I have never felt guilt as a parent. Unless those delightful mummies were willing to help rather than judge, they could kiss my butt for all the guilt I was supposed to feel. None of them would be there to help in any real way so therefore they are not relevant. Mortgages have to be paid, sanity has to be maintained, I was always going to go back to work. As for breastfeeding, my body gets enough messages about what it should or shouldn’t be doing, ta very much. Unless you get to lactate with me, your opinion is just a leaf on the wind of my own way through life.
What about Shame?
Had plenty of that. I have felt ashamed when my son kicks up, or isn’t as great as little Caresse or Sky. I have felt shame when I inconvenienced, or annoyed, or bothered, on account of my son. He is my joy and my responsibility, no one else’s, I wouldn’t and shouldn’t make other people’s lives harder on foot of his bad days, etc. I am with the French on this one, my child gets to fit in with society, not the other way around.
I see that there is a remake of Cinderella. Is there really no new ideas out there? No, don’t get me wrong, I don’t think that children have to watch the same movies as their parents, but I do think that the ideas of Cinderella don’t really work for me anymore.
Hey, think about it. All her problems are solved not by her brains, but by her beauty being made her best feature by someone with magically deep pockets. She doesn’t make the dresses, she doesn’t solve the inequality at home by forming a union, she doesn’t overturn the unfair inheritance of her stepmother, she gets herself tarted up and dances with a prince.
Cinderella is about clothes maketh the woman, and it is a bit too feudal to be good enough these days. Hey, she’s pretty, so she will be advanced over other women. Problem is, is that as a kid I ate that up, and also concluded that my chances were pretty poor considering the state of me.
Maybe new versions could be made? One where she gets herself somewhere due to her hard work? Call me crazy, but a tale that shows children that women can battle and overcome dragons too would be rather wonderful.
I drink about five strong mugs of the stuff per day. I start the day with two mugs, one with lunch, one with dinner and there is usually another one in there somewhere.
If I am to be a functional human being that has to happen. Maybe it is unhealthy, but it is not going to change any time soon.
Unless you have some cocaine to share. No? Then back out with you to the back garden until you get me coffee. I get three unbroken hours of sleep per night, seven in total usually. Chemical assistance is going to continue for quite a while to come, I suspect.
Remember yesterday? Here is what I did on my day off;
- Up at 6am;
- Check work emails
- Go for an hour long walk
- Home – laundry on
- Dishwasher emptied
- Empty nappy bin
- Wash bottles
- Read textbook for half an hour
- Give the garden half an hour
- Prep milk for little man
- Write for half an hour
- Clean the top of the oven
- Tidy upstairs
- Tidy downstairs
- Watch Intersellar (and wonder why someone didn’t tell Chris Nolan to edit it down)
- Drive to creche, pick up little man
And that is why I dropped into bed exhausted at 9.44 pm last night.
So the little man has a birthday. I’ve had my cake, and eaten it too. So have quite a few children, by the way, and as a result I’ve taken a day off to keep myself sane and sensible.
Those of you who know me, know that I don’t actually do well with time off. Instead, I usually end up working even harder than usually but on things that I want to spend time on. I’ve been up since 6 am, and will go for a walk shortly once things are done here. Sitting around isn’t really what I’m about, and also time to myself is in fact quite rare. The chance to write is really rare, really special. The chance to go for a walk by myself, for example, never really happens.
I’m not complaining, really I’m not. But I’m looking forward to this day off, and I hope you have a great day too, whatever you’re doing.
A Place of No Distance
Four hundred steps mark the difference between Elaine O’Hara’s home and mine. Four hundred steps, and I know it is, because I counted it this last Sunday. I was coming home from the shop with the little man while I counted, much to his annoyance, because I always get distracted and sad when I think of Elaine and her fate. There is nothing comforting, or happy, about what happened to her, and I’ve learned that any reflection I spend on her has to be done when alone. I cannot recall her without sadness crossing over me, and the mood unsettles my son.
Elaine, as you can gather, lived in the same estate from me, in a flat somewhere near the shop where I visit almost daily. She disappeared from the estate one day in August 2012, at a time when I was on maternity leave. The little man was not a great sleeper, and he still isn’t, and a lot of that time I can’t be certain of with any real perception.
And that is important, because I saw Elaine, I feel, the day before she disappeared. I would have kept track on my phone of feedings, and changes, and as much as possible kept to a schedule. And my schedule on that Wednesday was a bit delayed because little man and I went down to the shop, which was the day I saw her. The week later, when signs went up that she was missing, I felt I must have been mistaken. They said she went missing on Thursday, and I didn’t know she lived in the estate, I thought I had seen her as a once off visitor. It wasn’t until recently I realised that she lived near me, that I could have seen her just coming home. I am saved by that realisation, a little; the idea of seeing her the day she passed away is too close to the knife she was on.
She was noticeable. She had the figure that I recognised is due to medication, usually anti-depressants; large, uncomfortable. There were several photos put out by her family to the press, but the one they released first is the person I recognised, with glasses and a round face. The later photos, released to show her dressed formally and with style, were not familiar. The estate I live in is fully of yummy mummies, all lyrca-clad women power walking with urgency; Elaine stood out for not fitting in. There is another sadness to that estate as well. Elaine said in her texts that she wanted to be a mum, and that estate is nothing but families. Across the road from the apartments is a playground, no less. Elaine would have been surrounded by children everywhere she looked.
Notes from the Pit
The texts in question are small notes from the pit that Graham Dwyer worked to sink Elaine into. His mastery over her was born from two things; her own need to secure a life that expressed her own pain but allowed her peace, and his designs to hurt a mentally ill woman who, he thought, would not be missed or cared about. Elaine was in the most real sense of the word a tool, or object, to him, one that he could perhaps enjoy without consequences.
His texts to her, and there are thousands, evince a mind so solely without compassion or awareness of her needs that it is sullying to engage in them for too long. Her own voice grows more desperate the more they interact, the closer to the date of her disappearance. She tells him she is scared, he will kill her, she wants a baby, don’t hurt her… he says, sure, why not, procure a victim for him and afterwards they’ll go back to her flat and he’ll knock her up. Kid won’t be his, though. Did she hear the sounds of the children in the playground when she read this? Did she think of her daily sights when she did?
I want to cry with helplessness, and hurt, when I think of Elaine, so I can only imagine the pain her family has been put through. Elaine was taken from them first when she died, and then secondly by the coverage of the press of the trial. Her requests and her searches, her boxes ticked on sites, has been the excuse needed to de-humanise her into a scandal. She’s been made into a freak, a damaged person of little value, and society has now a comfort in that surely it would never have happened to them. But that was what Dwyer wanted. He wanted someone that held for society little value, someone that would have no public advocate. And what of the people around him, his wife who is forced now to see the unmasked version of the man she called her companion, her consolation, her husband? How must life be for her, with knives dragged into her own heart?
A Most Evil Act
A while ago I heard a little boy speak about evil with admiration; being evil, in his mind, meant he would get all the pizza. If I had the conversation with him again, I would tell him there is a difference between being selfish and being evil. A selfish act is uncaring, but an evil act prevents all further good. Evil ended Elaine O’Hara. Whatever her limitations, no further good could come to her as her body in its tracksuit was left out and open to the elements. No development of self, no change of heart, no growth, no happiness would ever be hers. Her right to grow, to change, to understand, was taken from her, taken by someone who didn’t care or know the best of her, taken by someone who used her, hated her, and made her gone. Elaine O’Hara can never be anything other than the sadness Dwyer caused in her, and that is the most terrible thing. Her culmination is final and absolute, and it is not enough at all.
I think of her nearly every day. I think of what she wanted, of the four hundred steps between us, four hundred steps that are no steps at all. I think of the sights I see each day, that she saw each day too. Today, as I write, is the day of the trial’s summing up. Today is the beginning of the rest of life for her family without her. Hopefully the jury will find him guilty, will work to remove him and his influence from our society. Even in their work, though, they can only provide a slip of white paper to cover the inky blackness of his foulness. Even if they cover it, his own foulness will seep through and darken their efforts, make the white paper black, due to the terrible horrors that can hide deep, deep down, in the unspoken evilness in the human heart.
Ray Darcy is now on RTE, a radio show that I have yet to hear. It seems unfair to even contemplate criticising it. But my criticisms really have nothing to do with the style of show or any individual broadcast. It is more to do with the remit of the show, and how that is not being fulfilled.
One of the more remarkable things about Gay Byrne’s radio programmes were their openness to deal with social issue. They rarely presented solutions, and in many cases there weren’t any. But they gave a voice to those who otherwise would be happily silenced, and this is what made it great.
However, have a look at what the Ray Darcy show puts together. There is remarkably little contextual pieces, and by that I mean this show could be produced anywhere in Ireland, on any radio station. There is no unique stamp attached to it. It also covers none of the major concerns that might be held to exist; the economy, immigration, mental health, limiting resources, the marriage referendum. Imagine the kind of show that Gay Byrne would create today. He might ask those suffering poverty levels to speak about the experience, and how they are affected. He might speak to parents of gay children, or gay parents, and ask them their views about life and the referendum. The women who go abroad for abortions might be asked for their views. And those in Direct Provision, or even just those born abroad that now live here, would it not be good to hear from them?
But the show that is happening now is not giving air to these types of things. It seems to be a magazine show, one that isn’t really focused on anything. Think, for example, about asking a Dublin bus driver about life. Or a binperson, or a pilot, or any of these professions. They’ve seen huge changes over the last ten years, mostly moving to contract work and the removal of a sense of connection to the communities they serve. Do you honestly think that the Dennis O’Brien fuelled media circle is going to reach out to such employees? I don’t. Have a look at the Callan’s Kicks Parody here, illustrates nicely what I’m saying.
Anyway, feel free to click on the podcasts in the links above,. I’ve no doubt that they would be entertaining. But they won’t do more than pass the time, and there is little enough of that already.
This any good?