This is my song

What song best says who you are? Not the song which you think others would associate with you, but the song which, to your mind, best describes you. The one you yourself most identify with.

Yesterday I was flicking through facebook, and I came across a post asking this question. I have no idea where I read it, or who posted it, but the person was suggesting that the song ‘Happy’ by Pharrell Williams best summed them up. So I began to wonder, what is my song?

Immediately one song came to mind. It is ‘Concrete Angel’ by Martina McBride.

Generally speaking anyone who knows me now would probably think of me as relatively chilled out, content and photo credit: <a href="">Ed Yourdon</a> via <a href="">photopin</a> <a href="">cc</a>happy. However this is not the person I have always been, and to this day a part of me can never forget the girl I used to be.

Whilst I do not sing it from the rooftops, I do not hide the fact that as a teenager I was abused. Not by a member of my family I hasten to add. It does not define me, but it is a part of my past. During those years my world was a lonely place to live in. Whenever I hear this song, time slips away, and I clearly remember that troubled girl I used to be. I remember her isolation, living alone, in a world of so many. I remember her belief that this was her lot, and I remember feeling lost and at times very lonely.

During those years I spent a lot of time inside my own head, battling to survive. I often went away to a different world, to a place where I was happy, where I could be free. It was part of what kept me strong, and allowed me to eventually survive.

The words of this song perfectly describe that escape.

‘The teacher wonders but she doesn’t ask
It’s hard to see the pain behind the mask
Bearing the burden of a secret storm
Sometimes she wishes she was never born

Through the wind and the rain
She stands hard as a stone
In a world that she can’t rise above
But her dreams give her wings
And she flies to a place where she’s loved
Concrete angel’

That girl is a long way from where I am today, but deep down she never really left me. We have shared a lot of hard times together, and I will always be grateful for her strength, and her ability to survive.

Thankfully for me life got a whole lot better, and I now live in that world, which at the time I could only dream of, with a man, who at the time I could never have imagined.

This is my song. What is yours?

photo credit: Ed Yourdon via photopin cc
photo credit: ★.stellar.★ via photopin cc

photo credit: ransomtech via photopin cc

I can’t believe I did that.

Yes, there are some things I did as a younger me, which perhaps I would not be overly proud of today. I would like to think I am not the only one. I was a bit of a ‘devil may care’ individual when I was younger. Someone who, here in Ireland, we might call ‘a chancer’.

However there is one incident I remember which perhaps I should be ashamed of, but guess what? I’m not!

It happened when I was a newly qualified nurse. I was working night duty on a ward, but I also was responsible for another smaller ward, which was looked after by a student nurse. During the night I would regularly call over to her to ensure all was well, and to supervise the drug rounds.

Night duty is often a very busy time, as patients who are sick tend to continue to be unwell by night, when there are less staff on duty. Many nights I worked twelve hours with no break. On busy nights such as those, it was always a delight if a patient gave us a box of sweets. They were greatly enjoyed by all.

However on the ward I was relieving, if a patient gifted chocolates or sweets for the nurses, the ward sister thanked them profusely, and then locked them in a press. She would later give them to the kitchen staff, consultants or, who knows who, as a present. Anyone but the nurses.

One night I called over to this ward, with a box of chocolates we had been given, to share with the student on duty. While I was there the nurse remarked that she had been given a box of sweets when she came on duty that night by one of the patients, but the nurse in charge had locked them away before going home.

In a flash I could feel my temper rise. How dare she? That patient had specifically kept them for this young nurse. I was so cross. The student nurse was sitting down at the desk. I asked her to move, and sat myself down. The desk had a locked cupboard to the right with a drawer above it. In the locked cupboard were the stolen boxes of chocolates. I carefully removed the drawer and lo and behold, we now had perfect access to the chocolates below.

Much to the students horror I began to unload the cupboard. All sizes and shapes of boxes of chocolates and sweets. Some were still wrapped. It was almost Christmas, I knew most of them would be given to the consultants and kitchen staff as ‘gifts’ from the ward photo credit: <a href="">Shelley & Dave</a> via <a href="">photopin</a> <a href="">cc</a>sister.

Without a worry about the rights and wrongs of what I was about to do, I asked the nurse which one she would like us to open. She was shocked, and didn’t want to have anything to do with the ‘robbery’ . Not one bit deterred, I settled on a very large beautifully wrapped box, which I suspected contained chocolates I loved. I carefully unwrapped it and took out the chocolates. I opened them up and was delighted to see that there were two layers. I chose a few of my favourites and tucked in. Then I left for my own ward, leaving the chocolates on the desk.

Returning to my own ward, my fellow nurses all got a great laugh out of what I had done. Most of the nurses in the hospital were aware of that particular ward sisters policy re chocolates, and no one thought she was right. Worryingly my companions that night all agreed they would never have done what I did.

Unrepentant, I returned to the ward later to discover the student nurse had succumbed to temptation. A large majority of the chocolates were gone. Rightly or wrongly I was delighted. The student asked would I please take the remainder up to my own ward when I was going as she didn’t want, any ‘evidence’ left around when the ward sister arrived in the morning. I smiled and told her I had a much better idea.

Here is where I possibly crossed the line…. I removed every chocolate from the almost empty top layer. I then put the emptied top layer on the bottom, beneath the full layer. I carefully re wrapped the box of chocolates. Removing the drawer once more I placed the half full, beautifully wrapped, box back in the cupboard, and with a huge amount of satisfaction I returned the drawer.

It was almost morning. Work continued, and eventually it was time to go home. As I left the hospital that morning I was still highly amused by what I had done, and even more delighted to imagine, hopefully a consultant, receiving those chocolates for Christmas, and discovering a layer missing. In my imagination I went one step further, I imagined him ‘gifting’ them to someone else, unaware they were half eaten!

I slept happily that day, more than satisfied with my nights work. Twenty years later is it wrong that I am still satisfied by what I did that night?

Maybe you can identify? Feel free to share, I’d love to know I am not alone.

photo credit: ransomtech via photopin cc
photo credit: Shelley & Dave via photopin cc

When a heart grieves, time moves to a different beat.

'Grief is itself a medicine'. William Cowper

‘Grief is itself a medicine’.
William Cowper


Today I was driving home, with some shopping in the car, when without conscious thought I found myself driving in the opposite direction. The sun, which had been rare all morning, was shining, and the village looked at it’s best. I knew where I was going.

I needed to call up to Daniel. I needed to take the time out of life, to stop the world from turning, and to standstill and remember. To remember and to try to comprehend, that Daniel was gone.

As I walked into the graveyard I felt as I always do, incredulous. How did this happen? I could feel my head shake. As I stood at his grave looking at his handsome photo,I will admit that I cried. A cheeky, beautiful boy smiling out at me. A boy who left this world and the wonderful life that lay ahead of him, many years before his time.

Beside his photograph I saw a large bouquet of flowers. They were from his Mom. It was her birthday last Monday. It broke my heart to think that the only way she could share her birthday with her young son was to bring him her flowers. How hard must that be? To never again be able to give a present to your credit: <a href="">Indigo Skies Photography</a> via <a href="">photopin</a> <a href="">cc</a>

It is almost ten months since Daniel died. I have learned a little bit about grief this year, but one of the main lessons I’ve learned is that ‘grief time’ runs at a very different speed to ‘real time’. In those ten months, other children have had birthdays. They are a year older. Christmas came and went. So too did the Summer. Recently Daniels siblings and friends returned to school and college. To a higher class.

All this I know to be true. I understand exactly how many days have passed since last November, and how many small milestones we have reached. However my heart beats to a different clock. It ticks to a different time. A clock that began to tick the day Daniel left. In my heart that was but a moment ago.

Others may mark Daniels passing in real time. They may think that it is coming close to one year. They may believe that healing is taking place over time. However their clock is running at a different pace. Ten months in grief time is mere moments in real time.

As I stood and shed a few silent tears for Daniel and young Ben this morning I was grateful for ‘grief time’. Grief time slows the clock and allows families to keep their child close. It keeps the past beside them, and a future without their child far away.

As I left the graveyard I thought of my friend, Daniels Mom, and I hope that for her grief time continues to keep young Daniel by her side, for many’s the year to come.

photo credit: Indigo Skies Photography via photopin cc
photo credit: tricky (rick harrison) via photopin cc

photo credit: Firesam! via photopin cc

Why are you not happy?

Imagine being a child in today’s world, compared with the childhood you had.

As a child I shared a bedroom with three others. We had one bathroom. My Mom made a lot of our clothes, and we owned school shoes, casual shoes, and runners. We had no playroom, and a limited stock of toys. For most of my childhood we had one car which was gone all day. We walked or cycled where ever we wanted to go.

We had one television, black and white, and were lucky enough to have four channels. Those living outside Dublin had just two! We didn’t get a video recorder until I was almost seventeen. There were no mobile phones, pieta housecomputers, laptops or games consuls.

Yet I never knew of anyone who took their own life.

Reading the statistics I am stunned. What has changed? Were this number of teenagers unhappy when I was growing up? Was I just oblivious to it? I can’t help but wonder despite our better lifestyles are our children living in a poorer world?

With all this technology we are able to communicate 24/7 but have we stopped actually speaking with each other? We have all gone into restaurants and watched families sit at a table and not speak, as they are too busy online. Is it easier than making conversation?

As I look through my facebook feed I see happiness everywhere. Enough to make me feel I’m missing out. What would the awkward, angry, teenage Tric have felt at fifteen, if she had to look at so many others living in a perfect world.

I didn’t have all that my children have, but I also didn’t have other things in my life that are part of my children’s lives. I never felt exam pressure and the need to get grinds in order to get good results. I didn’t see the perfect lives others were living. I didn’t have to have branded clothes, and update my wardrobe regularly. I didn’t have to have a million facebook friends or learn to cope with cyber bullying. I’d never heard of cosmetic surgery, and there was very little talk of foods being good or bad for you. I read magazines, but they weren’t focused on body image. There were real celebrities, those who had actually achieved fame through their musical or acting ability. Society seemed less fake. I didn’t believe everyone else was living a better life than I was.

I cannot help but wonder, what are we missing? In a world where parents seem to put more time, energy and money than ever before into their children, where are we going wrong?

We need to listen to our children’s silent cries. They are trying to tell us something. It’s time for us to ask them, ‘Why are you not happy?’.

Photo from Pieta House. 
photo credit: Firesam! via photopin cc

Some random facts about me.

So my blog friends, just how well do you know me?
Tonight I will put together some random facts about myself. Some you may already know, but hopefully some will surprise you.
I’d like to thank the blog dancingthruyears for prompting me to write this with her seven random facts post. I always enjoy reading these type of posts so here’s hoping you do too.

1. I have a tattoo.

2. I went completely grey at 24 after the birth of my first child. Do I mind? Nope I always wanted to have my hair different colours so now I have the perfect excuse

3. I only need about six hours of sleep a night.

4. I agreed to buy our house two days before I told my credit: <a href="">Nomadic Lass</a> via <a href="">photopin</a> <a href="">cc</a>

5. I sometimes coach a swim team at 6am.

6. I am on twitter, but I still don’t know much about it.

7. I drink a million cups of tea a day.

8. I purposely don’t play the lotto, because I am very happy with my life as it is.

9. I met my husband in Cyprus.

10. I fainted every day on the wards for weeks when I first began my nursing training.

11. I was able to pick locks as a teenager.

12. I swam for Ireland.

13. A bus I was travelling on was pulled over by German police, in order to return my passport to me. Incidentally I didn’t even know I’d lost it.

14. As a child I shared a bedroom with my three sisters.

15.I have been bitten on four separate occasions by dogs. It has not made me fear them.

16. I cry easily.

17. I have a temper that goes from 0-100 in a second, and then it is over just as quick.

18. I have left a candle burning over night in our sitting room on more than one occasion. (Don’t tell you know who).

19. I don’t own a handbag.

20. I own just two dresses.

So there you have it. Now you know so much more about me, we’re positively best friends.

Today I know what a successful mother feels like.

Congratulations to me. Today I became a successful mother. How? Well today two of my four children did what nature intended them to do.
They left home.

Why do I consider myself a successful mother? Well because these two little feckers darlings, skipped out the door and back to college, without a backward glance! Perhaps knowing I’m a bit of a softie, they put on a small show, hiding very well their absolute joy at the thought of returning to the life of a student, living away from home. Tonight I have no doubt they are among many friends, possibly out in some den of iniquity, drinking and catching up, without a care in the world.

Yes indeed I am quite obviously a successful mother. Over the years I have managed to not kill these two when they were young children, as I guessed my way through motherhood, and I also managed to not kill them when they were teenagers, even when sorely tempted. I am such a good mother that they have grown up to be independent enough to leave home. Independent enough to no longer need credit: <a href="">Mouin.M►(away)</a> via <a href="">photopin</a> <a href="">cc</a>

Yes congratulations to me. How does it feel you may ask, being a successful mother?

Well tonight as I sit here in my very quiet kitchen, I hear no one arguing. No music blaring. Passing my daughters bedroom I close my eyes, as the smell of her perfume momentarily brings her back to me, but on opening them I miss her all over again. My tall handsome boy does not wander in to sit down and chat. Tonight our home feels empty, and a piece of my soul missing.

Tonight I know exactly how a successful mother feels, but a large part of me wishes I didn’t.

If you had your time again, what sort of mother would you be?

Do you remember when you had your first child? Were you like me? Did  you see death and danger everywhere?

As my baby would sit happily gooing and gaaing at me I would watch in horror as her soother fell out onto the floor. Dear Jesus the germs! I’d rush to pick it up, knowing the vast number of germs which were just waiting for this moment. E Coli and God knows what else rushing onto that lovely teat and unless killed immediately they would make their way into my precious babies mouth. I’d seen the adds. I knew what these germs looked like. They were mean!

During the day there were so many concerns. Was she eating enough? Was she sleeping enough? Was I stimulating her enough? Maybe I should begin to read to her?  Or play classical music? Feck I’d better buy some classical music.

I worried that she was too hot, and it was even possible for me to worry that she was too cold within the same moment. Many a night I couldn’t sleep, imagining my daughter lying freezing in her cot, having kicked off her covers, only to get up and cover her as she slept soundly, returning to bed frozen myself.small_12760197973

I lived in fear of cot death, a fear my husband shared. As we watched the television, our gaze would constantly wander to the baby monitor. If we heard a brief cry we jumped up. If there was no noise we couldn’t relax. We’d check to see if we had the volume up at it’s highest. Yes it was. Within minutes we would have convinced ourselves that we’d better check. Both of us would head up the stairs, like two on a secret mission, avoiding the creaking stair, and barely breathing. Cautiously we would open the bedroom door and hold our breaths. Could we hear her? Inevitably our investigation would have disturbed her and regularly we regretted our decision to check she had not left this world.

As she grew up I continued to worry. Now she could move there were plug sockets to be covered. Ornaments to be put away. Presses to be childproofed. Even the toilet was ‘locked’. The floor was regularly washed, and I was ever vigilant in case she put anything in her mouth, or choked.

And would you believe it, that baby survived. However so too did my last child, child number four.

By now the sterilizer was gone, and a quick scald with the kettle, or better still a lick from me, ensured a germ free soother.  Her days were spent sitting in the play room, watching her siblings play. There were times when one of the children came in to tell me she was crying. I’d look at the clock and think, ‘God Almighty, when did I last feed her?’.  On other occasions I’d make my way in to the playroom in order to put her up for a long overdue nap, only to discover she’d fallen asleep already.

This little lady ate whatever was going. She sat in her high chair sharing meals with her siblings, joining in the shouting and conversations as if she understood what was going on. She did her ‘homework’ with them, long before she went to school. The nearest to classical music we came to, was listening to ‘I love you’ on Barney. The playroom was awash with tiny toys such as Lego and Sylvanian families. If this was our first child we would have lived in a permanent state of anxiety in case she ate them. However it was child number four. A very less breakable child to our first.

Bedtime for this little one was also a very different affair. We had given up on the ‘don’t spoil her, whatever you do’ advice. If she cried we went to her. If she wanted into our bed, in she came. As she grew up, her actual bedtime became somewhat lax, and on many occasions we ‘discovered her’ still up, long after the time her siblings would have been tucked up asleep at her age.

There are days when it strikes me that my time as a mother of young children is almost over. It makes me feel quite sad. As I look back I can see how I have evolved as a Mom, and certain things strike me.  Things I would change if given my time again.

I would spend more time sitting nursing my baby, and let the world to credit: <a href="">amrufm</a> via <a href="">photopin</a> <a href="">cc</a>

I would not wish away the days and months waiting for my child to achieve milestones.  I would just celebrate them as they happened.

I would not rush them into playschool, just because they were a certain age.

I would leave for school collections early, so a young toddler would have all the time in the world to dawdle.

I would have trusted my instincts more, and books less.

I would have expected less of my first child, in everything she did.

If I had my time all over again, I would parent my children more like my last. Child number four has grown up with a very different mother. A mother who has evolved over time. Who has learned many lessons among the way, but ultimately who has learned that it is wonderful to be a mother, but especially to be a mother of young children.

Now it is time for me to learn a whole host of new lessons, as the mother of older children, facing a new set of challenges. I may be a better, more chilled out mother of young children, but I’m not sure the same is true for me as the mother of older children.
Only time will tell.

photo credit: avlxyz via photopin cc
photo credit: amrufm via photopin cc


Help I’m losing the plot!

Help. I need help!
Well actually it is not just myself who needs help, but my dog. She is, as far as I can see, in serious need of psychiatric help.

Up to two days ago she was a cute, darling, lovable pet, who loved playing with a ball, second only to sitting on my lap.

Then we decided that it was time for a haircut. Now she usually has lovely short hair, which I brush regularly. However the Summer came, and she found the sea, and she found she loved the sea. Then I found that the sea doesn’t really agree with her lovely coat. Before we knew it knots had appeared. Our gorgeous little lady had some very large knots, which would mean only one thing…. she would need a very tight haircut, or in plain English, a shave!cici

So off she went on Tuesday, happily skipping along, tail wagging, for her ‘haircut’. She hasn’t been seen since!

I collected the rat, little darling after three hours. Oh dear God, the state of her. She is like a shorn sheep, but with a cute face. However it is her tail that is the biggest problem. It has been cut short, but with a plume of hair at the end. This tail is the main source of my dearest little ladies fall into lunacy.

You see, up to now, she didn’t know she had a tail. Yes she wagged it regularly, but that was it. However since the hair cut she has discovered she has a tail, or as I think she would put it, a stalker! She walks a few steps and then takes off, in a crazy bid to outrun her tail. Sometimes, accepting that she cannot do that, she spins around, and around and around, chasing that fecker. Eventually she ‘catches’ it. When she does, in a fit of fury, she bites down hard, just to let it know how she feels about it, and then howls as she discovers it is actually a part of her.

In the two days since she got her hair cut, she has been demented. Instead of relaxing on my lap, as if on a tropical beach, she jumps up every few minutes, to a ridiculous height, and tries to nip that stalker. When not in attacking mode she sits crying, and at times she decides it’s all too much as she barks her head off, looking at that ‘thing’ behind her.

While I love dogs, up to now I have never lost it over them. However I think this lady has pushed me over the edge. Today, watching her jump, cry and bark, I even contemplated getting her a dog coat, so she can no longer feel her tail. Yes, a dog coat, I greatly fear I am losing the plot!

Unless any of you have any better advice, it looks like a dog coat is coming my way. Although my daughter is convinced a pretty dress would work better! Tonight, like a baby who has had a fretful day, ‘Ratty’ is lying asleep in a state of exhaustion. There is peace in the house at last.

Tomorrow is another day, and I greatly fear, both she and I, are heading for madness, as I resolve to never allow her into the sea again. Help.

photo credit: ohsohappytogether via photopin cc

Mom, I have something to tell you.

As I prepare sandwiches daily,
for my daughters school lunch,
that are often not eaten.
I say, ‘Thank you’.

As my daughter rushes to check her swim bag,
moments before swimming,
to discover I took out and dried her wet togs yesterday.
I say ‘Thank you’.

When my daughter wrinkles up her nose at her dinner,
the one I have spent time making,
saying, ‘I hate spaghetti bolognaise’,
I say, ‘Thank you’.photo credit: Eric Lumsden via photopin

When my daughter says, ‘I’ll tidy it in a minute’,
referring to her tip of a bedroom,
and never does.
I say, ‘Thank you’.

When my daughter asks me where her blue top is,
and I say ‘I’ve just ironed it’,
because I knew she wanted to wear it out that night.
I say ‘Thank you’.

When my children ask for lifts,
at all hours of the day or night,
and I leave what I’m enjoying to collect them.
I say ‘Thank you’.

When I wake at night,
worrying about one or other of my children,
as they sleep soundly.
I say ‘Thank you’.

When I see my children grow up,
oblivious to most of what I do, for them,
I think of you and,
I say,’Thank you’.

Tonight as I remember,
the many things you did for me,
and all that you still do,
I say,’Thank you’.

Thank you Mom, xxxx

photo credit: Eric Lumsden via photopin
photo credit: ohsohappytogether via photopin cc

Childhood Cancer Awareness Month.

September is Childhood Cancer Awareness Month.childhood awareness photo

It is almost exactly two years since young Daniel began secondary school. All dressed up in his new uniform, white crisp shirt and blazer, so different a look to his usual choice of tracksuit or football kit. He looked so very handsome, and yet still cheeky! Dan only got to wear his uniform for six weeks. Daily he complained of feeling more and more tired, and became less like the Daniel we knew, even falling asleep after a game of football. Eventually he was admitted for tests and very quickly we discovered Dan had leukemia.

September is childhood cancer awareness month.

It is a month in the year when we remember the many children here in Ireland and around the world, this very day, who are fighting with everything they have, to live. It is a month in which we can remember the many families who are missing a little one from their lives, who took family photos of siblings going to school for the first time, while holding up a photo of a missing brother or sister. Families who have lost a much loved child. It is also a month in which we celebrate those children who made it through cancer, who are today running around, playing with friends. Back home after many months of treatment. Cancer free.

Childhood cancer awareness month is  a month in which we can highlight the many different charities out there who support children and families during the darkest days in their lives. These charities are not that well known because thankfully many of us have never had any contact with them.  So tonight I’d like to highlight one of them.

Those of you who read my blog regularly may remember that I spoke of this  charity before. It is Aoibheanns Pink Tie, a charity began by a father who lost his eight year old princess, Aoibheann to cancer. I have written about Jimmy Norman and this charity before in this post here. This charity offers aoibheanns pink tie fundraiserpractical help to families who are undergoing chemotherapy in St Johns Ward, Crumlin.

When a child is diagnosed with cancer many parents will not be in a position to return to work. There will be transport costs, accommodation costs, childcare costs and difficulties, as well as medical costs. Imagine the worry of all that on top of  the worry that your little one may die. For these families APT is there. They are also there to help with little things, and it is often these little things that mean so much.

For instance on a young childs birthday APT sends a gift by post, because we all know there is nothing like a parcel arriving in the post to put a smile on a child’s face. They have a wonderful team who travel the country painting the walls of the bedrooms of some of these children with amazing murals. However my favourite thing this charity does is that it provides the children who have Hickman lines with dry suits. This allows children, who may have these lines in place for a couple of years, to play in paddling pools or enjoy splashing in the sea with family and friends on a hot Summers day, instead of looking on from afar and missing out on an essential part of childhood.

Lastly Childhood Cancer Awareness Month allows us to highlight the advances being made in the treatment of Cancer, and the need for us all to consider financially supporting those programes. When Dan was first diagnosed we held tight to the figure that 85% of those with Acute Lymphoid Leukemia survive. Within two weeks we discovered that Daniels leukemia was not as straightforward as it was hoped. A new regime of chemo had to begin, a new drug would be used and hopefully this would work. Fifteen years ago that drug did not exist. The rapid advances in cancer treatment as a result of research meant that Daniel got a chance. A chance we were so very grateful to get so early in his diagnosis.

This month is Childhood Cancer Awareness Month. This month I remember Daniel, and salute those who worked so hard to save his life, and those  amazing people in APT who are there to support families during the worst days in their lives.

For more information on Aoibheanns Pink Tie please check out their facebook page here, and maybe even give them a like.