Happy Birthday

Happy Birthday to me.

Well actually Happy Birthday to ‘My thoughts on a page’, which has over the past two years become very much a part of me. I have laughed and cried out loud here and enormously enjoyed every post I’ve written.

Like New Year a birthday is a time to reflect, to look forward and back. When I look back I do so with tremdous grattitude that my brother introduced me to blogging. From my earliest days I have enjoyed the interactions of those I have met either here or elsewhere on wordpress. Lucky for me quite a number of you have been here for most of the two years. It has been one of the most difficult two years in my life, with Daniels diagnosis and battle taking it’s toll, not to mention the difficult road that is grief.
So many of you have helped me through. I really am hugely grateful.

As I look forward I think there is a change coming. At last I feel I know what I want to do. I want to write, and be published some day. I’ve tried to free up some time in the week to actively write and to give the time I should to the creative writing course assignments I’ve been set.

With that in mind I don’t think I’ll be able to post as much as I have to date, but I will never be too far away. I will try to check in regularly to catch up on what I’ve missed and I would love if I could get up to three posts a week done. I am also thinking of beginning another regular slot where you who read can contribute. I will hopefully have a better idea of what that will be when I clear some headspace and think it through, as I so enjoyed the ‘series of letters’ and ‘second chance repost’.

In time I may even pluck up the courage to post some of my creative writing here too.

So onward and upward. I’m away off to the pool again teaching, but when I return I hope you will be able to join me at about ten thirty Irish time to raise your glasses “To blogging and online friendships”.

Sláinte, even if you can’t join me you can be sure I’m enjoying one,(or two) myself.

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Why do we share online?

Sharing is caring.

We bloggers share every time we write. We share our thoughts, advice and experiences. No matter what it is we write about, the moment we press ‘publish’ we agree to share. Why?

Personally I share for various reasons. For a long time I wrote to offload. To make sense of life as it happened. During Daniels illness I wrote in despair, I shared my fears and dumped my anger into the blogosphere. So many of you read and came back with comments of comfort, encouragement and understanding. In this instance I shared for my own ends. It was I who hugely benefited from it.

Last week a blogger, called Harsh Reality reblogged a post I wrote in April called ‘how do I get more followers on my blog?’. This was a post I wrote last year for new bloggers. When I posted it I did so to help others. It took a while but last week a large number found it and hopefully benefited from it. Definitely a case of caring is sharing.you are brave.

However the other day I wrote another post and pressed publish. It was the hardest post ever for me to share. It was called ‘To the one who stole my childhood’. Why did I share it? For two reasons, one was to prove to myself that he no longer had any hold on my life, but the other reason was there also, the hope that someone might read it who needed to. Someone who might read the comments where Chatter master wrote ‘you are stronger than you know’, and would begin to realise they were. Someone who might begin to believe there is hope, they can survive and more importantly they can one day experience happiness.

Having posted it I wondered how I would feel the next day? I woke up and held my breath, lying in bed refusing to look at my phone. Eventually I bit the bullet and was met with a sea of comments, kind and encouraging comments. So many had taken the time to write. I pushed back tears, as I’d shed enough of them over the years. I got up and felt tall. I have felt strong ever since.

Until today.

This evening I was watching the news. A lady named Fiona Doyle came on. Her father had been found guilty two years ago of the most appalling abuse against her. His sentence was twelve years with nine suspended due to his age and infirmity. She was devastated. She appeared on television, radio and in the papers and in the end the sentence was challenged as being ‘unduly lenient’. Today she got her justice. Her seventy four year old father was sentenced to nine years in jail.

As I watched her beaming on the steps of the courthouse surrounded by her family, I thought to myself, ‘now that is going public’. Then I heard her speak, “I hope this gives courage to all those out there”. I have been thinking about what she said since.

I did write that letter, and I did press publish, but only to a selective audience. I did not share on facebook and it has bugged me ever since. Why not? Am I afraid? Embarrassed? Ashamed? Or all three?

I don’t have the answer, but I am worried it is number three, ‘Ashamed’. And all I can say is ‘Feck’. I know I have nothing to be ashamed of, believe me, but whenever I think of friends I know reading that letter I think that is what I feel.  It looks like I’ve a bit more work to do.

As I ponder the truth, I salute Fiona Doyle. Someone who has made a difference, to me and many many more around the country. Someone who wasn’t ashamed.

Then there were two.

Be careful what you wish for. Today I am sitting at my laptop, catching up on reading and commenting, and taking a bit of time to ponder a new story I hope to write for a competition. This is the day of my dreams, something often wished for over many years.

Me time.photo credit: jev55 via photopin cc

Yet it’s not quite as amazing as I thought it would be.

Earlier this morning the house was filled with activity, as the eldest two prepared to return to college. “Who robbed my black boots?” (her sister), “Where is my navy top?” (in her sister’s room), “Has anyone seen my black handbag?” (try your sister). The tumble drier was permanently on, and  just before they were due to leave I inquired if my daughter wanted to bring any of the large bundle of clothes that had suddenly appeared on the table, with her. “Oh yes, they’re for ironing”, (which I assume meant, for ironing by you Mom). I obliged and added them to the huge pile of clothes next to her two full suitcases.

My son on the other hand is obviously not going to change his clothes at all! He has a very small case of ‘almost dry’ clothes. His schedule seems to have been so busy over Christmas and January that he had no time to do any washing until yesterday and today. He also does not seem to need any food, except the selection box we gave him, that was left over from Christmas.

We shared a final noisy lunch in which the four siblings joked with each other, and then the car was loaded up. They put on their coats (as the heating in my daughters car is broken) and drove out the gate, skid marks behind them, such was their haste to return to college life.

In their aftermath there is a silence. A deafening silence.photo credit: Klifton via photopin cc

While my children were growing up I couldn’t even imagine this day. We used to speak of it together, my husband and I, but it was always too far in the distance. What would it be like to not have a full house of noise and fun? What would it be like to sit and read during an afternoon? We dreamed of it, and thought of all we would do, or better again what we would not do!

That day has come, and now I know.

Sitting doing as I please I can hear my missing children in the silence. I hear all that is not happening. No chat in the hall between them. No loud music from their bedrooms. No laughter in the distance or conversations with friends on their phones. The two who are left are oblivious, happy to have unfettered access to their eldest sisters clothes once more. Accepting of the change.

It will take me a little longer I’m afraid. In the meantime, it is an excellent week to come for dinner, as I forget daily we are now four and not six.

photo credit: jev55 via photopin cc

photo credit: Klifton via photopin cc


Letter… To the one who stole my childhood.

Last year I did a series of posts where others sent me letters they wanted to write. I received letters of regret, love, confession and thanks. They were beautifully written and many were poignant. I never shared my own letter, but I did write one.
So tonight I am ready to share mine.

I met you when I was only a child, and was drawn to you. You were well known and greatly respected in your chosen field. I was delighted to be “liked” by you, and enjoyed the extra support and encouragement you gave me.
You were my coach, my mentor. In time you became more important to me than my parents, family or friends.
I was happy to be around you, to babysit for you, to have extra training with you.

You were using me. Creating a friendship built on a lie. After one year you made your move. Within weeks you had enveloped me in a giant net, from which I could not escape. I was twelve years old.

Too young to understand. I did not have the courage to ask for help. My friends didn’t understand, and most deserted me. My reaction to my distress, shame and hurt at what was happening, caused me to become withdrawn at home. My parents could not reach me. Even surrounded by brothers and sisters and loving parents, I was alone.photo credit: apdk via photopin cc
You had succeeded in your mission.

As I grew up, you tightened the noose. You stalked me. Trying to control every moment of my day from a distance.
However you made one miscalculation. I was not as weak as you thought. A combination of my mothers steely nature and my fathers quiet strength, allowed me to break free.

I met a wonderful man, who along with some incredible friends picked up the pieces.
They made me whole once more. Yes I was battered and scarred, but no longer broken.

And then I came looking for you.

I discovered many more who were also looking. You ran, escaping to a faraway country. The news broke. My family struggled. Unwelcome notoriety came knocking on our door. Others took up the call and went looking for you.
A legal loophole stopped us. You would not be sent back.
We would never have our day in court.

Some may say we never got justice.

I say that I am well and happy. You took my childhood but that is only a few short years, I have reclaimed my life.
I am glad I will never again see you.
I will never forget what you took from me, nor will I ever forgive you. But you no longer control my life.
You cannot say that about your own life. You have to be ever watchful. Because wherever you go we find you.
Journalists and police keep an eye on you.
You are scorned in your own neighbourhood.

As I hug my husband and hold my children close, I smile as I think of you.
Abandoned by your family, watched by the authorities, suffering from ever increasing financial difficulties. You are living the life you deserve.

I am writing this letter to let you know,
I too am living the life I deserve!

If you would like to read the other letters in this series you can find them here.

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My writing, an update of sorts.

How is my creative writing going, I am sure large numbers of you are wondering? Well not as well as my creative reasons for not writing!

So far I am about two months behind but hopefully after this week it is going to be full steam ahead. I found with Danny’s anniversary, then Christmas and finally Daniels virtual fifteenth birthday yesterday, that it was difficult to get my head around writing assignments someone else had given me, as opposed to vomiting onto a page the many thoughts in my head. However today feels like a new start, I’ve already as good as finished my two latest pieces of 1000 and 2000 words, and hope to have them polished and returned by Wednesday. Actually let me rephrase that, I will have them returned by Tuesday or Wednesday at latest.

On the blogging front I continue to really enjoy my writing, when I get around to it. Last week something different happened. I received an invitation to go to Dublin to attend an informal launch of a new web site called Herfamily.ie. They are a sister website to the well known site Her.ie. I decided to accept, as not only is it the very first blog related invite I have ever received, but it meant I could get in another visit home to my mom. So last Friday, feeling a little nervous I headed off to meet some of my virtual buddies from the Irish Parenting Bloggers group who were also invited.

I had arranged to meet a fellow blogger, the lovely Sara, from Where is my mind gone, by the train station, and even though we had never met we were instantly comfortable with each other. The two of us, after a slightly adventerous bus journey, arrived fashionably late by ten minutes, to be met with a sea of faces all sitting around a giant boardroom like table. Friendly faces,some of whom I’d met at the blog awards earlier this year, and others who knew us online and greeted us like old friends. It was fantastic. A year ago I’d have thought you would want to call for the men in white coats if I’d heard people speak of online friends. Lesson learned, do not question what I do not know.photo credit: <a href="https://www.flickr.com/photos/bcveen/136333717/">hoveringdog</a> via <a href="http://photopin.com">photopin</a> <a href="http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nc-nd/2.0/">cc</a>

All in all it was a wonderful morning. HerFamily.ie are a polished group, who I have no doubt will within a very short period be a go to site for parenting and lifestyle advice and reading. I may even help them achieve such a goal by guest posting. Maybe a post such as “how a glass of wine in the evening helps you recover from a day with children”, or “success for me as a parent has been never visiting any of my children in prison (to date)”, or even “Must haves for all parents of teenagers…. lie detectors, breathalysers, ear plugs and bank account with unlimited cash”. I’ll let you know if and when it happens.

In all seriousness I found them very welcoming and I really do wish them every success and luck in their venture.

The day was finished off by my mother and sister cooking up a lovely roast turkey and my brother arriving for a sleepover too. I must say even though I didn’t blog that day, it was a great blog day.

Now back to facebook and twitter creative writing!


On a side note I am way behind on my reading of some of your posts. I have been tuning in via my phone, but I’ve not been commenting or ‘liking’ to any great degree. I hope to be back up to speed really soon. I do miss being in touch but when life gets busy it is impossible to do everything, yet even knowing that doesn’t lessen the guilt I sometimes feel for not reading. Ridiculous I know but as you are my ‘friends’ that is just the way it is. I know many of you have experienced the same. So keep an eye out I’ll be back as soon as possible, and do let me know if I’ve missed a big event.

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photo credit: notemily via photopin cc

Wherever you are

photo (2)

Better by far you should forget and smile
         Than that you should remember and be sad
(Christina Rossetti)

Yes there are days and moments where everyone smiles, but there are no days when anyone forgets.

Today is Daniels fifteenth birthday. I thought it only right to remember him here today, as many of you shared his brave fight to live. Happy Birthday Danny where ever you are.

Why do I not speak out?

This may be a trigger post.

Today I read a post written by a strong, inspiring blogger who describes what it is to live without her mother in her life. Despite what you might think her mother has not died or moved away. What she has done is unimaginable. She has chosen her daughters abuser over her daughter. I read this powerful piece, commented and then I sat back and thought about it. You can read it here.

I thought about it most of the day, if truth be told. I thought about the trauma of those early days, when I first told my own family about my abuse, and their various reactions. I thought about the writer and how lonely it must be to have gone through what she did, and then to have her mother chose her abuser over her own child. How strong she is to be able to write this article. As I went about my day I looked around me and wondered at those I passed, ‘Does she have a secret?’. I also thought about the number of those who are out there living ‘normal’ lives, who have picked themselves up and learned to live with their past. photo credit: <a href="https://www.flickr.com/photos/traumaanddissociation/10476255395/">TraumaAndDissociation</a> via <a href="http://photopin.com">photopin</a> <a href="http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nd/2.0/">cc</a>

Yet it struck me as I read it that I am still not ‘out’ about my abuse. I have no problem discussing it if I am asked, but I do feel awkward and embarrassed about it. I know I shouldn’t but I do. I am happy to write this post and sound all together and strong, but will I share it on my facebook page? I’m not sure. At this moment in time I think I wont.

I have written two posts here on my own blog, which spoke of my abuse. Two posts out of over 500. I don’t need a psychiatrist to tell me that it would appear that I am not comfortable writing about it. I agree I am not. I like to say to myself that I don’t want to write about it because it might upset my family, but is that the total truth? I like to say to myself that I don’t speak about it as I do not wish for it to define me, but is that true?

Having spent much of the day thinking about it I still do not know. I have a post written in the form of a letter to ‘the one who stole my childhood’. I submitted it two years ago to another blog (the name of which I cannot remember), to publish anonymously. Yes how brave of me. I have never published it here.

Tonight I will think about it some more. Maybe I will speak up a bit more. Maybe I will post that letter.

Then again maybe I wont.

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be the match

Where am I?

It’s the new year and we should be all fired up, filled with fresh enthusiasm. It is a time of new beginnings and fresh starts. Yet here I am struggling to write. This is no writers bloc, nor is it burn out. It is once again the failure of my fingers to co operate.

Most days I have a multitude of topics I would wish to write about. Just today I almost finished a post called ‘be careful what you wish for’, about motherhood and our children moving on. However when it came to polishing and finishing it properly, my fingers stopped, just as they have been doing most days since the weekend.photo credit: CLF via photopin cc

For despite so many ideas flying around in my head, my heart is not in them. They seem superficial, and empty. Alongside those ideas is an ever present thought. This week is Daniels birthday. He would be 15.

It’s hard to believe the young boy we said goodbye to November 2013 would be fifteen. He would have grown. His voice would have broken. I wonder would his hair still be as blonde? Would he have continued to be a divil? I imagine he would still be the boy everyone wanted to hang out with. The pupil who broke and yet captured every teachers heart. The bane of his mothers life,in the best possible way,  and the sports mad son every father would dream of.

Speaking with his Mom, aunt and god mother recently we all discovered that we look for him everywhere. Every fifteen year old boy is now Daniel. We look at them in groups and see him in the middle of them. We watch a solitary figure walk up the road, wearing his school blazer, school bag over his shoulder and we wonder is he fifteen? Would Danny be that height? We see teams playing soccer on the soccer pitch and we look to see if we can see a Daniel there. When we don’t his loss strikes once more, as if we had previously forgotten it, although of course we never did.

Today we went for a walk, his aunt and I, and we struggled to believe that he has not been here in over a year. His aunt said that she still expects someday soon to wake up and realise it was all a dream. Even after over a year it is as if we got the news of his leukemia only yesterday, and that he is still in Crumlin.  Where did the year go?

Daniel affected so many in his short life. On Christmas morning a big group of young friends of his, braved the cold to swim in aid ofphoto credit: <a href="https://www.flickr.com/photos/whitetrashtexas/4086807030/">Robert W. Howington</a> via <a href="http://photopin.com">photopin</a> <a href="http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/2.0/">cc</a> the home care nurses who came to his home to give him his Chemo. Cork is the only county in Ireland with such a service, and those nurses were the difference between Daniel being at home or in hospital. Knowing Dan didn’t live makes those extra days at home very special. In truth though, the big gang of close to 100 people who gathered that day, would have done so for no other reason but to celebrate Daniels life, and collectively think of him. As they will do on Sunday when the cheque for the money raised will be handed over to the Mercy Hospital. a day after Daniels fifteenth birthday.

So forgive me my silence. I will be back, but it looks like I will have to spend a little time thinking of young Daniel, and wishing him a happy birthday. We know he will be fifteen, a time in his life we imagine he would have hugely enjoyed, but for many of us he will forever be the thirteen year old boy, who battled so bravely for as long as he could. The mad, lively, fun loving boy who left his life way too soon, and who is still terribly missed most especially by his parents, siblings, godparents and friends.

This week I am trying to write, but Daniel just wont let me. Maybe tomorrow.

photo credit: Robert W. Howington via photopin cc


photo credit: .Great Grandpa & Grandma T. via photopin cc

Thoughts on writing.

Do you ever wish there were no stats on wordpress, and no like button.
Imagine just writing a post where your only feedback was comments.
Where your popularity was a number you could only imagine.

Would that change what you write?
Maybe this is such a post?

photo credit: Nikki McLeod via photopin cc

My daughter thinks I’m a lax parent.

How pushy are you as a parent? Do you wish for your children to get good grades? Are they involved in after school activities, which you take a keen interest in? What future do you dare to dream for your child?

I am sure if we are honest many parents are highly ambitious. However there are times in life when something stops us and brings us back to reality, to what really matters. This week was one such week in Ireland.

Today in Ireland there are a large number of people attending their fourth funeral in two days. Less than a week ago five small_5286519588girlfriends aged 19 and 20 went ice skating. They said goodbye to their families, walked out the door, and never came home. Four were killed instantly when the car they were travelling in crashed into a van. The fifth young girl in the car remains in a serious condition.

As a mother to children who are old enough to leave my side, hearing about this accident made me feel sick. It could have been my child. I could have opened the door to a police man who would change my world forever. As I write my eldest daughter is in Australia, travelling to Sydney with friends. I’m sure she is having a wonderful time, but every day a part of me worries, and every night before I go to sleep I send a little message to her. I do so not by viber or text message, but the old fashioned way, by wishing, “I hope you have a good day sweetheart, please stay safe”.I whisper, in the hope she hears me.

When she returns she will be finishing her final year in college. She will have choices to make. Her choices not mine. The same is true with my daughter who will be finishing school in 2016. She sometimes frets about her future and about doing well in exams. When I comment that it will all work out in the end, she accuses me of being a lax parent, and thinks I should take a bit more interest in how she is doing and be more ambitious for her.photo credit: <a href="https://www.flickr.com/photos/mommypants/3071841576/">Nikki McLeod</a> via <a href="http://photopin.com">photopin</a> <a href="http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nc-nd/2.0/">cc</a>

What she doesn’t realise is that I do indeed take great interest in her. When she wakes in the morning I look to see if she appears tired. I wonder did she sleep okay? As she returns from school I listen, ask questions and wonder occasionally at all she may not be telling me. As she frets over an assignment I recognise in her a willingness to get things right, and her determination to get a good grade. As we sit together over a meal or watching television I look at her and marvel at how she is growing up. I see her for a moment as others do and I am proud of the person she is becomming. I smile inwardly remembering the small girl she used to be, the one I still see in her sometimes.

My daughter may chastise me for not being ambitious enough for my children, or for not pushing them in life. Maybe in many ways I am too laid back. However I think it is also true, that she and I have different check lists.

As I think of the final funeral taking place today I remind myself that there is nothing else that matters to me, but for my forever little ones, to stay safe, and be happy. That is my goal today and it will be unchanged twenty years hence. I may be lax in many ways, but on that I am determined.

On a final note my thoughts are very much with the family and friends of the four young girls who were killed, and also with the two young men in the other vehicle and young Dayna who is seriously injured.
Codladh Sámh Charmaine, Niamh, Gemma and Aisling.

photo credit: Nikki McLeod via photopin cc
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