catching up with me & Meryl

Bloggy buddies, I have news. It’s been a year since my hair was dyed, and apart from a little blonde hint on the longer bits, my hair is totally white/grey. I made an effort the other day and wore dangly earrings and, lo, I was described as ‘elegant’. I’m bigger than ever and blessed with mad white hair, but hey, ‘elegant’! And then, since she was on a roll, D decided that I was like Meryl Streep in The Devil wears Prada. Meryl at her most haughty and hilarious. Result. I’m going to work on that. More accessories, maybe?

Of course, that was at our 3rd Friday in a row of dancing events. We may all have been simply hysterical. I start off keen and motivated, but after about four hours I want to lie down in a darkened room and wimper. The music is beautiful, and some of the dancing is fabulous, stilling a crowded room. The days are long- the grown ups need as much stamina as the dancers- and we get expert at finding the fun, making it all a bit of an adventure, and finding elegance in dangly earrings.

We’ve had holidays. Not the sort that involve planes, excitement, or suncream; simply times when the schools are closed. I find holidays challenging. In with all the fun and loveliness, and the joy of all being together, there’s the fact that we’re all together, all the time. I’m used to being on my own a lot, not required to be awake, dressed or communicating. Holidays change that. This Easter we had several days in the west, experiencing all the weather- hail, rain, wind, sunshine, cold and brief moments of warmth. Board games, ice cream, beaches, and enjoying actually being able to see the Black Friday television.

Next week the volunteering starts again. We have strategic plans to make, funding to find, charity registration to complete, lectures to give, a major European conference to attend, and other things I can’t remember or don’t know about. The busyness is on its way back, if only I can keep up.

meryl4

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celebrating and connecting

I was exhausted and looking forward to time in the Great Wilderness of the West (a remote caravan site on top of a Donegal hill). We’d lie about together, play board games, explore beaches and generally chill out. We’d also investigate various hostelries for a few moments of internet access. I blamed the children…

I could have stayed in the caravan for ever, but it was time to pack up for the winter. Spurs Fan and Jake came home, surrounded by bedding and laundry. The girls and I moved into a hotel with a swimming pool and heat. We were at regional Irish dancing championships, and I didn’t have to drive anywhere. I could relax, and reconnect with the outside world. There were hundreds of dancers & hangers on, all of us looking for wifi. Ok, some were looking for good performances and medals, but everyone wanted wifi. It didn’t work.

I was full of excitement and disbelief. After months of delay, the NI Rare Disease Implementation Plan was going to be launched. We’d been working and lobbying and gently encouraging. I’d resorted to a little twitter nagging. The occasional Health Minister was studiously avoiding his constituency office, in case Ditsy was still there, waiting to talk to him. I wanted to shout it from the roof tops. I wanted to jump for joy. We were being listened to and involved. Huge steps forward for rare disease in NI were being announced.

And I was miles from home, with dodgy internet access.

Late at night, I saw a picture of Chair, the Health Minister (back to full time), and one of our friendly neighbourhood geneticists. Not only do we have a plan, we’re getting a Genomic Medicine Centre, a fantastic resource for speeding up diagnosis.

christine, simon, shane

“It’s happening, it’s happening, I must send a message… oh, internet down again.” I was so excited, and had nobody to share it with. The other mums nodded politely as their eyes glazed over. The girls said ‘that’s good’ and went back to practising clicks and jumps and being fierce.

By the time I got back to reliable internet, my brain was too fogged to think, or communicate, or to read anything.

Eventually, I will makes some sense of what lies ahead for us. In the meantime, a little kitchen boogie is appropriate.

back on pointe

We’re well into the autumn routines- Strictly is on TV, the wonderful dry brightness of September has given way to October grey wet meh and all the dancing, in all the styles, is taking up our time.

Girl2 and I had adventures and lessons in the ballet shop. Who knew we needed an appointment to shop? Pointe shoes are not easily purchased. It takes an hour to get the right fit, along with a mini lecture on safety, style, correct sewing of ribbons, the many uses of hair grips, and the correct way to tie. We learned about layers of glue and canvas, and the names for all the parts of the shoe. One of us, at least, has forgotten most of what she learned. But, oh, the excitement! A step up in many ways.

We spent the weekend at an Irish dancing competition. The 2 days watching dancing take me much longer to recover from than to participate in. Other mums drove us each day- a gift, indeed. We go to competitions too often, girls do their thing and, from time to time, they’re happy with the results. This weekend, they each achieved what they hoped. Both of them= 2 happy girls= relieved parents. They have learned resilience and making the best of things. They support their Champion friends, and those who are disappointed with a result our two have only dreamt of.

Once in a wonder, the odds are in their favour and we celebrate.

In a few weeks we go to the regional championships. Last year, exhausted, I drove through a red light on the way home, about 1am. This time, we’re staying over. There is a swimming pool and beds. There will be quiet space for a demented parent. There may be t shirts for small folk. The results don’t matter- my people are going to having fun just taking part.

chronicle of an empty nest foretold

Off they went, both my little people, for a week. A week of Irish dancing and carrying on with others from different parts of Europe, in Poland. Parents and grandparents scoured social media for updates from the festival or dancers. It’s entirely possible that one of us actually waved with excitement at a screen on seeing a pic with daughters in it. (Technology, eh?)

pier jumping not dancing

And back in Belfast we looked at each other, and around us, a bit like meerkats. Is this what the rest of the world is like? What do people do with their days?

We had adventures, doing things we don’t normally get a chance to do. There were cocktails, afternoon tea and a fancy lunch or two. We explored Parliament buildings, listened to music in a pub, and went to a different beach. We watched a box set, read multiple novels and had boring financial conversations with someone who understands these things. The house stayed tidy. There were no random explosions of energy or noise. No complex taxi arrangements negotiated with known unknowns via snap chat. No daytime TV. All was calm. Ordered.

We’ve had fun, of course. But yet…

Half of us are missing. Jake keeps having a sniff about to figure out where they’ve gone. We haven’t laughed as much. I remember now that watching soap operas is meant to be a social activity. My arms have ached with the empty. I didn’t start counting down the days until they were half way through; now I’m at hours. They’re coming home today, and I’m very excited.

A week, people. It’s only a week. They’ll be grown up in the blink of an eye, and we’ll all be laughing at my excitement of today.

This evening chaos, noise, squabbling and laundry return in full force. My arms and my heart will be overflowing.

(Expect the next post to be grumbling about chaos, noise, squabbling, laundry and teenage attitude.)