Sometimes I forget where I live.
Today was pure joy, my first visit was in the 18th arrondissement in Paris, I enter the home of a new Irish mother and the day finishes in the 12th again a young Irish mother, the banter and chat in both homes in our language, turn of phrases from the land we have left.
It’s the 5th of May, The International Day of Midwives in the year of the Nurse and Midwife. 2020 is one of the most challenging .
Like many Irish having grown up in Cork, Schooled in Cork, in a Cork family. I finished my studies only to find I had no possibilities of work. I didn’t mind as I wanted to move on. London was easy so like so many before I took the boat then the train, bus and finally a place behind a sofa. It was a terrifying journey. This was a hardship I had never imagined- living on cornflakes, walking for hours to an underpaid job as a nursing aid. Homesick and lonely an Irish friend sponsored my trip home. The worlds Irish showing empathic side.
My life continues to unfold two years later and I am back again to London this time with a job and better paid. A year working with an Irish team of nurses. One day there was a complaint from the nursing management as they didn’t understand our reports. The consultant overrode the complaint as he understood it all as he too was from an Irish family.
Peace resumed. It allowed us to be cocooned in our little emerald island. Off again to foreign lands six months of traveling bringing me to meet my countrymen and women. Healthcare workers in Bangladesh, engineers in Nepal, volunteers in Calcutta. Irish friends in Australia and fellow midwives in New Zealand.
My life has been lived on many shores but always near my countrymen. It was never my intention but Ireland is its people and Its people are Ireland. This connection to my home has allowed me to live with a pride that has held me together. Its music, its poetry, its sportsmanship and this being its people.
My life for many years is in France. My children are half and half, my husband wholly French and I wholly Irish. My work is in my village Paris and its surrounding areas. English speaking families find me in their journey to be parents but again when I meet an Irish family be it half and a half or wholly Irish its a cuppa of Barry’s tea with the chat. The banter, the caring for your community, caring for your people, understanding the loneliness and remembering the empathy shown so many years ago when I was so young.
I belong to a group of “Irish Mams in Paris”. We meet, we natter, we accept, we support our fellow women. We are held together by our homeland. These meet-ups are so soul-nurturing when we are together we can just be. We are fortunate that we can return to Ireland when we need to refuel with friends and family.
In this challenging year with the world surviving with all its possibilities, It turns your added need to belong to a community, my Irish community. Social media with Irish Mams in Paris and the Irish in France reaching out to make sure we are ok, sharing information for those needing to head home to family.
I worry each day as I continue my community work as a midwife that I will stay well and care for the young mothers and not fall ill myself. I don’t have a cuppa of Barry’s anymore as I wear my masks but that’s ok.
The day finishes and I rushed home to get to the pharmacy before it closed to collect my weekly quota of masks only to bump into another Irish women as I was leaving. Well, say no more and hour later a meter plus apart with our masks in place we head our way. We are the only Irish in the village.
The world sure is only one large village full of Irish so sure we will be all grand. I know as I enjoy the end of the day with my much-needed cuppa of Barry’s and a slice of homemade soda bread.
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