Who is thinking of the children? Marriage Equality

This week, on Friday, Ireland holds a vote. In reality two, but the age of presidential candidates turns out to be pretty uncontroversial. We will vote on whether or not to allow same-sex couples to marry. It is a straightforward question. We will not be asked for ours reasons or thoughts on the matter we will simply tick Yes or No.

We are voting because in our constitution a family consists of a married man and woman. To change our constitution requires a vote. If there is a Yes vote we will now refer to the family as a married couple regardless of sex.

I didn’t write any posts on this so far because I felt I had nothing to contribute. I have shared posts where people have outlined their own personal stories, the people who this vote will directly affect. I am privileged. Nobody had any say in whether I got married except for myself and my husband. It pains me that people have had to speak out about their own relationships, their own feelings and dreams in order to campaign for something that they should have by right, like me. I salute them for doing so. I wish they didn’t have to. Hopefully after Friday people won’t have to again.

I am writing because of the children. We are not voting on surrogacy or adoption, but somehow it has all become mixed up in the one.

I am a big believer that a lot of ignorance is based on fear. There are some who are afraid for the children. Who fear what will happen if children are raised by same-sex couples (please note I am aware of the fact that this is happening and will happen regardless of the vote). This is not the issue we are voting on or debating but it has muddied the waters.

I am not an expert. I am a primary school teacher. I have a degree in psychology and a post-graduate in education and two children of my own but that doesn’t make me an expert on children. It does however mean that I spend a lot of my time with them.

Most children are safe and happy and loved. I have taught children from all different cultures, from all different economic and social backgrounds. Most of these children are happy and eager to learn and play. Sometimes there is a child that I worry about, that I lose sleep over, that I keep notes on, that I refer to our DLP (designated liaison person).

You worry about the children? I will tell you the children I worry about.

The ones who haven’t been fed that morning.

The ones who tell me that they are hungry because they had no dinner.

The ones who are neglected emotionally.

The ones who are neglected physically.

The ones whose parent is being hit.

The ones who have been hit.

The ones who are scared.

The ones  who have a parent that passes out.

The ones who know what drunk means, the ones who see it often.

There are hundreds of reasons that I worry about children, having a loving family is not one.

In the time I have been teaching, I have never once worried about a child purely because they are being raised by only a mother, or only a father, or two parents of either sex, or a brother or sister or a foster parent or a guardian. This does not give me cause for concern.

I will tell you what children deserve. They deserve to be loved. And believe me when I tell you, that a child that is born into a family that love it is blessed.

And those people whose fate you will decide, those who you get to choose whether or not they can marry. They deserve to be loved too.

Lets show them that we believe in love on Friday.

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Why we can’t turn our backs on human suffering

There are times when watching the news is too much to bear. The last week I have been hiding from it. The human suffering, the horror. I can’t bring myself to read news reports, the pictures are heartbreaking. I can’t empathise, I can’t even begin to imagine how those people are feeling.

http://www.independent.ie/world-news/europe/a-stain-on-the-conscience-of-our-continent-eu-ministers-to-discuss-uturn-on-searchandrescue-operations-in-the-mediterranean-31164951.html

I am privileged.

My children are up in bed at the moment, safely napping. They are in clean clothes. They are warm. They have been fed. I don’t worry about what they will eat tomorrow.

We can live here, in comfort and no one to bother us. They play in the garden, they have books read to them, they have art supplies, toys and games. They have grandparents and aunts and uncles, they are loved. They visit friends and family, they go to the library and the supermarket. They don’t worry about anything.

They don’t go a day without hugs and kisses.

They will go to school when they are old enough, they will learn to read and write. They will make friends, they will have options.

They will lead privileged lives.

I had all of that. I grew up with all of that.

How can I empathise with people who have no options? How can I begin to understand how it would feel to bring your children with you on a journey that you know is full of danger with nothing to sustain you except hope? How can I begin to imagine how a parent feels trying to keep their children safe in such circumstances? We all hold our own lives dearly but the lives of our children we cherish and protect fiercely. All of us.

We must stand with them. We must do more than just cry for them, but we must do that too.

Someone said to me “it doesn’t bear thinking about”, but we have to. We have to think about them, we have to understand our privilege does not extend to everyone.

We have to know that we have ours, not because we are more deserving but merely through an accident of fate.

They are us. We are them.

Buying a home, do you need the “love” factor?

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The “love” factor is important. It’s what we base all our big decisions on, a partner, a job and a home, right? Oh do we? Don’t we sometimes choose the sensible choice? Sometimes we choose a partner who is kind and caring instead of waiting for butterflies. Sometimes we have jobs to pay the bills, or that give us the lifestyle we want instead of following our passion. Sometimes we live somewhere we can afford or that is in the best location, sacrificing our idea of a dream home.

These aren’t bad choices. We can be perfectly happy without the “love” factor. We can have other words, contentment, comfort, even happiness. Is love too high an aspiration for everything in our lives?

I hit gold on my husband and my job. My husband is kinda and caring but he also gives me butterflies. My job pays the bills and gives me the lifestyle I want but is also something I adore. And now we are starting to look at buying a home. Do I get to hit gold on all three?

We are currently looking at a house that hit the love factor for me. It is a mess, a higgledy piggledy house with dark rooms and a ridiculous layout. But nevertheless I fell in love, in love with the character, in love with the potential. The only problem is the renovations would be huge, with two toddlers underfoot and a limited budget, it could turn into a disaster we could live to regret or… our dream home. Another house is very sensible. We could walk in tomorrow. We could make it ours over time. It is within budget. It is nice. I don’t love it, but maybe I could learn to love. With some creativity maybe it could be our dream home. I squint and try to see it.

The property situation in Ireland in the past has led to disaster for many, leaving broken people in it’s wake. Shouldn’t we go into this with our eyes wide open? Following our heads and not our hearts? Against my better judgement and in spite of a tendency to always follow my heart, is this the exception? Is this where I should make a grown up, measured and thought out decision?

What I wish for..

Next year is hard for me to picture. I don’t have a plan for it. It might be the year I get pregnant with my third baby, but we all know that these things don’t always go to plan. It might be the year that I take a leap and leave my permanent job to take another, less permanent one. It might be the year we scrape together enough money to buy a house. Anything could happen, of course, every year, anything could happen. We don’t know what is ahead of us.

But this post isn’t about plans, it is about wishes and hopes.

I hope we are all healthy in 2015, colds and flu’s I can take but don’t strike any of my family down with illness. I hope we are happy in 2015, there will be days of course that are stressful and things that will make us cry but overall a happy year. I want us to move forward, to be closer to our dream of a family home. I want to pour everything into my children, to scaffold them, to allow them to develop and learn to their fullest potential.

I am looking forward to watching my children grow, to hearing my baby learn to talk, to watch the world through their eyes. Whatever happens, I wish for that. I hope for that.

Christmas gone wrong.

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So this was how Christmas was supposed to go;

Gifts ready for everyone, thoughtfully chosen, spirit spilling out all over the place, Santa visits and mince pies, the news that next year we would have another little person to join our family. Family and friends visits and lots of cheer.

This is how Christmas is shaping up with three days to go:

Mammy has been out of action since Friday evening, my lovely babies have been unwell, we have been home for the past two days watching way too much tv and going stir crazy. We didn’t visit anyone at the weekend and no one was allowed visit us. Operation quarantine. We’ve been on a diet of toast and water, flat 7up and ice pops. Babies have recovered and are off seeing Santa without Mammy who is still bloody sick in bed.

Santa is not ready, at all, Santa hasn’t even started. Also family and friends presents which were to be taken care of with a whole weekend of shopping (why do I leave things so late??) are still woefully absent.

So ready or not body, and body is feeling decidedly not ready, we are going to drag your sick backside out of bed and all around the shops tomorrow.. (any with a loo nearby) and buy any old crap at all that will do people. Slippers, gloves, socks and hats for everyone. Stop complaining you know you use them.

Lord only knows if anyone will stomach Christmas dinner, my favourite. Prosecco and wine are probably off the list. Christmas pints? Hmmm…. no. Visiting babies and older relatives, afraid not on contamination grounds.

Can we have a reprieve? Can we all just agree to put Christmas off for a week or two??

But worse than all of this, the lack of presents, the lack of stomach control, the lack of goodwill and Christmas spirit is this one thing;

The absence of the baby. What was to be our big Christmas surprise has fallen flat and our baby was gone before we ever saw it.

Capturing moments in time

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I used to be good at English in school, I used to write for the sake of writing. As a teenager I wrote stories and poems constantly. Not for an audience but in order to have some direction for that teenage drama and creativity that threatens to explode out of you at that age.

In college I wrote papers and essays. I studied psychology and was provoked to think and to learn. During my post-grad I explored education and philosophy. I adored all of it. I loved nothing more than spending 40 minutes in a lecture hall absorbing. I loved spending hours in the library and in my room constructing essays.

Then I started to work with children and all of my learning because based around their learning, my world was full of phonics and ready steady maths. I researched and learned but all my energies went into teaching and my own writing dwindled to lesson plans due to my workload.

Blogging was supposed to be a way to try and spark those creative juices again. Instead I find that my writing is stunted and amateurish. A potential audience is terrifying. I have yet to let go of my inhibitions and just write. Instead I feel stilted. I haven’t found my voice.

And yet I am living the most amazing experiences. I have given birth, I am watching my children grow, they amaze me on a daily basis. My world has slowed down and filled up. But these experiences are too big for me and my useless attempts to catch them in writing. There is no way to express my love and amazement, the fact that I daily witness small miracles and that these miracles are the most ordinary everyday things.

I wish I could write and capture them, these moments in time that I dread forgetting. These little ordinary things, the chubbiness of their hands, the sound of their voices, their faces. These fleeting things that are changing every day.

So I will write, with my halting, awkward style. Not for an audience but for me, so that when I read back, despite cringing of my lack of talent I might catch a flicker of these moments when they are long gone.

Healthy Lifestyle aka Do I have to??

I used to be healthy.

I used to go to the gym, go for runs around the block, cook nutritious meals, I really did. I would eat a small lunch in work and then cook a meal at home after the gym and not snack in the evening. At the weekends it was take aways and alcohol but my figure never really noticed because I had been good all week.

I now have children. Two beautiful children under the age of three.

I didn’t deprive myself during pregnancy. I craved carbs… a lot… as in all I wanted to eat were white bread rolls. So I did, well if I wanted it it must have been because baby needed it. My eldest was six months old when I got pregnant again. After I had the babies I was feeding them and sleep deprived and constantly starving. Also some well meaning (read evil) people kept arriving at my door bearing biscuits and cake. Most of the time I’m not really that in to biscuits and cake but post babies I inhaled the stuff.

Now my youngest is one and I have officially run out of excuses. I am a stone heavier than I want to be right now, and it is all currently sitting on my stomach and my behind. I don’t fit into any of my pre-pregnancy clothes. I don’t feel fit, I don’t feel strong. So I probably need to address my lifestyle now before I start on a slippery slope.

There is only one tiny problem, I don’t wanna! I am with the babies all day, usually until about 6 or 7 when the other half of me gets home and then about 8-9 the kids are in bed. When on earth do I exercise?? I have a double buggy so I could walk except my eldest now wants out of the buggy walking which is lovely to wear her out, but not exactly the power walk that I need, more of the gentlest of strolls. And I snack constantly because I am at home most of the day.

Any Mammy’s out there want to let me in on the secret of how exactly you look after yourself with kids hanging out of you??

The joys of renting. The crisis pending.

We are not homeowners. First we spent most of our 20’s in education, then we got married and our children followed soon after, all of which exhausted our savings accounts. We were living in Dublin and completely priced out of the area we were living in. We decided to move back down the country to have a better quality of life for our children. We had been saving anything extra since into our deposit fund. That came to a halt when I went on career break to stay home with the little ones. We have a little bit saved, nowhere near the (potential) 20% that we may need to buy but we will persevere.

For the moment we are tenants. We pay rent every month for a house which we call home. And while we pay rent it is our home. Landlords presumably understand this right? We deal with an estate agent who should certainly understand it. I missed a call from the estate agent while at the doctors the other day. We have been waiting for someone to come and fix a few bits in the house that were supposed to be done when we moved in but weren’t. The estate agent left a message saying that someone was on the way and if I wasn’t there he had given him to key to come in himself?? A key, for my home, to a man I don’t know from Adam to let himself in without my prior permission??

Why are you treated as less than if you are renting? My friend who is also renting had her estate agent say to her “Why is it that you are not in a position to buy?” when the house she was renting went up for sale.

Is it the Irish obsession with home ownership? Are people who are renting looked down on? It is such an unstable time to be a tenant and such an impossible time to buy. The situation is all over the news with the dire circumstances some people have found themselves in. People are becoming homeless in many areas as rents skyrocket. We both had full time jobs with the public service and struggled with Dublin rents. We both have full time jobs with the public service and are struggling to buy. How on earth are people who are not in such a lucky situation as us going to cope?

The best of times.

Before I had my children, the best of times were big events. They were gigs, birthday parties, nights out, holidays. Times that were different to the norm. Times when I stepped outside my “normal” life, everyday life.

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The best of times before babies

Now the best of times are the everyday. The best of times are walks in the park, baths, going to the supermarket or the library. Snuggling at bedtime, cleaning snots and getting kisses. We are wholeheartedly living our normal lives.

When my first daughter was born my uncle wrote in her card. “Congratulations, well that’s it isn’t it, the meaning of life is life”

And it is true for us. They have given my life meaning, they have given my early mornings meaning when I hear “MAMA!” being screamed through the monitor. They brighten every day. When I am down they still jump up and down on me and don’t give me a moments peace and they drag me out of any slump.

So much as I miss the freedom of my life before them, my life with them is infinitely, endlessly better.

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The best of times now