When it comes to being a mommy in Ireland, I think maybe I’ve strayed a bit into the “hippy” realm. (Some may say that’s synonymous with being American to begin with!)
I breastfeed, I carry Shea around in a Moby wrap or a Baby Bjorn a lot, I have been using cloth nappies, and I will make my baby food from scratch when the six month mark rolls around. I often get clothes and toys for both my kids in charity shops. I have never had Evelyn in a play school and I’ve still not registered her for the “free year” that she is due this coming autumn. Of course, neither of our kids have had christenings, because I’m not Catholic. We’ve been meaning to organise a Naming Day celebration for them, but it’s always felt a little awkward when it comes to actually planning one.
It’s not that the Irish parents we know don’t do any of these things, because they do – just not usually all of the above. And people are very kind and nonjudgemental about it, though I do get a few raised eyebrows and the occasional comment when I’m out and about in the town. People are still very polite when they ask – particularly when it comes to the breastfeeding. I always smile when someone asks, “Are you feeding him yourself?” and gesture to Shea. It’s like they’re sort of afraid of uttering the word “breast.”
Anyway, the interesting thing is that most of these unusual choices are more out of necessity and to save money rather than to make myself stand out as a weirdo, ha ha… though I do tend to question once in a while if I’m just making life harder for myself ?!? Certainly more complicated in a way.
The nappies are probably our biggest venture so far. I just thought, this time around, how much I hate the amount of garbage our family contributes the the world’s massive landfills, and really, is it that hard to wash and re-use cloth diapers? They’ve come such a long way since the bunchy plastic pants clad diapers of my youth. And they’re way way more affordable, too, if you have the initial money to invest. A friend of mine was selling her son’s cloth diaper collection (Bum Genius) and I got them for a bargain. They came really highly rated from several people and I’ve been pretty happy with them, too. Shea seems to like them OK, though they give him a bit of a chunky butt at this stage. 🙂 No diaper rash, though! They DO leak… but I think this is partly because we were used to changing Evelyn, who wore disposable nappies, and we probably left her in them for long periods of time too often. We have to be more regular about changing Shea or he will leak. To be fair, though, he actually leaks sometimes from disposable nappies, too, when we use one from our emergency stash.
There is also the extra laundry factor, of course. We do normal family laundry nearly every day, and I have to do a nappy wash probably every two days or so or we will run out. Our washing machine is new but takes a really long time on the cycles (Irish washing machines always seem to take longer – or maybe they are just more thorough? – than anything I ever used in America) so doing this single wash takes several hours. It’s OK though – any extra laundry hassle melts away when I hang all those colorful diapers up on the line. I don’t know why, but standing back to look at them always makes me smile.
However, I think even the cloth diapers pale in comparison to the biggest change we’re making as of today. We’ve sold our TV set, Blu-Ray player and satellite dish. Yup, someone is coming to pick it up and take it away any minute, and the Kelly family is going TV free for the summer.
I’d like to say we’re giving it up because we have all these great plans for reading sonnets to each other, living in the wilderness, playing complex card games or learning to speak Icelandic, but again, this one firstly comes down to the money.
In Ireland, and the UK, you must pay a yearly TV License for the use of your television set. It doesn’t matter if you don’t watch the local channels or even if you keep it in a box in the back room – if you own a TV, you must render to Caesar. They actually do send TV inspectors around door-to-door to check up on this. It costs €160 per year in Ireland, and it was due for us at the beginning of June. We never seem to have an extra €160 to spare, like most folks, and this year we’d hardly even be getting much use out of this license because we plan on moving to the USA in September. So… we hemmed and hawed about it, because after all, we do love our movies around here. (Kind of goes with the territory of marrying a filmmaker!) Evelyn has her favourite shows she watches every day and I’ve been guilty of TV addictions when certain cooking shows (and Downton Abbey!) are on.
But, in the end, we decided it would be a good experiment, and certainly won’t do us any harm. We have piles of books we’ve never finished and the weather these last few days have been way too gorgeous to be stuck inside watching telly anyway!!! I do think it will be positive and will give us an incentive to stay in shape, do more fun things with the kids, walk the dog, and maybe even get creative. Maybe I’ll even get some gardening in after all.
So, wish us luck! We won’t own a TV again until we move to the States and can afford to buy one. PLEASE don’t send me any show spoilers, ha ha ha! 😉
The one thing I have noticed about each of these “hippy” choices we’ve made is that you rarely hear people give up on them once they’ve begun. Baby carriers, cloth diapers, no TV – I’ve only known a handful of folks who DIDN’T like the results and went back to the norm. (Breastfeeding is the exception – I know it is very difficult or even impossible for some women, and certainly didn’t start out easy for me, so I understand when people choose not to do it.) But I think all that has sort of inspired me to be brave, I know that sounds silly, but to give it a go and try something out of the ordinary. And so far, I’m in agreement – it’s not always so bad being different. 🙂