Mother and Son Time

Sometimes I wonder what mothering is all about when it comes to being the mother of a twenty-one year old son. In the early hours of this morning, it suddenly became a lot more than being the fill-the-fridge-fairy and dog-walker-when-owner-out-of-town.

I was still up when he came in to me, ashen-faced, and told me that he’d just found out that a young man who he had been very close to growing up had died. It was the first time that someone of his own age  – just 14 days between them -who really mattered to him had died. I had known the lad too and he was one of those creative, empathetic kids who stood out as being able to talk to adults like they were real people.

In that moment when we were trying to come to terms with this sadness, I realised that being a mother is about being there to share in the highs and the lows as well as  the everyday. My own mother always made a point of showing interest in our friends and I always loved that she would know who I was talking about when I’d mentioned ‘friends of mine that I’ve not even met,’ as she would term them.

That togetherness of the early hours spilled over into today and we went to catch the sunset with his dogs out at Kilfarrasy Beach, a place that holds many memories for us from long years of going there, especially when it’s all ours.

It was a sunset to savour but most of all it was an evening that I think we’ll both remember always. The passing of his friend is etched into the texture of it. Age has a habit of bringing more and more deaths of same-aged friends but the loss of the first can be very tough indeed. Our hearts go out to the young man’s family. How they could be coping is unimaginable.

This evening on the beach, I did what I seldom do, took a photo of my boy. I needed to gather him into my heart and hold him just that little bit tighter than usual:

At Twenty-One


Sons are the anchors of a mother’s life.


Happy Days!

June 10 is full of memories as it was Father’s birthday. He was born in 1919 in Kilrush, Co. Clare ~ a place that remained incredibly special to him right up to the day he died in 2010.

Today, I think of his mother, a woman he absolutely adored and who died when he was a young teenager. I can just imagine them looking adoringly into each other’s eyes for the first time on this day 95 years ago. He was her second child and her first son.

Father's Beloved Mother
Father’s Beloved Mother

I’m so glad that he kept her memory alive through this photograph which had a prominent place in the sitting-room of the various houses in which we lived. It never failed to spark him into talking about his happy childhood and indeed about the importance of building happiness into every single moment, however mundane the moment might at first appear.

Yes, Dad, I’ll be having that ice-cream in your honour today ~ cut from a block with a warm knife and sandwiched between two wafers.



Getting the Wrong Baby

All I have to do is see the rhododendron coming into bloom at the bottom of our garden every May and I find myself thinking about the grand arrival of our first (and only) baby on May 24, 1995.


I was about as unmaternal as is possible and certainly wasn’t one of those people who went around begging to be ‘let hold the new baby.’

I had a C-Section under general anesthetic, for medical reasons, and  got a bleary eyed glance at ‘baby’ shortly after he was born when I was hauled out of deep ‘sleep’ by a kindly nurse.

I was stunned by what I saw. He was more like a ‘little old man’ than a couple -of- minutes-old baby. If anything, he reminded me of  a leprechaun.

Some hours later, a nurse came bustling into the ward and thrust a little bundle, wrapped up in one of those white baby blankets, into my arms. One glance at a big baby face  and I felt a wave of absolute repulsion sweeping over me. I just about managed not to drop this alien on the floor.

As politely as possible, I explained that this wasn’t my little old man baby. I fumbled around on the alien’s wrist for the identity thingy but my vision was still a bit wonky and I couldn’t read it properly. By now, I’d handed the alien back to nurse who was checking the wristband against my chart at the end of the bed.

She let out a little squeak and hot-footed it out of the ward. It seemed like an eternity before she re-appeared with my ‘little leprechaun’ who snuggled up and met my gaze with a sense of belonging I can’t even begin to describe.





Eighteen Things I Treasure as our Son Turns 18 ~ Gatherings from Ireland # 146

As I mentioned in the last post, our son will be 18 this week and it feels like a ‘big deal’ that he has reached this important week.  I have been thinking a lot about the things that I treasure most from those 18 years:

1. The fact that he is what I call a ‘peace baby’ ~ one who has  grown up with the peace process in Northern Ireland.

2. The fact that the endless hours we spent playing with any kind of a ball from when he was in his high chair has translated into a passionate love of sport.

3. The envelope of his burnished gold curls that I stowed away ~ especially when he decided to adopt the cool, clean hero look.

4. That year, when he was four, when we devoted so much time to focussing on the changing seasons ~ going off to find newborn lambs in the fields, searching for bird’s nests …..

5. The fact that he had the chance to get to know and spend time with three of his grandparents.

6. The fact that he didn’t inherit my shyness.

7. The fact that being bitten on the face by a dog when he was 11 didn’t turn him off dogs.

8. The way he has always called me ‘Jean.’

9. The time I saw him running towards me in hospital two days after he had been admitted with suspected meningitis

10. The  times he and I spent in our beloved Ballyvaughan, Co. Clare.

11. The fact that I didn’t lose him to ‘another’ that night he went to his first disco in Tenerife when he was five!

12. All those nights that we shared with me reading to him at bedtime and him begging for ‘just one more page’ over and over.

13. The fact that he has finally learned how to use the microwave.

14. The way he phones me about 10 times to update me when he goes to see the Waterford team playing hurling matches.

15. His absolute love of Tramore which means so much to me too.

16. The way he stands up for the underdog.

17. His hearty laugh.

18.  The fact that he doesn’t read this blog!