Tag Archives: writing workshop


10 Jun

Tiiiiiiime, is on your side, yes it is….


Do you ever do this? Push your toddler away when you’re on the computer, reading, watching TV, knitting, whatever. And they come back. And you push them away again. And again and again and again. Ad infinitum. Until someone gets mad and has a tantrum – usually me.

I. Just. Don’t. Have. TIME. For. MYSELF!!


That was how this morning went.

Then I put down the knitting and the coffee for five minutes and played with him. And you know what? We both had a better time. No one cried. Not even me.

So time for myself may well continue to be elusive for many a year, but maybe, for now, if I make time for us then that time for myself will come sooner than I think?

Enjoying the time we have, that’s the important thing. No matter who it is for.

Written for Sleep is for the Weak‘s writing workshop. Prompt 5, Time.

Life skills

13 May

Tell us about an important life skill you’ve learnt, and a situation in which you’ve used it.

I have been pondering this for a while. A life skill. That I have. I mean I must have some. Here I am, living, fairly successfully. So, what are they?

UNICEF, UNESCO and WHO lists 10 core life skill strategies and techniques as :

  1. Problem solving
  2. Critical thinking
  3. Effective communication skills
  4. Decision-making
  5. Creative thinking
  6. Interpersonal relationship skills
  7. Self-awareness building skills
  8. Empathy
  9. Coping with stress
  10. Self-management skills

This at least is according to cursory search on Google.

It’s motherhood, isn’t it. All of those life skills are the skills you need to be a mother. Undoubtedly, I had most of them before the day that changed my life forever, but whether I knew how to apply them? Well that is a different question entirely. I imagine it this way: life gives you “skills” in the form of puzzle pieces. Motherhood shows you how those pieces fit together. Some days they don’t all fit. Other days they do. When they do, well, life is rosy. When they don’t? The skill I use is “go to bed and cover your head and don’t get up ’til Monday”!

Life is challenging. My skills need honing. But looking at that list gives me hope. I have those skills. I just need to use them more effectively. That’s when life will be truly peachy!

Parallel universes

10 Mar

One of the prompts for the writing workshop this week is “imagine there is another ‘you’ living in a parallel universe.” Another me? Intriguing. My mother would say “one of you is enough”. But what if there are lots of other “mes” running around, getting on with their days. What are they doing?

I imagine that each “me” came into existence with each of the decisions I made on how to live my life.

One would have followed her friends into their subject choices at school. So we could all be in the same classes. Because 45 minutes apart, how can friendship survive that? She would likely have gone on to do a secretarial course and married her first boyfriend. Perhaps she would have children now. More than one. She’d be living very near her parents, certainly not more than ten miles away. Out of work as a result of the recession. Not by choice. Her husband too. Things would be hard. I imagine her to be angry and resentful. Unfulfilled. Wondering about all that the world has to offer. All that she has “missed”.

Another one, having done her BA, decided to go into teaching. And did a H.Dip.Ed. She became a teacher. Secondary school. Did quite well for a couple of years, then spontaneously combusted from the stress. Because really, she was not cut out for teaching. She didn’t like speaking in public and she knew that going in. Teenagers can smell this kind of fear and feed off of it. She’s in a padded room now, hugging herself, unaware of her surroundings.

And yet another, having done her MA, well she decided to do her PhD. I’m not entirely sure what happened to her, because I still harbour dreams of this myself, while at the same time all too aware of the possibility of spontaneous combustion. We all, all of the parallel “mes”, fear public speaking. And you can’t do a PhD in Literature without having to talk to large groups of people about it. Them’s the rules.

One did go to Japan. For a year. As planned. Then she went to another country and another and another. One a year until she turned 30. She didn’t get comfortable in Japan and stay for four and a half years. She didn’t dread the thoughts of going to yet another country where she could neither read, write, or speak the language. She relished the thought. Thrived on it. She probably went on to do her PhD, having overcome her fear of speaking in public. Strong as an ox, that one.

But none of them have the hubby or the turtle. And they’re all missing out. When I look at our little family all of the other “mes” can stuff it. Whatever they have, they don’t have what I do. This is the universe I belong in. With them.

One of those days

18 Feb

Yesterday started out fairly well, what with racing cars and trains down a large piece of cardboard and hysterical laughter and whatnot. The turtle even managed a rather large poop in the potty. The kind that if you saw it in a public loo you would think “What kind of animal was in here?” That kind. The kind that gives you a sense that now, well, now would be a good time to indulge in “nappy-free time”. Like a fool. That’s how you end up with runny poop all over the cream carpet in your rented house. That’s how you end up on your hands and knees cleaning poop before 8am. And later, when you’re changing his nappy, just before you start rushing out the door you think “He’ll be alright while I get a clean nappy, he already pooped once today….” that’ll be when he poops in the hubby’s shoe. He stands in the hubby’s shoes to see out the window and poops straight into one of them. That’s when hair starts spontaneously falling out of your head. You clean it up, throw the shoes in the washing machine and leg it. Things can’t get worse, right?

You’re rushing to “Funnastics”, even though the name makes you feel a bit nauseated, and you look down. The turtle is conked. Bloody. Bloody. Bloody. Do you turn around and go home? Continue on your journey? Wake him? You choose option #3. And it worked out. More or less. He had fun. Even though it was all a bit haphazard and crazy (but that’s what he thrives on). Until the last 5 minutes. When he slipped on his own pant leg and bounced his head off the floor. Bounced. Honestly. And roared like a banshee. A boy that doesn’t cry. And all of the poopy carpet and shoes were forgiven.

Of course on the way home you’re afraid he’ll fall asleep, in case he might be concussed. He didn’t. Then you hope he will. He doesn’t. No hope. Not even a glimmer. Then it’s “playdate” time. Maybe he’ll fall asleep on the way there? Nope. It’s too cold and windy. You begin to think, “Hmmm, maybe it’s too cold for schlepping to the park and standing around? Oh well! We’re out of the house …. What harm can it do?” None really. He had a great time. Running around, stealing the other kids’ snacks and drinks, laughing like a hyena. No harm done. Unless you fast forward to today.

It turns out it was too cold to be standing around for two hours. Now the turtle has a small cold. And today was another one of those days. Completely unavoidable. But they all are, aren’t they? That’s what makes them so infuriating.

Prompted by Sleep is for the Weak‘s writing workshop

3. Write about ‘one of those days’. I’m sure you’ve had one lately…
– Inspired by poor Metropolitan Mum who certainly has!

Doing it anyway

3 Feb

The year was 1999. I was 20. In my final year of a BA in English Literature and Modern History. In a mediocre relationship, that was going nowhere. And I had just been diagnosed with endometriosis. Which wasn’t that bad. Afterall, the GP I had seen initially told me “You’re either pregnant or you have cancer”. An attempt to tell me I was pregnant, I think. Even though I knew in my heart and soul that I wasn’t. And I told him and told him. Then again, what else could be wrong with a twenty-year-old student, living in sin? The next 14 hours were an absolute torment. I knew I wasn’t pregnant. I called my mother, in tears. She tried to convince me I was pregnant. Said she’d be up the next morning and would meet me after I got done at the Maternity hospital (the GP had scheduled me for an ultrasound, the theory being that I was at least 20 weeks). I told my “boyfriend”. Asked him to come to the hospital with me. He was “too busy”.  Couldn’t take the day off work (work being an accountancy internship). The boll*cks. That was the final nail in the coffin for our relationship. A friend came with me instead.

I explained that I wasn’t pregnant to the nurses. They were perplexed. I had an ultrasound. I didn’t know what was going on. An army of doctors came in. Discussed what they could see in hushed tones. Decided they needed to see it on a better machine. Up, dressed, out. Another room. Another ultrasound. No more questions about how many weeks I was. Or my last period. Just serious screen studying. And a vaginal exam. Dressed again. And a quick escape to pee (they made me drink a litre of water, so that my bladder would be full. No one listened when I said I had to pee every 15 minutes, regardless of whether I drank anything or not). Then I met with the consultant. Who told me I wasn’t pregnant. And that I didn’t have cancer. But I did have endometriosis. Which meant that the lining of my womb (the endometrium) was growing outside of my womb. And had caused a cyst on my ovary. I would have to have a laproscopy and some laser surgery to remove the cyst. Woohoo!

Later, it turned out the cyst was larger and more entangled than they had thought. So I had to have a course of injections, which would chemically induce the menopause, stop my periods and theoretically shrink the rest of the cyst. Then I would have another laproscopy to make sure the cyst was gone. Things didn’t work out that way though. Yes, I was menopausal. But my periods continued. Just like before. The medical opinion? My periods were “too strong” for the medication.

So there I was, menopausal and pre-menstrual. Trying to finish my last year. Afraid that I would fail. Hot flushes and hormones meant I couldn’t concentrate (I was on HRT too). Trying to decide what I would do with my life. With no idea. I was still living with my “boyfriend” because it was too much trouble to break up and move out. I just didn’t have the energy. Then I saw an ad on the Careers noticeboard. For a job, teaching. In Korea. “Cool!” I thought. And I applied. Knowing nothing about Korea, except what I learned from a pen pal I had in primary school. That was late February, early March. Told the “boyfriend”. He said “What about me?” The boll*cks. I told him he could come with me (knowing he wouldn’t). That was the end of that discussion. He couldn’t put his “life on hold” for a year. Me, though, he expected me to marry him and live beside his mother. Putting my life on hold, forever. The boll*cks.

Life went on. I was a bit mental for the next six months. The entire thing is a blur. I heard nothing from the Korean embassy. And I was convinced I would fail my degree anyway. I even went so far as to have a chat with my father, asking him if I could “borrow” the fees required to repeat (and get my honours degree) from him. He said there’d be no borrowing. He’d give me the money, if I needed it. But that I wouldn’t. Love him!

I did my final exams. Had the second laproscopy. And I had to wait for the results of both. I broke up with the “boyfriend” and moved home. My exam results came on July 15th. Not only did I pass, I got a 2.1. Better than I had dared even hope. I was dancing and screaming in the hall, when the phone rang. Mam answered it. It was the Korean embassy. Calling me for an interview. Still breathless from the dancing and screaming, I spoke to the man and set up an interview time for the following week.

The “interview” was really just a chat, to make sure I didn’t have blue hair or any visible tattoos. I went through a more stringent interview process to work at Burger King (where I lasted a total of one day).  They told me I would hear within the week and would have to be ready to leave by August 15th. August 15th? Gulp! That’s 3 weeks. I still didn’t have a passport. I began having second thoughts. Just a few. Little niggly ones. What if, like Burger King, I didn’t like it? I couldn’t really go any farther away without being on my way back. Was this really the ideal place for me to go? By myself? Not knowing anyone? Never having been anywhere ‘foreign’ (if you exclude a weekend in London, once). But if I didn’t go, what would I do? Living with my parents was already starting to chafe a bit. “Feck it!” I thought. I can always come back.

I heard the next day that I had the job.  I started telling everyone. With the help of my mother, who didn’t want me to go. She never said that in front of anyone else though. When the nay-sayers and the worry warts started to bring up potential problems, she always cut them off, with a “Sure isn’t she right? She’s young. Now’s the time to do it. If she doesn’t like it, can’t she come back?”  Love her. Even if she did have my heart scalded with all of the potential problems.

I hardly had time to worry though. I had to go back to Dublin to apply for a passport. Rush jobs are always complicated. Back up again to collect it. 3 days later. Must be a record. Back up again to have lunch with the Korean ambassador and sign my contract. And again to meet the consultant to make sure I was alright and ft to travel. I was. He even prescribed me some painkillers (effectively horse tranquilizers) to help me get through my periods in a foreign land where I didn’t speak the language.

Just the case to pack and I was ready to go. What do you pack to go to a country you’ve never been to, for a year. To do a job you’ve never done. And how do you fit it all in one suitcase? Those were the questions that preoccupied me. Stomping out all of the doubts. There just wasn’t room in my head for all of the conflicting thoughts. Anyway, I had told everyone I was going. I couldn’t back out now.

And so I went. The stress of the entire thing meant that I slept for the entire journey from Heathrow to Seoul. Twelve hours of solid sleep. I woke up in Korea. Refreshed, and not really ready for the wall of heat that hit me when I got off the plane. I really should have researched more. But if I had, would I have gone?

That experience, that stepping into the unknown, is undoubtedly the best thing I have ever done. It’s what brought me to where I am today. If I hadn’t gone to Korea, would I have gone to Japan? If I hadn’t gone to Japan, would I have met the hubby? If I hadn’t met the hubby, there’d be no turtle. And where would I be now? I doubt it would be Florida.

A little fear and some doubt is natural. Perhaps even healthy. Just do it anyway.

Written for Sleep is for the Weak’s Writing Workshop: 5. Tell me about a time when you ‘felt the fear and did it anyway’

(Click on the Workshop badge to see the rest of this week’s prompts).

Friday Five

11 Dec

Five things that I, as a small, 16 month old boy know to be true:

  • Cars and trains are brilliant. And anything can be one. Grape halves and ice cubes make especially good cars because they leave a trail behind them.
  • The bin is hiding something wonderful, that’s why I’m not allowed put my hands in it or lick it. Luckily I can knock it over when it’s up on the chair “out of my reach”. Although if I do that again it’ll probably go back up on the kitchen counter. But that’s unsanitary, surely? That’s why it was on the chair.  Hmm! I’ll beat them at their own game when it comes to this bin business.
  • Snot is delicious. I don’t know why Mammy keeps wiping it away. Little does she realise, I can make more. Buckets and buckets. Hoking at my nose seems and blowing seems to be a good way of getting it out. Quietly, in a corner, so she doesn’t know.
  • I need to be naked. Shorts and t-shirts are ok, if we are going out. Otherwise, I need to be naked. I especially don’t like those pants and long-sleeved yokes I’ve had to wear lately. I. Just. Don’t. Like. Clothes. I vote we go and live somewhere hotter. Florida’s alright and all, but it’s just not hot enough this time of year.
  • There is no occasion when the “Batman song” is inappropriate. You know, “Nin-ner-nin-ner-nin-ner-nin-ner BATMAN!”. Thanks Mammy, for teaching me that. Everyone loves it. And no, I will not sing anything remotely approximating “Jingle Bells”, no matter how many times you sing it at me. I don’t like it and I don’t need it. “Batman” is the only song I need.

Inspired by Sleep if for the Weak’s Writing prompt #4 Put yourself in the mindset of someone else and write about the world from their perspective.

“Hey buddy”

9 Dec

Does this grate on anyone else’s nerves? Is it just me? When I hear parents refer to their children as “Buddy” it makes my skin crawl and my teeth itch. The hubby had a tendency towards this abomination when the turtle was born. I remember letting it go a few times. Father-son bonding and all that. Plus my mother said I was always “giving out”. But then one day there was a rather emotional (hormonal?) oubturst along the lines of “He’s NOT your BUDDY! He’s your SON” Cue shell shocked husband. “I know he is. It’s just a term of endearment.” He’s very calm and rational, the hubby. Didn’t help though. “He’s not your buddy. He’s your son. Maybe you’ll be friends, but you’re his Father first. Not his buddy!!! Aaaaaarrrrghhhhh!!” (I tend to stomp to make a point.) So the turtle has never been referred to as “Buddy” since. At least not within earshot of me.

I’m hearing it more and more now.  It still make my skin crawl. Even when its not my child. It’s the soft tone that’s often reaches the crescendo of a roar within four repetitions. “Hey buddy. Buddy come here. Buddy? BUDDY!!” It’ll never stop making my ears ring. How do I stop myself from stomping my feet when I hear it? It drives me crazy. It’s just me though, isn’t it?

Written for Sleep is for the weak’s Writing Workshop. Prompt #5: Have a good rant. Go on! You know you want to

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