I fell off the walking wagon sometime last year.  I even bought a dog to try and get me back on that wagon, but when the dog trainer told me puppies only need a minimal amount of walking in the first year, I took this as a perfect reason to add to my already full arsenal of excuses not to walk.   

However, 2019 saw the Ten Year Challenge take hold on social media and forced me to take a look at photographs I’d been avoiding.  Whilst I was still rocking the ‘yummy mummy’ look in 2009, ten years on 2019, was a lot more, ‘3 weeks passed it’s sell by date’.  It was a look that no instagram filter could fix.

As a busy, Mum to 3 children, since turning 40, my waistline was rapidly starting to look more like a coastline and I could not ignore that fact. or poor Heidi’s (the dog) pleading groans anymore, so I hit the roads of lovely Leitrim in the West of Ireland, where I live. 

NI Christening Oct 2009

I’ve always liked the sound of my own voice, except on answer phones obviously, it’s a nice way to describe myself, as opposed to saying I never shut up!  My head never shuts up either.  So, as I pound the lovely green countryside that I’m lucky to have all around me, I often organise my thoughts in written format, as if I were writing a blog or diary.  I find it quite therapeutic. 

I love language and enjoy listening to articulate people, who inject humour into their conversation – that’s what I want to be when I grow up!  After a particularly long walk with Heidi (9.2km in 91 minutes, 9872 steps – guess who figured out how to work her fit-bit), I thought maybe it would be good for me to take the thoughts from my head and put them on paper, and that is how this all began. 

Unlike Leitrim, ’life’ doesn’t always surround you with beautiful vistas, often times you end up to your eyeballs in muck and shit that threatens to overwhelm you (actually that bit is very much like Leitrim). 

I am married, for 14 years, to Mick and we have three charming children.  I have two daughters, Saoirse who is almost 13, Erin who is 6 and a son Patrick, who is 11.  Just like everyone else, life can get a little bit hard sometimes and along with the extra 4 stone and more cup sizes in my bra than the average coffee morning, I seem to have gained, a set of luggage under my eyes – not the fancy kind you covet at luggage carousels!

My 2019 Photo –
What exactly was the cause
of this ten year challenge?

Without doubt, an ever increasing number of situations in recent years that required self-administered chocolate therapy, have been a significant factor. But one in particular has stopped me in my tracks.

In 2018, after many turbulent years battling to get support from the abyss we all like to call ‘The System’, Patrick was diagnosed with both ADHD and Autism – boom! Like buses in the rural towns of Ireland, nothing for six years and then two come along at once.  I won’t say it was a shock exactly, but the Autism part did come as something of a worrying surprise, especially to Mick, maybe something a bit like being told you’re expecting triplets.  

As a newly diagnosed parent to a child with ‘different/special/additional (whichever you prefer to use) needs I spent 2018 successfully completing the ‘intense research’ stage of my parenting. Despite the useless parenting course ‘the system’ insist I go on, I passed with flying colours, being awarded the grade: obsessive!  Having completed that stage, I transitioned noisily into the ‘angry’ stage and was feeling generally pissed off with everyone and everything, still feeling like I was failing my son, in fact all of my children. 

I wasn’t angry Patrick was Autistic, I was angry because getting support for him to function comfortably was not forthcoming.  I was angry at the huge amount of contradictory information I was finding.  I was angry as I felt I was letting my children down by not fully understanding what was going on for Patrick.

I was bordering on the verge of starting to lose friends and/or my sanity, which was hanging on by a thread and my marriage was also close to taking that big step into ‘trouble’.  Downsizing my head space, was a top priority, hence why I latched onto the idea of moving some of the thoughts out my head onto paper.  

After sharing a few of my written musings, about Autism, Miscarriage, Diets, Sock Monsters and all manner of other such stuff, with my close friends and family, I was buoyed by the fact that they thought I was quite good at writing.  I do like an audience, so here we are, me having a go at trying to be vaguely amusing by talking about life’s hiccups.  Sometimes they are manageable when you just hold your breath for a few seconds until they pass, other times they turn into an enormous burp and you just have to excuse yourself for a while. 

A few scribbles, took on a life of their own, and with social media, screaming at me that the end of the decade was nigh, meaning I needed to do something significant, I decided to launch a blog and a book.   So for now, when my kids want me to do a jigsaw with them, or other such crap, it’s a much better excuse to say “I’m writing”, than the boring old ones I’ve been using for years like, “I’m – putting the washing away, in the toilet (yes again!), or running away to join the circus.” 

My story is unique to me, but I have no doubt my challenges echo your own in one way or another.  Let’s face it, life isn’t easy for anyone! So, lets laugh about it together and maybe have a little cry too – just don’t ruin your mascara! 

The posts are short so you can read them whilst waiting for bus, or when you’re waiting for everyone else to finish this month’s book club choice. 

New blogs will be added every Saturday and don’t forget to check out the weekly Tuesday Top Ten, which will give you something to mull over when you should be working, cleaning the house, or studying. It’s something to talk about at lunch/pub when all the scandal from last weekend has been covered and it’s too early to start the planning for the next weekend.

You can follow me on Facebook or Twitter @BedtimeStoriesforMothersandOthers

And on Instagram @storiesformothersandothers

Please stick with me if the posts are a little late, it’s probably due to one of my children, my dog or myself having a meltdown. But if you just can’t wait , you can order my book…….