When my babies were small, I was really on my own. This most definitely affected my health and wellbeing in ways I didn’t understand at the time. Once my third baby came along, the doctor had me back on anti-anxiety medication. I didn’t necessarily feel anxious, but I had physical symptoms which I felt were quite serious.

As it turns out, I didn’t have multiple sclerosis – I just had tingling and numbness on the left side of my body because that was the side I always held my children on. Your brain, when you’re that exhausted and overwhelmed, doesn’t always go to the obvious answer. Sometimes, it goes to those nagging worries in the back of your mind until they aren’t in the back of your mind anymore. The medication helped me come to those more obvious conclusions and after six or so months, I was able to go off them again.

Today I feel better, and I don’t have any hard feelings about the lack of support, but at the time, my life was difficult. I think I am only really realising how difficult it was now that those early years are behind me.

Rediscovering me

Now, I have rediscovered old interests. I have time to exercise and garden. I can listen to music other than the Frozen soundtrack. My kids are old enough that they don’t need 100% monitoring at all times, so if they are inside colouring or watching TV, I can be outside doing the things I enjoy.

Travel is something I have rediscovered. I have always loved to travel and like so many Irish, I have that sense of adventure in me which makes me want to explore. For years, I didn’t go anywhere or – if I did – I tried to make the trip as kid-friendly as possible.

Now, the hubby and I are in a sweet spot – once we can escape the farm for a long weekend – to be able to take the kids to museums, or to a theme park; knowing they will enjoy themselves and (hopefully somewhat) appreciate the trouble we went to planning.

You marry the farmer; the farmer marries the farm

But I am still thinking about those early days of motherhood where I couldn’t really escape. When I say I had no support, I also count my husband in that camp. He was gone so much of the time – especially by the time the third child came around – that after a while I just didn’t bother including him in plans. I knew it was me and the children, and that would be it. I think it’s the same for many people married to farmers. You marry the farmer; the farmer marries the farm.

So many farmers have additional jobs on top of the farm. When my children were babies, there were often work trips which my husband couldn’t avoid. These trips were mainly to America and while they might have been to some boring locations (so he says), all I knew was they included a free hotel room, restaurant meals, and full, uninterrupted nights of sleep.


Once, a work trip coincided with a miscarriage. Another time, a work trip occurred just weeks after the birth of our third baby. This baby had colic and besides having two toddlers to deal with, I was also up all hours with a screaming newborn.

Eventually, the farming became the main job and the work trips to America ended. Once the children were old enough, I entered back into the workforce. Now, I am the one with the work trips, but my dear aul husband isn’t as understanding about me going.

“At this time of year?” he says incredulously.

If you read his last column, you will understand why he doesn’t want me to leave him as a solo parent right now. He is exhausted. The farm is busy. He needs help and can’t be in two places at once, minding the kids and minding the farm.

But the way I see it? He forgets.

He forgets how tired I was.

He forgets how under pressure I was.

He forgets how I struggled to be in three different places at one time, trying to help three small children with three different problems.

And while I don’t hold a grudge, I do kind of feel like I did my time.

I have come to realise it’s not just about the travel or the ‘getting away from it all’. It’s a celebration of my mental health slowly being restored, and that is priceless.

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