Tag Archives: toddler

Artificial En-Suitener

11001924_393935754118887_7558410217770741492_nThere are few things more embarrassing than being caught with your pants around your ankles, and as I have discovered over the years, this could happen for a myriad of reasons.

I’ve never had an en suite before. We’ve just come from having the teeniest tiniest bathroom of all time ever in GrimNagh – they somehow squeezed a shower-bath, toilet and sink into what can essentially only be described as a broom cupboard. The bath was so tiny that I couldn’t even stretch my legs out in it (and I ain’t got no super model legs). We figured it was designed for ages 14 and downwards only, if that age group of little people were allowed to live alone. Or maybe the average height in GrimNagh is Munchkin…who can say.

But now we have a new house. A NEW HOUSE! God, I couldn’t be happier. We worked our asses off and saved our shekels and we did it! I’m so thrilled that you probably haven’t heard me complain about anything for several weeks now, which is obviously not very like me. Part of the joy with the new house is that Ass Monkey and I have our very own grown-up en suite in our grown up bedroom. You know, one that can be completely rubber-duck and potty training-paraphanalia free? I may even leave expensive makeup lying around because it will never be touched by toddler hands.

However, as I discovered last night, to my absolute HORROR, the en suite does have it’s down side. Jacob came in to our bed, as he does sometimes, during the night and decided that he fancied a drink. He wanted it now, and he only wanted me to go and get it. (There’s something very unnerving about how that kid demands that only Mammy does things like change his arse and fetch his biscuits. I’m willing to see how it pans out before I decide that I have a two-year-old misogynist on my hands).

‘Ok’, I told him. ‘Mammy will bring you downstairs in a second. I’m just going to have a wee-wees first’.

I dragged my preggo hoop out of bed and shuffled the few steps over to the glorious en suite for my 72nd wee of that particular 24 hour period. I heard a little kerfuffle outside as Ass Monkey tried to get Jacob to calm down a bit and then…. and THEN…. the door to the en suite flew open and there stood my little person, staring and crying that I had dared to pop out of the room for two seconds while he was mid-tantrum.

And there, over his head, I could see Ass Monkey sitting in bed with a stunned, confused and middy amused look on his face – concocted by a mixture of his sleepy head and the view of yours truly taking a piss for all to see.

‘DON’T LOOK AT ME!!!’ I ordered and he duly popped his head back under the duvet.

I’m not even sure that I fully finished weeing before the embarrassment of it completely overwhelmed me enough to stand up to go and get the crazy kid’s juice. At which point he pulled my pajama bottoms down and refused to let me pull them up again.

Jacob: 1

Dignity: Nil


Bath Time Duets

My happiest childhood memories are of my little singing, or dancing, or acting performances. I remember every detail – including my full two lines of dialogue – from my school play when I was four. I also remember singing at my aunt’s wedding when I was about ten and meeting the front singer of the band in the toilets later, who told me that I had a great voice. T.H.R.I.L.L.E.D. I don’t remember what my aunt’s wedding dress looked like or anything; it was unimportant information to this wannabe diva-in-the-making. I used to practice singing under my duvet in the middle of the night, thinking that as I was protected by layers of synthetic fibre and Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles designs, that no one would be able to hear me. And then my dad would bang on the walls between our rooms and yell: ‘Sharyn, for god’s sake – GO TO SLEEP!!!!’

Music is a big part of my life and so while I was pregnant, I chose two songs that would always be special to Jacob and I, and I learned how to play them on the piano: Somewhere Out There and Baby You’re All That I Want. I played and sang them every day and they are now the two songs I still sing Jacob to sleep with at night.

Therefore, I am decidedly overjoyed that Jacob shares my love of singing and dancing. After breakfast every morning, I raise an eyebrow in his direction and ask ‘Music?’ ‘Moosak’, he nods gleefully and jumps down off his chair to the kitchen floor. I stick on the radio and we go for it – jumping, shaking our booties, and dragging each other around the ‘dancefloor’ until we fall down laughing.

His love of singing somewhat takes me by surprise lately though, in that he suddenly knows the words to LOADS of songs. Now that he’s turned two, and his vocabulary is coming on, I guess he’s regurgitating the songs he’s heard Ass Monkey and I sing at home, and the ones he’s learned in creche. And he’s deeeeelighted with himself to share them. His guerrilla performances happen in the car, the supermarket, during dinner and most recently, in the bath. I ashamed to say that I think I’ve created a monster…

Ladies and gentlemen, I give you – Master Jacob Fynes ;o)

Jacob’s Bath Time Performance


As Jacob nears his second birthday, I have been reflecting on everything that has happened in our lives since his arrival. It’s been BAT SHIT CRAZY, that much I know. I thought my life was busy and a little left of centre before he burst onto the scene, but his resultant presence thereafter has been nothing short of a whirlwind. And…we’re only just getting started.

I was a very pretty pregnan

I was a very pretty pregnant lady

When I was two months pregnant, Ass Monkey and I decided to go into business together with engineering firm, Dynamic Cater Care. He had the mad engineering skills, and while my previous employment experience had been managing actors, I knew how to run a business and manage the books. I just had to learn a few new things. For example,  ‘Snickers’ are not only a delicious chocolate bar, but also a type of work pant for the kind of man who needs to carry tools on his actual person. You know, just in case something needs fixing in a hurry (PS how horny is that? No wonder I let him knock me up).  He and I borrowed my dads little van for the first few jobs, called on everyone we had ever worked with in every restaurant and bar in town, told them we would fix all their equipment if they would give us a chance, and we went for it.

Two weeks before Jacob’s due date, our then employee decided to pack it in, in a show of what only can be described as Utter Cuntism. He called to the house on Sunday the 4th of September to collect his tools, and I took great pride in putting a ‘Fuck you’ pack together, essentially listing all the great opportunities he was missing out on by no longer working with us. Two hours later, I was in labour. I can’t officially say if the two things are related, but let’s just blame him anyway. Jacob Anthony Fynes arrived to great fanfare and high fives at The National Maternity Hospital on the morning of Monday September 5th 2011, and by about that afternoon, we were back to work. I may have been off my face (completely) on epidural, gas, air, injections and whatever else I could get my hands on, but somehow I managed to put a few supplier payments through the bank from the maternity bed. Ahem.

Hold on to your wombs, ladies...

Hold on to your wombs, ladies…


Loads of things went tits up in that first year. Besides Dynamic, I had also been working really hard on a web-based enterprise during my pregnancy. My business partner decided to pack it in for no good reason six weeks after Jacob was born, and then tell everyone it was my fault. Some friends and family made life more difficult where they could have been understanding and helpful. We moved closer to Dublin town so that Alan could get home at a reasonable hour from work and see his son (and also because our neighbor was an insufferable bitch who kept listing out all the different ways that my new baby might die) – and realized that we had moved into The Coldest House That Ever Was.  Business came and went, and came back around again, people who we thought trustworthy dodged paying us for too long, others we’d never met before were fantastic. Alan’s van was the on-the-road workshop and I frantically poured out invoices and statements and dealt with the bank during Jacob’s naps.

We somehow got through it and made a profit that first year, despite a million setbacks, and in Jacob’s second year, found Aaron (or ‘Apprentice The First’), and we had HELP.  Alan had help on the road, and that meant that I had help too. Not only that, but on Jacob’s first birthday, we had built up enough money to put him into a crèche for two days a week and pay me. I had dedicated working days and didn’t have to work during his naps any more, so could relax (or, since I can’t really relax: clean the house, mow the lawn, bake something, write a book). I got back to theatre for a week in the Fringe Fest, launched a comedy club, and felt vaguely normal again. I also finally lost the end of the two stone I put on when I was pregnant (yes it did take a year and eating chocolate at 3am for almost two years does have a downside to your arse. Is this news?!)

Somewhere around Xmas 2012, we clearly lost it.

Somewhere around Xmas 2012, we clearly lost it.

We moved house again. In March of this year, we simultaneously moved house and got an official work office and premises that needed complete renovation in the city. We extended Jacob’s crèche days to three a week and lashed into turning it into a fab place to work. We took on Luke, (‘Apprentice The Second’), and ‘Super Dave’, our office intern. My genius accountant Father, now retired, gives us free weekly advice and reminds me about all the scary VAT stuff that my brain refuses to process by itself.

Now that’s all in place, I’m back with this new web-based venture, Raising Ireland, and learning so much from all the parents out there who are raising kids, and pets, and businesses, and building homes, and doing charity work, and partying when they can, and looking amazing while they do it…

…and I KNOW how hard it all can be. I can freely admit that I have cried more in the last two years than I ever did my entire life. Alan would tentatively ask, in those first few post-partum weeks; ‘Do you think you might be a bit post-thingy depressed?’ Well, I was a bit…something! Exhausted, worrying about keeping this little baby well looked after, disappointed by the cruelties of life, both personally and in business, stressed out from the glare of the work computer in the living room, feeling guilty for running to work on something the second the baby closed his eyes, feeling agitated by the sound of unannounced visitors knocking at the door because there was so, so much to be done….

And I do regret it to a degree, to not have been more present, more relaxed when Jacob came along. That I didn’t stay in my pyjamas and tell the visitors to make their own f*cking coffees, or to leave when I was tiredThat I didn’t ask for, or accept more offers of help when I could have. That I gave so much of a shit what the stupid house looked like that I forgot to relax. I’ve learned a lot about myself in the last two years, mostly that I place unrealistic expectations on myself, and I need to chill out.

Total chick magnet

Total chick magnet

The flip side of all this is, that while I never cried so much, I have never laughed and smiled so much either. No matter how tired or cranky or stressed out I am, Jacob can give me one of his ‘I hope you know that I am taking the absolute piss out of you right now, Mammy’ smirks, and I am on the floor laughing. Things are much different now – there were times when Alan and I weren’t sure we’d make it, on any level, but we’ve survived the baby years with Jacob (and lets not forget Pearl, the doggy!), the first three years of a new business, two house moves, family illnesses, bereavement, fights, Electric Picnic x 4 (!), not to mention all of my shows and auditions and shoot days that I throw in for the FUN… I’m pretty sure we can now survive anything.

I always loved the bones of Jacob, but these days, I am enjoying myself around him more. I put fewer demands on myself, other than to show him a good time in this world while he’s in my company. The last two years have been spectacular, in every way, and I am now looking forward to the next two minutes, two hours, two months, with a big smile on my face… because he is with me. Everything else can – and should – stand still.

Happy Birthday, Jickatron ;o) xxx

My main man Jacob 2013

My main man Jacob 2013


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