Monday, 29 April 2019

THE GREAT IRISH SUMMER


                                                                Roll on the Summer




THE IRISH Summer of 2018 will go down in lore as one of the great Summers. The sort of Summer that James Joyce might have imagined for Ulysses' Leopold Bloom. But rather than one perfect day, we had weeks upon weeks of perfect days.

I'm talking about the sort of days that stood up to international scrutiny. The kind that delighted our visiting American third cousins and bewildered our annual influx of Spanish students, as they tucked their rain jackets back into the bottom of their suitcases. Day after day of sun, our green fields turning brown and brittle without rain.

We did mad, hedonistic things, like eating outside. Every day! Gardens and balconies, normally reserved for growing a few plants and bracing the cold just so we could boast of the odd barbeque, suddenly came into their own. The umbrella in the middle of my tiny patio table, stayed put for months. I'd sit there, basking in 20 degrees Celsius, and declare on a daily basis that it was like Being in The Mediterranean.

The farmers had a dreadful time of it, of course. The poor animals needed grass and water. And then there was the whole food growing bit. Which was difficult with water shortages. Believe me, I'm not making little of that.


But bear with me here. For the rest of us, it was amazing! A full, long, proper Summer. We'd booked to go away for a week to Spain. I've never resented all the stress around airports and flying as much as I did, when I'd have been happy to enjoy the sun on the Costa del Dublin.

Being Irish, we still managed to discuss the weather ALL SUMMER. In fact, it was all anybody talked about. Opinion in the street was firmly divided between those who thought it was too hot..."Ah, I've had enough of it now, we need a bit of rain to cool us all down," and the rest of us who figured we were well overdue a fabulous time of it, thanks very much.

And we did all sorts of un-Irish-y stuff. After about three weeks of The Good Weather, you couldn't get a garden patio set for love nor money. Hardware shops and DIY stores were sold out. The term 'outdoor living' started to creep into our vocabulary. Garden pride and the inevitable garden envy became a thing on Facebook and Instagram. We completely lost the run of ourselves.


It even trended on Twitter. The idea of decent Summer weather trending on Twitter anywhere, might seem unlikely. But it was a thing. And we were bloody well going to make the most of it while we could. So, in typical Irish fashion, the jokes began.


It started reasonably enough, with a tweet that ran something like 'I've got two washes on the line, lads. #IrishSummer #Summer 2018'. I should explain here, for anyone who doesn't know: Irish people are obsessed with GETTING CLOTHES DRY. Which is entirely understandable in a country where it rains a lot.


But Twitter was having its moment. Another person tweeted that they had all the bedsheets out on the line. Tomorrow, they'd be washing all the big towels. The sheer indulgence of it! And then one wit added that sheets and towels were nothing. They'd taken up their fitted carpets, washed them and hung them all outside to dry.

And suddenly, thanks to the great weather, there was nothing left to wash! The guilt I felt as I looked at an empty washing line ON A BEAUTIFUL SUNNY DAY, was nearly too much for me!

I got over it just as quickly. Just as I got over the mess of the house and the fact that I'd already moved half my furniture outside. Because wasn't I living there anyway?

We've got through this Winter, and lads, it wasn't too shabby. We're nearly in May. For weeks now, we've been trying to predict the Summer ahead. We got a taste of the good life at Easter. Four glorious days, when the temperatures soared and we hastily found a few warm-weather essentials and bared our goose-bumpy skin to the sun.

A neighbour told me we're due another Good Summer. "It comes in threes," he said. "Three good years and then three not-so-good ones." I didn't like to point out that there's never been a pattern. He was on a roll. "Once you have a good Easter, that's a sign of good weather for the Summer."

It's all about as scientific as placing a small, plastic statue of Our Lady of Prague outdoors, the night before you need good weather for a wedding. But hopes are riding high. I've already bought the sunscreen. Here's to our Irish Summer.

                                                         *



Dear reader,

April felt like the fastest month on record! I hope, wherever you are, it was a good one. 

Feel free to drop comments in the comments box below. (They're moderated, so they won't appear immediately! Your email address won't appear at all. 
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If you'd like to get THIS FUNNY IRISH LIFE FREE via email every month, just go to the Follow by Email box at the top right of the page. Your email address will NEVER be shared or misused. 

For all buy links for my Irish romantic comedy, Going Against Type, click here: Tirgearr Publishing
To find out more about me, check out the links/information at the sidebar on the right.


Happy reading, take care and see you next month.             
Hugs,
Sharon. xx

 

Monday, 1 April 2019

THE PERFECT MODERN MOTHER







YESTERDAY was Mothers' Day here in Ireland. The day when those of us lucky enough to still have our mothers buy them flowers and chocolates and cards, and tell them that they're The Best Mother In The World.

And, with a bit of luck, those of us who are mothers get told the same thing. We're the best. For that day, anyway. Until the following day we're the worst again, because we've asked for something completely unfair and unreasonable like a tidy bedroom.

But there is a different species of mother alive today. She is the perfect mother: a sort of modern day Stepford Wife.

So who is she? The shiny-haired, perfectly made-up and amazingly thin woman in front of you at the checkout, three beautifully dressed and well-behaved children in tow?

What about that group of women in the coffee shop, who wear designer gym gear and sip skinny lattes while they exchange advice on the best nannies and schools?


Or is she the young mum who only posts airbrushed pictures of herself, her family and their wonderful meals and holidays on social media?


Is there a bit of her in all of us? Fuelled by an unspoken belief that as mothers, we must apply the standards expected in every other part of our intense, highly competitive 21st century life. 


I remember seeing the 1975 Stepford Wives movie when I was a child. It was funny and creepy and massively entertaining. But the weird thing was, I actually knew a Stepford Wife.


Of course, I was a child, so I didn't realise at the time that's what she was. Not even after seeing the movie. But she was perfect. At least, that's what she seemed to want everyone to think. She and her husband were friends of my parents. Not close friends, but the type who'd be invited to their house every now and again for drinks or afternoon tea.


They had two children: a boy and a girl. They were close enough in age to me and one of my siblings, so whenever my parents were invited up, we'd go along and hang out with them.

Their house, naturally enough, was perfect. It was pristinely clean. There was never anything out of place. At a time when there was no such thing in Ireland as playrooms for kids (the notions, because who the hell had that much stuff?), they lived in a FOUR BEDROOM house and had a whole bedroom just for their toys.


We just thought it was fierce posh (it was) and we were madly jealous. But it was more than that. They never seemed to fight. A brother and sister who never fought!! No matter how many times we asked them, they always denied it.


My siblings and I fought like cats and dogs. Or you know, brothers and sister. We couldn't get our heads around this perfect pair.


But I had an inkling where it all began. Once, shortly after one of those visits, I overheard my mother ask my father if she and my dad were doing anything right at all. Their friends seemed to be living a flawless, wonderful life.

She was always elegantly dressed, their children well behaved. Apparently, they were both doing wonderfully at school and excelled in everything they did. Not that we all did a lot of extra-curricular when I was growing up, (too many paper dolls to dress, balls to kick and trees to climb) but while most of us did one thing each, their kids seemed to do loads. 

And obviously, they were geniuses who would run the world when they grew up.


Looking back, she was the only person like this that I knew. I realise now what an enormous amount of pressure she put on herself. Not to mention on her family.


Fast forward to 2019 and we're surrounded by modern day Stepford Wives. Think about it: at a time when women have made incredible progress in workplace equality and female empowerment seems more tangible now than ever before, we make things as difficult as possible. For ourselves and for other women. How?


It's simple: women compete with other women. Whether or not we want to, whether or not we realise that we do it. And sometimes, the younger we are, the more insecure we are. We don't know whether we're getting it right. And we don't yet have the wisdom to know that sometimes it doesn't matter.


And this competition ratchets up a couple of notches as soon as we become mothers. The second we hold that small human in our arms, some weird transformation takes place. We compare ourselves with other new mums and find that we're not enough.


So we try to be it all, do it all - and do it perfectly. We hold down careers, or if we choose to stay at home, we turn the job of being at home into a business. If we can't be the best at our hard-won salaried careers, then we'll be bloody super women at home. And we'll make sure people know it.

So we don't just let our children play: we organise and supervise endless playdates. We ensure that our small humans days are filled with music lessons and Maths grinds, tennis and dance, football and art classes. Modern mothers are more far more focussed on their children's success than any previous generation.

Only it's not about our children: it's about us. Do we tick all the boxes? Fabulous job: check. Beautiful home: check. Instagram-perfect meals: check. Happy family: check. Accomplished kids: check. Toned body and groomed appearance: check.

The irony is, that in a society that increasingly hands out participation medals to children, their mothers daren't be ordinary. Because every advertiser, salesperson and media site - especially social media - equates ordinariness with failure. To be a success, we must be extraordinary.  


The reality is very different. Being a woman in 2019 is hard. (Being a man is hard too, but that's a column for another day). But being a woman, who must always pretend that everything is wonderful, is bloody exhausting.


On Mothers' Day, we celebrate and thank our wonderful mums for being just that: mothers. I don't have enough distance to know yet what sort of mother I've been to my own three children. I do know that if I'm half as good as my mother, I'll be happy.

Let's try to replace competitiveness with kindness.
And aim to live our best life, not our perfect one.

                                                                                *

Dear reader,

We've put the clocks forward here in Ireland for daylight saving, so we can look forward to brighter mornings for the next while. (Hoping it'll be easier to get out of my warm bed!) 

Feel free to drop comments in the comments box below. (They're moderated, so they won't appear immediately! Your email address won't appear at all. 
💚)

Please take a moment to SHARE today's column. 
If you'd like to get THIS FUNNY IRISH LIFE FREE via email every month, just go to the Follow by Email box at the top right of the page. Your email address will NEVER be shared or misused. No spamming - I promise.

For all buy links for my Irish romantic comedy, Going Against Type, click here: Tirgearr PublishingTo find out more about me, check out the links/information at the sidebar on the right.

Until next time, happy reading, take care and have a lovely April.            
Hugs,
Sharon. xx