Category Archives: Photography

365 days later

What a difference a year makes!

#DIL2014

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A year ago, I was training for #hellandback and #DIL Darkness Into Light was introduced to Donegal for the first time. At the time, we did it because a good friend was organising it and it was a good “public” run as it were. It was fun, I made good time, I did it on my own.

One year later it was being staged at home and it wasn’t just a means to an end. It was an experience as opposed to a run. The whole point was going from Darkness INTO the light, to experience the camaraderie, the feeling of being part of something, that we aren’t alone. And no, that’s not just an excuse for taking twice as long to do it than the year before. Although circumstances have changed greatly since. I’m not running as much following an ankle and calf injury 6 months ago. I’m 5 months pregnant. The list could go on and on.

#DIL2015

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I forgot to turn my MapMyRun (too busy chatting) on but someone said it was about 5.37km.

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I am very lucky that no one close to me has died from suicide but I have close family and friends that have. I know the depression that lurks deep, that can spring from a slow drip to a gushing flood. That it’s paralysing and unstoppable. And for whatever reason people did or didn’t do it, i hope they take away the simple fact that there is someone out there to reach out to.

I want my kids to grow up in a house where we can talk and talk about anything. That depression and suicide aren’t dirty words, a whispered secret. That there is an illness that is so consuming that there is no light. So they can recognise it, they can be aware of it, they can ask for help.

It is difficult to approach in an age appropriate way but I got them a book a few years ago which very gently touches on it and I think its a good spring board for more mature material later on.

http://www.amazon.co.uk/The-Huge-Worries-Virginia-Ironside/dp/0340903171

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It’s another one of those things that I endlessly worry about as a parent. But I guess, time will only tell.

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Still I Rise.

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As i walked down the Main St last night, after a lovely family dinner, son in hand, someone drove past and shouted racist abuse at me. Unprovoked, out of the blue.

I won’t lie. It shocked and upset me. I have thick skin, sticks and stones and all that and usually, it just rolls over, forgotten. But sometimes, sometimes, it does stick. It does hurt and most of all it does worry me. In the fifteen years i’ve lived here, it would be miraculous if i’d never experienced it before now. But in all those years, all my experiences of racism have been from children and teenagers.

Kids in their school uniform who shouted awful slurs, kids who came in to where I worked and called me derogatory names, teens in their sports kit who were waiting for a bus on the diamond who thought it was funny to make sexual gestures and generalise a whole nation of people through me. A boy who called out hateful words as I walked past with my toddler daughter, who turned out to be the child of someone who worked closely with refugees. Teens who attacked my brother on the first day of his visit to Donegal last christmas, again while he was with my daughter. A boy who shouted vile things at me and my two kids as we walked home from the graveyard who I now know to be the son of well respected business people. Kids from the tech, again in their uniforms, who called me foreign scum. Children of local, law abiding people. I could go on. Because every last one of those experiences weigh on me and live inside of me.

It makes me wonder if adults know better or if they just get more adept at hiding it. And that’s the thought that scares me the most. I don’t think people are inherently racist or bigoted. This is learned, from the actions and words of others. And it makes me fear for my kids. I teach them to be proud of who they are, of where they came from, to be strong. So if the time comes that they experience this, that they can stand tall and rise. But i know it will still hurt.

There will be people who tell me to get over it, or worse, if i don’t like it to go home. Herein lies another quandary for me. I have lived in Ireland longer than I have lived anywhere else in my life. Longer than the country I was born in, longer than the countries where I grew up and went to school, longer than the countries I travelled to and worked in. Most days, it does feel like home and yet, as you can see, some days it doesn’t.

You may shoot me with your words,
You may cut me with your eyes,
You may kill me with your hatefulness,
But still, like air, I’ll rise. -Maya Angelou

I made it thru!

I’ve been so disorganised lately that not only have I not been blogging, I’ve even neglected journalling. And there have been so many highs and lows over the last few months that I really need to get my thoughts organised.

I’m doing this now to put to words the utter elation and pride I feel in myself at the moment. I am so unbelievably chuffed that I need to hold on to this moment by writing it down for posterity.

I made it thru #hellandback last Saturday, June 14, 2014. A day for the history books. What’s that you say? And how did I get roped into something so hellish? It all starts with a man. (As these stories usually do). With my husband, in fact.

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I’ve been nagging justin for years that he needs to get a hobby. Business consumes him, body and soul and I told him that if he doesn’t take an interest in anything besides work, he will a. Drop dead the second he retires or b. never retire. Now I’m not belittling my husbands work ethic cos if he doesn’t work, we won’t eat. But I wanted him to have something just for him. No one was more delighted than I when he started hill walking and mountaineering in the last couple of years. So,exhibit a- Justin- super fit and super active.

Anyone who knows me knows that my physical activity is confined to the bedroom, taking the occasional basket of laundry down the stairs and shovelling food into my mouth as fast as possible. So, exhibit b, me- lazy and totally unfit.

So last December, I made the mistake of telling Justin that I would do something with him next year. Just the two of us. Now, in all honestly, I thought my husband would cash in some sexual favours, but it seems I underestimated him.

We’re going to do hell&back, he says.

What’s that, I say?

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From their website:

“WHAT IS HELL & BACK?
HELL & BACK is an off-road adventure event, featuring man-made obstacles and naturally occurring challenges over a variety of terrain, in the private Belmont Estate in Bray, Co. Wicklow.

WHY IS IT DIFFERENT?
HELL & BACK is not just a hill run / mountain run / assault course / road race / hill walk / adventure race, but a combination of the best parts of all these pursuits! The time it takes for you to complete the course is not important – making it thru’ the challenge in one piece is!!!”

So on one cold Decembers eve, he sat me down to show me what hell&back was. We watched the videos and I laughed. And l laughed and laughed some more. And I said, no way, no how.

And we would have left it at that, except he took out the big guns. Gabriella, he says, do you think mummy can do that? And she said no.

And by god, I was not going to be one of those people that their kids don’t believe in, it went against all my super mummy instincts. So I said, dammit, sign me up.

And my fate was sealed. All I had to do then was get off my ass.

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I have no willpower, no one knows this better than me and the cupboard full of diet aids, powders, tablets and gadgets in our house. I signed up with a personal trainer, Brian, from DT fitness and it was the best (even though it sometimes felt like the worst) thing. I presented myself to him one dark winters morning at 7am. This was a feat in itself as I’ve been suffering from insomnia for years and this makes me furthest from a morning person ever! Brian didn’t outright laugh when I told him where I needed to be in 6 months. And he didn’t cut me any slack and he didn’t baby me. It was my responsibility. I had to do it for myself. And I figured, I may as well give it a go. There were plenty of mornings I was at the gym when I didn’t wake up until my 45 minutes were up!

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We also started juicing daily. Bags of carrots, kale, spinach, you name it, we tried to drink it. I didn’t notice a huge health benefit with juicing until one day, 3 or 4 months down the line when I realised I hadn’t been sick once since we started. Even with the crappy weather and all the extra physical activity.

Slowly but surely, one week turned to 4. I was delighted with my progress and though I hadn’t lost weight, I did lose inches so it was a start for me.

And then Roy got sick, or more sick as it were. And the next few weeks were a blur of miles up and down the road to Dublin. We cried, we laughed, we reminisced and we grieved. And I can hand on heart say that training gave me focus.

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My first outdoors run

I have to note that transitioning from running on a treadmill to on the road was really hard for me. I was doing 30 seconds walking, 1 minute running or more like 2 minutes gasping for breath, 30 seconds running. And then one day, someone posted a link to the Irish Times couch to 5km. I clicked on a video for week 3 and just like that, something made sense. She said, if you can’t run for long, slow down. That was it. And that day, I ran my first continuos 3km. So I was absolutely delighted. And from there, I built it up and up.

I even signed up to do a 5km charity run for darkness into light donegal. A charity for suicide awareness. My first public run as it were. At 4 in the morning, no less!

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I now run every other day. The day I did my first 10km, I crowed and crowed about it. Me. 10km! What dimension is this? 10km when I’ve never run in my life before. It was such an amazing feeling to achieve something of that magnitude. And by accident too! We had been mapping out routes and Justin had convinced me that it was only 5-7km, I needed a long run so I thought to give it a go. 6km came and went and then a sign that said “donegal 4km”. I kept telling myself that I could get kathleen to collect me and I nearly made that call. But instead I focused on telling justin I did 10km and just how I would humblebrag about it on Facebook. So I kept going and I’m so glad I had it in me!

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In the midst of all this, we lost Roy. And the aftershocks of that loss are still deeply felt, 2 months down the line. I do believe that the training, the very solitude of running saved me. It helped me compartmentalise my grief and also use it to inspire me to keep going. I would like to believe that Roy would have believed in me.

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I feel that it gave justin that same focus. He spoke to his dad about us doing hell&back, and hell and high water, I knew he was going to give it his best for his dad as well.

Last Monday, I did my final 10km before the big race and then I went to a sports therapist for a massage. I was at this stage still petrified about doing it. That little voice in my head kept telling me that it just wasn’t going to happen. In fact, very few people knew I was going to do it. I told Joanne I was scared stiff and she told me not to think like that. Faith and not fear. I put in the work, I had strong legs. She said focus on only one obstacle, the one I’m most afraid of and work on my strategy to overcome it. And so I told the voices to shush. Ten foot tessie was my nemesis. Was I afraid of submerging myself into a skip full of ice? Crawling through barbed wire and getting electric shocks? Did the thought of snipers alley make me freeze up where actual snipers shot actual pellets at you while you ran? Was I afraid I would lose a shoe in the swamp and wouldn’t be able to continue? Yes! Yes! Yes! But my biggest fear was that I would be too heavy for anyone to help get over a 10foot wall.

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Up to the very last moment, when we started the warm up on the big day, I was still quieting my doubts. I couldn’t even talk about it. The energy though, was electrifying. It was such a party atmosphere. I was sure that the synergy alone would get me through it.

Justin and I always joked that it was every man for himself. And to be honest, I didn’t want to hold him back. I like to fail or succeed on my own terms. In fairness, I caught him looking back when we first set off to make sure I was ok and I waved him on. That first kilometer was tough. Virtually all uphill, as the next 4km were. I thought all those weeks i had been training were rubbish. If I were to do it again, I would teach myself to run up and down hills. Endlessly. With a bag of rocks on my back.

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Thanks for the gif, manyone1!

And they put in a few psychological trips as well, the wrong signs so you think you did less than you had! It was torture. The obstacles themselves were piss easy, IF you compare it to the difficulty of that initial terrain. It was nearly a relief to get a break from climbing.

The camaraderie was infectious, there were several people doing it in teams or in couples. A few on their own like me who were determined to finish. No man left behind was one of their mottos. And I was so so grateful to all those people who helped me, either by helping me through an obstacle or by simply smiling and asking if I was okay.

I ran all the places I could, picked myself up each time I fell. Jumped head first into a freezing river, and sunk to my knees in the swamp.

I lost all sense of time, it was just a constant go, go, go. Where I should have felt relief when a Marshall said 1.5km to go, all I felt was trepidation that ten foot tessie was looming.

I can’t describe the feeling of coming out of the forest to hear justin and our friends cheering my name. I ran over for a drink and a bit of moral support before I faced the wall. And boy, that wall nearly broke me. I couldn’t even ask for help. All I kept thinking was that my fat ass would surely break these huge strapping men. Finally, one of them motioned over and said come on, we’ll get you over! There was no way I was going to make them do it more than once, so I gave my all to get over.

And the relief and bliss of landing on the other side was amazing. The tunnel of electric shocks was just a bit of craic after that.

And finally, finally, when I stood at the top of the slide at the finish line, the complete elation and pride that I had finished overwhelmed me. I saw the clock and I’d done the challenge in 3 hours, 5mins. Holy hell. I cried with joy all the way down.

Justin hasn’t stopped telling me how proud he is of me. Hell, I’m proud of me. But here I am, 3 days later. The muscles are still stiff and my body aches and I still have to quieten the voice in my head.

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The one saying that it wasn’t that hard because after all, I was able to do it. It was all just hype and anyone could do it, because I managed didn’t i?

I’m telling that voice to shush, I did do it. I earned my number. I owned that course. Regardless of the time I did it in and no matter what, I made it thru.

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Bzzzzzzzz

I was sitting at the computer, half working, half telling the kids to turn off the tv and go to bed but I wasn’t paying much attention though it was way past their bed time, so engrossed was i in my work.

Gabriella came up and it didn’t occur to me for ages til I started to get annoyed that she was hovering around me buzzing in the most irritating fashion. I turned around to snap at her when she suddenly said, “that’s how annoyed I was earlier, mummy”.

I burst into laughter. She was referring to a conversation we had earlier that evening when I scolded her for not eating all her lunch at her field trip and she said it was because the wasps were annoying her.

It also made me pause, so often I get frustrated with my kids for “not listening” when in reality it’s because I’m the one whose not paying attention. Just a note to myself.

Digging for treasure

I am equally delighted and dismayed by yesterday’s unintentional discovery.

I had a rare half a day off yesterday. Had an awesome shoot in the morning followed by what was meant to be mommy and gia day. Then we got a letter in the post to advise of Max’s last developmental health check with the PHN for that very same afternoon! (Eeek! Where did the time go? But that’s a story for another day) So I got to hang out with my kids anyway.

Their cousins are over from England so we headed out to see if they were home to say hello but they weren’t there so we headed for the beach.

After a showery afternoon, it was a gorgeous evening. Warm and sunny with a cool breeze. It was low tide, the beach felt eerily deserted after the weeks of local crowds descending on it with the good weather. I had emptied the beach gear out of the car just that morning to put in my photo props so we didn’t have a single bucket or spade.

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But we weren’t stopping long, just a quick walk before we headed back to see if the cousins were home.

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We foraged for unusual shells to make a beach collage which kept them occupied for a bit.

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Then Gia headed off on her adventure while max was extremely whiney about the green sand. The tide was so far out and the sand had mossy pockets which he thoroughly disapproved of! He kept demanding I pick him up and walked on his tippy toes the whole time cos he didn’t like the dirty sand. He was driving us bananas so we headed back and I noticed a man with a bucket and I was instantly intrigued. What is he doing? What is he collecting? Can I eat it?

I crept closer and started to eavesdrop when I spied a bucket full of seaweed. He told the lady who stopped to chat to him that we was collecting it for his wife for a foot bath, there was chat about healing properties but I half tuned out and max was still whining, until he bent down, plucked something out of the sand and then ate it.

Oooh!! This was more like it. I asked him what he was eating and he said cockles! As if I should have known. Then he bent over again, found another one, opened it up and offered it to me.

And now you’re probably thinking, wtf? I read all this for cockles?

But I seriously cannot explain how amazing this was to me. He may as well have offered me ambrosia. This little raw morsel of bivalve was like gold. It was briny, like the sea. It was sweet and fresh and it evoked memories of my childhood and my dad. I wish I was as eloquent as Anthony Bourdain when he recounted his experience of the first time he ate an oyster. It was that kind of revelation. Joy, closely followed by utter dismay that I’d been coming to this beach for the last 13 years and was unaware of the treasure that lay just beneath my feet.

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Sure, I’ve eaten cockles before, but they came out of a jar. This was digging your fingers into the sand to comb through it to grasp these little molluscs to eat. Raw, on the beach, with the smell of sand and sunshine around you.

It brought me back to summers with my dad when he would bring home bushels of “butil” (a smaller, similar clam like food- I don’t know it’s real name) from cavite and we would sit outside eating it, just the two of because nobody else could be bothered cos it was so tiny and tedious. In fairness, most shellfish have very little ROI when you factor in how hard it is to pick it out of their shells, etc. But it was like “our” thing.

I promptly abandoned my kids on the shore while I had a forage for myself. He taught me how to open them, like turning a key. And my excitement must have been evident cos his wife made her way down to us to see what all the commotion was about. I was that thrilled that both my kids were enticed to try it. My kids! Gabriella with her clean fetish ate something that came out of the ground without disinfecting it to within an inch of its life.

My new friend told me not to tell all and sundry where it was lest the hordes descend on our wee beach but any local will know exactly where this is. I wish someone had shared it with me years ago!

I could wax eloquent for pages yet but this was truly a memorable day 🙂

So much so that I went back today, sans children, with a bucket and spade to dig out my dinner.

The beach was blessedly deserted, I didn’t fancy scaring anyone away with my enthusiasm if they made the mistake of asking me what I was doing.

I had a million things on my to do list today, but the hour I took for myself to dig around in the sand was nothing short of therapeutic. Plus, I got dinner to boot 🙂

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Again, the return on investment isn’t that great, but it made it all the sweeter. This is how cavemen must have felt. I get food. I feed family.

But, in this case, I kind of forgot to share 🙂

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I googled loads of recipes to try but in the end, I ate them standing up over the counter, fresh out of the steamer, no condiments, juice running down my arms. Heaven in a bowl.

Bad mummy

I’ve had a sick feeling in my tummy all day. I yelled at Gabriella (a lot) this morning. We were late, I couldn’t sleep so I couldn’t get up. She was up with the birds as usual and dressed and ready to go before I got downstairs. The usual what to feed my exceedingly picky kids for breakfast game started. She wanted boiled eggs, he wanted fruit trees. So I got breakfast ready and went up for a shower. She came up and asked could she have another egg and I told her to go ahead. She only eats the yolks and we don’t have it that often.

When I got downstairs, she had peeled and discarded all the white bits off all over the table and her tea set and had wiped her dirty hands on her clothes.

I lost the plot.

It seems so petty now but I was so cross and they weren’t paying attention cos they were watching cartoons and I freaked out more than I should.

A lot of it is my own fault. I should have prepared something the night before, I should have got up earlier, I shouldn’t let them watch cartoons in the morning, I should have stood my ground years ago and made them eat whatever I cooked, should have, would have, could have.

Max was delighted he wasn’t in trouble for once and started taunting her. Little @&3*%! So I yelled at him too.

Gah!!!!

So I apologised to Gabriella for yelling at her and rushing them but to be honest, I feel like it was a passive aggressive faux apology which she’ll probably remember in therapy years from now.

So I feel sick to my stomach and eaten up by guilt for being such a bad mummy. I’m working all day and I have a shoot this evening so they’ll probably be asleep by the time I get home. 😦

I need a day off from my two jobs, I need sleep, I need to stop chasing my own tail, but most importantly, I need to reconnect with my kids. To turn off my phone and all the other iDevices and just be. With my kids.

Just be.

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Summer time

Three weeks into the summer already!

My baby girl is 7! Seven! How can I have a child who is 7 years old? I am in awe everyday that I have 2 amazing, sometimes annoying, happy loving children.

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I was reading back on a post I made in March and four months later, the insomnia is still there, the house is an even bigger shambles and yet we are still doing the best we can. Making happy memories amidst the chaos of everyday life.

And even though I could cry with frustration sometimes, I wouldn’t change it for the world. (Not all of it anyway. I am still waiting for the magic fairy to clean the house and unblock the negative energy that the clutter has created. We need some good feng shui joo joo going on)

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So I need to make a never ending list to sort all out. Back in a sec (or a few weeks) 🙂

Mommy says cheese!

Again, we come across some inspiring mommy wisdom, here, here and & here.

And so I am making more of an effort to “be in the picture” or let my kids take half asleep photos of me. Because, yes, mommy is here.

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Newspaper clipping from today’s Donegal Post

And instead of hiding them away on my phone, I am just as proud of them as I am of my kid’s photos because it shows the presence, the togetherness, make up or no make up.

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They are still few and far between but I will treasure each one and make sure I leave them tangible and lasting reminders of us, together.

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PS Thanks to everyone who has taken the time to like, follow, press, etc. This isn’t a blog I put out there, not many people I know IRL know about it. It’s just a place for me to verbalize (or try to) and keep a little visual reminder for myself of our every day. And that there is life outside of facebook. I do get a bit tired of all the passive aggressive status updates and the underlying competitiveness, etc, etc. Sometimes it makes me feel like a stand up comedian, waiting for the audience to applause.

What do you think of the new format? Too dark? Was the other one a bit lighter, more fun? Still having a play around anyway.

Gia and mummy day

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Technically, my day started at 4am when max threw up all over me. But let’s not dwell on that or the mt Everest of laundry waiting to be done.

Gia had an appointment in LGH today and it was an awkward time so she got to play hooky from school today.

So did I!

Anyway, it went well and hopefully there is a light at the end of the tunnel.

We went shopping afterwards for paddy’s day. The brief was wear as much green as you can to school tomorrow. So green it was. Lots of it!

She also spotted this:

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She has been bugging me for months for a detective outfit and none of my DIY costumes were doing the trick so when she spotted this, I think the people in the next town heard her excitement!

Next stop was a hat for the detective outfit. And not just any old hat but a Sherlock Holmes one. Needless to say, the magic of penneys only extends so far. So she settled for this:

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At least she amused herself while I was trying not to get too depressed while trying on clothes.

Anyway, she wanted to go to crèche for an hour to show off her new outfit and I waited outside the door when she went in. I heard her BFF exclaim, “Gabriella, you’re a detective!!!”. It obviously worked and she was well pleased with herself 🙂

So we always try to craft or bake for special occasions and we settled on green cupcakes!!!

We used this recipe: http://frugallygreenmom.com/2012/03/leprechaun-cupcakes.html

Now, I have to say, I always halve the amount of sugar in recipes but didn’t for this one, thinking the spinach might be too strong otherwise. Well, it’s not. Far from it. You can’t taste the spinach, I think the primary taste is the apples but its really sweet!

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Still, it’s super green, which was the point and instead of leprechaun cakes, max christened them Hulk cupcakes! 🙂

Whether the kids will eat it remains to be seen tho 🙂

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Marching on!

holmes

Wow, March already. Its been a hectic year so far. We’ve been plagued by plenty of insomnia, winter bugs, spring flus, stress and drama. But today, more than anything I’ve also realised how blessed we are.

Never mind the endless worries about money and work and the haves and have nots. I have plenty to be grateful for. Plenty to celebrate and people to love. Never mind the long nights with no sleep and the longer days running after ourselves, never catching up. I tuck my children into bed at night and each morning, even though it’s with great reluctance, always wishing for an extra five minutes of sleep, we wake up to a new day. To more trials and also to more miracles.

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For example, bed time has been a huge PITA lately, Max keeps looking for one last “cuddies” and one more story only to wake up 3 hours later when I’m finally catching up with work and the ritual starts again. And with current bout of insomnia, it’s hard. Hard to be patient when you can’t sleep because your brain is in overdrive. Hard not to yell or threaten or beg or cave in for a bit of peace.

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But in the greater scheme of things, when I look at these two photos and see just how quickly my baby is growing up, its nothing really, is it? How much longer will he crawl into my lap? To give me his huggies which involves him sticking his face into my neck and rubbing his face into mine. To give me kiss after kiss after kiss. Not much longer.

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How much longer will Gabriella come into bed with me in the middle of the night just cos she wants to feel my arms around her? To look to me because I have the answer to everything. How much longer will she pull at my sleeve to get me to stop working at the computer so I can play with her dolls or play pretend or hold her hand until she falls asleep? Not much longer.

What they need from me will change so quickly as it has in the last few years. Every step away from me to independence is a step I am both proud of and dread. Its hard to say don’t sweat the small stuff when you’re pulling your hair out with frustration because you have a bazillion things on your to do list and your kids have just wrecked the living room you spent two hours tidying up. Or when your daughter is late for school everyday because you just can’t get your shit together to go to sleep at a reasonable time so you never wake up on time either.

But seriously, don’t. sweat. the. small. stuff.

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It’s mother’s day on Sunday (the fake Irish one that’s to do with Easter as opposed to the 2nd Sunday in May that the Americans invented and I grew up celebrating). I will be working and Justin will be climbing some huge mountain. My kids will be with the babysitter for part of the day. But I will come home at lunch time and we will spend some time together while we wait for daddy to come home to have family dinner.

Today, I met a mother who will be getting out of hospital on Sunday to prepare for her child’s funeral the next day. A child who was born sleeping and will forever live only in her heart and her dreams. That’s what her mother’s day will be.

So I will take the prolonged bed times and the whining (oh, god, the whining!) and the cranky kids and the uneaten dinners and the never ending mess on the floor, under the couch, on the table, in the playroom/junkroom. The laundry that breeds like rabbits and the mismatched socks and the hectic mornings yelling at the kids to HurryTF up cos I overslept. And the worry, the constant worry that we are doing a good decent job. I will take it all. With it, I take the hugs and the kisses. The silly nonsense jokes that make me laugh anyway. The cheeky smiles that melt my heart. The art work they spend hours on to get just right for you to put up on the fridge. Or in Max’s case the scribbles in half the pages of my new (expensive) notebook (which make me smile anyway). I will take it all.

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I don’t talk much about my work with Now I Lay Me Down To Sleep. And maybe because I haven’t really spoken about it, I’ve had people tell me that it’s morbid or worse “ambulance chasing”. But you know what, I’m not forcing it on you. I’m not asking you to look at the photos (Its not allowed and I would never compromise someone’s privacy that way.) You’re not the one whose arms are empty. You’re not the one who will carry this life in your heart, long after the details become fuzzy in your mind.

It is there and it is simply heart breaking.

I am equally uncomfortable with the praise. Yes, I AM strong and I AM grateful for the opportunity to be able to offer this free service to grieving families. Not everyone could do it. I’m not doing it for accolades, or a pat on the back. I’m not going to put it in my portfolio to immortalise someone’s grief. But in the hope that weeks from now, years from now, a mum or dad will look at their photos and remember not only their angel but that someone cared enough to take some time out of their own lives to give them something to remember and to cherish.

So, yes, I will take it all and I will read this when times are tough (or I imagine them to be) and I will be thankful and appreciative and I will remember.

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(sleep wake hope and then) e.e cummings

Sweet dreams.