather than buying them, and you’re quite right. You could. The question is though, could you be arsed? For the convenience of being able to pick these up in the shops and having all the work done for you, not to mention not having to clean out the bloody blender, these can’t be beat. So Claudi & Fin, I salute you, it’s a very definite ten out of ten from me.
Claudi & Fin lollies are now available in Ireland in Centra and SuperValu stores and are priced €3.50 for a box of four. Visit www.claudiandfin.co.uk for more.
Disclosure: I was approached by Claudi and Fin to sample and review these lollies. I was sent samples free of charge. However I was not paid for this post, and all opinions are my own and an honest and accurate reflection of my thoughts on the product.
WE’VE all been there – a dull Wednesday afternoon, you open the fridge and half heartedly poke around hoping to find something to eat for that evening’s dinner.
There is nothing.
Unless mouldy tomatoes served on a bed of cardboard and gone off milk is suddenly a ‘thing’. And frankly, I wouldn’t put anything past the hipsters.
So anyway, you make the decision to go to the supermarket even though you’re on your own with the kid and even utter the immortal words ‘sure how hard could it be?’
Brimming with determination you get your coat and shoes on, make sure you have your keys and then Ninja tackle the two-year-old to the floor while shoving his arms into his coat and ripping the velcro on his shoes open with your teeth.
“We nare gooooinnng *pant* to the shhhooo *ouch* ppps. Put yer *yelp* cooaat nnnnnnn,” you bellow restraining the child like you learnt in
juvie a book.
Both suitably attired you decide to bring the buggy in case the child gets tired so he can climb aboard and slumber peacefully while you browse.
*rolls eyes at own naivety*
It takes 15 minutes to get out the door as you negotiate how many toys the child is allowed to bring with him. You finally settle on 17, following an all out shrieking mickey fit on his part. And, let’s be honest, on yours.
Red faced and sweating you make it into the supermarket and for the first five minutes you glide serenely up and down the aisle.
‘This isn’t so bad,’ you think to yourself, as the child occupies himself eating the snack you have cleverly packed before you left the house.
You throw a few items into your basket and then, stupidly, make eye contact with your toddler. Big mistake. Huge.
The child suddenly realises that he may not be the centre of your attention and starts making attempts to escape.
Down and play!
His demands reach ear splitting level so you eventually release him from the
instrument of torture buggy and tell him to hold on to your hand as you walk along.
Not at ALL.
First chance he gets, he’s doing his Ronnie Delaney impression, legging it into the fruit and veg section and instantly disappearing behind a display of melons.
Where the fuck is he?
You finally find him playing with a kumquat which he will not relinquish under any circumstances. You remind him of all the lovely toys you brought with you, 17 in all, but he is adamant. He despises those toys. He wants this kumquat. You will buy it for him and let him keep it and you will like it.
You don’t even know what a kumquat is. You vaguely think it might taste like chicken.
Exhausted you try to continue with your shopping, holding tightly onto the child with one hand, while manoeuvering the buggy and the basket with the other.
You end up having to headbutt your groceries off the shelf into your basket as it’s the only appendage you have free.
Concussed, you make your way to the till and in your confused state you decide to check out using the self service tills.
Like a fucking gobshite.
Unexpected item in bagging area.
Please wait for assistance.
Unexpected item in bagging area.
Please take your items.
Unexpected item in bagging area.
Please take your items.
PLEASE TAKE YOUR ITEMS.
All the while you’re frantically trying to get the machine to take your crumpled twenty, while attempting to stop the toddler from scaling the tower of baskets.
Defeated, you stumble home, bowed and bloodied with a shrieking toddler triumphantly holding a kumquat attached to your face. And naturally, when you get home you realise you left your bag of shopping in the supermarket.
You eat mouldy tomatoes for dinner. Followed by fucking kumquat.
And you learn a valuable lesson. The only way to bring a toddler shopping with you is to leave him at home with his other parent or a grandmother. Or, you know, the postman, anyone at all once you don’t have to endure shopping with a toddler.
It’s the only way. Trust me.