We’re just back from Mindfield. The girls and I had a wonderful time. The sun shone (always a bonus), most people had smiles on their faces and, while well-attended, it wasn’t packed to capacity; so there was a pleasant hum rather than a deafening roar of people.  The organisers and stall-holders might have preferred more of a crowd, but for this mammy, being able to spot my two if they ran off in different directions was a treat.

Ishthara, Kashmira and I got there in time for the butterfly-wing-making workshop with the talented, inspired, patient and unflappable (which is, paradoxically,  a good thing in a wing-lady!) Orla Kelly. While the wings dried, the children took a dance workshop with Monika Bieniek.  Then, both workshops were put together as they donned their wings and danced their dance.

After that, it was time to eat. We repaired to the car, where the wings were deposited, the clothes were changed and the picnic was retrieved. A few minutes later, at a picnic table (whose very civilised idea was that?!) we shared what we’d brought with a lovely family of two young boys, their Daddy and their Nana. Pride of place in our picnic basket were our mangoes – which were fresh off the plane from India yesterday. In case you’re unaware of how I feel about this fragrant yellow fruit, you might want to read this.

Just as we  finished, the Second Year students from Dun Laoghire IADT lumbered across the road from the Dead Zoo. To the delighted screams of the children (and a few of the adults), the students shared with us the performance element of their end-of-year projects; animals constructed from a wide variety of materials which the students slipped inside and roamed through the park. It was all very Macnas-like and wonderful.

We wandered around the stalls and the girls engaged with science, fashion and books before declaring themselves tired. We left, but I was disappointed not to have been able to take part in the later discussions – which, I heard via Twitter, were inspired and inspiring.

For me, though, the best part was bumping into people I hadn’t seen for years and years! It was wonderful to catch up quickly, re-kindle old friendships and swap contact details. I love making new friends, but there is something truly special about meeting old ones.

We’re going back to Mindfield tomorrow and who knows who we’ll bump into?


A Little Bird Told Me

Yesterday, I sent this tweet:

“If you find these ads offensive http://ow.ly/4yryq you might think about complaining here: service@suitsupply.com”


I was alerted to these ads by one of my colleagues at Women’s Views on News. A number of people replied that they had found the ads offensive and that they had complained. One tweeter, however, took exception to my taking exception:


@HazelKLarkin: I find your tweet incredible. Asking people to complain about ads they’re unlikey to come across without you alerting them”


This reaction startled me. What was this person’s point? That if we don’t come across things ourselves we should not be made aware of them? Or that if we’re not likely to see an ad, then we shouldn’t have it pointed out to us? That if we come across advertisements or other information that moves us, we should not share them with our friends? How narrow would our viewpoints be if that were the case?


On Sunday, April 3rd, the Observer published twenty of Amnesty International’s print ads taken from the past 50 years. I don’t routinely get the Observer, but someone on Twitter sent me the link. I was delighted because, left to my own devices, I would never have stumbled across this piece. I retweeted the link and commented on my favourite advertisement.  According to the Tweeter who found it ‘incredible’ that I should have brought the Suit Supply ads to the attention of my followers on Twitter, I should have been left in ignorance.  Or at least, I should not have had an emotional reaction that I then shared.


Perhaps, however, this man was just objecting to the fact that I encouraged people who were offended by the pictures to complain. So what does that mean? That if you find out about something from someone else, then you have no right to respond to it? In that case, by this tweeter’s logic, I must excise my revulsion at the genocide in Rwanda because I’ve never been there and I’ve never witnessed it first hand. I must also retract my email of congratulations to Bates advertising in Mumbai for their work on the IDBI account because I’d never have known about these ads if a friend hadn’t pointed them out to me.


By far the most worrying thing about the whole episode, however, is that the man who found my tweet ‘incredible’ claims to be a ‘Public Relations and Media Studies lecturer in’ one of Ireland’s third-level institutions. I wonder if he refers his students to any information that they might not otherwise stumble across? Or does he just tell them not to have a reaction that inspires them to put pen to paper or finger to keyboard?


Mother’s Day

I walk into the room where the children are sleeping. They have their arms around each other. Their breathing is synchronised. They are soft and warm and innocent and beautiful. And they are mine.
I adore my children, I can’t bear to think of a life without them. It took me ten years, two husbands, bucket loads of pills, three surgical operations and rounds of infertility treatment to have my first (neither of my husbands would agree to adopt).  I know how lucky I am to have her and her sister. I know the pain of empty arms and an empty heart and celebrate that that is no longer my lot in life.
Being a parent is the most humbling, most exhilarating, most rewarding, most joyous experience of my life.  No ‘romantic’ encounter has ever come close. Perhaps because none of them was ever real and what I have with Ishthara and Kashmira could not be more real.
If bliss is when joy comes from your core and bubbles through you, touching every fibre of you, making every nerve tingle and then gushes out your pores, then my moments of true bliss are borne of my children.
They are the moments when we are just be-ing. They are the moments when their spirits are released – when they almost forget they are human and chase after a butterfly on a summer’s day, whooping and laughing. The moments when one of them will look at the other and say ‘I think you’re amazing’ and I know she’s saying so because she is overwhelmed by the truth of her statement.
They are the moments when I wake in the still darkness of early morning and feel the warmth of a little body cuddled in either side of me and know that all that matters in the my universe is in my arms.
Bliss comes to me in those moments when nothing else matters but the three of us and the bonds we share, the love we have for each other and the joy that we experience together.
My girls are truly wonderful creatures. They are spirited and joyful and charismatic and intelligent and creative and – more important than anything else – they are kind and thoughtful and loving.  I am truly blessed to have them in my life.
I am hugely honoured, privileged and lucky to be a mother. Having my girls means that every day is Mother’s Day. I am a mother because of my children. Every day is a celebration of who they are and who I have become because of them.

(Photo: Ishthara & Kashmira on Shergar with me in the background. Credit: Maura Hickey http://www.maurahickey.ie)