Saturday, April 22, 2017

I'm not a good house keeper

 ....I just am not.
It has bothered me for years that I'm not good at keeping the house spick and span.
In fact it has been a real source of shame and anxiety for me at times. I remember several years ago having a bad dream about my mother coming to my house, looking at the state of it and just shaking her head sadly sighing 'Oh Teenie!'
At times I feel so bad that I can't invite people over or panic for days before guests come, tidying up and cleaning the best I can, getting crosser and crosser with everyone and the whole thing.

But yesterday in the bath (where I do most of my quiet thinking) I realised something: although I am not a good house keeper, I am a very good home maker!

So the house may never be tidy. I may not ever have the time in the mornings to put away the breakfast things before leaving for the school run....
post breakfast mess
 I may never find the time to change the beds on a weekly basis, the windows might only get washed when someone offers to do it for me. But I am getting better at being ok with that. And I am getting better at asking for help; the kids clean their rooms and make their beds (after a fashion, but it is sort of getting done) Rebe is getting better at clearing up after her baking sessions. I have a wonderful lady who comes to help me mop the floors and clean the bathrooms once a week.

chocolate finger prints mean home made chocolates in the fridge
 But what I realised yesterday is that it is all about choices and priorities...

I would rather push this girl on the swing than plonk her in front of a screen so I can hoover the living room...
 I'd rather let the kids play with scrap wood in the garden than worry about how untidy it looks
 I would rather hold this little boy while he does his sitting up practice than go and sort out the spare room.
I cook from scratch, make my own bread, plan every meal to make it as nourishing for us all as possible. All that cooking takes time, time I don't spend cleaning and tidying.
I use (often home made) cleaning products that are kind to the environment, 

and because I choose not to use bleach or spend hours sorting and soaking and separating the laundry, paint stains don't get washed out properly. And I certainly don't iron the clothes... we are lucky if the clean washing makes it back into the drawer before it needs to be worn again!

I would rather read stories, I would rather we make play dough, I would rather go for a walk on the beach, I would rather listen to how someone's day was. I would rather the kids craft, bake and create without worrying about making a mess. I would rather do some knitting. I would rather Garry feels he can have all his stuff around him. I would rather....
So cleaning and tidying is not my priority. I always have said that I am a stay at home mum, not a stay at home housewife!!!

But back to my inspiration in the bath, although I am not a good house keeper, I am a very good home maker.
For me a home is somewhere everyone who lives there feels at ease, at peace and happy.
It is a place to be heard, a place for fun, a place to sort out your problems.
A retreat from the world.
It is a place to celebrate and be celebrated.
It is a place to find yourself and find your place in the world.
And I think that if I were a good house keeper I would not be a good home maker. That is not to say that people who have wonderfully clean and tidy houses have not made lovely homes (you know like the ones you see on blogs and pinterest) what I am saying is that I know what it would take for me to create a house like that and I would much rather spend the energy on making a home.
So I am making peace with the mess, with the dirty window sill, with the full-to-the-brim-spare-room-that-I-will-sort-out-one-day, I am making peace with it because this is a beautiful home, and we are all so happy here.

Saturday, April 1, 2017

who needs paper...

 ...when you have the floor...
 ...your hands...

...and your little brother's head!!!

Wednesday, March 29, 2017

happy creating

Benny's wire sculpture bird

my painting of Ena, Rebe's origami crane mobile, Benny's wood picture
Ena's Birthday Cardi

possibly a cable tank top?

Brock's badger

I am knitting again, it is making me so happy. I have bought yarn for several projects and I feel a bubble of excitement every time I look at the beautiful colours, imagine knitting them, think of the children wearing or playing with them.
 I have started going to a little knit and natter group that has started here in the local community shop. It is so lovely to sit with other people, knitting, chatting, drinking coffee. It is especially nice because it is in the morning on one of Garry's days off, so I only bring little Brock who sits happily in his carseat playing with his toes and smiling at everyone, leaving me with my hands free. And because it is in the morning I am not too tired, going cross eyed looking at the stitches or unable to fathom what the pattern is saying which is the way I mostly feel knitting in the evening after kiddies bedtime.
Doll making still feels very far away but I am so enjoying knitting.

one of our beach bonfires last year, drawn by Joa, painted by me
I have also been doing a little painting in the evenings when all the babies are in bed. One thing I love doing is colouring in the kids' drawings. We have many of these collaborative projects hanging on the walls around the house.
I have actually set up a little faebook page to see if anyone else would like me to add a splash of colour to their children's drawings. Do pop by and have a look and a 'like'.
birds by Joa, painted by me

The children continue to try out new crafts and ways to create. Benny's prefered medium at the moment is copperwire. Santa brought him some coppersmithing equipment for Christmas that he asked for after trying out coppersmithing at Townlands Carnival last summer. Rebe on the other hand is working in chocolate quite a lot, she has made chocolate lollies, paper and pencils among other things of late...all of which were eaten before I had the chance to photograph them.

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.