Saturday 19 January 2019

Meet the toughest, most fierce creature known to man...the Irish Mammy

Anyone can ride an alligator.

But if Baz Ashmawy wants a real challenge he should try being a single mother like his mammy Nancy was.

He may have four children from his partner's previous relationships and two of his own. But the way I see it he just hasn't got the right chromosomes to take on the biggest challenge anyone can ever face. Motherhood.

OK, there are harder things and one of them is not being able to be a mam or dad when you want to be.

You're lucky if you have a child and you know all about it if you can't have one.

But because parents' love is shot through with fear it means we live in a constant state of anxiety every single day.

And because children start off as cells in their mammies' bodies and go on to feed from their mammies' breast, maternal love is the strongest instinct on the planet.

Ask anyone who works with animals and they'll tell you who the most ferocious beasts are: mammies with babies.

They're not gooey or fluffy or chocolate boxy at all. That's just a stupid male fantasy of female powerlessness.

Be they rats or cats or lions or tigers they are fierce and they'll stop at nothing to protect their babies.

Gazelles will even willingly attract hunters' gunfire towards themselves to save their babies.

OK, Irish mammies don't have to have a death wish to protect our babies, but still we fret constantly about our children.

Why isn't he eating? Why hasn't he come in? Why hasn't she called?

The umbilical cord may be cut but it never really breaks and that's one of the reasons it's very useful to have a dad.

He can offer a bit of balance. It would be so bloody tiring being everything to a small child.


We had a dad in the home but when my twins were small I felt like one of those mammy polar bears who just lie down under the ice and let their cubs feed from them until they nearly die of exhaustion.

One night when I was nursing a bawling baby I managed to hear bits of a report on the radio about a man who rowed across the Atlantic.

Show me the boat, I thought. Give me the oars. Rowing across the Atlantic would be so easy, as long as I can leave these babies on shore.

Except I couldn't leave them, could I? Not when they depended on me for everything, their little hands clasped together as they fed, one white and one brown.

So I rowed on through the dark night of the soul, waking and feeding, feeding and waking, until life became a total blur and the next thing I remember a pre-teen was shouting, "You just don't understand me!"

Baz may think hunting tarantulas in Cambodia and hot-air ballooning across the Sahara is a challenge.

But for Nancy I bet it's a piece of cake. She's been a mammy and from the time Baz was eight she did it all on her own.

Not only did she do all the fretting she also did all the earning, working endless shifts as a nurse in the Irish health system, which was hardly a picnic in the park.

But men have somehow managed to turn Nancy and the countless mammies like her into figures of fun.


She is presented cleaning the bathroom in a funny rubber hat or stuck to the kitchen sink in the background of the shot, in the TV show 50 Ways to Kill Your Mammy.

There's only one reason for this: men fear the power of Irish mammies.

50 Ways to Kill Your Mammy is like motherhood seen from the viewpoint of a sulky male teenager who resents the power his mother has over him.

This explains the allure, to all the male publicists and all the male TV critics, of that scene when Nancy shoots Baz with a Taser.

It's just another attempt to deny the hard fact that all those Irish he-men were given life and kept alive by little old ladies like Nancy.

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