Monday, June 25, 2012

This One For The Guys...On PMS, God Save Us All!!

Before I start writing this I'll just clarify...I'm feeling very calm and rational at the moment. So feel free to comment at the end in the safe knowledge that I won't come and find you.

Its about something that strikes the fear of God into the heart of many's the man..


We all know the jokes about PMS or PMT, the stockpile of chocolate and the excuse to crack open a bottle of wine at 11 am and bite the nose off everyone from our children to the courier delivering the flowers our husband has sent as a peace offering.  Jokes apart, I have been mulling about this for quite a while now.  It's not that I'm a particularly severe sufferer, it's more that I'm wondering whether there's a better way.  

I'm aware that this is for the most part a sort of girly blog but I know for a fact that there are (quite) a few guys having a little read from time to time, or even all the Guys...this one's for you...and girls, pass it on.  And all of you, let me know if you think I'm onto something or if you have come up with of something better.

When we marry, whether before God or before the state, we usually promise and intend it to be for better...for worse.  I sometimes wonder whether those vows were written with PMS in mind.  For worse all right, for those few days every month when the husband is the sitting target for the sort of wrath which if harnessable could solve the world's energy problems for evermore. Poor men, it's part of their lot.  Or is it?

What does conventional wisdom tell a man to do while his wife, girlfriend...even sister has PMS?  

Save yourself man!!!   

But I'm starting to wonder whether staying away is really the best course of action.  Here's why...

The woman suffering from PMS can look and act like a demon escaped from the pit of Hell but that is not necessarily the way she is feeling inside.  In my experience and from the many girly conversations I've had over the years, anger is not the over-riding emotion a woman feels for those few days. What is more likely is that she is feeling lost, unloved, unsupported, unattractive, in a rut, over-whelmed with chores and children and with no relief or escape on the horizon.  I'm not saying these feelings are grounded in reality or even rational, but they're real.  No matter how expected the slump and no matter how many times it happens on the same few days every month, for those few days you simply can't and don't make the connection and will deny to the last that hormones have any part to play in the notion that your usually content marriage is crumbling around your ears because your husband just doesn't love you...and he doesn't even care...and the children don't even notice all you do...and they don't care either...nobody ever thinks of me...nobody helps...and if I died, nobody would even come to my funeral...because they probably wouldn't even notice I was dead...especially HIM!!

If you're reading this and you don't have PMS you can see through these statements and even laugh at them. If, however, you're having PMS right now you're probably agreeing with each one there and applying it to your own situation and will agree that hormones have nothing to do with this train of thought.

So what's a guy to do?

Here's what I think.  When you're married, two become one.  Fertility is not a matter of my fertility, your fertility, the couple is only as fertile as the least fertile spouse.  So too with money, it shouldn't be my money, your that...a marriage is we, us, our. So PMS is not her problem and something to be avoided by the husband in the hope that he escapes injury. It's something that should be dealt with by both of you. Guys...if your wife fell in the river would you stay on the shore and leave her there lest you get your own feet wet?  No you wouldn't...that is, unless you're a very good friend of ours...if you were him you'd catch it all on camera and put it on YouTube!!

Ah no, that was funny really and he's a super husband!! ( I couldn't resist :-))
But in a serious situation I'm thinking that a noble man will forget his own safety or comfort and dive right in there and take that bullet for the sake of his wife.  So if you knew your wife was feeling lost...lonely...overwhelmed...unloved...even if you know it's ungrounded...why on earth would you run away??? I don't see that as being either noble, loving or wise.  All it would do is serve as proof that she's right.  So what I'm proposing to husbands is don your armour, remember that this is the girl you promised to love for better for worse, even though she's not all that loveable right now.  Remember that this is the girl who gets up in the middle of the night to clean up your child's vomit, who puts herself last and who you can be sure has many's the time served herself the dregs of the dinner rather than let you or one of the children go it's your turn... show her that she's wrong. Just because something is uncomfortable, or difficult or downright dangerous...that's not enough reason not to do it.

If you're married more than a wet weekend you should know when these days are approaching.  That's the time to draw on the graces of marriage to go that extra mile.  That's the time to secretly book a babysitter and a table at the restaurant (not forgetting to make sure the children are fed or she'll be convinced you're an uncaring Dad too!) That's the day to go and do that job she hates without her asking you to, whether it's the grocery shopping, putting the children to bed or the night-time clean up.  That's the day to hug your wife and show her 'no strings attached' affection (or she'll be convinced that's the only reason you're 'approaching' her!) I don't think it's necessarily the day for flowers or jewels because you could get it so wrong.  It's the day for the little things...use a bit of're the one who married her for goodness sake, you should know her well enough to come up with a little list of things that will make your wife feel loved. If  you can't think of anything a few clicks in the internet will bring up numerous lists of ideas.  One of the the best sites I've come across for husbands is All Pro Dad, it's a treasure trove of great tips.

Try and remember the lovely person she usually is, and whatever you do, DO NOT suggest to her that this is PMS!!!!

If it all backfires and you get it in the neck, persevere.  In a few days your wife will be back to herself and she'll remember you going that extra mile.

Wives, even if your husband never reads this, It might be a good idea, and maybe even an act of justice, to ask your husband a few days in advance to help you out.  Acknowledging before the event can do so much to reduce the impact.  Remember even if you are in the throes of PMS, you still have some remnant of free will still intact.  Why not exercise biting your tongue a bit next time?

One last thing...I'm not talking in this post about Premenstrual Dysphoric  Disorder which is a serious condition (which has been recognised in court cases as a legal defence).  If you think you or your wife has PMDD you need to seek proper medical help. I'm just addressing your common or garden narky dame syndrome.

Good Luck everyone, I hope you survive!!

Thursday, June 21, 2012

Beautiful Birds...Beautiful Bees

Oh my goodness gracious, I really have been very very busy lately.  I have gone so far as to purchase a wall at-a-glance year planner and marked it with all the to-do things on my list.  To-do as in have to do.  I think there may be a free weekend sometime around the end of next month.  And there I was, thinking Summer was for unwinding.  Ah well, better to be too busy than too quiet I suppose, I just have to remind myself that I can only live one minute at a time, do my best and factor in some unwinding activities.  Actually as I'm ticking off each appointment or job or activity I'm finding myself saying "Well, that wasn't so bad after all!"  It's all about perception I guess.

Better late than never, this post is the follow up to the 'Birds & Bees' piece I wrote a few weeks ago.  I promised I'd write it within a few days but between The Wiggles and my busy calendar it's been a bit longer than that.  If you haven't read the first part it might be a good idea to catch up on it first here. (you can skip the first part of that post, it was just a fun introduction to the topic).

I'll be posting quite a bit in a lot more specific detail about lots of aspects of children, teens, sexuality and marriage in the future so stick with me, but for now I really want to start by sharing some absolute gems of resources which I have found, and am finding so helpful in my job of passing on a healthy and authentic understanding of human sexuality to my children.

You will notice that all of the links, resources and books I am about to recommend are Catholic.  I know a lot of you aren't Catholic but I'm still going to recommend you check them out as they are all equally applicable to children and teens of any denomination. Lots of very practical advice based on the very real dignity and value of each human person.

First up is a super series of books for girls which I stumbled on when I was trawling the internet with a fine-tooth comb for something I could offer my girls which would be able to compete with the 'hip' presentation of the empty values of the Tween periodicals lined up on the magazine shelves of the newsagents.  I really thought there must be something a bit more uplifting than the early introduction to swooning over boy-bands and strawberry lip-gloss for nine year-olds.  My trawling paid off when I found the All Things Girl series.

And for the boys...

Listen to a podcast talking about All Things Guy here. (the discussion of the book starts at 13 mins)

Now the proof of the pie is in the eating and it doesn't matter how good the content is if the hoped-for audience isn't interested in reading.  I can attest to the attraction of these books to tweens. They are aimed at girls (and of course the guy one at boys) aged about 9-13.  Our girls have loved them more about the 8-12 age group then move on. They seem to strike a good balance between being cool and passing on lots of authentic truth. Check out the All Things Girl  website. There are other books aimed at teens though I haven't had a look at them yet. 

Next up, I mentioned in part one that the job of forming children in this important aspect of their lives is the job of the parents.  No school, nurse, peer, book, and most definitely not Planned Parenthood (Eeek!!) can do this job as well as those to whose care God has entrusted these very special little people. Oftentimes we can be unsure as to how to go about addressing these sometimes sensitive issues.  I'm sorry to tell you...there's no room for false modesty, prudishness or adolescent embarrassment when it comes to this.  At the same time some finesse, sensitivity and self-confidence are key.  Nobody knows any child more than the parents who love them and I certainly have discovered over the years, what's good for the goose is not necessarily good for the gander.  Children mature physically and emotionally at hugely differing rates which to me clearly shouts that a classroom of 25 preteens are not all ready for explicit diagrams and valueless 'information'.  With that in mind, I have found this next book excellent for helping to discern which child is ready for what and how to guide each child according to their spiritual, physical and emotional maturity.

It's a super guide for navigating children from infancy right through teenage years and beyond.  I dip into it constantly. 

OK...Moving on.  Here we are at the teenage years and the battle with a culture which you will probably find utterly at odds to our hopes for our children now emerging adults but not quite there yet...

These resources are robust.

For those of you who are familiar with Jason and Crystalina Evert you will find it no surprise that I have included them in my list.  For those who haven't, have a listen to Crystalina's testimony and judge for yourself whether it rings true...

Jason and Crystalina have a powerful gift of addressing the whole area of sexuality, culture and young people in an attractive, sometimes blunt, sometimes funny and always authentic way which touches the heart of teens and young adults simply because truth rings true.  Here Jason addresses parents of teenagers.  If you are one, you need to watch this clip:

Here's the link to their site, I've chosen the page showing their DVDs to link up...  Notice that they have versions from a faith perspective and also secular versions, as I've said...truth is true no matter what way you present it.  Equally a lie is a lie no matter how beautiful and attractive the packaging.  A lie will never bring you happiness.

Well that's enough to go on just now. I've said it before and I'll say it again, you have one chance of rearing your chance.  It's worth putting yourself out for this.  It's more fun to watch TV, update Facebook or read the newspaper, but when you die..God won't ask you what was your high score on Bejewelled Blitz...He'll ask you how high did you score in going the extra mile for that child of His.  Read up, watch the YouTube clips, check the websites and pray for those children.  Other people have done the work for you, all you need to do is take what they've made available and pass it on. Do it well.

Happy browsing.

Don't forget to leave a comment to let me know you're popping by!
Feel free to add any resources you've found helpful.

Saturday, June 2, 2012

Meeting The Wiggles, More Than They Are.

I have loved The Wiggles for many years, ever since our eldest two children, now 16 and 14, were tots.  They were always the one children's programme, apart from the Canadian programme, Elephant Show, which didn't make me want to take a rocket launcher to the television.  Four (quite handsome) guys who were real musicians, didn't try and act like children or talk in some sort of artificial way to them.  Any children on their shows looked and acted like real children and not like over-performing stage school clones.  The music was catchy and pleasing to the ear.  Did I mention they were quite handsome?? Oh yes, I mentioned that...

I've always been a bit of a recreational crier (You know the sort of thing...movies, songs..anything else you can think of...though real tears are not unknown to me either, as my other blog can testify to).  Probably more so since I've had little people passing through my life to the strains of Rock-A-Bye-Your-Bear, like the transient little boy in Puff The Magic Dragon.  The days blend into weeks, into months, into years...
Dragons live forever...but not so little boys...or little girls...(I'm making myself cry here) and next thing you have a bunch of mini-adults occupying the beds you used to visit at night to tuck in cute little toes.  The amateur adults are precious too and we love them.  But they're not that interested in choosing a Wiggles DVD to put on to watch.

By the time Louise came along, Peter was six and all the Wiggles VCR tapes had been tucked away to the back of the cupboard.  I hadn't passed them onto the charity shop along with most of the other tapes as they were categorised as sentimental value. We had seen them in concert when Peter was three only to discover to my dismay that velvet-voiced Greg had had to retire due to illness.  Much to John's amusement I spent the whole next day in tears watching YouTube tributes to The Yellow Wiggle! You see they were the soundtrack of my babies childhood.

In the meantime, I had also learned the piano because the instrumental piece 'Music Box Dancer' came on the radio one day.  It's the piece Dorothy (the dinosaur) does her ballet to and I'd never known the name of the music.  Looking it up (tearfully pondering the breakneck speed of the baby years) on YouTube I stumbled on Web Piano Teacher which demonstrated a completely new method of teaching piano to adults who cannot read music.  One of my greatest regrets had always been my inability to even play chopsticks.  A few months later I had Music Box Dancer, Chariots of Fire, Fur Elise, Lean on Me and a few other pieces under my belt.

So one winter's evening some years later, in order to settle a fractious a little toddler girl,  I rummaged to the back of the cupboard and found a video which was still playable on our barely functioning video machine. Louise, who had never been much enamoured by television at all, was immediately enchanted.  Peeping into the room later on I spotted SIX children glued to the TV, and Dad standing in the doorway, also enjoying the music...The Wiggles were back in the family!!

I sent off for replacement DVDs and a few we didn't have already, carefully choosing only the Greg ones. It just didn't seem right to cast him off.

This spring when I spotted that The Wiggles were coming to Ireland and that GREG was back, there was no question of not bringing Louise.  For good measure I got tickets for all the family, figuring that they all clearly love them and could use Louise as cover.  I was looking at their website reading about Greg's return when I had the  notion of sending  them a daring little request...a shot in the dark so to speak...

I sent this e-mail:

 I am just sticking my neck out to enquire whether there would be ANY possibility of a very special little girl who will be 2 1/2 when we bring her to the concert in June (along with her 5 siblings who will be using her as an excuse to go) to even have a brief meeting with The Wiggles. Before Louise was born we were told she may not live as she basically has half a functioning heart and she has had two major cardiac surgeries so far with another one due next year. We were also told that should she live she would be unable to walk or talk and probably also have learning and feeding difficulties. She has defied all predictions and in spite of a rare brain malformation (Dandy-Walker) she is like any typical child (from the outside).  Her little half heart is more loving and joyful than many of those of us who have it all going for us. 

Anyway, even though she is so young, I think it would be difficult to find a child in Ireland more dedicated to The Wiggles. I originally showed her our old VHS tapes which I had bought for her oldest sisters now 15 & 14 and she was immediately smitten. When she wakes during the night it's Dooorrateeee we hear her calling for. The girls have taught her all the dances and they are doing her a world of good. I would be forever grateful if a little meeting could be arranged. However I am aware that you probably get lots of requests like this and will fully understand if it would not be possible. Would it make a difference if I told you that Louise's Mommy (Me) spent an entire day in tears when Greg retired, much to my husband's amusement! (it was because you were such a big part of my children's childhoods) Well I hope you at least consider my request, Louise will win your heart if you meet her. 

 Jennifer Kehoe.

Months went by and I figured my e-mail had been just one of the hundreds they receive every day.

Then out of the blue this appeared in my inbox:

Hi Jennifer

Thanks for your email. Sounds like Louise is a little battler as they would say in Australia. We are so glad of the positive impact we are are having in your life. We are happy to add you to the meet and greet.

How many tickets did you get?
Confirming you have tickets for the Saturday 2nd June 11am?

Let me know and I will send a voucher so you can attend the meet and greet.


So today, after all these years, this happened:

I think my face just about says it all.

Murray, Greg and Jeff are retiring from The Wiggles at the end of this year. This is their farewell tour.  There were tears in my eyes as they waved goodbye.  Goodbye Wiggles.  Goodbye little babies from my family.  Thank you for meeting us.  Thank you for the happiness you have brought our home.  Thank you for being more than you are.  

Goodbye, Good Luck, God Bless.

   Click Here For Louise's Story.