My 5 year old looks older than his years. A lot older.
Last September I was bombarded with people asking him was he
all set for Big School. He had just
In the supermarket his health was regularly asked
after. I made the connection after the
fourth “is he sick?” People assumed he
wasn’t well and was off school. He had just turned four.
Now that he is in Big School, last week a mum thought it was
lovely he was in the classroom checking on his little brother. Anther wide-eyed and taken aback reaction
when I said that he was the actual Naíonán
Beaga (Junior Infant).
My 5 year old could pass for a 7 year old.
He is in school as I write this. Sitting at his bord (table) with the other paistí
(children) learning how to count as
Gaeilge (in Irish).
He cried a little going into his seomra ranga (classroom) this morning. And Monday.
And Tuesday. His hugs are getting tighter. More frequent.
He tries to hide his upset from his múinteoir (teacher) and classmates but doesn’t quite manage
Today might be Wednesday, mid-week, but my 5 year old is not
over the hump yet.
Daithí O Sé made headlines earlier on this
year when he expressed his annoyance over the deluge of child-birth advice he
and his wife, Rita Talty, were receiving pending the arrival of their first
The verbose Kerry man is not the first and
he certainly will not be the last new parent to be on the receiving end of
unwanted pearls of wisdom.
It is practically impossible for an
“experienced” parent to keep their lips zipped when they see a gloriously
heavily pregnant person about to give birth.
They feel the need to educate others about what is ahead and regale them
with all they should or should not be thinking of doing.
I admit to being guilty of this crime at
But I try very, very hard to keep my thoughts to myself when I see the glowing
parents of a new-born. I say glowing
because we all know the grey, ashen pallor appears approximately 7 days following
the birth shortly after the euphoria has worn off, beaten into whimpering
submission by sleep deprivation, constant crying, leaking body parts (sorry!),
the lack of showers and food, time for yourself and not to mention worrying
about the baby.
Because I’ve been there. I know. Let them, the new parents, stay on cloud nine
for as long as they can. Try not to
inform them it won’t last; that new-borns don’t sleep forever. Resist advising them to take a photo of their
beautiful showroom house as it stands because before long their peacefully slumbering
baby boy will be running around trashing it.
Don’t tell them teething will be hell. Hold back on what can be the nightmare surrounding
introducing solids followed by constipation and more food splattered on the
walls than is ingested. Stay schtum on the
pain of immunisations.
Refrain from insisting the enrolment of
their baby in the nearest school first
thing because current waiting lists are unbelievable.
As a mother of four boys, very different
boys I might add, there are only a handful of things I have taken from my 8
years of parenting.
Some of the gems that made things a tad
easier for me are as follows.
It might not be a welcome statement, seem
very helpful or even make a whole lot of sense when you are experiencing temporary
insanity from lack of sleep, but it really is true. Even the worst day is only
24 hours long and taking that day one five minute segment at a time, will see
you falling face down back into your bed in no time. Albeit perhaps for just
three hours before you are forced out of it again, but before you know it you
will be helping your child blow out the candle on their first birthday cake and
marvelling at how fast time goes.
I’ll be completely honest. This one flummoxed me and I felt inadequate
for not having found mine so I decided it was another one of those media
makey-uppey catch phrases. With four small boys running me ragged and no child
care, I realised all I wanted was ten minutes to have an uninterrupted cup of
coffee not half a day to have my highlights done. Finding your balance can be reading a book,
taking a shower alone, or even just
pushing the trolley around the supermarket at your leisure without a little one
keeping you company. As long as it’s
your time off and it happens regularly that’s balance enough for the moment.
works for one child will not necessarily work for the next
A friend recently expressed her shock when
neither of her children were born a blank canvass, as she had expected. Like adults, children are hard wired in their
own unique way, all of them possessing little quirks, likes and dislikes. Two of my boys were dreadful sleepers and one
gifted me a full night’s sleep at just 6 weeks old. Three of them refused to nap in anything
except the buggy and the youngest demanded zed’s in his cot. One ate cardboard as if it was top of the
food pyramid whereas his three younger siblings wolfed down vegetables. Wouldn’t it be a boring world, after all, if
everyone was the same?
With my first son, I was a tad obsessive
about his daytime naps. They absolutely
had to be at the same time each day and in his cot. Upstairs.
When I finally relaxed and admitted a spell in the travel cot downstairs
wouldn’t make me a bad mother I realised how miserable we both had been as
slaves to a regimented routine that wasn’t working. Once I allowed my son, not the clock, decide
when he was tired he fell into his
own routine. And began to sleep at the
same time every day. When my second son
developed a strong attachment to his Spiderman costume I told myself at least
he was dressed and the padded muscles would keep him warm.
days are long but the years are short
It is the end of yet another 15 hour day
and all you’ve eaten is a banana, 6 Haribo jellies and tanked up on two gallons
of coffee. You didn’t get near the
overflowing laundry basket. Again. The slice of toast that landed sticky side
down is still under the table and the bathroom beggar’s belief. Will it ever end? On days like this I look to my own mother for
strength and to increase my morale. She
had twice the number of children I do.
She didn’t drive, was without a telephone and the internet hadn’t been
invented yet. She got through it and I
believe, because I have to, that I will too.
I am still learning to keep my mouth firmly
shut even if I am not always successful in this department. For this lapse I apologise, I really do
because there is nothing worse than a “been there, done that” parent telling
you stuff. Because it is always their
stuff and their stuff most likely will not make even the tiniest dent in your
I offer you my final, and perhaps truest,
piece of advice. Take what works for you and leave the rest.