An adventure on his own outside nearly turned to disaster for baby Colum, but his mom April Drew turned out to be more hurt than he was. April also writes about the family’s last weeks in New York as they await the move to Ireland.
It's a sound no mother wants to hear. The shrill of her child, almost animal like, coming from the distance.
Two weeks ago my son Colum was playing outside. We have a small patio area at the side of our home. There are two gates at either end, one leading to the front of the house (and the main road) and the second opens onto 12 steps down to the back garden.
I was by the door packing Easter decorations into a box when all of a sudden I could hear a frightening roar from outside. At first I thought it came from one of the older kids next door. I automatically dropped what I was doing and ran outside.
I couldn’t see Colum, my 16-month-old, anywhere. My initial thoughts were that he had been kidnapped. Where could he have gone in the space of a minute?
Then out of the corner of my eye I could see the gate leading down to the back garden open. There at the bottom of the 12 concrete steps lay my little boy. His face was pressed against the cold stone and his breaths were so deep he found it hard to cry.
I raced down and swooped him up in my arms. He cried like I’ve never heard him cry before. He had managed to open the gate and fall head first down the 12 steps.
Did I mention they were concrete! His face was swollen like a balloon.
Thankfully nothing seemed to be broken, and at the bribe of some left-over Easter egg he seemed to calm right down and finally stop crying.
Erring on the side of caution, we brought him to Westchester Medical Center – it’s a trauma one hospital. Thankfully after a few hours of observation Colum was back to his normal self, despite having a face like he just went 12 rounds with Floyd Mayweather.
I wasn’t the better of the accident for a few days. That night when we came home from the hospital and had both Colum and our now nine-week-old baby girl, Sadie, sound asleep I sat on the couch with John, my husband, and cried.
It was my fault he fell. I hadn’t checked the gate latch before allowing him to play outside. His injuries were extremely minor, but they could have been a whole lot worse.
That night I went to sleep vividly remembering the little person at the bottom of the steps, helpless and in pain. Many have told me since “it happens to every child” and “it’s the first of many,” so I guess the worst is over me – his first major fall and all that.
So now the real countdown is on for our big move back to Ireland. We are four weeks away from filling a small container with our life’s belongings.
It’s hardly believable really that it has come around so fast. We are already meeting friends for the last goodbyes. Who knows when we will see some of them again.
It’s really and truly heartbreaking not knowing the next time I’ll be able to give my best friend in New York, Marion, a big hug, or when I’ll taste Tara Tobin’s roast chicken dinners or have a long natter about life with Gerry Gleeson over a cuppa. Or have play dates with my friend’s children or any of that good stuff.
But don’t feel sorry for me. A new chapter in our lives is about to start, one that brings with it the promise of love for our kids from our extended family and friends. That we are excited at.
There was a great letter written to me published in the Irish Voice last week from a man who moved back to New Jersey after living in Ireland for a couple of years. He tried to make a go of things there but it didn’t work out.
He made the right decision for his family to move back to the United States and in a very nice way warned us of his reality. And his reality is that of so many others. I hear the stories all the time.
Carpenters and plumbers who moved back to Ireland in the boom only to lose jobs a few months later when the bottom fell out of Ireland. They found it hard to pay for the house they built, and getting another job was next to impossible.
The life they led in America prior to moving home was much more comfortable and they missed that.
So a lot came back and are still coming by the sounds of it.
We’ve been told many times by many people, both here and in Ireland, that “we’re mad moving home now.” Maybe we are, but we are going to give it a good shot and are excited at the prospect of it.
We’re simple people and want or need very little. Our lives are perfect for us.
We have two healthy children and that’s all that matters to us. Everything is as it should be at this time except for one thing. We don’t have our families by our sides in New York.
That is the primary reason for the move, and no matter what obstacles stand in our way, financially and physically, we will get through them with the love and support of our families.
I’ve been preparing to get back into Irish culture little by little. Every morning I listen to Radio Kerry or RTE Radio to hear what’s really bothering the Irish people (mainly the recession, bi-polar disorders and house taxes).
I’ve been editing my vocabulary with Colum. I’m now saying hoover instead of vacuum, mineral instead of soda, nappy instead of diaper and rubbish bin instead of garbage bin.
I’ve even bought him Wellingtons (rain boots) which he wears around the house to get him acclimatized to Irish weather gear.
The plan is to stay with John’s mom, Mary, for a few weeks in Limerick until our container arrives.
Then we have to find somewhere to house us Mooneys.
We have a busy few weeks when we arrive home. The summer weekends are already filling up with kid’s birthday parties, weddings and family gatherings. There might be very little barbequing, but I’d trade the taste of burgers any day for a home cooked meal prepared by my mother.
There is no question in our minds we will miss our lifestyle in New York, our friends and New York itself -- it is, after all, the place where John and I met, had two children and I fell into a new career (this one), but we’ll keep the memories we have created these past nine years alive through photo albums and conversations.
We’ve recently discovered a smartphone application called Voxer. It’s basically a walkie talkie that allows us to talk instantly to anyone around the world who has the same application.
It just came in the nick of time. I can now talk to my friends in New York for free at the touch of a button while I’m at home in Ireland looking out at the rain. It’s the new buzz around Woodlawn.
On that note, I need to get back to packing away kitchen paraphernalia. The house is full of boxes and in another week or two, if John has his way, I’ll be eating from plastic plates, sleeping on an air mattress and watching television on my iPhone.