Tuesday 29 November 2016

What do you get for the person who has...nothing?!

So it's happening. Age is creeping up on us. Himself is turning the big 4-0 next month and I have no idea what to get him. What do you get for the man who has….nothing?!
Since our eldest child was born more than six years ago, pretty much everything we have has been spent on something to do with the children. I know loads of parents who are in the same boat. We rarely buy clothes for ourselves anymore and nights out or trips as a couple are a rarity. In fact, a night away without the kids has happened once over the past six years. Even Christmases and birthday presents for each other have been foregone in favour of doing something as a family or using the money to get something for the kids.
So far from not knowing what to get for him for his special birthday because he already has everything, I'm bamboozled as to what to get because there's so much that he does need. So here, I've come up with a gift guide for anyone else in the same boat: who's shopping for someone who's been neglected gift wise for a long time. Here's a bunch of stuff I know he'd love. Now, what to choose?

  • A pair of brogues from Loake Shoemakes. He already has a pair from about seven years ago and they've seen better days. He's lived in them and worn them with everything and even had them re-soled locally a few times. (Though I've since learned you can send them back to the factory to be re-soled.) Loake have recently opened their first Irish store on Wicklow Street in Dublin and it's pretty much shoe heaven for men who like quality, classic and beautiful shoes. Surely a new pair of these would see him right until his 50th?! There are loads of different styles to choose from if you check outwww.loake.co.uk and the Dublin store is open seven days per week. 

  • A watch. He hasn't worn a watch for as long as I've known him but there's something sophisticated and stylish about a classic timepiece. It really does dress up an outfit and it's much better than having to rely on your phone to tell the time - especially as his seems to constantly be conked. I really like this watch by TOLD &  Co, and the fact that it's designed by an Irishman (former Munster rugby player Tomas O'Leary) is nice. http://www.toldandco.com/watches/tc15-white-face-gold-case-with-brown-leather-strap.html

  • A night away is always good because it'd be a present for me as well! I love the sound of Monart as a special adult getaway because there are no children allowed. No, I haven't suddenly gone anti-children, but if we're going to treat ourselves to a luxurious night away sans little ones, it'd be nice to not have to look at other people's kids while we're at it.www.monart.ie

  • A new coffee machine. The one we have is older than our first born and has been giving bother of late. I love the look of the bean to cup machines from De'Longhi - they seem fool proof and look like they'd make a cracking cuppa http://www.delonghi.com/en-gb/products/coffee/coffee-makers/automatic-coffee-makers/dinamica-ecam-35075s-r132215053

What do you reckon? Do you have any more ideas of stuff that would be suitable for someone's 40th? I'd love to hear them!

Child rape is NOT pornography.

I've got lots of different news alerts set up on my email account. It's part of my job: I have to keep my eye on stories, on the news, on what's happening with the world. I get lots of random stories sent to my inbox that have nothing to do with the topics that I've flagged but because they contain some of my keyword searches, they get sent to me. Many I don't even bother reading, but some catch my eye.

The amount of stories about child sexual abuse in my inbox seems to be increasing daily. Horrific stuff. Different stories from different publications but all with the same gut wrenching, awful details about innocent children being violated by a disgusting excuse for a human being: their father, their uncle, their teacher, their carer. The list is endless. 

This week, I was particularly horrified by a case that involved the sexual abuse of a child being videoed by the perpetrator. I won't go into the awful details but one thing, apart from the horror of what the victim went through, jumped out at me. It's been jumping out at me for years but now that I have three beautiful children of my own it grates more than ever. 

Please stop calling the sexual abuse and vicious rape of children 'child pornography' just because the vile rapist happened to film his crimes. It is NOT pornography. 

Whatever your stance is on the rights or wrongs of porn or the "adult film" industry, comparing it to child abuse is just plain wrong. If a man or woman was viciously raped and the crime was videoed and published online, it would not be referred to as pornography. Please let's afford the same respect to our children by not referring to the crimes against them as such. 

According to the Oxford English Dictionary online pornography is the  "Printed or visual material containing the explicit description or display of sexual organs or activity, intended to stimulate sexual excitement." Child rape is not porn. It's child rape. So giving it the same name as a video of two consenting adults engaging in sexual activity for the pleasure of their viewers/themselves/whoever is insulting and belittles the heinous crime that it is. I know some people argue that many of the participants of porn films are victims in different ways, but that's another debate and not something I'm getting into here.
So many news organisations are guilty of using the term 'child pornography' - here in Ireland and overseas. I hear it on TV and on radio news bulletins regularly. Can we please stop? 

Snapchat Baby

This post is also from September when my laptop was broken - here it is in full in case you missed it on www.Evoke.ie


So Grace Mongey, aka Faces by Grace, Snap Chatted her way through labour this week. Now, she didn't hold the phone between her legs and capture *the moment* her baby girl emerged into this world. But she did update her tens of thousands of followers during early labour, updated them when she was at 7cm and 10cm and snapped a gorgeous pic to announce BabyFaces arrival. 

I've seen a lot of comments online about how "nothing is sacred" anymore and that the whole thing was a bit "TMI". But I think it was brilliant. In fact, I'd nearly love to get pregnant again myself just so I could share the experience with people. Not that I have tens of thousands of followers on social media. Or not that I actually want to get pregnant again. But still. I would totally be up for this if I was having another baby.

Women are constantly told how awful childbirth and labour is. Any depiction of it in films or on the telly involves blood, sweat, tears and a whole lot of screaming and roaring. It looks terrifying and like nothing you'd ever want to actually go through. Grace's snaps showed labour in a different light. She was calm. She was smiling. She was relaxed. Her partner, Chris, or Kips for anyone who follows the extremely likeable couple on Snapchat, wasn't a bumbling buffoon being roared at or having his fingers squeezed to breaking point. They showed what labour is like for a lot of people: an intimate, beautiful and life-changing experience that doesn't have to be scary or awful. 

The more women who are empowered to have positive birthing experiences and try things like the hynobirthing that Grace advocated during her pregnancy, the more the fear will be taken out of childbirth. 
I was always terrified of labour because of the aforementioned depictions of it that surrounded me but when I actually got pregnant and realised that giving birth was part of that process, I did a thing called Gentlebirth to help me prepare. And I managed to have drug free labours without fear. 

Now, don't get me wrong: they weren't walks in the park, but my labours were positive experiences and I wish I had videoed them or taken photos as I'm sure in time the little details will fade from my memory. Having children is the biggest thing to have ever happened to me, yet I've got no videos, no pictures to look back on. Childbirth - in fact so many 'women's issues' are such taboo, even in this day and age. They really don't have to be. 

Aupair Woes

This post is from September. I wrote it when my laptop was on the blink so I'm only getting to post it now. Some of you may already have read it on www.Evoke.ie 


So our luck with aupairs ran out last week after I discovered the young woman who had joined our family just days before had violently pushed my toddler and had been shouting at the kids. It was her third day with our family and the first time I'd left her alone with the children. I was gone for less than an hour, having done a leisurely child-free weekly shop. When I came home, I had a look in the sitting room window, as I always do, and waved at the kids, who looked happy and content sitting on the couch being read a story by her. 

But when I unlocked the front door and the children ran to greet me, a different story emerged. My 2.5 year old instantly burst into tears and told me that the aupair had pushed her onto the couch. Big fat tears rolled down her face and she was pretty inconsolable - which isn't like her at all. I brought her in and calmed her down and proceeded to ask my older children what had happened. My six year old gleefully demonstrated on the four year old how the aupair had shoved my little girl - a tiny slip of a thing - onto the couch. She'd been roaring at them as well. 

I calmly asked the aupair, who had nervously snaked off into the kitchen at this point, for her side of the story. She didn't deny the kids' version. She did say that she couldn't remember pushing her but that she must have done if the kids said so. They had no reason to lie, she said. Indeed. There were tears and apologies and when I told her she had to go, she understood. For the next three days, until her flight back home, she hid out in her room and emerged only for coffee and food. I kind of felt sorry for her in the end. 

I've seen all the nanny cam videos of child minders hurting the kids in their care. I've seen the Prime Time investigation into creches. I never imagined that I could have hired an aupair capable of similar behaviour. I'm so glad the kids told me about it early - I shudder to think of what could have happened if she had gotten into her groove with it. The sad thing about it is, kids are so forgiving too. They had really warmed to her and were affectionate and open with her. They forgive so easily and despite the shouting and the aggression, were sad to say goodbye to her. "I miss my new friend," was how Tessa put it after I had dropped her to the bus station. And I guess that's how abuse happens at home and by family members too. Kids forgive so easily. They trust so easily and they love so freely. 

Nobody saw you...

THERE'S a lovely post doing the rounds on Facebook at the moment. "Nobody Saw You". A tribute to mums for all that they do that no one gives them credit for. The little things that go unnoticed for the most part. You can find the original post here - loads of my mum friends have posted it. http://www.likereallifeblog.com/2016/06/22/nobody-saw-you/ I couldn't help but write my own version of Nobody Saw You because every day in life I utter to myself: "Thank God nobody saw that."

Here goes: 

Nobody saw you,
nobody at all

at 3am when
they woke again

and you whispered fuck
and rolled over and pretended not to hear them, even if it was just for a few minutes.
Nobody saw you
picking up the peas

and putting them back on their plates.
The 5 second rule is still applicable to kids, right?
Nobody saw you taking the uniform out of the laundry basket
giving it a sniff and wiping it with a damp cloth 
because you forgot to put a wash on over the weekend again.
Nobody saw you picking snot from their noses because you forgot the tissues,
Or lifting the log of poop out of her nappy with a wipe and flushing it down the loo because you forgot to bring a spare nappy.
Nobody saw you when you said you couldn't find the paintbrushes and turned on Paw Patrol instead because you really can't be bothered cleaning up gloops of paint again. 
Nobody saw you thinking "oh fuck it" and letting them wear the same underwear for two days in a row because you're running late and they don't want to wear the blue ones today mammy.
Nobody saw you losing it and shouting your head off at them when you promised yourself that you'd try to have more patience. 
Nobody saw you give them Weetabix for dinner because they're not going to bastard eat the lovely chickpea stew you had in mind anyway are they?
Nobody saw them fall down the last few steps because you were busy looking at someone's new jeans on their Snapchat story.
Nobody saw you skipping pages in the bedtime story because you really can't be fucked reading about The Gruffalo or Stickman again. 
Nobody saw you doing a half assed job of brushing their teeth last night because you knew the takeaway would be arriving soon and you wanted to sit down with a glass of wine. 
Nobody saw you, thanks be to God. I'd die a death sometimes if the realities of my motherhood were exposed for all to see. Oh wait...

Friday 5 August 2016

Is World Breastfeeding Week going tits up?

Milk coma post feed with my 2.5 year old beautiful baby 

So it’s World Breastfeeding Week this week. I feel obliged to talk about it, to fly the flag, so to speak. I’ve been breastfeeding for the best part of six years at this point and given that my 2.5 year old is a self-confessed “boobie addict”, I don’t see myself stopping any time soon. And guess what? I’m a normal mum, just like any other mum I know. I’m not a freak. I’m not a martyr. I’m not a child abuser. I’m not a show off. I’m not disgusting. I’m not any of the horrible things I’ve seen directed at breastfeeding mums this week on various online forums or comment sections online.  I’m just a mum, doing what works for me and what I feel is best for my kids. 

I breast feed my baby because it’s what she needs, what she wants, what works for us. I know plenty of people who still give their kids bedtime bottles at this age. Soothers too. Great. If it works for them, why not? My little girl is still in nappies. She is still totally dependant on me. She’s still a baby. So why is it so strange that she still wants to feed? We are mammals after all, and it’s perfectly normal for a mother to feed her young for years, as opposed to months, which seems to be the only socially acceptable amount of time to feed your child in this country. If that. 

My husband’s family have cattle and calves feed off their mothers for years, on demand. I mean not dairy cows of course. Newborn calves are whipped away from their mothers pretty soon after birth so the the mother can be milked to provide milk for human consumption and of course to make formula for people who choose not to breast feed. In Dublin zoo recently, a gorilla had a baby and she will feed her offspring on demand too for years. But somehow it’s abnormal for me to do it. Because boobs. Boobs are sexual. Women are commodities and breasts are for titillation and it confuses the hell out of people when women do what’s natural with them and feed their children.

This week, I’ve seen a lot of posts on Facebook in celebration of World Breastfeeding Week. And every. single. one. ends up in a virtual scrap about how breastfeeders need to stop throwing it in people’s faces. How formula feeding isn’t bad. How we should stop making mother’s feel guilty for not breastfeeding. To be honest, it’s infuriating. Why does it have to be hijacked like this? Why can’t it just be what it’s supposed to be: a week where breastfeeding is celebrated and promoted. Lord knows we need it. It’s not like we’re in the majority. Only around 3% of the population do it and many people report struggles with it, so clearly the support networks and expertise is not there. Many women are trying but having to quit because there is so much misinformation out there and because formula companies do such a great job of promoting their products. 

I would like to make one thing clear: as a breastfeeder, I have no intention of making anyone feel guilty because I breastfeed. I have no intention of trying to feel superior. I have no intention of shoving my tits in your face. I don’t care how you feed your child. Do what’s right for you. I do care, however, if you wanted to breastfeed but were struggling, that doctors and nurses just automatically suggest bottles in many cases. I care that tongue ties are missed and people aren’t getting help if they want it. That’s what I care about. 

Breastfeeding is promoted in hospitals as being the best way to feed your child. It’s tailored to exactly suit your baby, it’s got live anti bodies that prevent infection and it’s also good for mum. The list of reasons to breast feed goes on and on. It’s not the best way. It’s the natural way. The normal way. The biological way we’re supposed to feed. If you don’t fancy doing it, don’t. But it doesn’t change the fact that all those things are true. It’s science. It’s fact. It’s real life. It’s the same with any kind of food. Some foods are processed, artificial, full of additives and preservatives. These aren’t as good for you and don’t have as many health benefits as natural foods like fruits and vegetables etc. Some people still choose to eat junk food. That’s grand. It’s your choice. But do you get angry at people who eat healthily? Abuse them online for showing plates of salad or talking about the delicious piece of fish they had for their dinner? Do people get berated for running or exercising because they’re making people who choose to sit on the couch and watch Netflix feel bad about themselves? 

The world is full of choices. Make them. Own them. Be happy with them. If you tried to breastfeed but couldn’t manage it for one reason or another, be angry with your hospital for not providing you with the support. Be angry that there is virtually no funding for lactation consultants. Be angry that hospitals spend a fortune on giving out free formula while mothers struggle in agony asking for help with feeding only to be told that there’s no lactation consultant available today. Be angry that you were failed. But please don’t be angry with me. You didn’t fail. You were failed. 

If you chose to use formula after doing all of your research and deciding that it simply wasn’t for you, for whatever reason, that’s fine too. Good for you. But please don’t get angry about breastfeeding promotion. Please don’t get angry that your midwife will talk to you about the fact that breastfeeding is better for your baby than formula. These are the facts. If you were a smoker your midwife would tell you you need to stop, if you were overweight she might suggest a diet plan to help you lose weight. None of these things are to hurt you or to make you angry. They’re simply providing information. It’s up to you to do what you will with that information. So please, can we call a truce and stop these so called ‘mommy wars’. I promise I’m not judging you. Now, can people please stop judging me?

Wednesday 27 July 2016

Kids say the darnedest things...

Last week, Prince George - the firstborn of Prince William and Kate Middleton for anyone who’s been hiding under a rock - turned three. He was all over the news - people wrote about his cutest outfits, the birthday gifts that he’d most likely receive and who he’s met in his three short years on this planet. One of the articles that stood out most for me was one about his best quotes. It got me thinking about some of the clangers my kids have come out with over the years, much to my mortification. 

There are so many times that I’ve had to literally talk over them mid sentence for fear of how they finished it. And I always think of my sister’s son, who when a particularly rotund colleague visited their home, came out with a toy measuring tape from his Bob the Builder set and started trying to measure her back, saying, “Wow, your back is as big as an iceberg.” I also think of Maisie, who, not yet out of nappies, started pointing at a shabbily dressed bearded man on the bus, pointed and kept saying: “Look mammy, a scarecrow!” at the top of her voice. 

So this week, I started making note of the things they said to me at one point or another. It was actually a nice exercise and I will probably try and keep it up. It’ll be something to look back on in years to come and chuckle. And when they’re teenagers and accusing me of being an embarrassing parent, I can remind them that the embarrassment sometimes works both ways. 

Here are some of my favourites quotes from the past week: some funny, some lovely, and some just plain mean!

“Mommy, you’re not stupid anymore.” Tessa, aged 2, after I gave her a biscuit.

“Mommy is your tummy big like that because you ate too much pizza?” Maisie, aged 5.

“Mum, hurry up and clean my butt - this poo stinks.” George, aged 4.

“I love you mommy, you’re the best.” Maisie.

“Mommy, can men have babies in their tummies too?” Maisie, loudly, whist looking at a man’s belly at the doctor’s surgery. 

“Mum, I’ll love you even when I’m a grown up.” George.

Kids. They say the darnedest of things...