Sunday, March 26, 2017

reflections of motherhood

flowers for mothers day from the children (thanks Garry!)

beautiful Brock

mothers day breakfast in bed

Benny, Brock and I by Benny's cherry tree

Sunday afternoon quiet
Today is Mothering Sunday here in Ireland. It's been a lovely day so far: woken to breakfast in bed, cards, chocolates and flowers. A windy walk and quiet time at home knitting and relaxing with the littlest ones.
I have been thinking a lot about motherhood today, what a journey it has been so far and how happy I am to be a mother to these five gorgeous little people.
Motherhood for me has definitely become easier. Looking back, especially on the first few years, it felt very fraught, very anxious, very, very hard work. But now, although not always easy and often really busy, it seems easier.
 But perhaps that is more a reflection on who I am as a person now and the work I have done on myself and how much easier life is in general now I share the work load instead of doing it all by myself.
As these things go though I wouldn't be the person I am today if it were not for the fact that I am a mother.
Becoming a mother was the beginning of the long journey back to myself.
I remember distinctly the day that happened.
I was in a pretty low place, I wasn't happy, I had no passions, few friendships, life was a plodding through and trying to keep my head above water. I felt pretty poorly about myself, I had lost all of my confidence and felt I wasn't much good at anything.
Then one day, when Rebe was still a tiny baby, someone questioned my mothering, trying to imply that I wasn't a good mother. And I turned to that person, I can still remember the burning fierceness in my stomach and chest and I stood still, stood up and said 'I am a good mother'.
It was the first time in many, many years that I KNEW that I was good at something. And that became my foundation, on that block I started to build myself up slowly.
Being a mother was also of vital importance for me when I was examining the worth and value of my previous relationship. I asked myself once: 'Would this be good enough for my children?' and the fact that it wasn't made me see that it should not be good enough for me. It made me realise how low my self-esteem was; that I was willing to tolerate behaviour towards me that I would never want my children to tolerate from their partners.
So, because of them, because I had to teach them through my actions, I stopped putting up with mediocre, with bad treatment, with settling.
Because of them I tried to find out who I was and live an authentic life a life of integrity.
I found my strength, I found self love, I found confidence and through all of that I found happiness.
All of the things I wish for my own children.
So now mothering for me is a joy, a delight and above all an honor. An honor that these little people have chosen me to be their guide, to be their support and to watch them grow into the people they already are.
Mothering, although so deeply joyful to me, is about being an observer: watching the world through their eyes, watching them as whole, complete individuals discovering themselves and their paths.
I am there to mind them, to care for their physical beings.
But I know my place.
 I know that I cannot change or dictate who they are (not that I would want to, they are awesome just as they are) I hold their hands and have their backs as they walk their own paths, jump their own hurdles and discover all of the joys that life has to bring.
What an honor motherhood is, what joy it has brought to my life.
It will always be my greatest work.

Sunday, March 19, 2017

signs of spring...

my friends beautiful drive way

first rhubarb
St Patrick's Day craft at Buddies Homeschool

all dressed to support daddy and the RNLI at the parade

amazing sun reflections on the kitchen wall

hello flowers

basking in the sunshine

muddy knees
'the shorts'
It feels like spring here, aside from changeable weather, there are so many signs of spring. There has been lots of outdoor play, I have enjoyed watching the buds and flowers emerge on the trees on my daily walk, St Patricks day always marks spring for me too. But the real sign of spring must be that I have washed 'the shorts', the ones he will put on in a few weeks and not take off again until the end of autumn!!
I am so happy the sun is returning, the equinox is tomorrow and energies are rising.
What signs of spring are meaningful for you?

Thursday, March 9, 2017

being a mother of five...

washing up
by Benny

potty training?

Clothes Joa 'needed' for Bluey

Joa's chocolate cake

always a place to breathe deeply many days like a juggling act. I feel like I am standing on a tight rope, juggling lots of brightly coloured objects.
Some days I am on top of the world, I feel the firmness of the rope beneath my feet. I look ahead and smile and think 'hell yes I can do this'.
Other days the rope wobbles, the juggling balls are awkward and want to do their own thing, I feel at any moment like I will fall and it will all come crashing down around me.
I try really hard to make sure that everyone has their needs met.
That when someone is sick they get the loving care that they need.
 When someone is feeling bad that I have the time to put them on my knee and rock them.
 I try to make sure everyone has three good meals a day and at least clean-ish clothes.
I try to do homework with each child, all at different levels and different abilities (mostly all at the same time). I try to make sure each child has access to friends to play with and activities to stimulate and drive them.
I try to make sure we have quiet times, that we have celebrations and loud times, that we spend time with other people, that we participate in the community. That the house is somewhat tidy, that there is food in the cupboards and washing on. That we spend time outside and time creating.
I try very hard and most of the time it all works and I can do it, but wow it can be exhausting and times I just crash.
But I have my safety net, Garry, who is there to catch me, there to send me to a bath or take the little ones out to give me some space. Who makes dinner when I am tired, or makes sure the kids help with their chores. He is always there to hear me out whether it is a moan or a rant or an inspired idea.And he is always there when I just need a hug and a few sweet words of love and encouragement.
And I try and keep it real, I know that what I am doing is good enough, even if sometimes I feel like I am just chasing my tail.
 I know the kids are all healthy and happy and are so, so loved.
I know that a time will come again when I can do more for myself, and I try to snatch moments of time in my day for me. A walk with a friend in the morning, a couple of rows knitting while the babies nap and the biggies are in school, a quiet coffee first thing in the morning  before anyone else comes down stairs, and a few pages of my book in the bath at night before bed.
It's a juggling act alright, but one I wouldn't change for the world.

Tuesday, March 7, 2017

from tiny seeds...

new buds on Rebe's apple tree 

 On Friday Rebe's class had their Conformation. The children go to a Catholic school and so most of the children in her class had the day off to attend church and to celebrate with their families. As we do not celebrate this we decided to have our own special day for Rebe.
Several years ago when her class made their first holy communion we had a lovely Apple Seed Ceremony for her, you can read about it here. We wanted to do a follow on of this and we also wanted to incorporate Rebe's newly asked 'Guide Parents'.
We have been talking about Brock's up coming Christening and the older children asked why they do not have Godparents. This is because they are not Christened, but we said that they were welcome to choose 'guide parents' of their own. So Rebe chose a special friend of the families and one of her uncles. (Benny has also chosen guide parents who will be part of his own Cherry Stone Ceremony in May).
Unfortunately her uncle was busy working but her new Guide Mother hosted a lovely coffee morning just for Rebe on Friday morning.
Rebe got all dressed up in a new, smart outfit and we arrived at Antje's house early on Friday morning to a table set fit for a queen.
We drank coffee and ate eggs on toast and lots of delicious treats.
Antje gave Rebe a really beautiful bracelet with a tiny silver oyster shell on it, that had a tiny, real pearl inside.
We chatted and ate for hours. Talking about life and growing up and just about everything.
 Once we had feasted and the plates were empty we played a super board game together until it was time to leave.

 Rebe spent the rest of the afternoon at her dad's house and I came home to prepare a special meal for her that we could share with Garry and all the other children when everyone was home again.

As part of Rebe's Apple Seed Ceremony we gave her a little apple tree, which has done very well outisde in the garden. Last autumn it gave her several apples which we decided to prep and freeze to have to make into a special cake or pie on this day.
With a little recipe help from my friend I made her apple pieces into a pie which we ate after a hearty meal of roast chicken.

 Garry and I gave her a little watch as a gift to mark to occassion. It was a lovely day and again I was so pleased to find our own way to celebrate this awesome girl.
While we were thinking of ideas for something to do as an alternative conformation, I looked back over the blog post I had done about her Apple Seed Ceremony and it struck me just how much she has grown in those years.
She is an amazing child; creative, warm and so very kind. She is clever and has so many interests of her own. She is very much her own person, she is comfortable in her skin and knows her own awesome-ness.
I am so proud to be her mother, to watch her walk her chosen paths in life, to bask in the sunshine that she gives out.
She is my right hand woman, I don't know how I would manage without her sometimes and she is a dear and sweet friend.

Sunday, February 26, 2017

pockets of normal

That is what this week has felt like. Pockets of normal found in a very sad and strange time.
So much of the last week we have been preoccupied with saying goodbye, with coming to terms, with talking and spending time with our friends and community. Coming together in mourning of our friends' passing and in celebration of her life. 
But in between the coming and going there has also been some time for...

sketches to accompany a piece I have written for Juno magazine
mountains of this
making our daily bread

some of this...
 and plenty of that...

Friday, February 24, 2017

an empty space

On Monday we lost a friend of ours.
It was so cruel, so sudden, it has left us all gasping for breath.
The reality of her passing has not yet sunk in.
The space she has left is enormous and gaping.
There will always be a space where she should have been.
She left behind four children, whose pain I cannot even begin to imagine. 
For me personally she was a witness. She was one of the few people who knew me when I first moved here, another life time ago.
She was a witness to the changes in my life when my marriage broke down, she was a witness to the changes in my life as I came into myself and she was a witness to the changes in my life when I met and fell in love with Garry.
She always rooted for me, had a kind and supportive word and a radiant smile.
She will be missed always.

Saturday, February 18, 2017

days like these...

 oh how I love days like these! We had nothing we had to do today, no where we had to go and time stretched ahead, an uncommon luxury for us these days.
Our day began with pancakes and paper games.
 Rebe and Benny made paper swords while Ena and Joa drew and read. After that Rebe asked if she could use the marzipan that has been in the fridge since Christmas to try and make something...
 The morning had been wet and over cast, perfect weather, I thought, for a snail hunt.
I have always found snails to be the perfect toddler's insect. Funny looking, easy to watch and pick up and slow enough to enjoy without getting a fright. As Ena had yet to see a real life snail we thought that we would take her on a snail hunt. So after Brock woke from his nap we had lunch and headed off on a snail hunt.

We looked for snails on the walls and stones all down the hill stopping to answer several million 'Wot dat?' questions from Ena
 Our first discovery was a worm, but he was too wiggly for Ena to touch. Rebe picked him off the road to show her and to rescue him into the grass. We hunted on and finally found a snail...
 and she was so pleased!

As the weather was getting finer and Brock very happily asleep in the buggy the kids asked if they could stay and play on the beach for a while.
It was wonderful, the clouds slowly lifted and a wonderful game of 'camp' began. This has been such a long favourite game; building a camp from whatever they find on the beach.
 It got more and more elaborate, with a small orchard of 'berry trees', a vegetable garden complete with veggie off cuts that someone had thrown into the sea to compost and a fire place.

 Firewood was gathered and a spit constructed using bits of old fisherman's rope.
On the menu...roasted leek!
 The kids went on to make weapons for hunting: Rebe made a bow and arrow, the arrow had a stone head and feathers tied onto the quiver. The boys both had axes and Joa told me he loved going for beach walks with me because I was so good at tying stones onto sticks (I have had years of practice after all).

After several hours of play, energy started to wane (despite the roasted leek) so we headed on to the cafe for a coffee and an ice cream.

 On our way home we stopped for another play at the camp, I fed Brock on the beach chatting with friends. All the kids found playmates and it reminded me of summer days on the beach. It reminded someone else of the summer too so much so he decided to get into the water, spiderman costume, shoes and all! So with a soaking wet boy and dinner time approaching we reluctantly came home. But, oh what a wonderful day!