It won’t come as a surprise to those who have read my previous blogs when I say; my mum had a terrible job getting me out of the house every morning for school when I was growing up. Anyone would have thought that I was being tortured in school. I just didn’t like leaving the house! I have in turn been blessed with a lovely nine year old who also hates leaving the house. Today as I sit here in the silence of my empty house waiting to collect her and her little brother from school I smile at the memory of the look of disbelief on my mum’s face when I announced that I was returning to education. I can still remember her earnestly pointing out to me that I had two children a husband and a home. Patiently explaining my track record at finishing courses wasn’t very encouraging. Reminding me of the repeat leaving certificate courses she had paid for and I had dropped out of after a couple of months.
That was three years ago now. In September of 2008 I began my adventure as a mature student at The National College of Ireland Maynooth and on the 7th of September 2011 my family and I attended my Graduation ceremony. I am still walking on air. The day was made all the more special as my niece graduated on the same day. By some strange but wonderful twist of fate we managed to be conferred at the same ceremony. I like to believe that my Dad had a hand in it. I don’t think I’ve mentioned it before, my Dad died when I was 11.
The time allocation for the ceremony was done in alphabetical order by surname; my nieces surname begins with G while mine begins with S. From the moment we started college Mammy Byrne has been anticipating a double graduation celebration. She’d never say but we all know grandchild number one is very special (joking mum. Honest!). When we discovered that the Graduation was stretched over three days and was in alphabetical order PLUS each graduate could only bring two guests there was a day or nine of disappointment in both Mammy Byrne’s house and mine. I really wanted all the people who had made it possible for me to return to full time education to be there on the day. My husband and children have spent the last year looking forward to it, while Mammy Byrne had been planning for it since 2008. I always wanted my Mother and Father In-law to be present as well because thanks to them and Mammy Byrne no childminders where needed for the three years I was in college. When we received our tickets for the Graduation there was great excitement when my niece and I by some small miracle (this is where my Dad steps in) got the same day and time!
My lovely husband and Mammy Byrne got to watch the proceedings live while my two fantastic children watched with their Nana and Granddad by video link in a room that resembles a classroom in Hogwarts. My lovely daughter was thrilled to be able to tell us in detail what was written on the desks, I think it may have changed her attitude to school! My sister’s children also watched from there. From what I’m told it was far better than being at the live event, they fell about the place laughing telling everyone that not only does mammy cry at Disney films, she also cries when the president of the college makes a speech!
Anyway, back to my reason for this particular blog. Mammy Byrne has been both Mum and Dad in our family since 1986. I really am enjoying blogging about my childhood memories and I know Mammy Byrne is slightly amused by them too. I’m sure if she was to write her memories of the incidents that they would be vastly different and would reflect a stubborn, head strong child who had to have the last word and was afraid of nothing and no-one. How I wish that child had remained through my teens and early adulthood!
Without Mammy Byrne I would not be the woman I am today. I have watched her cope with everything that life has thrown her way. She has remained strong, independent and has managed to keep a strong hold on her sense of humour. She has worked hard all her life to make sure we didn’t go without. She has always been there for me whenever I hit a bump on my own journey through life. I am so proud of my mum. Through thick and thin she has always, always stood by me. The lessons she has taught me about the importance of loyalty and integrity are priceless.
I know I have lots of people to thank for making my journey through college easier, my husband, my children, my lovely in-laws and my big sister who, despite wanting a brother, encouraged the sister she got all the way. Mammy Byrne gets special thanks though; she showed me that with determination and hard work you can reach your goals. I’m so glad she got to see her daughter and granddaughter reach theirs. Her mantra, “Reach for the moon! If you don’t quite make it- you’ll still land on a star!” Thanks Mammy Byrne and thanks Dad.