Let's end all violence in families

Violence is wrong, right? And violence against children is always wrong. I certainly think so. But making smacking illegal will not miraculously make everything right for all children and their families.

Sweden was the first country in the world to ban all forms of corporal punishment of children, and while it hasn't solved everything, most children have benefited. Ireland is under pressure to follow suit, now that the European Committee of Social Rights has found that we have violated a European charter by not banning all corporal punishment.

I am fully in support of this, especially as being chased up the stairs and walloped - more than once - is the only miserable memory from an otherwise glorious childhood. It didn't teach me anything, it just left me feeling angry, resentful and unloved. I don't blame my parents: I now suspect that I was quite a challenging child to rear and they knew no other way to discipline me. But I vowed not to slap or hit my own children.

How the marriage referendum affects me and mine

You'd become a millionaire if you could bottle the joy and pride of the past few days as we watched waves of young people arriving home to Ireland from around the world to vote in a referendum about extending the rights and responsibilities of marriage to the LGBT community, followed by the excitement of the count as it became clear shortly after the boxes were opened that this could be a life-changing result for thousands of people. I am so delighted that putting a simple X in a box is going to make so many people so happy.

But I have a confession to make.

Over the past few weeks the campaign for the marriage referendum has been impossible to escape, on radio, TV, social media, posters. It was everywhere, and I was beset with a number of conflicting feelings about it. Not all of them noble.

Farewell to College

The big happy smile said it all. Finally the exams were over. The weeks and months of stress, tears, frustration and boredom. If all goes well Angel will never need to sit another exam again, at least not for a College course.

For me it's been a chance to briefly reclaim my motherhood hat before my eldest heads out into the wider world. I've been working hard to help her. Everything possible was done to keep life at home as calm as possible. Each day I watched and weighed how the studying was going. Offered cups of tea - not so many as to be annoying, but enough to show I cared. Random treats were added to the supermarket trolley. Anyone for Battenberg? Trips arranged to the cinema and the hairdressers, to break up the studying schedule.

There was lots of encouraging and listening. The proper kind, where you stop everything and give your child your full attention.

Reasons to be Cheerful 21.5.15

Just typing this will probably jinx it, but I'm glad to report that my children are pretty happy right now.

Smiley woke me at 5am this morning with her giggles, and all she wanted was company, until her home help arrived. So I obliged. It's no hardship chatting to your daughter (even if she is non-verbal), drinking coffee and watching a summer sunrise.


Angel is counting down the hours until she finishes her final college exam tomorrow. She can't wait to join the adult world, get a real job and start to make a difference to the lives of others.

I'm not supposed to tell you about my son, but let's just say that last week we took a big decision together and made an important change to his life. And it's looking good so far.

Things I've never done

A little bit of light relief, badly needed right now, thanks to a great idea from Jo at Ojo's World who realised how many things she has never done. Things that other people think are a normal part of life.

My rubbish memory means that some of you may be able to tell me that I'm wrong, but as far as I know, I have never done any of these...

Stop the silence, it's Time to Talk

It was like a grey cloud that grew as it passed over the last sunny days of my childhood. The anxiety that began to gnaw away at my insides, my tummy aching with the pain of it. The changes of puberty, the bullying that began once looks became more important than test results, fitting in more important than standing out.

But I wanted it all. I craved success, and I needed to be accepted too. Where once I was embarrassingly self confident, I now made endless lists of everything that was wrong with me. And struggled in those pre-internet days to work out solutions. For a year or so, I had no real friends. Gradually that changed and we whispered and chatted and tried to laugh about all the strange things that happen in teen land. To our bodies, to our interests, to our school life. But some things I didn't tell. I don't know why. All I knew was that sometimes I had to do something to stop the overwhelming feelings of panic and sadness, about a social mistake, another bodily change to be tamed somehow, or worst of all, another exam. I would lie awake at night until everyone was asleep, my heart pounding. Then creep downstairs and open the drawer in the kitchen, to do the one thing that I thought would deaden my feelings.

A FIVE year wait for adult disability services? (Part 5)

That is what my daughter may be facing.

As I wrote previously here, here, here and here, it is impossible to say who is at fault, but clearly there is a lack of interest in this area and no adequate planning for school leavers with disabilities and special needs.

The letter from the Irish Health Service said it all:

The organisations "are continuing to work closely together to provide whatever service is feasible in the short term and are developing a medium term plan in relation to premises and providing a 5 day service."

Apparently medium term can mean anything from one to five years.