Saturday, 29 January 2011

I Just Can't Get Enough!

There was a time when I was the go to person for a lot of things technical.

It’s true, in 1986 when we got a video recorder at home; I was the one who figured out how to work it first.  With help of course, it weighed about 10 kilos and was the size of the medium suitcase from a matching set of three.  It did take most of the family’s effort to get it into the sitting room, then we relayed across the room dragging and grunting with a final muscle rupturing push to mount it on the shelf under the television. 

When I met my other half, I discovered he was pretty good at things like that too, so, along with the bins, I eventually stepped aside and let him take control of all things technical in our lives.  It wasn’t just because he was better than me at it.  Well mostly it was, but also somewhere along the way, I forgot I liked gadgets and buttons.

Then, one day in October 2010, I got a smart phone.  I hadn’t planned to get one, it was a hand me down from my other half, so I was quite chilled out about it.  Just another phone right?


In the few short months the phone and I have been together, it appears to have become a significant other in my life.  I left it in car one day when I had to walk approximately 20 metres to pick up my daughter from school and I kept slamming my hand against my pocket looking for it.

Just like a baby, it’s small but in complete control and I can’t remember what my life was like without it.

I hate to admit it, but I’m hooked, it’s got all these apps and things that I’m becoming heavily dependent on.

I’m now a Twitter addict and I have to check the weather hourly.  Really I have to, if I can’t I feel a bit sick.  There’s also a flash light app, games for the kids, a calorie counter (like I’m ever going to use that), angry birds and this really cool one of a cat that mouths whatever you say to it.  It’s hilarious – honestly.  If you saw it you would know what I mean.

I can email from my phone, I can read my ever increasing list of blogs on it.  It’s got a GPS that I’ve actually used.  It wakes me in the morning and reminds me of appointments.  It’s like a having an assistant.

I love my phone.  I really do and now that I’ve said it I feel like I should be standing up in a room full of people who are all there for the same reason and need help.  I may need a sponsor to help me through the difficult times.  I don’t want one though, I’m just not ready.

There, there phoney poos, they won’t separate us my little shiny one. 

Stay with Mama – My Precious!

On the bright side, I am always contactable.

Thursday, 20 January 2011

Getting Older

I’ve always been a sucker for a clean cut man wearing glasses, so I married one. 
Then he went and got laser eye surgery. 

I realise there were a number of very good pros for him having had done this such as never again losing his glasses, no more getting new prescriptions every six months and of course there’s the awful memory of the glasses a co worker told him made him look a bit special, but not in a good way.

The cons for me were firstly, no more Clarke Kent fantasy, but more importantly and worryingly, he could suddenly see everything.  Everything!  My open pores, wrinkles, grey hairs, black heads – the lot.

It was very worrying for me at first, but he has coped well.  I have managed for the most part to erase from my memory the look on his face the first time he saw me in the cold light of day with a head cold, sans make up and in need of my roots being touched up.

Credit where it’s due though, he didn’t run for the hills.

Getting older is a funny old thing.  When I turned 30 I remember thinking it was no big deal, just a number.  It didn’t change me or define me.  I was still me.

Then I turned 31 and the shock was like a kick in the gut from a very large boot with a stiletto heel on the foot as a chaser.  I think I was so intent on not caring about being 30 that I forgot the ageing process would continue beyond that and what’s more, somehow speed up.

I’m almost out of my thirties now and looking back they have been amazing.

I’ve had the best and the worst times of my life during the last ten years.  I’ve lived through a lot and I’m still standing.

I’ve learned invaluable lessons, like the words to the Thomas the Tank Engine theme song and how to boil an egg.

The time management classes I did at college have finally become really relevant.  I can now cook dinner, unload the dishwasher, deal with up to 3 loads of laundry, talk on the phone, remove peanut butter from a hair brush, reload the dishwasher and feed the cat all at once.

I’ve gotten to know myself a lot better than I ever did before and I’m learning life’s a constant learning curve.  I’ll never know everything but I’ll always learn something new.

Of course I do now have to go to bed earlier and parts of me creak that didn’t used to.  I also need to plan well in advance for drinking more than one drink, as my hangovers now happen with a lot less alcohol and last a lot longer than they used to.

Of course there’s the new wrinkles, the grey roots, those funny brown marks on my hands, the fact that I can’t wear metallic eye shadow or it all moves into the creases of my eyes and I look like my daughter ran out of paper and used me to draw on with her new sparkly pens.

Of course, on the Brightside there is plenty of concealer and hair dye in the chemist up the road.

Thursday, 13 January 2011


I was raised to have respect.
It wasn’t a blind ignorant sort of respect given to anyone older, richer or more powerful, but the real thing.  I was taught that everyone deserves respect, including me.  It may sound a little old fashioned today but why is that the case?

I was also taught to think for myself, to question and reason.  I may have come to some conclusions that were different from my parent’s beliefs, but I wasn’t chastised for that.  Certainly there were debates and discussions that didn’t all end with everyone agreeing, but at no point in my childhood did it occur to me that I may be lesser than another because I thought differently on a subject than they did.

Let me explain what I mean by example.  I became vegetarian in 1979, I was eight years old and we lived in the middle of Ireland.  Most people I knew thought being vegetarian meant you only ate fish and chicken.  My Granny told me I would never get a husband.  I had no idea what she was talking about.  

Vegetarianism for me was a necessity; I felt so ill eating meat that I just couldn’t do it any more.  I don’t know whether my physical reaction was physiological or psychological but at a certain point, that didn’t matter. I was just not eating animals anymore because that made me feel better.  Full stop.

It wasn’t until I was much older that I realised my parents attitude toward their children was quite different from a lot of the people I grew up with.  I had an inkling when a child I played with wasn’t allowed in my house anymore because we ate pasta and that was foreign.  Then when I was a teenager I got into a fight with someone who told me her mother said my parents must be hippies because I was allowed wear purple eyeliner with blue mascara.

Looking back, my vegetarianism has to have been awkward for my parents. There were four other mouths to feed and it was the seventies, but they didn’t try to stop me.  Nor did they mock me, apart from the odd “carrots have feelings too” jibe, but if I had a euro for every time that has been said to me, I would have cleared the mortgage long ago.  Basically, they respected me and let me get on with something that has proved very important in my life.

Now when I say it has proved very important to me, it’s not the actual fact of being vegetarian, but what it represents.  I’ve been bombarded most of my life with comments about how it’s not the norm, it’s odd, awkward and it sets me apart in a bad way.  Or worse, it’s a fad, it’s intolerable, it’s stupid, it’s not taking our place on the food chain seriously.  Sad to think there are people out there with nothing better to do than get really annoyed with me about a choice I made over 30 years ago that has absolutely nothing to do with them.

But that’s the point – it’s my choice and mine alone.  Right now my kids are vegetarian because I want them to be and my husband respects that and I am downright queasy at the thought of body parts in the fridge. 

However, when they are older, if they choose to eat animals, I will respect their wishes.  Ok, I know I’ll cringe like crazy, but they own their bodies and have to make their own choices and I have no right to influence them unfairly.

I want to pass on the value of respect to my children because I truly believe lack of respect is one of the worst things happening in our society today.  Everyone deserves it, no matter what colour, creed, sexual orientation, age, height, and weight, whatever.

Being vegetarian doesn’t define me; it’s just one aspect of me.  Just like being female, being 39, being white, being a mother, being Irish, being a writer, being so many things that all work together to make me who I am.

I’m not a religious person, but I am spiritual and I believe nature does not make mistakes.  Instead it creates an enormous range of life that we should all have respect for.  It’s a basic right of everything and everyone on this planet.  One we should all stand up for.

On the bright side, when the whole mad cow disease thing started, I was so smug, until I found out you could get it from milk.  Oh well.

Vive La Difference!

Thursday, 6 January 2011

Nobody's Perfect

My daughter asked me to cut her hair this week.

It’s not the first time she’s asked me to do this, the last time was a roaring success and I was the toast of the family bathroom for a full hour.  So, naturally on the back of this I was confident I would do well and be the world’s number one mother for a while.

However, once the job was done, she looked at her shorn locks in the bathroom bin and went quiet.  Her chin resting on her chest, her little fingers twirling the edge of her pyjama top, shoulders drooping.

I had messed up, hadn’t I?

I thought my heart would crack in two.  I had done exactly as she asked of me and she had talked about having her hair cut for days with enormous excitement.  So what led to this change of heart once it was too late bewildered me.

My little girl keeps things in.  She mulls and muses, contemplates carefully and tries so hard to sort things out herself.  It’s a character trait I admire in her and wish I possessed more of.  I don’t want to change her fundamental self, I know I have to respect her and give her space.  It’s just that she’s my baby, always has been and always will be, so the urge to make things perfect in her world is huge for me.

When bed time came, I knew as we settled down for story time that nothing had helped and I was trembling as I asked if she was ok.  She said yes.  I told her I didn’t think she was.  Then the tears came, tumbling down her cherub cheeks.  She wasn’t sure about her hair, she was afraid she had made a mistake.

Oh dear, she was blaming herself.  She thought it was a fault and worse, her fault.  I felt terrible, a complete failure as a mother and guide that I had blasted away with the scissors like a machete without checking properly if she was sure she wanted to go through with it.  I told her we all make mistakes, but this wasn’t a bad one.  Her hair is still long, just not as long as it was but it will grow back.

She looked at me with such hope, so I told her the story of how when I was 15, I went to the hairdresser and got the most horrendous of all hair cuts.  It was practically shaved up the back and looked like a pudding bowl to the front.  From certain angles I looked like I had a monk’s bald patch on the top of my head.  I got stares from total strangers in the street on the walk home.  I still remember how my mothers face dropped when I walked into the kitchen.  My father laughed until he nearly fell over, my sister dropped her sandwich.  It was shocking.  I dealt with a couple of weeks ridicule at school and sometimes someone still brings it up (almost 25 years later), but it did grow back.

I thought my gentle explanation was telling her that not even I, her mother, was perfect, because when I was little my mother was the centre of my universe.  She knew everything and it was only age and common sense that made me realise she was only human too.

My darling child looked me in the eye and told me not to be silly, nobody’s perfect. 


How did she get so smart?

For the record, her hair is beautiful, absolutely beautiful and it still holds her smell perfectly, which I crave daily.