Robots on the dole heap

Having just spent the morning waiting for virual customer reps to help me, I have had it up here with computers and anonymous assisting. Bring back people…. seriously bring back the personal touch. I want to be able to talk to you, to hear the reassurance of your voice and discuss the weather while you are checking my account.

My email has been acting up for the last few days…. I should have known this was coming when I read the company were updating… this happens on an increasingly regular basis. I first tried to make contact on Monday and waited ten minutes to be sent to another department and then fifteen for nothing…. Apparently these people do not like to speak and I am increasingly suspicious the company is outsourcing to martians.

Unemployment is high, we have skilled qualified people on the streets and yet walk into any bank and there is a queue for the bank machines… and I don’t mean ATM’s. Sure, machines can do everything these days except give you a smile, wait patiently when an elderly person has mislaid her card or a person is upset because their wages haven’t gone through. My bank has taken to having at best two people on the till and at worse one who covers usual business and also foreign exchange. The queue for machines is worse than it ever was for a warm-blooded person who could say ‘how can I help you?’ Not to mention the fun there was last week when two of the machines broke down!!

And don’t get me started on the fantastic video machines which apparently will soon replace video stores everywhere. Now don’t get me wrong, its very handy to be able to pick up a movie whilst buying a litre of milk but my kids used to love browsing the one euro rentals in our local video store. Now the choice is ask at the counter or just get a new release from the video express. Does anyone else miss the… is it any good? or …. you know the old one with Chevy Chase? Society has become fixated on speed instead of service. Bring back the personal touch.

If you have a problem, you go the website and fish around until you find something resembling an answer. Of course there is the contact option… A virtual rep answering virtual questions they know nothing about and hope the list of most common questions and their answers will suffice or you could try…. the dreaded phone call…. Prepare yourself for press 1, press 2…… Or consult our webpage!! If you do dare press a button be prepared for at least two more robotic selection processes followed by anything up to a half hour wait whilst listening to some cheesy boyband track from the eighties. As I have previously noted these martians will do anything to avoid talking….

I miss the personal touch, I miss trying to guess where the person on the other end of the phone is from, being comforted by the sound of their voice and carrying out business with people not robots. Surely it would be cheaper to throw them all on the dole heap and bring back the human touch?


At what age do you stop being a princess?

I have two little girls…. who have broken my heels, snagged my dresses and emptied my make up over the years. They have a collection of princess dresses and fairy costumes that have been added to at birthdays and Christmases. Now my eldest is turning nine, nothing fits anymore and the 6 yr old has inherited more dresses. No problem, I thought when my distraught little girl cried that she couldn’t be a princess anymore. No problem, I thought as I clicked onto the internet preparing to find the perfect dress…

I still haven’t found it…. why….? Because apparently little girls stop being princesses at eight years old. My beautiful girl is tall and so would need a 10 yr olds dress but unfortunately it seems almost impossible to find. Images and images of beautiful princess dresses abound from my google search yet all are especially made for small princesses… toddler princesses… up to 3 and up to 6 year old princesses with the odd up to eight yrs old thrown in for good measure. How do you tell an almost nine year old she can no longer be a princess?

However it’s not just the dress up (or lack of) which bothers me… it’s the rows and rows of Daisy Duke shorts, the itsy bitsy bikinis for mere children… the hotpants and belly tops thrust at this age group. And as for cardigans… gone are the days when you wanted her neat or were trying to avoid a kidney infection… the choice seems to be tiny bolero’s or long cardigans with no buttons because apparently they are supposed to be worn with a vest or belly top?!!!

Surely the world is gone mad when we tell an eight year old she can no longer dream of princesses and her fashion choice is black goth or tacky teeny bop?

Even wellies…. I began the search for new wellies for her optimistically thinking I’d pick up a pair easily enough…. I was wrong…. apparently a child’s foot goes from size 12 straight to size 4? In between sizes are a rarity and if you do find them appear to necessitate a heel! On wellies!!! Who on earth would put a heel on a child’s pair of wellies? My eight yr old had a tiny one on her comunion shoes and couldn’t walk properly for a few days!! But seriously…. on wellies?!!!

Oh how I laughed looking back at the old pictures of me in flowery dresses, warm woolly cardigans and coats that covered me bum… now I look at them wistfully and gratefully…

So it’s back to google for me and and my search but in the meantime I am dusting off my needle and thread because at almost nine years old my baby is still a princess and always will be. x


Breathing again

Last week, frozen in my car unable to move, I felt the slow suffocation and paralysis of old. I gripped the steering wheel, focused on my breathing and waited for it to pass. The thing is I was never an anxious child…. not that I can recall.It is only in the past few years  that the emotional and mental ball seizes me momentarily. To be honest I know people who suffer anxiety attacks a lot more… I really shouldn’t complain… I never do… They’ve been my dirty secret…. the crack in my veneer.

Over a year ago my children and I left our old life and embraced freedom and happiness. I can honestly say we have never been so happy. The girls are settled, secure and so content, it makes me smile everyday. And me…. I am the same, yet still for some reason now and then an attack consumes me just for a few minutes and thankfully always when I am alone. Other things like tiredness that I thought would magically dissipate have also hung around. Until recently I spoke to someone who shed much light.

We can take ourselves out of a situation, we can change our lives for happiness but unless you can move forward without the past you are always moving backwards. I spent the last year asking questions; about me and others, how things could have been different, what I could have done differently. The answer is it honestly doesn’t matter. It is done, over with and I refuse to waste any more time or energy worrying and carrying around bad memories of misgivings. I know it takes time to heal but I finally feel that personally I am on the right path.

My guru suggested that I spend so much time worrying about everything and everyone else, perhaps I should give myslef some time each day. Immediately I thought about everything that needed to be done, how short the day is and who would mind the kids. Besides what would I do, sit and drink coffee and inevitably my mind would rake over the past or join a gym or a class… but that’s not it. Mothers run from work to home, from home to the gym, to a slimming class or a coffee with other mums to reiterate all the crap they’ve had to deal with that week…. which is therapeutic but it’s not time for yourself.

Now I am on a mission…. to find me again and to find peace once more… ten minutes out of a day is nothing… ten minutes where you are not running, cleaning, organising or thinking…Lie on your bed, listen to some soft music or nothing at all and don’t think…. imagine no lists of necessary groceries, calendar dates, things that need to be done, no screaming child or thundering boss…. Ten minutes to empty your mind and let your body heal.

As for the past, deal with it; stamp it and pop in the post with no return to sender. Life is too short, we all just need to learn to breathe once more. x



That moment when they are both sick, you have run out of medicine so you bundle them into the car with you to go get more.

That moment when you tell him she needs new runners and you know you’ll be paying on your own.

That moment when she tries to call him, he doesn’t answer and you have to pick up the pieces again.

That moment when you have to choose the course of action for her tooth and know you’ll be doing the research and making the decision on your own.

That moment when he doesn’t make her performance and you have to explain to her that he is busy.

That moment when the sink is blocked, the car is broken down, they have homework to do with you, the house is a mess, the dog just threw up… and you are alone.

That moment late at night when you hear a noise downstairs and realize that you’re on your own.

That moment when someone passes and you hug yourself and tell yourself it’s okay to cry.

That moment when it’s lashing rain, they are sick, the dog needs a run and you do laps around the green while waving frantically at them in the window.

That moment when you share a movie night with the dog.

That moment when you realize your toes don’t hurt from walking on tiptoes.

That moment when the house is quiet.

That moment when you realize you are doing a great job.

That moment when they tell you that they love you.


Ties that cannot be broken

It’s often difficult when you relationship status turns to single yet half his/her friends are still on your Facebook. I’ve known friends not to change their status for a year for fear of upsetting other people.

We start a relationship with two people, then friends and family intervene. Next thing you know he’s playing pool regularly with your brother or your mum is calling her for that recipe.

Relationships are never about just two people and when kids come along the diaspora becomes even more complicated. Although marriage no longer binds people til death do us part, children do…. A judge in a family court ordered everyone to go outside and talk because “you guys are stuck with each other for at least the next eighteen years.”

My in-laws are a whole continent away but it doesn’t mean I didn’t have a relationship with them or that I don’t continue to send letters and pictures of the girls. Yet we have talked less since the separation, they often ask for me through him and more conversations are relayed rather than spoken which is weird but okay… better than a stilted one…

He lost his grandfather today and even though he wasn’t blood and I only knew him for one ninth of his life, he was my grandpa too. I never stopped loving, never stopped writing to or talking about him. I could sit and talk to him for hours and there was never enough time spent with him.

Some people don’t understand… unless you’re blood you’re a blow-in. His aunt didn’t understand. Fortunately his uncle did and we got to say goodbye. The heart wants what and who the heart wants. Sometimes it feels like betrayal, almost like you are living in the past with his family when you are surrounded by your own. Yet he placed an indelible stamp on my heart that will remain forever.

It’s difficult to grieve… not just the distance but the little voice that says ‘it’s their place, not yours.’ We were so close… from the moment he first hugged and called me a darling. But I’m outside the circle now, a mere bystander, heartbroken with a field of memories.

I will always be grateful for those memories… grateful for his southern drawl and boundless love. There is life after separation/ after divorce and there is also love for the people your partner introduced to you. I will always be grateful for the two beautiful daughters we had together and I will always be grateful for him sharing his wonderful grandfather with me.

Rest in peace Grandpa Bill xx


A little kindness goes a long way

The world would be a far better place if people could be a little kinder. Ever felt like you would love to move to a desert island far away from anyone? Or that people really should think before they speak?

Or are you’re the recipient of advice such as : “she needs to toughen  up…. Survival of the fittest….. she is too soft.”  What if I said she’s not too soft…. she’s not at fault? Perhaps we simply need to teach our children to be kinder? And perhaps we need to set a better example.

So here is my list of why we should all try a bit more kindness and think before we speak:
1) Happiness makes the world go around… it’s a proven fact. Happy people are more productive people.

2) You know that warm fuzzy feeling of just down right contentment when someone smiles… wouldn’t it be nice to see that and feel it all the time?

3) A smile or a kind word can lift someone and maybe make their week, let alone day. Nobody knows what happens behind closed doors, nobody truly knows anyone else. Your furtive looks and giggles don’t go unnoticed. Sarcasm rarely lifts the spirits or depression. Perhaps that stony faced man with the red eyes has just lost his job and is trying to work out how to tell his wife and kids… perhaps if you weren’t pointing at him and laughing, he could see past the dark tunnel in front of him.

4) Nasty words can break a heart and rot your mind. You think her stutter or nervousness is funny? Perhaps if you’d spent your life being put down, you’d have one too.

5) What if I told you that little old lady has no family left and walks past the school to the shops at ten to nine every morning so she can feel part of life once more. Would you still push past her or grumble at old people being allowed out? That old lady would treasure a word of kindness or a smile all day long.

6) What if that girl you’re pushing around or ignoring was you? What if it was your sister and you could hear her cry herself to sleep every night through the bedroom wall?

7) Kindness has a longer shelf life than sarcasm. An act of kindness can change a person and in their darkest days give them solace. As Maya Angelou so eloquently put it “I’ve learned that people will forget what you said, people will forget what you did, but people will never forget how you made them feel.”

8) Wouldn’t it be nicer to sit in a pub and make someone smile, rather than watch them squirm at your laughter and sarcasm?

9) To build someone one up and watch them flourish is far more rewarding than watching them crumble.

10) At nine months pregnant, I couldn’t get a seat on a high speed train. A little boy of seven offered me his seat… I thought that’s the way I want my child to be. Kindess reaps rewards… one being the joy of watching your child grow into a beautiful person.

Some super articles if you are interested:


From the sidelines

I knew it was coming. There was the little innocent comment last night…. “mum, do we have camogie tomorrow?” followed by the sigh and shoulder slump. Yes, mutiny was definitely on the cards.

Now don’t get me wrong I am not a camogie nut (the sight of my sister with her head cracked open put me off before I could begin.) However a few weeks ago the girls begged to try camogie, all their friends were doing it, they had tried it in school and they loved it. Temporary goals of jumpers and water bottles were hastily erected and my eldest was adamant she would wear her county colours.

I always pitied those kids dragged to activities, forced into sports or music who clearly didn’t want to be there and thought how ambitious their parents were, questioning whether they were trying to live vicariously through their child….

Until I became a parent and I was the one yanking up tutu’s whispering just try it for today and knowing that when I came to collect my daughter she would be beaming broadly, happy to show me her new steps.

The mutiny is now in full swing… “mum I don’t like it anymore…. Mum maybe I’ll go again next week…” The thing is we’ve been through this before…. Hip hop, ballet, even Irish dancing which both now love. The rule in our house is simple…. You start something, you see it through. Ballet classes were paid in advance and so my little girl did not miss one, even though she decided afterwards it wasn’t for her.

Half the time children don’t know what they want and the other half they want instant gratification. They demand it in books, in computer games and in life. If they don’t win a game or miss a step, it’s “I’m just no good at it… I want to do something else.” The truth is anything worth having takes time, practice and more than one go.

As my mother says “it’s the getting them there….” It doesn’t help that last week was raining and training cancelled. They seem in that brief moment of time to have forgotten how much they love running on the pitch, smacking the sliotar…. the thing is I don’t. I know it is simply the allure of the couch, TV, toys, the dog…. the allure of not moving from the house.

So the girls are now armed with helmets and hurleys. My ‘mean mama’ prickling conscience will hopefully soon be relieved when I see them laughing on the pitch with their friends. Maybe they’ll find their passion, perhaps they’ll find something else but at least  they are not just watching life from the sidelines.