AUTUMN WAS once my most favourite time of the year. I love the changing of the colours, the blustery weather and switching on my collection of Tiffany lamps to ward off the longer nights.
Lately, however, the autumn nights have lost some of their appeal. Yes, I do still very much enjoy basking in the comforting glow of my Tiffany lamps and sitting on my comfy (second hand) sofa listening to the wind and rain battering against the windowpanes- but increasingly I've found it has also become a time for reflection.
Being a bonefide pessimist (I try to be optimistic, honestly, I'm just not very good at it) my reflections don't tend to warm the cockles of my heart so I have to make a conscious effort to think happy thoughts as the darker nights creep in.
This week I was asked what has been the best day of my life to date. It prompted me to make a list of very positive experiences which I'm determined to hold on to and remind myself off on those nights on the sofa when the whistling of the wind isn't enough to make me smile.
I would love to be one of those women who puts hand on heart and says that the day I became a mammy was up there in my "perfect day" list- but let's look at this realistically for a moment.
Labour hurts. It hurts a lot. And you get poked and prodded in your most intimate of areas by complete strangers. That happens a lot. And then people use words like tearing. In my case, they used that word a lot.
Oh yes, I had a beautiful son by the end of it- but that wasn't without a considerable amount of blood, sweat, tears and a very genuine offer by me to pay for a C-section if it would "just get this bloody baby out". (They declined my offer, despite me shouting at my other half to get the credit card out of my handbag and hand it over).
The end product is indeed perfection personified- but the day itself was an emotional and physical rollercoaster that is not exactly up there in my mind for utter perfection. (Put it this way I won't be gathering together a group of singers or bands and re-recording that Lou Reed classic to celebrate the event!)
So, having quickly ruled out the most obvious choice for my 'Best Day Ever', I began to rack my overworked brains for another memory which could take the top title.
Being a pedantic pain the rear end, I also made a decision to rule out the second most obvious choice- my wedding day. Yes, that day was fabulous. I felt like a princess from beginning to end (with the notable exception of screaming I was too fat as I put my dress on just at the moment my nerves reached fever pitch).
The overwhelming emotions of the day- joy, gratitude (to my family and friends- not to himself- he was the lucky one!), and excitement will never leave me. A wedding day is a one off. It can never be repeated, and as I thought more and more about the situation I realised the best days are those unexpected moments of perfection where you feel all is right with God and the world.
And so I recalled the moment when myself and my brother and sisters were crammed into the back of our ramshackle family car singing "Oh We Ain't Got a Barrel of Money" on the way to a family holiday.
Or I recalled the day myself, my aunt and my sister cycled our way to Grianan Fort from our Rosemount home with a packet of custard creams for a picnic and an old radio. We pushed our bikes up that mammoth hill singing "I Have Confidence" from the 'Sound of Music' and as we freewheeled at a fierce (and probably exceptionally dangerous) speed back down the hill we roared with laughter the whole time, giddy with our own childish sense of achievement. (Even better that we overtook a tractor and garnered a few dirty looks from the grumpy driver).
And coming more up to date, when myself, the wee man and the big man whom I am married to went on our family holiday to Rathmullan this year we had a day that, in my mind, comes as close to perfection as could be.
We set out early for a drive to Glenveagh National Park- somewhere I hadn't visited in years and himself had never seen. Being a mammy now, i fulfilled my pre-ordained responsibilities of making far too many soggy tomato, egg and onion and ham sandwiches and packing them in a cool bag.
Wearing suitable quantities of sun cream (I guess I can be an optimist some of the time) we walked through the gardens, played in the wee park and laughed as Joseph toddled unsteadily through the grass whooping with delight to have both mammy and daddy all to himself.
And then we sought out a certain seat which I know my own daddy loves. (My poor other half was dragged the length and breadth of Glenveagh as I determinedly refused to give up until I found that perfect spot).
And as I sat there, staring out at the lake, feeling the heat of the sun and hearing my son and husband laugh and giggle to themselves I felt at peace.
Contentment doesn't come all that often in this mad and crazy world, but at that moment and on that day, there was contentment in abundance.
So I guess when I'm feeling a little blue during the dark winter nights, I will just close my eyes and imagine my comfy sofa is that bench. The glow of the lamps will try their hardest to mimic the glow of the sun and I'll thank God and anyone who wants to listen that even though I'm months past that perfect day I can still hear the laughter of my husband and son whenever I want.
Reading At The Edge - I'm delighted to return to Cavan on Tuesday, next week for At The Edge, run by Kate Ennals. Do come and join it, it's a terrific line up and there's an op...
23 hours ago