Author Archives: Jenny McGrath

Jenny McGrath

About Jenny McGrath

Alternative parent Jenny McGrath is a first time mummy to full time smiler Leon Wolf. She blogs her opinions, and has been published on many parenting sites due to her honest approach and lack of patience for the fads of parenting we see everywhere today. Pet peeves involve sentences that start with "they say you should / shouldn't..."

Maybe We Can Park It Over There….

You’re in town for the day with your partner, husband, friends…. and baba in their buggy. After a while either me or my husband will say “Wanna go for something to eat and we can feed baby” – so we go and check out somewhere that looks nice.
It seems more often than not one of us disappointingly says to the another “Oh, I don’t think we will fit in there”. It looks like everywhere has become smaller, crammed with more tables placed super close together and leaving no room for patrons with buggies.
When we go to town for the day, there is about three places we can actually go and sit with our buggy… pre-baba, we had a favorite lunch or breakfast spot which we can now no longer fit or we will block up the entire walk way for staff and customers.
There are places like O’Briens and the likes which have the floor space, but babies are expensive enough without having to pay for an overpriced sandwich because you cannot physically fit in anywhere else. I have been in shops, cafes etc where I have not even been able to use the bathroom because I would have to leave my baby in the buggy outside (obviosuly something I would not do). I have been in big stores and shopping centres which only have ONE baby changing room!
So why are  establishments so unbuggy friendly? Is it better to have two empty tables, then to get rid of one for a buggy to fit and have one full table? Surely in this economic climate, places should be making it possible for people to actually come in and spend their money – not force them to look elsewhere?
Accommodating a buggy should just be a given. If more places understood the importance of being a ‘buggy friendly establishment’, they would definitely benefit from any parents who know they can comfortably eat there with their family.
No Strollers

Feeling Lost After A Short Cut

Due to my baba being breached right up to 38 weeks, he was delivered by a planned cesarean section. I suppose what I want to write about, is the mental and physical aspects on a mothers mind and body from having a baby by cesarean.

My story is that it was planned, so it almost took away from the nervous excitment of “not knowing when the baby will come” but yet there was a convinience to it all.
The whole thing was very clinical, you go into an operating room, and to be fair, you are very distracted to the whole thing because all the practitioners and nurses keep you so. Which is great let me tell you!! But, at the same time, the baby is out, before you even realise or are able to process what is kind if going on. And literally, what seemed like a few minutes since lying on the table in the first place, and there he was. My first born.
He was taken off to be cleaned, but unlike what you expect from TV, he was not lifted straight away onto my chest. I was all sewn up, which did not even take that long either. After been closed up, baba was in my arms and I was wheeled into the recovery room. Now, slightly off the record for a second, when he was born the song we danced to for our wedding first dance happened to be playing on the radio, and it was a really meaningful, weird, destiny type moment. It was Green Day, Time of your Life.
Back on track now…because my body had not gone into labour as such, my breast milk would not flow, so I put baba onto a bottle because he was so hungry. Then, within about an hour I was back in my ward room with the feeling nearly totally back in my legs. Now, the pain afterwards in my stomach area was hard going, even with morphine, and for a good while after. But that was expected. What I was stunned by was the emotional and mental after effects to it all.
I want to share this, because I had a great support at home with my husband, but I can see how other people may have felt down or lost by the mental after effects of a section over a natural birth. Because I did.
Natural birth is what you mentally prepare yourself for, the entire pregnancy. You brace yourself for a pain you cannot imagine, and an experience your body is able to endure, both mentally and physically. But with a ceserean, the pain is much different, and even your body knows it without experiencing the alternative. But, it is not for a few days after you start, or at least I did, to think or feel, as though you were just sort of well, handed your baby… like you did not do any of the work your body was prepared for. The moment you had been building up to, delivering your child ‘as normal’, just never happened. I did not feel any less love, or connection, or attachment to Leon, but somehow, I felt I had missed out on actually giving birth to my son. Because, in a manner of speaking, I didnt.
I can understand that many mothers out there could end up feeling some sort of guilt for that, and I just want to share my experience, in case it would help someone who may feel down, or depressed or worried about what it all means. Mums, your body did endure a lot, and your mind endured a lot. We had prepared to go through natural labour, but for whatever the reasons were, we had to just bring baby out via a short cut. And now baba is here. It does not mattter how they got here, because we got them here safely…. and that, is the most important end to any pregnancy, yes?
Admittedly, because of the section I felt a little lost after, but it is ok to admit this, I think it is important not to be afraid of how you feel, and I hope if this even reaches one person doubting themselves, then it was an article worth the time written.
And remember, sometimes the most natural thing in the world, is to get lost on a short cut…. there is no need to beat yourself up because of it.


Should raising a child without a religion be cause for concern?


For me the answer is a simple no. But for many it seems we cannot let go of our church-going roots in 2013 Ireland. When there are now so many diverse nationalities, why do we feel so obliged to keep to a belief system that has wronged so many children of this country’s past? Choosing to raise your child without religion can cause a stir a from a person who has not been inside a church in years, to cast a stone of deep concern. It’s baffling to me.

I am not against anyone’s beliefs, but I am against the catholic church in Ireland having any influence on our children’s education system. They, in my opinion, do not contribute to a child’s ever growing mind. There are children in this country who, because they have not been christened, will find it hard to get into a school. A fact.

My husband and I have chosen not to christen our son, Leon, because even though I was born a catholic, that is where it stops for me. So what does that mean for the way my son will live his life? Well, it won’t mean anything at all! He will not lose out. He will not be excluded from anything, he will not be judged, he will not go to hell.

This is why I am fully behind Ireland’s ‘Educate Together’ schools. These schools are a non-judgemental breath of fresh air in 2013 Ireland and I am so excited to be aiming to send my son there when he is of age. I would never judge any of his future friends, or friend’s parents for having a religion. So all I want in return is for nobody to judge him, because he does not have one at all.

Gender Specifics

As parents, does our child’s gender give us the right to dictate who they should be?

No, of course it doesn’t. So why do so many parents feel it is their child bearing right to dictate who their child should be because they are a boy or a girl? I have witnessed little boys pushing prams down a toy isle in a store, to see fathers snatch it away from them, as though it was sealing some sort of homosexual fate for their son’s future. Mothers, directing their daughters out of the toy isle with the toy cars, whilst quipping “these are for boys”.

Jenny with son Leon

Jenny with son Leon

Our son Leon has a colourful array of clothing, and he even has a purple buggy and pram…. will this make him gay? No. And if he does turn out to be so, then what? Well, then nothing. Because once he is happy, healthy, respects others and has a kind heart then what more could any selfless parent want?

I have known people in my lifetime, gay friends, who because of how their family would react, have said to me, “I am gay, but I will marry a girl”.

That then, is an endless circle of ruined lives.  The heart of this is surely insecurity within the parent? Which, in turn will create insecurity in your child.

Just because you have a son, this does not mean he has to play with toy cars, if he does not want to. And, maybe more importantly, if he wants to play with his sisters doll, let him. This won’t make your son gay, no more than a little girl who wants to play with toy trucks will make her any less of a girl.

Why then is it that so many parents have gender specific regulations for their children? Our children are surely going to grow up to become who they are meant to be regardless of whether they choose a boy, or a girls toy, or what colour clothes they wear. As a parent in today’s world, more than ever, I believe we do not have the right to push, or force our children to be who we want them to be. All that will do is cause friction in the parent and child relationship, and boost many an insecurity in your child’s self-esteem for many years into the future. As a mother, it is my duty (teamed with my unconditional love), to encourage and nurture my son’s personality, and to input values of kindness and respect. I am to discourage him from mistreating others, or disrespecting his parents and peers, and as he grows, deter him from any dark paths he meets along his journey.

We must encourage our children by making them feel safe, and keeping them healthy – mentally and physically. We can do all of this without dictating their lives to them, and there is such an huge difference between ‘encouragement’ and dictation.

Leon The Smiler!

Leon The Smiler!