Covid-19 And Ageing Parents

“Age is a case of mind over matter. If you don’t mind, it don’t matter” famously said by Satchel Paige. Covid-19 is effecting the most vulnerable and most of the deaths are in the over 70 age group. My parents are both 84 and since the outbreak and especially the cocooning, I have unfortunately noticed a deterioration in their physical and mental health. I somehow became their carer without ever realising it and I am happy to do it. It is something I have been doing for the last 20 years but more so in the last 2 years. It is tough watching loved ones age and that is made harder if health problems exist. I can’t imagine how they must feel and even think about the fear involved. 

Most of us live a busy life and find ourselves preoccupied with our schedules and that is very normal. I have being making some mental notes of my experience of the good things I have managed to do and the not so good. The worlds ageing profile has grown massively over the last 50 years. In Europe consistently low birth rates and higher life expectancy are transforming the shape of the EU-28’s age pyramid; probably the most important change will be the marked transition towards a much older population structure, a development which is already apparent in several EU Member States. In the U.S. the share of the population younger than 15 and older than 65 years has also increased in recent years. In China in 2019, population aged 65 years and above for China was 11.5 %. Population aged 65 years and above of China increased from 3.7 % in 1970 to 11.5 % in 2019 growing at an average annual rate of 2.32%.

Madeleine L’Engle once said, ‘The great thing about getting older is that you don’t loose all the other ages you’ve been.” That is so true and looking back over myself I have changed so much, physically and mentally. You can still be productive in your own life whist giving your ageing parents care and attention. Without a doubt it is isolation, boredom, and loneliness which is effecting my parents. Mobility is now becoming an issue and I worry that since the outbreak they have lost the ability to drive or because of everything driving would now be dangerous and this in turn will compound all of the above mentioned and certainly their independence! I listen to my folks talking about old friends and unfortunately a lot of them have died and this definitely has an effect on them, it is so tough. Even at 50, I miss some friends whom have died and death does scare me because my children are still young and need a lot of parenting to ensure they are ready for the world. The opportunity for our parents to attend social engagements are gone for the time being and friend can’t be visited or even friends can’t visit them.

Looking after my parents has become a top priority and the thought of them going to a nursing home is not an option I will take. I am lucky I live pretty close to my parents and can visit them daily to check in on. My daughters can video call and they love this. Of course they would love a hug from them but during this pandemic it is not an option. So virtual hugs are all the rage in my house.

It is not difficult to maintain frequent contact with your ageing parents. Even if you are not living close to them, technology lets us see each other and it means so much to them. Imagine if you could not see your child! There really is no excuse not to be contact with all the technology we have available to us. I am lucky both my parents are alive it would be so much harder if it was just one parent as I fear they would fall foul of depression.

I visit my parents on average 6 days out of a week and the day I don’t visit they ring me to see if I am ok. During Covid-19 if possible try to call on them. I can’t explain how much it means to them. Despite all the technology in the world there is no substitute for a physical visit. It works two fold where it is good for you to check on them but it is super good for them to receive a visit.

If your parents are not using modern technology, and mine were not! I urge you to teach them or quite simple write out clear instructions. A lot of these can be found online and a quick copy and paste and enlarge the print they will have the know how. Remember to turn up the volume. This is also of benefit to them and keeps the boredom at bay. There is also a whole new world for them to explore and chat about. They can also keep in touch with friends. My dad had a zoom coffee date with a group of his friends and my mum is on FaceTime to her sister!

Remember ageing parents need the attention of us, their adult children. I makes them happier and safer.

The women online you will meet.

Gone are the days when we used to meet potential love interests through social circles. They still do exist but there are not many fish in these shallow waters. Hence the popularity of online dating has gone through the roof. Possibly one of the main contributors to this development is time or the lack of it. It is so much easier to sit at home and browse through thousands of profiles, swiping left or right. The menu is overflowing with choice but surely this makes us judgemental and if honest we dismiss a person for a shallow reason that we possible would not if we were to meet in a more conventual setting. Let’s face we tend to aim high and swipe right with people we think would be out of our league, a new winning strategy we take hiding behind our sofa. So what are the different types of ladies out they’re waiting for us?

The man girl: All of us love her, but she is better suited as a friend in the long term, and us guys don’t like to loose friends. She is one of the lads, she relates to us and does not have many female friends because this chick just gets on better with men.

The talk, talk, talk, talk, and talk woman: This woman is easy to spot, she never shuts up or stops texting essays and no matter how hard you try to reply, beep, another text arrives with unnecessary information. It won’t be long before you are bored, frustrated and driven to distraction, you will know every little detail about her and you will be lucky if she remembers your name. Thankfully there is a mute button followed by delete. If for some reason you have a death wish and meet for a date, make sure there is a back door to exit from.

The single Mum: Naturally online dating sites are littered with single parents, and there is nothing wrong with that. Beware you need to know what you are diving into, forewarned is forearmed! Your life will end up like hers, centred around her little darlings and you possibly won’t like them but only because she has done nothing but focus on them and they demand her attention as required 24/7. However single mums are genuine, but you need to think long and hard are you ready for this level of commitment?

The genuine lady: Believe it or not, this very rare type of woman exists and if you are lucky enough to come across her you have won the lotto. They have no hidden agenda, what you see is what you get! They are fully independent and happy with their life. Do not pass by, she is wonderful!

The Hookup lady: Yes ladies, just like men there are women who just want a one night stand, it is just sex without any obligation. The difference is women are more open about it than men. 

The know it all woman: This woman believes she is better than everyone, however if you dig a little deeper into her she is the complete opposite. This wannabe will pretend she is living the dream lifestyle, the one she thinks she deserves. She will probable have a few designer accessories or good knock offs. If she thinks you have the money that can afford her desired lifestyle she will pursue you. In essence she will be so opinionated and often get the wrong end of the stick you will head for pastures greener.

Hot but not: Online dating is full of women (and men) whose profile pictures portrays a very beautiful woman. The photos may be very old or airbrushed but when you meet this lady she is unrecognisable to what you thought you were going to meet. I cannot understand why women do this as when reality catches up and the man disappears she must be left feeling rejected. 

The never single lady: The lady who lives in fear of being on her own and will take any man up until the next better one turns up. This woman is always online looking for the man that does not exist. They are intense at the start and the cracks on the wall will appear and either you run or she has found someone she believes is better for her, the trend never ends.

The gold digger: Let’s face it she wants your money, it is that simple. But where us men fall for it is they are typically attractive and very engaging. They are easy to spot with the questions about your job, bank balance and any other materialistic thing they are interested in.

The health nut: As men we always think we should be taking better care of ourselves but rarely act upon it. This lady has run the 10 km race and is looking forward to the marathon. She has left the bedroom before you have had your first dream. This lady will have many suitors but not everybody’s cup of tea. Make sure you have health insurance.

Dr. Dolittle: This animal lover does not hide the fact that her animals are her life and come first. Her profile photos look like something off Noah’s ark. This is extreme but it may be something of interest to some.

The happy ending: This dreamer has her fairytale mapped out in her head since she was born. She knows what she wants, the perfect wedding, home and children. This is make believe so she will normally settle for the very next best or the man who is close to giving her what she wants. This lady probably is not in love with you but as long as you satisfy her dreams you are functional for her.

The nut job: This psycho hates men and will come across aggressive, if you stay around long enough she will be abusive and possible violent. She is certainly unpredictable, very Jekyll and Hyde. She will want to know where you are at all times and why. When this goes pear shaped and it will warn your family and friends cause she will contact them.

The homemaker: This lady wants you to take care of her, she does not want to work and is happiest in the home. If independence is what you seek this lady is not for you. But let’s face it I know plenty of men that want a quiet life and this lady is perfect for them.

Covad-19, Online Dating, A Guide For Women By A Man.

Covad-19 is still here and lockdowns have been in place for some time now. Online dating sites are exploding with users looking for love, or are they? I’ve survived on planet Earth for 50 years and had my fare share of dates as I progressed through the decades. In recent days my boredom got me thinking about the various different types of males that exist and how they portray themselves to women. Men talk to men about their strategies in finding the ideal woman, whether it is for one night, one week, month, year or lifetime. Essentially we are a predictable creatures with various personalties. Because men don’t use these strategies with other men we can get along with each other in harmony. I understand how this fact may worry women, but we, men just ignore it and move on.

covad-19
waterfall of love

When you sign up to an online website the possibilities seem endless, it is an exciting and interesting experience. So much choice appears in front of you as you swipe left or right, believing love is just around the next corner. But them suddenly there is not as many matches as you first thought, and you begin to dig a little deeper into the profile of the matches you have made and suddenly you see a pattern and not every possibility is worth pursuing. Now you begin to concentrate on how they have written their bios, question the profile pictures they have chosen and how they engage in conversation. At this stage you know not all of them are worth chatting to, let alone considering to meet for a coffee, but then it depends exactly what you are looking for at the time you enter the unknown world of online dating. For those of you who are about to embark into the unknown these are some of the characters you will meet, for those of you whom already have been online no doubt you have met these guys.

The online newbie: That was me. I had absolutely no game plan, I didn’t know what I wanted and talked to everybody that I matched with. I thought at the very least if they had bothered to swap right, I at least should have the manners to say hello and introduce myself. Some questions posed to me I tried to dodge as I thought it was a bit forward or why would someone ask me that considering I haven’t met them. In hindsight I would avoid me, I did not have a clue what I wanted or why I was even online. My suggestion is delete me you are only wasting your time and energy.

The Romantic: I have a friend who epitomises this. This dude has love tattooed on the brain, he really believes in love and Valentine day tops Christmas. He quotes songs and maybe even poetry to the point it may make you want to vomit. Everybody is superficial in todays world, he tells you. His profile picture is of him in the sunset or with a dog rubbing noses and if he is on a yoga mat, run for the hills. Oh he does do yoga. You will alway get a good morning and a goodnight. If you meet, he more than likely will come on too strong, you will tell him to slow down but he argues how perfect you are for one another. He is not in a rush to get you undressed and into bed, he is playing the long game, you will have an eternity to make love. Soulmates who’s astrological signs are completely in line. Your phone will beep all day as he texts you question after question, this guy is in a rush to know everything about you. You may be interested in this and even enjoy it but it will end in tears, usual his!

The middle-aged hero: the adventurer on steroids: This overactive male runs, walks, cycles, etc. He has passed 40 and in a mid-life crisis, the bucket list is full and he is in a rush to achieve goals. Balding or simply just turning grey, this man is charming. Profile picture is with his niece or nephew or somebody else’s kids and more than likely there is a dog thrown in for good measures. You needs to know he likes kids and maybe even yours, despite his complete lack of commitment to settling down with you. This guy wants you to think he is mature and values you and is interested in a good conversation. Yes, you will do for the current adventure he is on, this is a man-child and he is jumping off that cliff to avoid responsibility. If this is something that interests you treat it like the car you want but makes no sense, take it for a test drive and bring it back!

The player: This guy is online with the sole purpose of getting you into bed and once that is done he is dust! It is casual and it is just sex. He will complement you and say all the right things till you are naked and conquered then it is goodbye and you are deleted. The photos of him shirtless or his muscles bulging out of a tee-shirt are gone and you just have the memories. This guy will make little effort, but you are keen and will do the traveling, you have maybe three dates to get your clothes off before he has moved on to his next victim. Be careful, this guy will push your boundaries until you yield or run. I hope you run for the hills. But perhaps you want a fling with no strings attached.

The married or in a relationship guy: This cheater will hunt his prey either from distance or without a picture, or maybe a picture disguising he’s true identity. Discretion is a necessity on his bio, this dude is a serial cheater and everything is planned, organised, he is premeditated. No morals exist, he wants casual, it is that simple. 

Just divorced/separated: This poor guy is vulnerable, it’s a tough place for him, but he is horny. He just wants someone to like him and go out with him and feel like he is in a relationship again, oh and have sex. This guy dated last when online dating didn’t exist. If you are up for a rebound this is more than likely your guy, even though this is not his intentions. He is still processing what happened in his last relationship and blaming her for all the years wasted. 

Sugar daddy: Rich and interested in the younger lady. Be aware after some time you will be traded in.

The tourist: Only here for a new nights and does not want to spend any time alone. It is a hookup so do not fool yourself. It does what it says on the tin!

The lunatic: This guy is screwed up and should be nowhere near a dating site or a woman. He needs time out. This guy will come across committed, responsible, well dressed and very presentable. Give him time and all this issues will surface, be it trust or commitment ones. This man has baggage and his probably still in love with his ex. He will claim to be the perfect guy and probably need to be in control of everything, the alpha male or at least the wanna be alpha. He is well versed and possibly read the books on how to get a woman. All is profile pictures seem normal and I have no doubt his bio has been researched and probably copied from earlier research. This narcissist sociopath will drive you insane. I hope you never meet him because he is hard to spot at the beginning.

The commitment dude: This guy has a bit of everything in him from the above mentioned. He will make the effort to engage when communicating with you, he knows from experience this is a process and he is not afraid to put in the work. This guy is genuine and if after he meets you and does not remain in contact it is because he feels it was not a good match and not because he was trying to use you for sex. He understands it is impossible to have a relationship with every woman, if he meets the right woman he will put the effort in. He wants to fall in love and have a meaningful relationship, emotionally and physically. He is not scared to put himself out and won’t loose faith.

The Best Journey After My Marriage.

It was inevitable my marriage was going to end, but I believe both of us can honestly say we tried damn hard for it to work. When we eventually admitted to each other it was over there was a sense of relief. We decided I would remain in the house until such a time our children had got used to the idea and we had sorted out a few of the finer details. The day I moved out I really thought it was going to be easy, and I was looking forward to the beginning of a new chapter in my life. In truth I hadn’t moved on as much as I thought. I went through phases of praising her and hating her and sometimes at the same time! Emotionally I was a car crash and quickly realised I needed to be patient with myself.

“Love has nothing to do with what you are expecting to get–only with what you are expecting to give–which is everything.”
–Katharine Hepburn

I was lucky enough to be openminded and decided to sign up for some therapy. I have told this to very few people, probably because of the stigma attached. It was the best and hardest thing I ever did. The end result was I became very comfortable and accepting of myself. I reflected on my past mistakes and learned a great deal from it. The end of my marriage was not because of my spouse, it was both of us equally. However, the marriage was over and I had to concentrate on my mistakes to ensure I would not make them again.

Friends, mainly male were green with envy and offering to assist me in setting up profiles for online dating sites. Their intentions were good but I declined and decided to be celibate for a while. I had two reasons for this decision. 1, I needed some time for myself, get my head together. I was far from ready to jump back on the saddle. 2, I have two daughters and what kind of message would I be sending them. I am their Dad and role model. I found being alone, a single parent a super experience, it gave me time to focus n my children and myself.

I became the person I wanted to be, and embraced my new identity. I had time to pursue many of my interests that had escaped me during marriage. I lost the extra weight I had been carrying and four inches off my waist. Although during Coronavirus lockdown one inch has magically reappeared. I swim at least 3 km 3 times a week. This was great me time whilst an even better way to stay fit. Don’t get me wrong I absolutely hate the thought of undressing and getting into the water, but feel amazing when I get out.

Once our children arrived I took the role of parenting very seriously, I had always wanted children and was blessed with my two daughter. I would rather stay at home with then go out. This was a problem in my marriage and I can understand now how it must have annoyed my ex. I should have made more of an effort and I regret not doing so. When I became single I had to get out of the house and socialise, otherwise I would have slowly gone mad. I have made lots of new friends and enjoy the banter. It’s also nice to have a beer and watch a match with other supporters. In essence when I was alone I had not realised how isolated I was from the world compared to when I was part of a couple. I had focused too much on my family unit and not others around us. We have a tendency to keep distance in our friendships when we are in a relationship or marriages, because of our priorities and lack of time to do it all. I’ve cleared space now, turned to my friendships and given them my time.

Divorce is like taking off a blindfold and I learned my true friends are immediately. The friends who stick around, those are your friends, keep them close. If a person who is not blood related stands by your side when you are in the dark, you can be certain they really love you. Love them back. That was hard to learn, many of my family did not stand by my side and I do not mean take sides, I was not looking for that.

“Have enough courage to trust love one more time and always one more time.”
–Maya Angelou

Only have a relationship, when you are ready. Take time to observe how you feel. Fall in love and take precautions for heartbreak. The first person you fall fo  after your ex, is usually the opposite in character to the person you were married to. During this time, explore yourself. I swore I would never date certain types but the person who is probably perfect for me is all the things I said I never wanted. This is because I did not have a clue what I wanted, I did not know me. I had to let down my guard and be prepared for anything. I have learned there is no deadline on this journey, don’t hurry. Take time. Enjoy this adventure while it lasts, because life will surely settle in again. I know I will reflect on the time I spent alone as the most petrifying and liberating period in my life.

Coronavirus the End of Our Normal.

The public health crisis threatens each of the 7.8 billion people on Earth. Each day brings a “new and tragic milestone”, WHO Director-General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus said. As I write this there are currently Coronavirus Cases: 2,016,859, deaths have reached 128,008 and 492,019 have recovered. Please click the link to view as I can guarantee this figure has dramatically risen. Covad-19 is spreading faster than we can track or test. Public life is grinding to a halt. And yet many people seem unfazed by the Coronavirus.

While governments have and continue to issue guidelines for older and high risk citizens we are beginning to witness our politicians to give more definitive advice on how we need to isolate and social distance if we are to defeat Covad-19. Reflecting on the weekend that just passed there seems to be ongoing selfish and reckless behaviour during this pandemic. This will speed up the spread of the virus which will definitely impact the older and more vulnerable people in our communities and add to the workload, danger and stress of our medical professionals. 

Information tells us the virus appears dramatically less fatal for those citizens under the age of 50. The guidelines and strategies of governments is easy and simple to understand: if low-risk people don’t socially distance, then the whole containment process is not effective. Putting it in layman terms it is like playing Russian roulette with our elderly and sick, you are pointing the gun at them and pressing the trigger if you do not social distance.

I understand that people are stressed, scared and want to socialise, but look at what happened in China and Italy by people not social distancing. It is a tough ask and I am sure some people find it confronting but we all have to do our bit. Do people not find it threatening, I imagine if there were F-16s, Shenyang Y-5s, Sukhoi SU-34s or Hawk T1s flying overhead things would be very different and people would be off our streets. It is up to us adults to ensure we abide by the recommendations set out by our governments and the World Health Organisation. But too many people including our youths are disregarding the social distance measures in our communities and not only putting themselves at risk putting older and vulnerable people at risk. Pointing the gun at them and pulling the trigger, it is that serious. The majority of us are doing the right thing but to that minority you need to listen to the advice, this is life and death! If these measures are not adhered we will go into lockdown and this battle will go on for a lot longer.

Businesses have closed down for our benefit and my heart goes out to these people who have spent years building it from scratch and this virus is having a devastating effect on them economically. Our medical professionals are working day and night to save our loved ones, these sacrifices are for us and yet some people are ignoring the guidelines and putting lives at risk. Shame on these people. A more draconian measure will be introduced because of these idiots. Social distancing is a responsibility and in todays modern world we have access to Skype, FaceTime, text messaging and lots more other methods to stay in touch with friends, family and loved ones. Perhaps these are understandable human reactions to this massive uncertain crisis, but it is a weak justification for a choice that puts one’s short-term enjoyment ahead of peoples health and possible lives.

Coronavirus is creating a world that is less free and not as open as we were last month. I do not think it had to resort to this but because of incompetent leadership, inadequate planning we now find ourselves on a new and worrying road. Coronavirus will continue to have a devastating negative effect on our economies and it will increase tensions between countries. Since the end of the World War 2 America has been the international leader (and done an amazing job worldwide) but because of its governments incompetence and self-interest there will be a shift of power and perhaps we saw this coming and history proves to us there is always a change in power over the centuries.  International alliances have been poor and inept, if the two most powerful countries, China and America cannot put to one side their differences and stop blaming each other they might be more credible in the eyes of the world that looks to them during this crisis. The European Union has failed its members and not been able to provide assistance to its five hundred million citizens!

The media in all its forms have shown to us mere citizens that there are so many examples of the power of the human spirit and kindness of us ordinary people demonstrating leadership, resilience, kindness, empathy, love and being selfless during this pandemic, that gives me hope for all of us occupying planet Earth that we will prevail and we will beat Covad-19.

Teenagers And My Epiphany

I constantly review myself, it’s something I have always done. If I had hair I’m sure I would be pulling it out as I watch my teenager wade through this decade of her life. As I slurped a glass of wine last night I had an epiphany. Being truthful this is a rare occurrence for me, so fasten your seatbelts and here goes.

Im not saintly and if being honest they are possible the only humans who could parent a teenager without having a few moments of despair, madness and a lot of shameful ones, like screaming and resorting to power of I am the parent. Throughout my parenting career I have had some pretty special moments which I am not so proud of. I have changed and evolved, mentally and physically through each of my 5 decades, and not so gracefully physically speaking.

As I poured my second glass of wine and Murf (my dog) joined me with her slice of ham, I began to think! Of course there are lots of normal teenage behaviours that send me to orbit, and huge amounts of teenage girl stuff that I don’t understand, which I think is trivial, but is not because it matters to my teenager. I have moaned and groaned about how my little angel has changed to the point I don’t recognise her. Well, that’s a load of xxxx! I blinked and missed the fact that my daughter is changing into a woman! The good news for me is I still have time to be included in her journey. So it’s time to saddle up and pack my bag.

First on my list of self improvements is to own up and apologise if I have a little moment of poor behaviour! This is going to be tough, especially in the mornings we have to get to school. I cannot stand tardiness, it drives me insane and I have been known to shout in extreme cases. This achieves nothing and I always feel guilty when I am receiving just picture and no sound on the drive and matters are made worse when I don’t get my kiss goodbye as she gets out of the car. I spend the day regretting my actions and can’t wait to see her after school, time goes so slow until she gets back into the car.

The famous eye roll always gets me going, I mean what the hell is that about? This I know every parent of a teenage daughter has experienced, they all do it. Nope, I am not going to get the ring with her, this invitation, I will decline, instead of giving her the power of me overreacting. I am the mature person and will lead by example. I will wait my time to discuss whatever it was that caused the annoying roll of the eyes. After all this is just a phase and she will grow out of it.

My little angel is 15 and I know what that means, BOYS! To the best of my knowledge there is no poxy, zit faced, little toe rag on the horizon. I fear that will change this summer. Despite the many ways of harming this creature I have dreamed of, it is simple illegal and my daughter needs me at home and not in jail. Last summer I jumped the gun and mentioned the birds and the bees, I can assure you her eyes nearly rolled out of their sockets. I retreated and thought better of it. I took a different approach and waited till Christmas when the mood was good and simple said that I had noticed boys looking at her, she stopped me and calmly told me that they had covered it in school. That opened another door for me and I explained that my wish for her was to be treated with respect and also to treat the young man the way she would like to be treated. I got a hug and a kiss on the cheek and was reassured that matters were under control. The relief on my behalf was biblical but I know this topic will be revisited many times of the coming years. Today I ordered a book which I am hoping will offer me guidance.

On occasion I have gasped for air at some of the clothing choices teenage girls wear, and on disco nights I have had to bite my tongue to the point of it nearly falling off. My first reaction is what the hell? What kind of message is being sent out? So I poured my third glass of wine and have convinced myself that this is just a way to get noticed. I arrived at this explanation as I have noticed over my 50 years that women dress up when they go out and the reason being is they want to look good and if an odd look from a male is received it’s just one of admiration. It is also a learned habit watching Mum getting ready for a night out and even I have been known to make an extra effort before I head on a night out. Sadly for me the results of my efforts tend to fall on blind eyes. Dressing appropriately and not like the Kardashians is the beginning of the journey to adulthood. Whilst I have gasped I have never needed to say your not going out looking like that, I have always thought that she looks amazing and proud that is my daughter.

All teenagers are or become at some point self-centred without even knowing it. Their wishes and problems are the only thing that matters and everything and everybody needs to get on the same page as them, God forbid I might have had a bad day or anyone else. I remember being like that and it is normal so Im just going to grin and bear it and offer support or words of wisdom.

I remember my parent having opinion on some of my friends, at the time it was not helpful and I tended to do the opposite. Thus on this topic caution will have to be used. I know her tribe is the most important thing in her life currently and while it is tempting to pitch in my advice I am not going to. I have always encouraged my children to talk about things that may be of concern to them and to date they always have, either to Mum or me. I trust my daughter knows the difference between right and wrong and I have respect for her to make such judgements. All lines of communication are always open and as a family we spend enough time one on one to check up on things.

Glass of wine number 4! Of course there will be occasions when I will have to call out bad behaviour. This I have always done consistently and my girls know exactly the rules and where the boundaries are. If crossed, the punishment fits the crime. It’s important to be the adult, the mature person in the room. Once dealt with I move on and there is no reminder and I certainly don’t hold it against them. I want my girls to feel safe and I try to be consistent, compassionate and authoritative.

Just Being A Single Dad

The 14th December 2004 and the 28th of August 2010 were the best days of my life. I always wanted children, Im not sure whether this desire was more fuelled in me because I was adopted or it just is part of my make-up. I must admit my first choice was always daughters and I am lucky enough to have my wishes come true. I was worried if I had sons I might be too hard on them and what if they didn’t live up to my expectations as a man. This is absolutely absurd obviously. However it does raise another point when contrasting the difference between Mum’s and Dad’s, we think differently and our behaviour is very different. As adults we tend to forget this and certainly in a relationship are less forgiving to one another.

Little angels

Being a Dad has brought me so much joy and I am learning (in real time) how quickly my daughters grow up and change as they progress through the different stages of adolescence. I also have learned what applies to one child does not necessarily apply to the other. I have a collection of very different hats that I put on during the course of any given day, and on occasion I have managed to wear the wrong hat and by God I suffer the consequences. Despite the bruises and damaged ego I frequently receive whilst raising my daughters, it is the best job I have ever had and the most personal rewarding. I am not naive to think my daughters will praise me when they reach 18 and shower me with admiration for the outstanding work I did. No, by then I am sure another younger man (full of zits, attitude and a six pack) will occupy their attention. I am secretly dreading this day, the day I am replaced and kicked to touch. I try to motivate myself that when that does happen it will signify what a fantastic job I did. What a load of xxxx! I won’t be brought out on shopping excursions like their Mum, my contribution may only be the money to pay for it. 

According to a poll, Dad is a pushover at home, apart from when it comes down to dealing with bad behaviour. I fully agree with this finding, except now that I am a single Dad. One of the hardest things of being a separated/divorced is you have to be both Mum and Dad when the children are with you. As a male my biggest fault was lack of patience, I had to work on that and I still do. Finding the balance took some time, although my girls would probable disagree with that statement. I tend to let the first misdemeanour go, if it happens again, I then explain why its not acceptable and if it happens for a third time, well let’s just say there is trouble which brings consequences. The follow through can be difficult if I don’t have the support of their Mum, then I find my girls get either confused or want to stay with their Mum for the easy life. I can only hope my consistency will earn me the respect of my daughters when they get older, time will tell. Age plays an important part of this, this was never an issue until the teenage years. 

There isn’t enough time for me to write about the teenage years and I am only at age 15. Pouting lips, fake tan, hair, nails, oh my god the list goes on. Oh and that look of Dad you are stupid! Yes, I am and never was a young woman but I continue to try to understand. I ensured there was a pretty little type of case prepared in her school bag in the event her first period arrived with all the necessary accessories for such a catastrophe. Thankfully that did not happen and even better news for me and her it happened when she was with Mum. I have been lucky enough to be trusted with hosting the pre-disco event in my house. This is when a group of teenagers take over the house, lock themselves into the bedroom and toilet, spend hours getting dressed, applying make-up, doing each others hair, listening to loud music and probable giving out about me. My role is to order pizza, drop off to disco and collect whilst remaining invisible and holding absolutely no opinion! Thank goodness I won’t be available for menopause!

Some time ago

As my daughters evolve into fantastic young women and travel through each phase, and I know I have tougher challenges speeding towards me, I embrace all of them, even the ones that I don’t understand as a Dad. I longed to have children and in some way it has and continues to make me complete. The rewards heavily outweigh the sacrifices for me. Unlike Mum’s I cannot give birth, breastfeed and a whole heap more things that make Mum’s so unique. Byt, this single Dad tries so hard to be the complete parent and loves his children so much even when the tough decisions have to be made. I am living in the moment and each day get reminded the true meaning of unconditional love. Being a Dad has taken me to the edge on occasion, but made me stronger and certainly more patient. Of course I fear for what the future holds and change comes with time but one thing is true I will always be there for my daughters. They don’t know this but they have fulfilled a big void in my life and I will spend a lifetime repaying them!

Listen! Covad-19 Will Change Us Forever Unless We Social Distance. Time To Stand Together.

The public health crisis threatens each of the 7.8 billion people on Earth. Each day brings a “new and tragic milestone”, WHO Director-General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus said. As I write this there are currently Coronavirus Cases: 345,338, deaths have reached 14,925 and 99,541 have recovered. Please click the link to view as I can guarantee this figure has dramatically risen. Covad-19 is spreading faster than we can track or test. Public life is grinding to a halt. And yet many people seem unfazed by the Coronavirus.

Covad-19 is taking over the world
“I feel as if I were a piece in a game of chess, when my opponent says of it: That piece cannot be moved.”
― Soren Kierkegaard

While governments have and continue to issue guidelines for older and high risk citizens we are beginning to witness our politicians to give more definitive advice on how we need to isolate and social distance if we are to defeat Covad-19. Reflecting on the weekend that just passed there seems to be ongoing selfish and reckless behaviour during this pandemic. This will speed up the spread of the virus which will definitely impact the older and more vulnerable people in our communities and add to the workload, danger and stress of our medical professionals. 

Information tells us the virus appears dramatically less fatal for those citizens under the age of 50. The guidelines and strategies of governments is easy and simple to understand: if low-risk people don’t socially distance, then the whole containment process is not effective. Putting it in layman terms it is like playing Russian roulette with our elderly and sick, you are pointing the gun at them and pressing the trigger if you do not social distance.

I understand that people are stressed, scared and want to socialise, but look at what happened in China and Italy by people not social distancing. It is a tough ask and I am sure some people find it confronting but we all have to do our bit. Do people not find it threatening, I imagine if there were F-16s, Shenyang Y-5s, Sukhoi SU-34s or Hawk T1s flying overhead things would be very different and people would be off our streets. It is up to us adults to ensure we abide by the recommendations set out by our governments and the World Health Organisation. But too many people including our youths are disregarding the social distance measures in our communities and not only putting themselves at risk putting older and vulnerable people at risk. Pointing the gun at them and pulling the trigger, it is that serious. The majority of us are doing the right thing but to that minority you need to listen to the advice, this is life and death! If these measures are not adhered we will go into lockdown and this battle will go on for a lot longer.

Businesses have closed down for our benefit and my heart goes out to these people who have spent years building it from scratch and this virus is having a devastating effect on them economically. Our medical professionals are working day and night to save our loved ones, these sacrifices are for us and yet some people are ignoring the guidelines and putting lives at risk. Shame on these people. A more draconian measure will be introduced because of these idiots. Social distancing is a responsibility and in todays modern world we have access to Skype, FaceTime, text messaging and lots more other methods to stay in touch with friends, family and loved ones. Perhaps these are understandable human reactions to this massive uncertain crisis, but it is a weak justification for a choice that puts one’s short-term enjoyment ahead of peoples health and possible lives.

Coronavirus is creating a world that is less free and not as open as we were last month. I do not think it had to resort to this but because of incompetent leadership, inadequate planning we now find ourselves on a new and worrying road. Coronavirus will continue to have a devastating negative effect on our economies and it will increase tensions between countries. Since the end of the World War 2 America has been the international leader (and done an amazing job worldwide) but because of its governments incompetence and self-interest there will be a shift of power and perhaps we saw this coming and history proves to us there is always a change in power over the centuries.  International alliances have been poor and inept, if the two most powerful countries, China and America cannot put to one side their differences and stop blaming each other they might be more credible in the eyes of the world that looks to them during this crisis. The European Union has failed its members and not been able to provide assistance to its five hundred million citizens!

social distancing
“It’s a lack of clarity that creates chaos and frustration. Those emotions are poison to any living goal.”
― Steve Maraboli, Life, the Truth, and Being Free

The media in all its forms have shown to us mere citizens that there are so many examples of the power of the human spirit and kindness of us ordinary people demonstrating leadership, resilience, kindness, empathy, love and being selfless during this pandemic, that gives me hope for all of us occupying planet Earth that we will prevail and we will beat Covad-19.

My Neighborhood, A Brief History, And The Coronavirus Threat.

My family and I live in Galway City Ireland. I live with my daughters 50% of the time in Bowling Green, one of the oldest neighborhoods in the city and famous because Nora Barnacle, if you don’t know, was the wife and inspiration of celebrated Irish writer James Joyce. She lived in this house with her mother and six siblings until 1904, when Nora left Galway and travelled east for Dublin, where she met Joyce. There is more to this street and it has no doubt changed over the centuries but I think the character has remained. 

#Coronavirus
“There is no power for change greater than a community discovering what it cares about.” – Margaret J. Wheatley

At the beginning of the last century The Bowling Green Mills were in existence and renowned for their homespuns and specialised in tweeds, rugs and blankets. Michael Lydon also manufactured fishing tackle. At the entrance to the street the Church of St Nicholas was built in 1320 and Franciscan friars arrived in Galway in 1296. Us Irish and especially Galwegians are known for being laid back and we have an old saying “ah sure it will do for now.” In 1883 the numbering system of the houses in Bowling Green were in a disarray and there were four number 5s, nowadays there is just one number 5 and that is were I live. Our little street is now more or less exclusively residential, while the frontage of the houses remain pretty much the same the insides bare no resemblance to that time in history. Our little community varies in age, race, religion etc but we are neighbours and we all feel connected to our little street we call home. Galway was first recorded in 1124 and in 1232 a baron named Richard De Burgh took Galway and created a town. For centuries Galway was dominated by 14 families known as the tribes of Galway. The mayor and the leading citizens usually came from these 14 families. They were the Athy, Blake, Bodkin, Browne, Darcy, Deane, French, Font, Joyce, Kirwan, Lynch, Martin, Morris and Skerrett families. 

#Standtogether
“In every community, there is work to be done. In every nation, there are wounds to heal. In every heart, there is the power to do it. – Marianne Williamson

In the 16th century Galway was still a thriving town and port. The main import was wine. In 1505 some of the streets of Galway were paved. In 1610 James the first gave Galway another charter, which made the city and the land for 2 miles around a county in its own right. However Galway suffered fatally in 1649 when plague struck the city. Over 3,700 souls lost their lives. An extraordinarily rough winter along with the arrival of thousands of refugees from Limerick created more misery for the town. Sir Charles Coote allowed the refugees to enter Galway, fully aware that of the troubles that they were bringing to Galway. In August 1651 the English under Edmund Ludlow laid siege to Galway. After a long fight Galway finally surrendered in April 1652. Throughout the 17th century and 18th century Galway continued to thrive and in the late 18th century suburbs started to grow outside the walls.

#Cometogether
“The greatness of a community is most accurately measured by the compassionate actions of its members.” – Coretta Scott King

At the beginning of the 19th century the population of Galway was about 5,000 but fell during the 19th century. Galway and Count suffered severely during the potato famine of 1845-49 and there was a huge loss of population. A great many of the inhabitants of Galway in the 19th century lived in poverty and squalor. During the 20th century Galway revived. By 1950 it had about 21,000 inhabitants. The population of Galway today is estimated to be close to 80,000.

Galway is the European Capital of Culture this year and everything the City had planned will be affected by Covad-19 and I fear the opportunity to show off our wonderful city will be lost. For centuries Galway has survived whatever has been flung in its direction and the Coronavirus will be no different. It poses a very different threat and Galwegians will face it head on. Looking through my window onto Bowling Green the street is very quiet and eery. I haven’t seen any neighbours venturing outside so I am sure they are stocked with food and remain safe. This tight community will keep a watchful eye out for each other far beyond Coronavirus.

#Bestrong
“If you want to go quickly, go alone. If you want to go far, go together.” – African Proverb

Community can be a formidable force, capable of achieving the seemingly impossible. To confront this crisis, we need to work together. My worry is, this is something we can’t see, there is no Hurricane damage, no tsunami damage! What I mean I fear people will become frustrated, bored and stressed and feel the need to blow off steam, we can’t go to the bar or gym we are stuck indoors. We all have a profound need for social connection and because of Coronavirus we feel vulnerable, a lack of control, we are scared! Soliders often speak of the bond that occurs with them on the battlefield, a profound human bonding despite the anguishes of war. Life makes no promises, today its frightening but today, tomorrow and next week Coronavirus will inspire kindness, connection and we will come together and support each other, lean on one another for strength, laugh. This is what a neighbourhood look likes. #Besafe

Our Children, Covid-19 (Coronavirus) and the War Years

Covid-19 (Coronavirus) like the Second World War is a time of huge upheaval for our children and of course, us the adults. Whilst our towns and cities aren’t being evacuated we are adjusting to separation from friends and family. Many Grandparents and those who are vulnerable are scared and because of the threat posed we can’t visit to give them a hug of reassurance. There are no bombing raids and no threat of our men heading to war with the possibility of not returning. But this is a time where we must take precautions and adapt quickly and humanely with respect and empathy. Like the war, we will win but there will be disruption and shortages which will continue long after Covid-19 has left our boarders. This will have a long lasting effect on our children.

Out of this nettle, danger, we pluck this flower, safety.     
William Shakespeare

It is terrible to live in fear with the possibility you will loose someone that you love, especially when you have no control over the outcome. Unlike the war years we don’t have to wait for the postman, we have social media and communication is live whether by phone, text or video. I believe following Covid-19 will be our best history lesson! 

The threat of the Coronavirus is here and unlike the war the battleground is not being played out in Europe, Africa and Asia it is world-wide and will affect all of us. We are not trying to defeat Nazism but something far worse, something we can’t see, something hidden. We have a responsibility as family members, neighbours, colleagues, christians and humans to come together and unite to fight this virus. We can learn from the war years, In 1938 when war seemed imminent some precautions were put in place for instance air raid shelters were distributed, gas masks were issued and night-time blackouts were planned. Today it is social distancing, washing our hands, ensuring those who are at high risk remain at home and the washing of hands. We know what we must do to slow this Covad-19 down. The one big difference is there are no B52s overhead and no bombings just now a deadly silence, the battlefield is very different and we are all on the frontline. But we are lucky there are no mass evacuations of children, this virus holds no prejudice of race, religion, sex or nationality. There is no ‘Kindertransport’, to escape Natzi persecution. The British Government in September began a huge evacuation of children from towns and cities. Most kids travelled with their schools and lived with foster parents, an adventure today most children would dislike. Thankfully we have the control of our children’s destiny and remain with them to guide them through and beyond Covad-19.

Our children don’t have to live under the constant threat of invasion, our fear is Coronavirus. Thankfully the information to date on this virus is our young are at low risk and I hope this remains the fact and they will get to fight another day. Unlike the Children during the war years where many were killed at the hands of violence. 

Today our homes are built to our needs, and in many respects we take a lot for granted. At a flick of a button we have heat, water, television and of course the internet. War time homes may have looked similar on the outside but inside many families had outside toilets and a bathroom didn’t exist for most. Children often shared beds with their brother/sister or even their parents. In war ravaged Europe many homes were destroyed and families left homeless. Today, our governments are desperately trying to fight this virus and package economic resources to give many of us some breathing space as employment dries up. We may still have our homes but the fear of loosing them is very real.

The Coronavirus has completely disrupted the education of our children. Our teachers are working hard using the technology we have available to keep some sort of normality and of course ensuring are children are still engaged in their studies no matter what stage of school they are at. I have hovered up all of the help from our educators and during the so called school week have my daughters up and ready for home school. My patience will be tested and of writing this I have not suspended or expelled any of my two pupils.

#staystrong
#besafe
Never give in.. never, never, never, never, in nothing great or small, large or petty, never give in except to convictions of honor and good sense. Never yield to force.. never yield to the apparently overwhelming might of the enemy.     
Winston Churchill

As of today I am going to introduce a diary for my girls to keep. I hope it will be a valuable history lesson and something in decades to come they can share and look back on and learn from. My Grandfather was prisoner of war for five years and his diary is kept in a museum, those times illustrate a truly horrific period in our history and I pray the times ahead for us will not be the same.

I look forward to the end of Coronavirus and celebrating how all of us made a vital contribution to beating it. Most of all I look forward to the change this will force upon us and the reminder of the responsibilities we have as parents, friends, neighbours, relatives and humans. Stay safe!