FEBRUARY

The drive to write has mostly gone. As I predicted.

The pills have done their job though. Feelings have been mostly squashed, so I’ve been a lot calmer, more productive and handled people and situations like a proper grown up. At least some of the time. There is now a brake on the urge to spill and I’ve realised that time sorts out most issues. Of course that can mean years, and I suspect it will in the case of the biggest worry in this family.

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OVERTAKEN BY EVENTS

Despite the chaos in the kitchen, I am actually still smiling. It’s been an eventful week, and the detritus of it all is still cluttering up the counter tops. But in between all the head-wrecking stuff, I found time to meet friends when I had a free hour on Wednesday morning, and brought Smiley to a coffee morning on her Friday off in aid of a local autism charity that has supported us. Smiley was in cake heaven, but manage to confine herself to just three, and I bagged the best raffle prize ever.

 

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ENDING THE TYRANNY OF THE DISHWASHER

I’ve always had a love hate relationship with my dishwasher. I had to be persuaded to get one, and I sometimes wonder if men like them more than women. Loading and emptying them seems to be one of those jobs that men volunteer for, and believe should be given priority over all else. At least in my experience.

To me the dishwasher always seemed like an insatiable monster that had to be forever fed with dirty dishes. And yes this family were great at satisfying its needs with up to three loads a day during the holidays.

Until it went wrong.

 

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THE SMACKING BAN – NOW WE NEED TO HELP VIOLENT CHILDREN

So smacking has been banned in Ireland. And I approve. It wasn’t part of my parenting plan: it just made me angry and resentful as a child, and I agree with all the other arguments against it too. But I know parent who do smack, and who believe that it is their right , and that sometimes it is the only thing that works. I wonder what they will do now. I suspect many will continue, just not in public.

I also suspect that most of the people who support the smacking ban have no experience of children who behave in ways that push their parents beyond their limits.

That includes another taboo topic – children who are sometimes violent. The Irish charity Parentline has reported an increase in child on parent violence in recent years, but there is little coverage and even less being done to help families in this situation.

Smacking is NOT the answer to this problem either. At least in my opinion.

 

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THE DRIVING TEST AND HOW TO PASS IT!

It’s been a long road to this test, with many twists and turns, and we’ve both learned a lot on the way from that first bumpy session in the IKEA car park so long ago.

It was the best of days and the worst of days. I’d planned for everything except the weather. Do you remember last Saturday? There were rivers running down the streets with the kind of rain that would make a duck paddle for shelter.

In between, the sun shone. Making everything pretty and blindingly silvery and shiny. Perfect for an anxious 23 year old sitting her driving test for the first time, no?

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ON THAT LETTER AND BEING HAPPY PARENTS

Did you read it? The letter from a mother to her 10 year old son complaining of his lack of respect towards her. It caused a predictable twitter storm and a rush to judgement.

I found the letter an uncomfortable read: initially I felt like a second class parent as I failed many of this woman’s parenting essentials. My second thought was relief that I didn’t breast feed. But it’s not that bad surely? I also began to be uncomfortable with the tone of it, and felt sorry for her son because of her martyred tone, and I recognised myself in her too. Then I caught myself on. Like everyone else on the internet, I was judging this woman, while knowing almost nothing about her.

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JOURNEY TO THE BOTTOM OF MY GARDEN

My garden is a mysterious place, rarely visited, except to hang out washing and water pots. My habitat these days is the kitchen, where I look out at the bins and ivy covered walks, where nothing else agrees to grow, and that little patch of sky above the next door chimney pots. There’s a hundred years of history in the garden, china fragments rise to the surface, plants unplanted appear and flourish. In fact they flourish too well. The bottom of the garden used to look like this, with wild flowers enjoying the dappled sunshine and shade provided by a beautiful yellow-blossomed laburnum tree. But sadly it never recovered from the snows of 2010 and 2011, it just limped on like a raggedy old scarecrow.

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NEXT YEAR

Is when the big anniversaries begin.

Anniversaries of things I didn’t plan, didn’t expect, hoped would never happen.

Last year was my 25th wedding anniversary, but I didn’t even notice. August 27th 2016 is the date on my mind. Because that day will be exactly ten years since I drove away from my marriage with my children. It is not a day I will easily forget.

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MIND THE GAP AND OTHER MID-LIFE CLOTHING DILEMMAS

Summer is always the worst time.

Finding something comfortable and stylish to wear when you’re getting old and fat (and hot) is an annual challenge. For about three decades the first sight of sun would send me running for shorts and a T-shirt, but no longer. I wouldn’t want to embarrass myself, let alone my children or anyone else.

But even covering up can be difficult. Every second year the crop tops are back in fashion, fine if you’re 15, not so much when you’re 50. And even a standard length top may look fine in the shop, but after a couple of washes it will fail the ‘gap’ test.

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BABY ESSENTIALS, 1992 STYLEE

A quote from my favourite baby book, optimistically titled The Fun Starts Here,┬áby Paula Yates. And in those pre-internet days, baby books were pretty essential, especially if babies had been largely absent from your life until you held your very own new born in your arms. I loved this one because it was all about enjoying your baby, something that seems to have got a bit lost these days, amidst all the advice and strictures on what new mothers should and shouldn’t be doing. Sadly I can’t share any more nuggets of Paula’s wisdom as my copy of her book fell victim to a recent decluttering session.

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