A devoted sister

Dear sisters,

Guess what? I haven’t cut my hair in ages and it is getting so long!

long hair

You know what else has gotten long? The time since I’ve posted (groan).  Our fall has been full of highs and lows–of draining our savings account to pay immigration and vehicle expenses, and seeing it bulk up again due to to an unexpected tax return. Then, BD got his Irish driver’s license and our car insurance for the year dropped by over a thousand euro. We had a dance party in the living room.

The days are very short now.  It is the time of year when I always think the kids are awake in the middle of the night, only to check my phone and realize that it is 7 AM. The sunrise colors are still in the sky on the way to drop Archer off at school, and I watch the sunset from my office window.  After this whole thing, we moved Era and Archer into separate rooms again.  I felt sad about it because I wanted to be a rad blog mom with kids who cuddle up together like puppies every night, but the reality was that every bedtime was a battle of a little girl who had a nap and wanted to play with mama (and pester her brother), and a little boy who had been at school all day and can fall asleep in about five minutes flat after playing quietly in his bed or looking in a book.  The lesson of baby number two is maybe that there is no rush to make them grow up! So she is back in a pack and play (after a few months of a mattress on the floor), sleeping in the guest bedroom.  And then the very night I wrote this blog post, Archer begged me to move her back into his room, so now she is in the pack and play in the same room as Archer.  Always changing the game on me, these little ones.

We ventured out for a Christmas tree last weekend. A documentary film crew was there for a documentary about Irish farmers, and they followed us around the fields, capturing the children’s antics (he’s not shy, our Archer!). I signed a release form for the children as Bradley strapped our tree to the roof of the car and it looks like our Canadian-American children will be in Irish television sometime in the New Year. Maybe that’s the final sign that this place is home now!

My adorable train set has not survived the children, who 're-arrange' it constantly.
My adorable train set has not survived the children, who ‘re-arrange’ it constantly.

The ladies group at church got together and made Christmas wreathes! Mine was all hedgerow material, pine boughs and hawthorns and crab apples. It’s hanging in the kitchen window now. It’s nice to make things, sometimes.  I want to do more of that.

christmas wreath

Bradley gets to manifest the crafty-maker lifestyle I aspire to.  His latest project is a customized Junior Monolopy board, based on Archer’s latest game obsession (a birthday gift in November after we played it at a vacation rental in October).  The properties are our local landmarks: our home, our local butcher shop, Archer’s school, and the homes of our dearest friends.  The railway line colors are in Irish Gaelic (gorm = blue, glas = green, etc) For all the Irish landmarks, the two most valuable properties on the board are still the two Grandmas’ houses!   We’ve been playing it many evenings in front of the fire.

IMG_7069

Probably the worst thing to blog about is…not blogging, but I’ve been thinking about blogging, and what it means to be a devoted sister in this space. Bradley and I love reading your posts, showing them to the kids, laughing at the things our funny brothers-in-law say, but I recognize that I haven’t really returned that privilege!  My whole life I have tried, and usually failed, to start a diary. I have loads of them in a box in Mom and Dad’s attic, notebooks with earnest entries that fill the first half dozen or so pages with hundreds of sad, empty pages afterwards. I hoped to make my blog posts about our life in Ireland, but it feels too big for me to write about most of the time.  The happiness of finding a community here, and the sadness of missing one at home.  There have been ups and downs at work too, with a challenging economy for the industry that I operate in.  Most days I put the kids to bed and collapse on the couch to watch an episode of something with Bradley. So going forward I’m going to aim for the Seinfeld approach, more blogging about nothing.  Even if it is the little things Bradley makes, not me!  Because I have a big project of my own, coming in June 2015:

Baby in Mommy wearing Grandma's skirt (from Kenya)
(13 week) baby in Mommy, wearing Grandma’s skirt

I am: a) tired, b) nervous, c) excited, or d) all of the above?  It started out as the most a-symptomatic pregnancy yet.  Is it weird to say I thought maybe I wasn’t actually pregnant because I just didn’t feel anything?  My midwife says maybe I’m just used to being pregnant by now.  But by 13 weeks, I’ve morphed into a fairly typical pregnant self, napping on the couch in the mid-afternoons, finding myself with random food aversions (but why does it have to be leek and potato soup this time around?  It was something about the way it glopped into the leftover container.  With Era it was hamburgers.)  To answer some common questions – we won’t be finding out the sex before delivery, as we have tried it both ways (didn’t find out with Archer, did with Era, preferred the former), we are planning on another homebirth and are booked with a private midwifery group here in Ireland, and the baby won’t be an Irish citizen! We haven’t lived here for 3 years yet.   Citizenship by birth is such a deeply ingrained North American concept, but Ireland actually changed their law in 2005 to be more in line with the European community, which bases citizenship on descent more than birthplace.  This will be our first all American (citizen) baby, as A & E are both dual citizens (USA-Canada).  Another common discussion – I am entitled to maternity leave, Ireland offers six months paid maternity leave at a small level of compensation, the monthly amount is just about what we pay in rent.  It isn’t Canada’s incredible parental leave policy 😦 😦 but we can make do.

It doesn’t answer the question of ‘why’, which people haven’t really asked but there is some surprise, maybe, that we are having a third.  I don’t really know the answer, for one I always know I wanted to have a big(ger) family. The timing ‘felt right’, with lots of cousins arrived or expecting (4 babies in less than a year between our two families!) Archer and Era were both born in November and I wanted to have a spring or summer baby.  Certainly we have been very (veryveryvery) fortunate with easy and delightful babies, who rarely cry and bring us so much joy and laughter (and sleepless nights and timeouts and temper tantrums and tearful frustration and checking out parenting books out of the library).  When I look at our two, I know that we are hashtag-blessed.  I guess I can’t imagine being ‘done’ yet.  I’ve always loved the dynamic of our sisterhood as we grow up, the different ways that we interact with each other as we have become adults.  When I imagine Bradley and I in 30 years, I love to think of lots of children around the table with husbands and wives and maybe a few grandchildren.  Certainly there are more challenges with being the family breadwinner and the baby-gestator.  I don’t doubt that it will be enormously difficult to go back to work full-time at six months, leaving Bradley with two children at home and one in school.  We won’t be able to move in with Mom and Dad for eight months like we did after the first two.  I’ve heard the transition from two to three is the hardest (you have one, I have the other one…WHO HAS THE THIRD?!)  Still…I can’t wait to meet another little person.  And for you all to meet them too!

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8 thoughts on “A devoted sister

  1. Dear goodness. This one made me cry too! Lovely writing about your busy beautiful life Martha. I can’t believe we’re 7 weeks apart pregnant ladies. Hurray!

    I like that you write about your decision to have 3. I’ve always been sure that I want at least 3, but people tell me I shouldn’t decide til we actually have kids ;-). I’ve never thought about it as something people would comment on or be confused/annoyed about, but now that I’m pregnant I can see how easily one can feel judgmental or insecure about other people making drastically different decisions for their family than you do. It’s our overwhelming need to be told we’re doing the right thing (yet how can we ALLLL be doing the right thing if we all do such different things?!?!).

  2. Mmmm. So good. I love what you write, sister–I’m pretty confident that your “nothing” you’re thinking of writing about in the future will be wonderful. It is great to hear about your life. Thank you. Yay for a better money situation! I’m so glad to hear it. The wreath is pretty cool! I tried to make one out of the leftover branches from Rachel and Krestia’s tree. How did you put your pieces together? And of course Bradley made a Monopoly game. He’s so good at that stuff. Love you, miss you. So excited for another little one in the family.

  3. So glad to have a post from you, dear sister! I think having three will be easier than you think, because Archer will be mostly self-sufficient, yes? I love Miriam but she is a drama queen and still demands a lot of our attention. It’s good we have the one-on-one parent/child ratio in our house.
    Maternity leave in Ireland may not be the super great Canadian type but at least it’s not the awful US type! Everyone here thinks I’m so extravagant for taking the full 12 weeks. 6 months sounds pretty great.
    Hoping we can get the three babies together in the not too distant future! Oh, the cute photo opportunities…

  4. Oh Martha, so lovely, so wonderful! I am so happy for you all and can’t wait to follow your pregnancy on your blog and to meet this little one down the road. I have never talked with you about how many kids you all expect to have, but for some reason I always picture you being a mama to at least three. And here you are, entering mamahood again! What merry making in Ireland! Much love! xoxo

  5. This made me teary, too, especially the line about the most valuable properties on the game board are the two Grandmas’ houses. I am glad to see that my Kenyan skirt is still being used in the family! 🙂

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