Tag Archives: Parenting

5 Reasons to Vote No

There’s a referendum coming up, just in case you didn’t know. The referendum concerns two issues:

  1. Should the age of a Presidential Candidate be lowered from 35 to 21 years of age and;
  2. Should marriage be extended equally to all persons regardless of sex.

The second one, as you would imagine, is gathering more interest. What with it concerning all people having equal rights and all. Here are 5 reasons you should vote No on number 2, maybe even number 1.

  1. You like things just the way they are: Change, why would you change anything at all? You like things the way they are. Everything in its place. Change is scary after all. The fact is that if this passes and we as a country vote Yes then Ireland will slip off the shelf and plunge into the Atlantic…FACT!
  2. Standards of Weddings: If we allow everyone to have equal rights and marry who they love then the fact is that the LGBT community will probably set the standard for Weddings impossibly high. There will be colours and themes that the average Irish man could never dream of or indeed live up to. Look at Panti Bliss for example. That chick knows how to throw a party. Imagine that. Shindigs like the country has never seen before.
  3. Increase in Tourism: Ireland voting No in this referendum will send a clear signal to the world that we are still that country which likes to segregate people, push people to the fringes of society and deny equality to all. We could see an increase in visitors from groups such as the Neo-Nazis, the KKK and perhaps even The Westboro Baptist Church.
  4. Parenting: Voting yes in this referendum might give LGBT people more power to have, raise, adopt and love children of their very own. Two people of the same sex raising a child couldn’t possibly do a good job of that. Never before in human history have we seen two people of the same sex raising a child. Nope, never. It would be a disaster. Like a Mother helping her Daughter raise her child or a Father giving advice to his Son. Imagine a child having two loving Mothers or two adoring Fathers? Awful stuff altogether.
  5. You’re a moron: That’s right. You should definitely vote No if you are a moron. If you believe it is absolutely paramount to deny equality to all people then you should vote no. If you believe that not all people deserve happiness then vote no. If you believe you have the right to interfere in other peoples decisions and who they can marry then vote no.

Ireland is on the verge of change right now. We have some very draconian traditions and laws which quite simply have no place in the modern world. Love is one of those things you don’t choose, it just happens. To live in a country where you are made to feel like a second class citizen because you are denied a basic right afforded to others must be heart breaking and utterly demoralising.

I became a father recently. My little girl is on the verge of turning 6 months old. I want nothing but happiness for her in her future. If she grows up and decides that she would like to marry the love of her life then I hope she can do so without impediment. It shouldn’t matter if that person is a male or a female, it should only matter that she loves them and that they love her.

I’ll be voting Yes in this election. My generation and the generations before me still refer to people as straight people, gay people, lesbian people, transgender people and bisexual people. Maybe a yes vote will take us one step closer to my Daughters generation just having people. One big group of happy people.

The Tank was Empty

Myself and the wife have been fairly good at keeping up the Couch to 5K, although for the sake of honesty I’ll say that the good lady has been a lot better at it than I. But hey, it’s not a race, thankfully.

This morning was odd, I just wasn’t feeling it at all. The Tank was Empty. I had no get up and go and I most definitely had that familiar anxious feeling in the pit of my stomach and it was not nice. I have gotten this in the past and I’ve just kept going and it usually went away. However, this morning was different and difficult. The anxious feeling I had affected my legs and I literally had no energy. Into my third lap I just had to stop. There was nothing there and I just had to stop.

Today is also my counselling day. The day when I head up to Navan and talk through the issues which have been taking their toll on me and indeed on the people around me. Today I felt bad, last Monday I didn’t, that’s just the way the cookie crumbles.

Today I could talk about what was going on and see what bubbled to the service. Christmas 2012 was when I lost an important person in my life, my father died. It’s half the reason I’m going to counselling now, so I can be around for my daughter for as long as possible. Not long after going in did I start to talk about that and I did something I haven’t done in a long time.

I cried.

I cried about missing him, about what’s gone on since he died and about what he’s missing in my beautiful daughter. It hurt to bring it out, but it felt a lot better. It was like a weight was lifted from me and I felt energised. It’s amazing how what was primarily a mental block had manifested itself in such a strong physical way. I wasn’t feeling what was going on up top so my body decided to make me listen.

That’s ok though, I should listen to my body, to what it tells me. Some days you just need to stop and take it easy or you’ll be made to.

It was nice to have that revelation and to not feel crazy for still going through the grieving process even this far down the road. But then that doesn’t hold much water either. Grief doesn’t care for my time schedule. It could be twenty years later and I’d still miss him.

It’s all about watching out for the little things and giving yourself a break every now and then.

More than just lifting

So it looks like I’ll be doing more than just lifting now. Well, obviously, I’ll still carry the bags. Thankfully I’ll be getting some professional guidance from Michelle’s physio/pilates/former midwife instructor extraordinaire lady in Celbridge Pilates.

Yesterday I attended a relaxation class which Adeline puts on for her pregnant clients. If you’re wondering, yes, I fell asleep and yes I snored a little (much to Michelle’s chagrin). It was nice to properly relax.

So I eventually woke up and Adeline switched off the recording. Michelle had floated the idea that I would be interested in attending her class to see how I could help and try and further understand the upcoming task. Adeline has decided to bring the Dad’s into the loop, starting in October, for Q&A and probably hints and tips. Apparently other Dad’s are interested too!

I think this will make the whole thing less scary and more manageable. I get the idea that sometimes things are out of my control. It will be good to know the difference between helping and hindering.

The Parents

I recently imparted the smallest bit of wisdom on a friend of mine, something I shouldn’t have really known, but something I learned from someone else. It felt good and got me thinking, again, because I think a lot. That’s what I’ll be (hopefully) doing for my child, giving them little bits and pieces along the way.

Then I started thinking again. I just presumed that both of my parents just knew things. They were patents after all, they should know everything! What I’m starting to understand is that they were telling me the little bits and pieces they had learned along the way. I never really gave them credit for just being people.

So now I really feel for my Mam for the pressure she must have been under and I really miss my Auld lad for not being able to share this moment of clarity with him. I’m sure he would have just laughed and patted me on the back.

So hopefully I can let my child know that I am just a person and that I do make mistakes. They’ll understand right? Nah, not at all!

You carry the Baby and I’ll carry the bags

Myself and herself went to the Pregnancy and Baby Fair in the RDS recently to see if we could scope out some good deals for our upcoming Sir/Madam. I found myself looking around and I uttered to the ever patient lady at my side “You carry the Baby and I’ll carry the bags”! Yes, it’s fine in the grand context of the whole thing, after-all pregnant ladies shouldn’t really be engaging in manual labour.

However, it made me stop and think about things. OK, so the Mammy will be carrying the Baby, feeding the baby and overall (on average) spending more time with the baby, so everything around us at the moment is geared towards the welfare and education of the mother. But I started to think that I wanted to be more involved in the whole thing so I could get a handle on what my wife-to-be is going through and what she is likely to go through, ya know, try and put myself in her shoes a little bit. That may help me to lower the amount of times I ask; “Are you OK?”, “What can I do to help?”, “How do I fix this?” and that old panicky one “Should we go to the hospital? I think so, I’ll get the car ready”. By the way, the answer to these questions has started to become “Shut-up, I’m fine!”. So, I’m thinking that my knowing more will help lower both of our stress levels.

In the old days it was apparently fine to just stay in the background, do the heavy lifting, build stuff and change nappies when the Mammy took a nap for a little while. I’m very conscious of the fact that the task of being a Mother is not an easy one and how it may weigh heavily on both the physical and mental well being of a person (I now appreciate my Mother even more for raising 3 boys, each bigger and bolder than the last). Honestly, everything is aimed towards the Mother. When we go Baby shopping all the questions are directed to the fairer sex. I often get the feeling that I’m only along for the ride, so I have to be quiet and sit back. Of course my partner knows my thoughts on this so won’t place me on the back burner like so many sales assistants and reps have. We make decisions, not me, not her, we.

I intend on being very active in my child’s life and on sharing the weight of parenthood. However, I feel that we Irish men are very Ill equipped to do the task and to a certain degree we have been fine with our secondary care giving role. It’s not easy to try and get more involved sometimes though. It would appear that there is a lot of support available for the Mammies, all sorts of classes and groups. But for the Daddies, we’re kind of in the dark on the whole affair. Yes, I know, I can read the books, and I have. But not every pregnancy is the same and not every Mammy to be is the same, so basically there is no universally correct method to follow. What I want to know is how do I help? What can I do to help with the back pain, the cramps, the tiredness, the funny little muscle pains. A q&a session for the Daddies which runs alongside the Mammies classes would be greatly appreciated.

What would I like to see? More Father friendly support groups, more interaction and more inclusion. Lady M attends a Pilates class in Celbridge which helps with preparing her for the physical side of childbirth, but also has a section supporting the mental toll it will take. She has nothing but high praise for the Physio led classes. In addition to that she likes the comfort of being around other pregnant women, all heading towards the same goal.

I’m also very aware of the fact that I’m not the one who’ll have to give birth. So yeah, a lot of the support is designed around getting the upcoming Mother through that stage. OK, fair enough, but afterwards we’re both going to have to raise a real life human being and that will dramatically change our lives. When that day comes I want to be able to hit the ground running, not like I’m fumbling through a thick forest of gorse. Do I feel ready? Hell no! A new Mother should not have to be teaching both a child and father how to act, jaysus, they have enough to do.

That got me thinking. If I were to be bluntly honest I have a range of emotions going through my head. I’m nervous, anxious, worried, scared, excited, panicky (see above), scared some more and happy. Most importantly, above all else, I am happy and that at least gets me off in the right direction. What’s the issue then? The issue is that I have not talked to any other soon to be fathers about what they’re going through. It’s nerve-racking. It’s lonely. It’s frightening.

So what would help? Talking.

We still don’t like to do that here, we still see it as a sign of weakness. It’s not. It takes strength to talk. Talking can be very exhausting, relieving and difficult. I recall once running a 10km and going for a pint. Apart from a sore ankle I was mostly fine. I recall once talking, then crying and then feeling like I had just fought ten rounds, it was utterly exhausting. So that’s the issue, we don’t talk, we’re strong and silent, and that’s that. We also have one of the highest suicide rates in the world. Strong and silent; that’s not a trait I want my child to copy from me.

So what do I really want? I want to know I’m not alone, I want to know that other first time fathers are feeling the same way, I want to know that I can contribute equally and that I am a part of the whole thing. Above all I want my child to know I wasn’t afraid to look for help and advice. I want to be more than just the carrier of the heavy things, the builder of the impossible Ikea wardrobe and the slayer of all things creepy and crawly. I want to know how to actually help, what to (sorta) expect and I want my child to take that on board.