Tuesday, August 30, 2011


I watched a documentary last night about Single Mothers. It was very moving and very thought provoking. The documentary talked of the shame of being a single mother. It followed the story of this shame through time, beginning in the Victorian era right through to the present day and illustrated how single mothers have been outcast and scorned by society. The documentary maker Jamilia, herself a single mother, reflected on the pain that society has inflicted on single mothers, the ridicule, the blame and the stigma. She talked of how hard it is to be a single mum, how she feels she has to compensate her daughters for the absence of their fathers. And she talks of her fear that this will still never be enough.

As I said it was a moving documentary, but it also made me very angry. In fact, the air was blue as the program ended and I was screaming at the telly: 'Where are the fathers in all of this?!'.

The women in this documentary, the women I know who are single mothers, are doing it all. They strive and strive to do their best, to provide emotionally, physically, spiritually for their kids. Yet they always seem to be asking 'What more can I do?'. They feel they have to fight society for more recognition, for more equality, for a break and more understanding and empathy. Yet again I ask 'Where are the fathers in all of this?'
No where that's where, they are just not present, and in my book that is not on!

In our culture fatherhood seems to be optional. It may take two to tango, but it seems like tango-ing is as far as it goes.

When I had only Rebe, before my boys were born, I was chatting with a friend one day who had only boys. She said to me that she was glad she had boys 'because they can't come home pregnant'. Now here my friends, for me, is where the problem lies. We teach our children from a very young age that parenting is the role of the women. My friend's statement is so telling of our society's attitude to fatherhood. It is, quite simply, optional.

For a girl/woman who gets pregnant there is no choice, she is a mother and she has to be the best mother of all, or she will be faced with a barrage of criticism and scorn. The guy who provides 50% of the pregnancy can walk away...and we allow this to happen. Yes we do!

We, as a society, need to change our attitude to fathering, to parenting. I do feel that children need to be taught that when a baby is made it is made of both parents and it is therefore both parent's responsibility. I do think that men and boys should be encouraged to take a role as father, an active role providing financially and emotionally for the people they are responsible for bringing into the world. I know that if one of my boys came home and told me that they had gotten a girl pregnant I won't be taking the attitude of 'oh well that's her problem', it will most definitely also be the problem of my boys!

But this has the potential to go wrong unless we take a holistic view of fathering. Fathers should have and do have responsibilities, but they should also have rights. They have a right to be a daddy. They have the right to see their babies being born, to hold their babies, to bond and connect with them, to feed and bathe and care for them. To run and laugh and cry together. To be there for the first steps, the first day at school, the first date,the whole lot . They have the right to be respected as loving, caring parents. This needs to be recognised in law, social policy and in society in general.

It is something that people are working on, there are pressure groups and fathers groups who are working hard at the policy level. But really it is up to us. We are the people raising the next generation, we are teaching what is normal and what is not to our boys and girls. As we raise our boys and girls we are creating/inventing what the next generation thinks about parenthood and fatherhood. So, lets change it!

'Fathers are parents and they are men; unfortunately, they get much more training in being a man than in being a parent. Some of that masculinity training actually gets in the way of fatherhood, especially with connecting playfully or on a deep emotional level.' Cohen, L ~ Playful Parenting.

We need to allow our boys and girls to learn parenting equally as children. They need to be able to act out the parenting and fathering that they see. All boys need dolls! All girls need to share their dolls with boys. By dolls I am talking of baby dolls, not action figures. I've seen so many boys display such tenderness and care towards dolls. It is as natural in them as it is in a girl. It needs to be celebrated and encouraged and if someone questions it, I think the kids need to hear you defend them! They are right to be caring and loving, this is the training for adulthood.

What else? We can talk to our partners, tell them how important their fathering is. We can help them to be proud of their role, be proud of their love for their kids. We can encourage them to show it not just by providing money but by providing the everyday care that children need, bathing, feeding, cuddling, stories and games. I think that baby wearing is a wonderful way for fathers to connect with their children. They feel the closeness so often reserved for the mother and they gain one of the most satisfying aspects of parenthood; comforting your baby, holding them and letting them know with every beat of the heart that they are loved and will be forever more.

It is up to us.

What else can we do to guide our boys to be good dads? To teach our girls that when they have a baby it doesn't 'belong' solely to them but also to the man who fathered that baby.

Do you agree? If so please share this post, share your thoughts, lets change fatherhood for our children

Thursday, August 25, 2011

homemade toys

I thought that I'd share a few of things that we have made here over the past few days :-) a super-hero made by Rebe. I love his red socks and his bubble wrap cape!

a cat made by me and decorated by Rebe. She requested this and it is made out of newspaper and brown tape. I'm not sure why she put the plastic over the mouth I assume to stop the smile from rubbing off...it has a bit of a Hannibal Lecter look to me.

She requested it as I was making Benny a steering wheel out of newspaper and brown tape for the favourite toy of the week:

His car. complete with driving gloves and key.

Essential buttons, knobs and switches.

This is Joa's old moses basket and it is one of the non-toys most played with in our house.

I've also been doing a bit of knitting. I'm happy to be knitting again, I feel autumn in the air and I have a list of small people's body parts that I want to cover in wool :-)

This hat is from the Children's Year. I changed the neck line though to make it a snugger, more cosy fit. The size given was for 1 - 6 years (!?!) so I just knit it with no-one in particular in mind and thought I'd just see who it fit the best.

Benny was the winner (slightly annoying as Benny is the person who needs a new hat the least).

But he looks too cute in it to refuse :-)

Oh I love rainbow stripes!

And my current work in progress...

A wee cardigan for a custom order dolly :-)

What have you been making?

Wednesday, August 24, 2011

experiencing the Ewe

Yesterday was my 31st Birthday and I got to do something that I have been wanting to do for ages. We visited the Ewe experience in Glengarriff (http://www.theewe.com/) and it was just the best, most magical day. It is definitely more than a sculpture gallery or display or even garden. It truly is an experience a feast for all senses and a delight for all ages. The setting is incredible; it has a little waterfall, a steam with pools, beautiful woodland, vistas over the west Cork hills, a gorgeous garden and house. The whole place is sustainable and eco and it has been created with love and care poured into every detail.

We started our visit with a delicious cream tea (it had been a long drive after all). It was better than any theme park for the children. There was so much to do and see and experience without the noise and bustle and craziness. There was such a sense of peace and tranquility that poured into every person that was there. I saw no unhappy, whinging, winy people, not one!

The sculptures were fabulous and were of all sorts of different media, with different messages.

Some celebrated motion and movement.

Others were humorous, many were hidden within the landscape.

There were many made of natural materials that blended into the setting There were lots of spaces for people to make their own sculpture, to get down and play with natures building materials.

There were dinosaurs

but we weren't scared (well, not really).

We became part of the sculptures, here Benny is being part of a great sundial, his shadow was telling us it was nearly 2 o'clock (time to have our picnic).

There were games to play

and adventures to be had.

What fuel for the imagination! Have you ever seen such royalty?

On every level the kids enjoyed it. Joa was awash with texture and smells and sights and sounds. He walked most of the way himself, climbing over rocks and pausing over the bridges to watch the stream run underneath.

There was a great deal of picking up stones and putting them down somewhere else.

Rebe's own frog sculpture :-)

Benny found Ninian The Terrible's key!

Although we were all looking at the same things in the same places we all saw something different. Here Joa is looking past the man-(well woman) made sculptures of fish and is pointing at the water falling down the rocks behind the art. The movement and the noise of the water was what caught and held his attention, while I feasted my eyes on the shapes made by a very clever artist.

There was a 'spin the rock' for story telling.

Rebe had a 'call of nature'

I was moved by words.

We ended our trip with edible ice cream sculptures, oh so tasty :-)

It was a completely brilliant birthday :-)

Monday, August 22, 2011


Thanks to my mum, who minded all three of her grandchildren for us yesterday, Andy and I took the boat out together. look at me driving the boat!!!

woohoo whoop whoop

It was a gorgeous hot day. The sea was calm (so why did I get sea sick I want to know!). It was so incredibly quiet and peaceful. The scenery was amazing, we even saw what we think were a couple of dolphins!

We fished at a leisurely pace (and Andy wasn't grumpy once, not once I tell you).

ooooo what's this, something on the hook.... Och only yet another dog fish....but what is this, I have a bite...

yay yay a 5lb cod!! Caught by me which is now in the fridge awaiting eating :-)

It was a very lovely day x

Sunday, August 21, 2011

maize maze

My mum is here for a visit at the moment. We're having a wonderful time together. We've been busy with trips to the beach, the supermarket, a ladies day in the city (to restock my wardrobe a little). Yesterday after a quiet morning at home we went to the other side of our bay to a maze. It was made out of corn. I love the idea of this, the fun someone had in designing, planting and watching it grow. There were actually 2 mazes here, a childs one and a grown ups one. In each there are clues and things to find.

We plunged into the children's maze excited to pursue the challenge of finding 6 animals, reading their names and making a list of them to show the lady.

Best of all was the bell at the centre of the maze.

We all ling-a-linged with gusto

even Joa :-)

As a reward for finding all the animals in the maze we went to the little cafe on the way home for ice cream and carrot cake.

It was so much fun. The next couple of days should be fun too. Andy and I are going fishing in the boat today and tomorrow is my 31st birthday and we have another fun day trip planned :-)