Thursday, 26 March 2015

An early morning date with God

Last Sunday morning there was a mass in Philipstown, near Ardee, Co Louth for my aunt Aine, my Mam's sits who died two years ago.  My aunt that bought me to get my ears pierced as a child, who gave me her left over navy eye shadow and hand-me-down clothes as a teenager.  In return, I gave her my time.  

The mass was at 9.30am.  I wanted to leave Athy at 7.50am to arrive in good time.  I was full of great intensions to be organised in advance, to just hop out of bed and get on the road.  But I wasn't too well on Saturday, so none of the intentions were realised.  

I set the alarm for 6.40am, hoping to have a leisurely ten minute shower before I woke the children.  

5.30am  I'm wide awake, anxious about the day ahead.  I dose off, eventually.

7.20am  I finally drag myself out of bed.  A five minute shower I thought, but by the time I washed my mop of hair, it's 7.35am.  Shite.  No hair straightener today.

The kids were hard to stir.  They complain about having to go to mass, a very rare event in our house.  
'It's SOOOOO boring Mam.  Why do we HAVE to GOOOOO ??'  
'Because we do.  For Aine'.
'Oh'.  They liked Aine.  They don't protest much more.   

I carried Mya up to the sitting room to get dressed, multi-tasking, by giving her a cuddle along the way.  She said she wanted to get dressed on my bed instead.  A swift turn around, tying not to whack her leg off the door.  'Guys, I'm in a REAL hurry.  I need you to get dressed as quickly as possible'.  

My sensory boy is hard to buy clothes for, refusing to wear new clothes if he doesn't like the feel of them.  He has a thing for beige skinny jeans and has four pairs that look pretty much identical.  I marched him around Penney's the day before, determined that he wouldn't go to the mass wearing the same 'good' clothes that he wears and washes, wears and washes.  
'Will you wear this ?'
A quick feel. 
'Oh look at this Leon, isn't that cool ?'
'No, I don't like it'.
'This one ?'  'THIS ONE ?' 'This ?' 'Leon, please ?'
Eureka.  We made a number of purchases and none of it is beige.  

The following morning, I had Leon's new outfit laid out.  'Get dressed Leon.  I'm in a hurry'.  

Despite having a wardrobe to die for, my little woman is happiest in a slim fitting t-shirt and black leggings. Today, I insist on a a little red polka dot guna deas.  Mya agrees.   'Stange', I think, but I don't question it.  I relish the rare moment.  Guna deas needs a belt.  I spotted a thin leopard patterned one.  
'That doesn't match !' she says.  
'I know it doesn't Mya, it contrasts with it'.  
'What does contrast mean ?' 
'Bloody hell ! … It means that it's the opposite, but that it looks nice with something, you know ?'
'Oh', she said, nodding.  
She got it.  We have a Fashion Moment.  Me and my gal.  Aine would have approved.

We hoic on her tights.  Now fully awake, she speaks in a high pitched voice and tells me stories from school.  I nod and laugh, but I'm only half listening.  Time is ticking on.

While I was accessorising Mya, I thought that Leon was dressed, but instead, the seven year old is reading the Irish Times weekend supplement.  Roisin Ingle's column to be precise.  Normally, I would actively encourage him to read, but not this morning. 

It's 7.50am  There is a heavy frost outside.  I run out and defrost the car.

'Does anyone want breakfast ?'


'Does anyone want breakfast ? … 'Hello ?'

Two grumpy heads tell me to stop asking questions and that no, they don't want breakfast.

'Are you sure ?  It's a long drive'.

'Mam, stop talking'.

7.55am.  Flip, look at the time

I throw on a dress that I haven't worn in a log time.  It feels a bit tight and looks too short.  I breath in and pull it down.  No time for a style dilemma today.

I threaten the children that I am not stopping in the motor way if they need to go to the toilet.  I make wild threats (the sort of thing that you said you would never escort to BC before children) to encourage them to go to the toilet.

After not eating anything for two days, I suddenly feel hungry and put two slices of toast on.  I look forward to eating them in the car, with my cup of green tea.

Leon has his head under the sink.  He pulls out a flask.  The boy who doesn't drink tea  asks, 'Can we make tea Mam ? We can have a picnic in the car',.02 he says enthusiastically, his little face lit up.  I feel a pang of guilt as I say, 'No Leon, get in the car' and I escort him to the door.  'I can give you juice instead ?' 'I don't want juice'. 

8.00 am  Two children in the car.  

8.02 am Toast buttered, I grab juice cartons, throw blankets in, to keep the kids cosy ,lock the house and hop into the car.

'Mam, that toast smells nice.  Can I have it ?'

'Of course son'.  

I'm actually starving now.  I run back into the house and grab two two slices of left over pizza.  

8.07am   We are off.  Finally.  My dog looks at me with sad eyes, as I reverse out the gate.  'Later, Hudson, later.  I promise', feeling that I've neglected him lately.

It's a largely uneventful journey.  Two cosy kids playing games on their tablets.  They protest when I turn on the radio.  I turn the radio off.  Anything for an easy life.  The cold pizza goes down okay, but the green tea is an odd companion.  

'I want a juice Mam'.  

I blast on the heat in the car and 'blow dry' my hair.  The kids complain that they are too warm.  They want the 'hot heat' turned off.  I glance in the mirror and see that my hair looks like Mick Wallace TD's.

9.18am  I panic as I see the signs for Drogheda and curse myself for not consulting with AA route planner to find out exactly how long the trip will take.     

9.27am  I take the turn off for Dunleer/Collon and I'm on familiar turf.  The Sunday visits to my Mam's family.  I start to feel at ease, but warn the children to run as soon as  I park the car.

9.31am  I park at the church.  I slap on a bit of the customary ed lipstick.  I try to tame my Mick Wallace hair into a pony tail and pull down my too-short skirt.  I didn't do too bad after all.

Everyone is standing as the priest does his introductory rites, in his border county accent.  Familiar faces in the congregation.  Cousins, cousins children, aunts, second cousins.  My Mam.  My brother and his children.  My children smile shyly as they recognise them, knowing they will have fun playing together later on.  The cool air, the texture of the wood, the light in the church, all brings me back to childhood weekends with Aine and my Nana Bride.   

I didn't do too bad after all.  Aine would have appreciated the effort.

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