It’s been a while since I’ve written much about the little man. It’s not that he’s not been around, he certainly has been, it’s just been manic and monotonous at the same time. Parenting seems to ebb and flow in and out of a Groundhog Day situation. We have the same routines, the same arguments, watching the same episodes of Paw Patrol until I can recite them. The more things change, the more things stay the same. He’s changing, but doing it on the sly, while I’m not looking. He wakes up an inch or two taller. He comes home from creche with new words. He’s half way to five, I realised the other day. Half way to schoolbag on his back, out the door, being a proper little person.
This post is one I’ve been thinking about for a while. It’s not the first time I’ve spoken about my thoughts on the Irish education system. I’ve previously lamented the level of religious indoctrination in our primary and secondary schools. I’ve given my thoughts on consent education, and sex education as a whole in Irish schools. Today’s post is somewhat similar to those, but more with a retrospective look at the education I received in second level about mental health. Moreso, what mental health education I wish I had received, instead of the lacking amount that I did.
My heart is sore. I’ve just finished listening to an incredibly brave woman, Siobhan Whelan, talk about her pregnancy in an interview on Prime Time. Prime Time never gets the good news stories from maternity wards, and this interview was no different. Siobhan, who was pregnant at the same time as I was in 2013/2014, was treated in Cavan General Hospital. This hospital has been in the news quite a bit over the past few years, home to numerous tragedies caused by medical misadventure. Pregnant women have entered and left empty handed, mourning the loss of their babies, believing in many cases that it was their fault. This isn’t the first Prime Time interview I’ve watched with women who were treated there, not the first I’ve welled up to. It draws little surprise, even though the topic is heart-wrenching. The lack of shock about the conditions is what hurts my heart most of all. It’s not exactly the only example of pregnant women losing their voices in the course of pregnancy as far as the medical profession is concerned. Bodily autonomy isn’t something afforded to those with child here.
It’s been a hectic few weeks with being away and trying to get back into the swing of things with E – September was a rollercoaster! However, back to normal scheduling now, so that means another addition to Mental Health Monday! This week, the very lovely Laura from Raising Elves has agreed to share her tale of trauma, depression and how it has affected her family life with the series. It’s a piece I found myself agreeing with a lot of and it summed up just so much of what being in the trenches with depression can feel like. As a parent with depression, I can see a lot of the same elements in my own life and it gave me pause to think about how it is impacting his life too. It’s an eyeopening read which I think a lot of people will relate to. So, without further fuss or ado, here’s Laura with her tale of being an awesome depression survivor!
Last week, myself and Himself had our first proper holiday together. After four years, we decided it was time for a true test of our relationship. Time to see if a week together constantly would make us kill each other or not. Happily I can say both have survived, and despite both catching THE PLAGUE, we’re all good. We headed to the city of Seattle, Washington. It was my first time to the USA, and after that week I am hopeful it won’t be my last. However, I did notice quite a few elements of our trip which did make me question our budget for the trip. There were some things we did to ensure we got the best value for our dollar. So, to pass on those tips, here’s my guide to visiting Seattle on a Budget – and it’s probably applicable for most cities in the US.
Last Saturday was my birthday. On that day,25 years ago, my mother became a proud c-section Mammy, and I entered the world. I’m sure there have been many times since then that she wishes she had kept the receipt to return me to the midwives, but here we are. At Twenty Five.
I am not a fan of bedtime. The child going to bed, yes, perfectly happy with that (what parent isn’t?) but it’s an ordeal at the moment. No matter what kind of routine we try to put in place, it’s a bit of a non-runner. Basically my two year old has skipped childhood and gone straight to the teenage years. Refuses to sleep until late at night, is a GRUMP in the mornings and doesn’t want to listen to a word I say. I’ve not yet gone seeking a refund from the midwives in CUMH just yet but I’ve been close. However, the one bit I do like of the whole farcical routine is curling up with bedtime stories and reading together. It’s a nice time for the two of us and once I’ve got the books that I can’t stand out of the way (I’m talking to you Stickman!), it can be nice and relaxing. So, what have we been reading lately? A mesh of old and new books on the shelves, some I’ve spoken about before, but this is what the two and a half year old is loving right now (and I’m not tearing my hair out reading).
This week’s Mental Health Monday combines with the World Suicide Prevention Day happening a few days back. I read this post from Claire who writes at Plodding Along Quietly Crazy. IÂ felt so much of it resonate with me. It’s brutally honest and from the heart, exactly the kind of conversations we need to be opening up. Silence is helping nobody in their battle for mental health. We need to talk about it openly and honestly. Claire is Mammy to two little men. She documents life with them and her battles with health and parenthood on her blog. You can also find her on Facebook. Hopefully this piece will resonate with you too and get you talking if you’ve been keeping schtum, or start off some conversations with those around you.
My return to work has left me resentful of public transport. Without a car, I’m somewhat dependent on it. The last time I was in work, we lived in the city centre, which meant it was a 20 minute bus journey from the bus stop 10 minutes walk from my house. The current commute, including creche drop off on the way, is a 20 minute walk, creche, 10 minute walk, 20 minute bus journey – and inevitably the waiting times between the buses. The journey home can take more than an hour in the evenings, which isn’t ideal when you’re already working past the closing time of creche and are depending on help to collect small man in the evenings. So, I decided this wasn’t for me, and after putting it off and allowing my back to rule the roost, I went for automatic driving lessons.
The child has a life in politics ahead of him I think. With a straight face, he will be able to tell the media that the money was only resting in his account, and get away with it too. I’m not sure why my child’s life in politics is set to be filled with corruption, however I do know he’s in training to pull it off while still looking good. Bertie, the Teflon Taoiseach, will have nothing on him. What has brought me to this conclusion? Just a stage we seem to have hit in the BadMammy house.
This week’s Mental Health Monday piece is from my archives – not my personal story, but a piece I wrote in conjunction with others for a magazine piece. It was eye opening for me to learn about prenatal depression and to speak to Madge and Rosey who have experience in the area. It’s something that is so rarely spoken about, which can lead to more feelings of isolation in pregnancy with women who do suffer with it. Hopefully you’ll find it insightful and a useful read.
The day you find out youâ€™re pregnant is a life-changing day. Whether it is your first or your fourth, a planned new addition or an unexpected surprise, when that test changes to a positive sign, your heart will race and everything changes. For some it is a moment of absolute bliss, but for others, it can take a while for the news to sink in and to process whether or not this is a good thing. The image of a panicked woman and a pregnancy test in hand is not just reserved for the teenager terrified to tell her parents â€“ even when youâ€™ve got your life sorted out, that positive test can rock you to your core and make you think about what you really want in your life.
I’m a big fan of non fiction and documentary, in both visual and written media forms. I like true crime, factual accounts of people’s lives, adding knowledge and new experiences to my mind which can change the way I think about things. Fiction is great and all, I get very invested in the lives of people who don’t exist, but there’s something special about learning about the real people and feeling the real emotions, knowing more about the world around me. I’ve found Netflix to be great for providing new documentaries for opening my horizons – from stuff on what we’re eating, to different religious cults, to treatment of women in different parts of the world. It all informs who I am as a person, and who I am raising my child to be. This month has definitely been one with thought provoking watching, not easy watching, but documentaries with important messages that everyone should see.Â (more…)
It’s awards season around these parts. Get ready for the shouting of “What are you wearing” and for the main answers not be “Whatever I found that was some semblance of clean and not attacked by the child!”. Yes, the awards for bloggers are coming thick and fast, and I have been lucky enough this year to have readers who considered my work good enough to be considered for more than one award. This week I got some fantastic news, my blog has made it into the final of Blog Awards Ireland. (more…)
On my way to work this morning, I was listening to a radio station I don’t normally listen to (Cork’s Red FM, I’m normally a 96fm woman after 9am). Amid discussions on government decisions about tax, and extra traffic on the road due to kids being back to school, the conversation turned to the traumatic events which unfolded in Cavan over the weekend, the tragic case of the family who died in a murder-suicide. This case has been all over the media in the last couple of days, with 99% of the focus on the man and his sons, with little on his wife who was also a victim. The media has talked about motivations, about mental illness, about how someone could do such a horrendous thing to the people they are supposed to love most in the world. Reading it, and avoiding any of the more salacious details which the tabloids seem to be reporting with glee, makes my heart hurt.
As a general rule, I have this depression/mental health thing sorted. I’ve gotten help from my GP, I’ve an understanding partner and family, I’ve seen a psychiatrist regularly over the last two years. I take my meds every night, I make sure to try to get sleep, I know it’s good to talk. For all intents and purposes, for the most part I like to consider the black dog my bitch. There have been a few dips, of course, to teach me my place, but I put a lot of it down to having too much time to think while out of the workplace. So when I returned to work I assumed I wouldÂ be on the home free road. And we all know what they say about people who assume.
It’s Awards Season in the Blogosphere, it’s all very exciting. Yesterday evening, I got an email to tell me I’d gotten through to the Shortlist of the Blog Awards Ireland with BadMammy.com, this little blog here. Not only that, but two shortlists!
After a few weeks break, Mental HealthÂ Mondays is back this week. Sharing stories of parents who have encountered all sorts of mental health issues, I hope that this series will educate, reassure and work towards removing the stigma of mental illness encountered by parents. The reception to it so far has been astounding, I’ve been really grateful to so many who have taken part, and to those who have read and commented and given feedback. It’s all about opening the lines of communication, removing the elephant in the room and making it a better space for people to be able to put their hand up and say “Hey, I need a bit of help here”. If you’ve not seen any of the previous posts, make sure to check them out here.
This week, Aoife from BuggyWalksIreland is talking all about the links between physical and mental health. She discusses the links to her increase in physical activity, like going for walks, to the upward levels of calm and happiness. This is something which definitely rang true with me, as I found no greater calm than putting E into the buggy and heading off on a long walk. The fresh air, the endorphins, the lack of four walls closing in on me – it did the world of good and definitely improved my view on the world.Â So without further intro, here’s Aoife and her story for this weeks Mental Health Mondays post.
My toddler is a curious fellow, an ever changing personality. I’d point out some manufacturing flaws (the lack of love of sleep, the mess) but I did make him myself so I’ve nobody else to really blame. However, flaws aside, he does provide me with endless entertainment, a new perspective on life and some thoughts on the kind of old age home he’ll be paying for to make up for the 5am wakeup calls. Something new changes every day – whether it’s learning new words, or stringing together sentences, or managing to scoot through the entire apartment flawlessly – he’s an ever growing lovely little thing.
If I’m asked to describe him, there’s no real single word I could choose, there are too many things to just pick one. I quite enjoyed a similar post about myself that I did last summer, so here’s a look at an A-Z of my toddler, a bit of a fun idea to capture a little snapshot of him in time, right now, aged 2 and a quarter.
Parenthood is a life changer, no two ways about it. Things that you took for granted before you had children get viewed in an all-new light, through bleary eyes and caffeinated dark hours. It’s a fantastic change, filled with lovely moments that will last in memory. Soon, you’ll start to wonder what life was like before the little pet came into your life and changed everything.
As anyone who has a toddler living in their home will know, you wind up with a lot of rather ear-worm type songs stuck in your head. Just this morning, Iâ€™ve already been humming â€œMummy Finger, Mummy Finger, Where Are You?â€ and the all-time classic â€œThe Wheels on The Busâ€. As singing plastic enters the house and adds new lyrics to older songs (Iâ€™m looking at you VTech), the list of Top Toddler Hits grows and grows. At any time, I can be found to regale you with a feisty rendition of the Big Balloon song from Peppa, the Fireman Sam theme tune or, and Iâ€™m NOT proud of this, The Pup Pup Boogie. Yeah, this is parenting life, weâ€™re very cool with our music.
You know those summer days where the fates all align and allow you to actually go and do something nice together as a family? We had one of those last Friday, so decided we would head to Fota Wildlife Park and make the most of the weather. At two, E is animal mad – he knows all the noises, he knows the names and was very excited about the concept of going to see all the animals. In particular, the cows. Ahem. Once we had him corrected to realise that it would be more lions and monkeys, rather than farm animals, we were set to go!
Here we are again, continuing the conversation about a line in our constitution which forces half the population into a second class citizen role. One that requires permission, only given by begging, pleading, desperate measures, from the bigger authorities, because heaven help us if they were trusted with making their own decisions. Yes, boys and girls, we’re talking about the 8th amendment again. I’m actually tired of talking about it, but it’s not something we can stop the conversation about because it’s still there, glaring at us up from Bunreacht na hEireann, highlighting the role of women as vessels. De Valera’s Ireland is still alive and kicking according to that piece of paper.
That quote about the best laid plans of mice and men? Someone definitely had spent time with a toddler that week. I’ve got the Monday blues, looking back at all of the things I had wanted to do last week, to do this week, feeling utterly muddled.
At the end of last month, I was very lucky to be offered the chance to attend Inspirefest. Inspirefest is a technology and science conference, but one which not only shows a lot of merging with the arts, but also issues about diversity and gender. As someone who hasn’t studied science since her Junior Cert exams in 2006, I was definitely much more driven towards the diversity and gender side of things. Who’d have thought by the end of it I’d be rethinking my entire vision of future careers?