Tag Archives: Ireland

Ain’t Nuthin’ Going On But The Lent

My poor little confused non-Catholic child.

He has no idea that he’s a non-Catholic who is receiving a Catholic education in primary school.

And why would he? At 5 years old, he is just following the pack and doing what he’s told (despite behaving completely to the contrary at home, of course!)

When we started the school year and he first came home blessing himself and talking about ‘Holy God’ we did have a chat with him about how Mammy and Daddy didn’t believe in god and that he didn’t have to do the morning prayer if he didn’t want to.

Ass Monkey and I also spoke with the principal and vice principal who were very reassuring in the sense that they kept religious education to a small part of the educational curriculum and mostly, they were of the impression that the end to the Catholic Church being the primary religious hold over schools was in sight.

Maybe in 20 years, they said. I hope I live to see the day, I said.

As Ash Wednesday approached this week, the talk of Lent and ‘Holy God in Heaven’ was firmly on the lips of our little school goer so I thought maybe it was time to have another chat about our non-religious viewpoint as a family.

So while he was in the bath on Tuesday – CALM, I thought – I told him again that the morning prayers in school are his choice to do or not (he has been choosing to do them) and that he didn’t have to receive ash on Ash Wednesday if he didn’t want to.

“Why mammy?” he enquired, attempting yet again to shove his toothbrush down the jet holes of our bath.

“Because your school and some of the people in it believe in the god that you are saying your prayers to every morning, but mammy and daddy don’t believe in that god. Actually, mammy and daddy don’t believe in god at all”

His reaction was spectacular.


And he pouted for about half an hour, truly upset.

I felt like I’d told him that The Man In The Big Red Suit Who Lives In A Toy Workshop With Elves At The Furthest Northern Point Of The Planet Whose Sole Purpose Is To Reward Good Children With Gifts And Bad Children With Sacks Of Coal At Xmas Time wasn’t real.

Kinda the same thing though, innit?

Anyway, he got the ashes. And if he wasn’t sure before, at least now he knows that jesus loves him.



Breastfeeding: A Pain In The Tits?

Firstly, let me say this: I am 100% a fan of breastfeeding our babies. And I am 100% a fan of bottle feeding our babies. Therefore, you might conclude that A) I have done both and B) I am taking my usual judgement-free stance on what other people do to feed their babies…and you’d be right.

But all the statistic waving on the subject of breastfeeding in Ireland of late is giving me, quite frankly, a large pain in my tits. Surely I am not the only person who realises that the real reason we have such low numbers of breastfeeding women in our country is because NO BODY TELLS US THE TRUTH ABOUT IT.

Newsflash: Breastfeeding Is Hard For Some People. Why won’t anyone just admit that to expectant mothers, instead of saying ‘Breast Is Best’ ad nauseum, without outlining the realities of how breastfeeding works? Wouldn’t our young mothers do better with realistic expectations, instead of believing it’s going to be all ‘babe-suckling-at-the-boob-by-the-candlelight’; only to become disheartened when the breastfeeding begins and it doesn’t follow what they’ve been told?

Nope, our health service continues to omit the relevant info, and leave our poor new mothers to fend for themselves when the new baby comes along. If you attend any of our maternity hospitals’ ante-natal classes when you are expecting a baby, you will most likely come away with the following (false) info:

1. If it’s your first baby, you’ll be overdue. You will know you are in labour when your waters break and you feel something like a period pain. Definitely stay at home for another two hours until the pain in unbearable before you come in to the hospital because we’re mad busy.

2. Don’t ask for the epidural until you have been in labour for hours and hours and hours. At the point that you do ask, it may or may not then be too late to actually get the epidural. And sure why would you want it anyway when you’ll have a quicker birth without it? (See Point 1: ‘We’re mad busy’).

3. Breastfeed your baby. It is the most natural thing in the world. Sure they do it in India.

Whisky. Tango. Foxtrot!

First thing off the cliff should be that statement ‘It’s the most natural thing in the world’, because it isn’t for lots of people. What breastfeeding needs is time and patience and support and a demo video of how to get your baby to the boob successfully in public. These are the logistical challenges that modern mothers should have the answers to.

If the Irish health service really wanted to increase the numbers of women breastfeeding in Ireland, I would suggest that they perhaps send all expectant mothers a pack called ‘The Truth About Breastfeeding’. The cover letter would read as follows:

‘Dear Mother-To-Be,

We hope you and baby are healthy and well. In the event that you choose to breastfeed your new baby boy or girl, we wanted to send you the following items out of the goodness of our hearts:

A nipple guard, some super-robust breast pads, nipple cream, a realistic schedule of when you should expect your baby to feed week by week, and when you should be resting your boobs and body, a demo of how to do it in public, a decent breast pump, a bottle and carton of instant formula for when you need it (and THAT’S OK), a list of non-arsehole-riddled coffee shops and restaurants where your baby can feed in peace, and a voucher for M&S so you can get fitted and buy yourself a nice new bra when the time comes that you stop breastfeeding.

Also, everything you decide is up to you.

Love, the Irish Health Service’

[Like this ranty madness? See more over at ‘Breastfeeding Is Back!’]



My Whore Voice

I don’t know about you, but when I became a mum, I started to freak out about money. I literally ping-ponged from ‘Happy to do a comedy gig for €50 and a packet of fizzy cola bottles’, to ‘I must come up with the BEST INVENTION EVER so that my kids think I’m amazingly cool AND I have enough money to buy their future shit boyfriends or girlfriends out of our lives forever.

So, in no particular order, in the last three years, I have sought employment in the following areas:

  1. Beauty Therapist. Yes, I went to ACTUAL CLASSES to learn how to spray a perfectly decent body to a Kim Kardashian orange and the likes. Thankfully, I was pretty shit at all of that.
  2.  Web Genius. I’ve had a comedy website, a personal website, and now a parenting website. I nearly did a course in web design. I 100% thought that I would get instant advertising and make a mint in the first 12 months. WHAT IS WRONG WITH MY BRAIN?
  3. A Stand Up Comedian. The biggest mistake I made after I had Jacob was trying to do stand up as ‘Sharyn Hayden’ instead of the wonderful Shazwanda, which had always worked far better. The thinking behind it was that if I could break my vagina by having a kid, then I could do fucking anything…. …. ….. ….. I WAS WRONG.
  4. A Theatre Actress. Acting on stage is a joy, an absolute joy, but when you have a toddler who counts on your to put them to bed and you have to leave for work at 5pm for Show Week, you will pay for that one week of joy for the following FOUR weeks, as your kid punishes you for abandoning them by refusing to go to creche, staying up all night, and catching the stomach flu. Also, theatre pays fuck all. Go get a day’s extra work on Vikings and you’d be better off.
  5. International Best Selling Author. ‘Sure, it couldn’t be hard, could it?’ Those were actual words that came from my mouth as I sat down to pen my first novel. Being a writer is a bit of a curse when you have kids, because you rarely get a chance to write, and then you feel terribly frustrated that you can’t get your ideas out and onto the page and then you take it out on your fella coz he has a real job… maybe I’ve said too much ;o)

So now! My latest carry on is voiceover work! The gorgeous Deborah at Windmill Lane recording studios arranged for me to record my voiceover demo and I had a BALL doing it. You’d buy a buggy off me in Mothercare…wouldn’t you?!!

Click below to hear it, and check out my whore voice in the first ad! x

Children’s Personalised Irish Christmas Book

BookWithShadowWe were sent the most amazing gift from Ian and the team at DigitalScribe.ie recently – a book called ‘Jacob and Santa’s Irish Adventure’!

The book tells the story of how Santa gets lost on Christmas Eve while delivering presents to Irish children. Your little one is then taken on a fun adventure around famous and historical Irish landmarks to find him.

Mums and dads just need to fill in a very simple form in order to make this book a personalised one, and it truly is great quality and beautifully presented when it arrives. There is even a letter from Santa included!

The books are €15.99 plus P&P to order through The Digital Scribe Website and I can’t recommend it enough. What a great keepsake to have for our kids in years to come!

We captured the first few moments of showing Jacob ‘the book that Santa sent him in the post’. Can you FEEL the giddiness….?! x

We are family – I got all my sistas with me!

I am sitting in the living room, ploughing chocolate bourbons into my face while my 2.5-year-old has an apocalyptic, unbridled shit fit on the other side of the door, all because she wants me to re-enact, word for word, an episode of Charlie and Lola that I haven’t even bloody SEEN. Meanwhile, my napping four-month-old wakes prematurely, starts to scream and I’m thinking – God, wouldn’t it be great to drop the kids off at Mum’s place tomorrow while I sit in a dark, quiet room for a few hours.
Except I can’t, because in 2001 I left Dublin and moved to the UK. I only came over for a New Year’s Eve piss-up, for God’s sake, but twelve years later find myself still here, married to a Londoner – who I have twice allowed to get me knocked up – and I’m now a stay-at-home mother living in Brighton. And it’s at times like this, when the racket from the hallway hits such a crescendo I’m waiting for social services to turn up, that I look mournfully at my snot/puke/milk-covered trackie bottoms and really miss my family.
Yet I’m definitely not alone – certainly not in the ‘when-did-my-cute-toddler-turn-into-Satan’ thing – but in that my husband and I are effectively raising our children alone, without the blessed presence of family around the corner. As with many, many young families these days, there’s no parent, sibling or cousin to swoop in unconditionally and help out when the situation gets desperate, and the irony of it all isn’t lost on me – I couldn’t wait to get out of Dublin and put space between us, and now I’d probably sell a kidney to have Mum live here too.
Out of the ante-natal group we attended before the birth of our first daughter, only one of the six women had family also living in Brighton. The rest of us had gravitated here from all over the UK – in my case a different island entirely. We were all about to embark on the single hardest thing we had ever done and, I believe, because we all knew that none of us could crawl, weeping and milky, to our Mums’ houses in those hideous post-partum weeks, we all turned to one another and became the firmest of friends.
After the initial shyness of those classes, which no matter how cosy they try to make them ALWAYS feel like an AA meeting, all the mums-to-be met up for brunch. We waddled into a café like a line of geese and, before the coffee even arrived, had covered such mouth-watering topics as perineal massage, varicose veins in unspeakable places (guys, you don’t want to know) and tits with more lines than a Tube map. ‘So apparently you poo yourself when you start pushing, the midwife just wipes it away! Here, try the black pudding – it’s delish.’ That kind of thing. How could you not love them?
And after we all gave birth – the six babies arrived within nine days of each other – we would email and text each other all night during our interminable nocturnal feeding sessions. No correspondence, before or since, has ever made me feel more supported or made me cry laughing so much. ‘My fanny is in RIBBONS, my nipples are BLEEDING, and the PRICK is just lying there snoring again.’ Or ‘I finally felt brave enough to leave the house today. I got stuck in traffic, ran out of petrol, the dog shat all over the back seat and then I couldn’t work out how to get the FUCKING car seat into the buggy frame.’
Over the next 2.5 years, we have seen each other through teething, weaning, behavioural problems, marital strife, toilet training, financial woes, miscarriages, illness and broken bones. We have watched each other’s babies turn into toddlers, sharing in all the brilliant, magical stuff that comes with it. We’ve supported each other when some of us had to endure putting our kids into crèche to return to work. We have provided cake, tea (wine) and a sympathetic ear for each other more times than I care to imagine. Yes, we all have our other halves to talk to, but only a fellow mother can really understand what we’ve been through. The physical gorgeousness aside of pushing something the size of a grapefruit through your most intimate area, there are the hormones, the body image, the career sacrifices (for some of us anyway), the broodiness when you want a second one, despite the fact your fanny looks like a chewed orange from last time. Only your mum friends will get all that. And so, even though I miss my family like mad, I’m kind of glad I didn’t have them around. I know I would have gotten too comfortable sitting in Mum’s kitchen. I wouldn’t have been forced to get out there and meet these brilliant new people, who I’m sharing the adventure of my life with.
Suzanne with her away-from-home family. (L-R) Laura, Emily, Peigh, Suzanne, Clair and Harriet

Suzanne with her away-from-home family. (L-R) Laura, Emily, Peigh, Suzanne, Clair and Harriet