Happy International Women’s Day

Today I took part in a radio panel discussion talking about International Women’s today – we spoke about the potential impact of the gender quota legislation currently going through the Oireachtas. At the moment 15% of our T.D’s are women – we have 166 members of the Dáil, which is our primary house of parliament, only 25 of which are women (and yet this is the highest number of women elected since the foundation of the state). Of the 15 cabinet members only 3 are women,  2 Ministers and the Attorney General. During the programme we spoke about the five c’s: the barriers to women going forward for election confidence, cash, candidate selection, culture and childcare.  We also talked about how, for example, 85% of national school teachers are women, and yet only 17% of school principals are women. We talked about how as long as childcare was seen as a women’s issue we would never have gender equality.

Refreshingly, nobody equated gender with parenthood. The panel was made up of women of different ages, interests and experiences. What we had in common was that we are all women. Whether or not we also happen to be a mother is only one aspect of our gender and our identity.

Happy International Women’s Day.

Candles and crystal.

Despite being an affirmed atheist, I used to love Christmas. Last year, I found Christmas difficult – our first ICSI cycle was cancelled and we weren’t sure whether we’d be able to start a cycle in January. I found myself muttering, for the first time, that Christmas was for children. I wasn’t having an easy time, and was beginning to realise that we might never have kids.

This year, we know we will never have kids. So, in our family, Christmas can’t be just for children. Things have been hectic for me in work recently – we had a big conference this week – so I haven’t really had much chance to think or plan for Christmas. But I realised that I had, without realising it, been wondering how to ‘reclaim Christmas’. So, I’ve decided we’re going to have a ‘sophisticated Christmas’. Of course, M. did snort with derision when I proclaimed this, pointing out our distinct lack of sophistication.

Two things that don’t go with children: candles and crystal. So, I’m busy getting candles of all variety of shape and sizes. I’ve also recently bought lovely crystal glasses, that will get their first outing on Christmas day. And we will have a lovely twinkling, flickering Christmas.

Our tree will be decorated with the decorations we’ve gathered over the years, without any ornament on top. Every year, as the youngest in the house, I’ve put whatever (its varied from year to year) on the top of the tree. We’re starting a new tradition in our home, the top of the tree will stay unadorned.

Tintin, Paris 2011

I have recently found out that, traditionally, a 10th wedding anniversary is celebrated as a tin anniversary.

It’s our 10th wedding anniversary shortly. We’re going to Paris to celebrate. We’ve never bothered celebrating wedding anniversaries previously. There’s been more than one year where one or the other, or both of us, forgot our wedding anniversary. There was also a year where M. forgot, and I ‘misremembered’ the date. But this year, we’re going to celebrate.

For families with children, family milestones tend to be built around children. Family celebrations are associated with births, first-steps, starting school, going on to college, starting a job, meeting a partner, the arrival of grandchildren. These tend to be shared and celebrated. We’re not going to have those milestones, so we have to mark our own celebrations. Have our own milestones. And celebrate that we are still here and enjoying life together.

We have to create our own traditions and celebrations. So we are going to Paris where we can sit in cafés, lose ourselves in waterlilies, gaze at the architecture and celebrate in Paris.