It was four weeks ago today that the kids and I had our first full day in Ireland. My work responsibilities have resumed with passion and a vengeance. The rain does not seem to stop so Bill likes to say we are as green as Ireland, while he does his best to keep our large yard mowed and tidy. On a daily basis I dip into that joy reserve that is the memory of this wonderful trip and still find it delights my spirits. What initially began as a trip to celebrate my sixtieth birthday with my children evolved into a complete loop around Ireland with Bill as my partner during Part II. He and I always enjoy our adventures together. So let me relish in Part I just a bit longer.
I know there often comes a time in our parents’ lives when, should they live long enough, the roles seem to switch. Although in so many ways my own mother was independent in spirit, she was not able to “carry” herself from Point A to Point B. She required more and more help in just getting simple tasks done. More and more…parenting. There are several times along the journey with my own children when I felt their parenting instincts kicking in.
One that sticks out in my mind was when I pulled into the parking lot at Kells Priory; or better stated: pulled over the curb of the parking lot at Kells Priory. Keenan’s reaction lead me to believe that he should probably not be the one to teach his child, should he have one someday, how to drive. He did not react to that particular situation with calm, but with the panicked reaction of a parent imagining the cost of an oil pan in a foreign land. (Apology was delivered post panic attack.)
Or that time at the Cliffs of Kerry when Seana coached me on the importance of taking care of myself and letting my children know when things were misbehaving in my own body. She was so nurturing and kind. “A good mom,” thought I.
But the one that cracks me up the most, the one I pull from when I just need a good chuckle, is one I did not remember to even record in the blog. We had driven along the Slea Head Drive of the Dingle Peninsula that day, first in misty rain and then as the rain stopped. There is a carpark on the Atlantic side and a long drive leading down to a beach. From the carpark there is a large grassy area with quite a bit of a cliff to the beach below. This particular day, though the clouds were lifting, it was still quite blustery. I thought the location a perfect place to shake out a few more of Mom’s ashes.
The only challenge was the direction of the wind. I wanted to sprinkle her over the cliff, but the wind was blowing from that direction. Not to be daunted, I determined that I’d just have to lean over a bit to avoid the blow back. I headed to the edge, shaker of Mom in hand.
Let me digress for just a moment. Imagine this if you can. Most of us who have parented or provided care for young children probably have a similar tale to tell. You’re gathered with friends perhaps at a public park or beach, when you realize someone’s toddler, maybe yours, is a.) heading for the water, or b.) heading toward the road. Do you recall the angry-but-terrified noise that may have emitted from your own chest? Of course, you do! Now imagine that coming from my adult son Taylor, as I tripped on approach to the cliff.
He was the terrified, horrified, angry parent while I came up from the ground inches away from the edge at best, laughing. I mean really, think of the irony had I fallen over the cliff whilst attempting to scatter my mother’s ashes! I thought it was short of hilarious. Taylor, not so much. I’ll remember these moments as the times the switch was turned “on” and then quickly “off” on that hopefully long slog toward my children’s parenting of me!
Having my children to myself for that magical week was truly a dream come true. I will always remember it as a peak experience akin to the first time I heard butterfly wings flutter by. An opening in the cosmos of possibilities that allowed all of us to catch our flights, Seana’s health to hold out, and the boys to survive my left-sided driving skills and each other. It was a wonderment.
I spent the majority of my children’s childhoods taking care of “other people’s children” in my various roles as a social worker. I knew that I was not giving my own kids my best. Far too often my jobs sucked the energy right out of me. They did; however, afford us a roof over our heads and food in our bellies. This trip affirmed that we had all managed to survive. Yes, we are a bit quirky, maybe even a bit rough around the edges; but there’s no denying the love and the connection we feel to each other though I realize I am assuming they feel the same way as I write this.
I doubt that we’ll be in the position to take such a grand adventure together again. This one was after all, on Mom so-to-speak. But then again, perhaps someday I’ll be the one riding along in the shaker bottle and they will know the best places at which to shake me loose.