Life in New York is great, but raising a child with the love and support of family back in Ireland is starting to take its toll on APRIL DREW.
It was all about family this past weekend. McLean Avenue in Yonkers was abuzz with little girls in princess type white dresses, and little boys tucked out in suits only fit for kings.
It’s Holy Communion season, and what a lovely time of the year it is. I was in the beauty salon last week and saw a mother and her seven-year-old daughter bonding while getting their nails painted for the little girl’s special day.
Seera’s hairdressers on Katonah Avenue in Woodlawn was booked solid with mothers getting up-do’s for their children’s big day, and on Friday morning I overheard an Irish father explain to his Communion aged son that the cake in his hand was for his Communion party.
John, my husband, Colum, our 5-month old, and I had the pleasure of spending Saturday afternoon in the company of one special boy, Michael John Costello, who earlier in the day made his First Holy Communion at St. Barnabas Church.
We were invited to attend Michael John’s Communion celebrations in Rory Dolan’s Bar and Restaurant with his mom Angela, from Cavan, dad Donnchadh Costello, a Kerry export, and his older brother Brian, along with 30 or so more family and friends.
It was a very memorable day for the Costellos, and it quickly made me realize the importance of having the love and support of family in special times like these.
As I sat back feeding Colum after an extremely delicious meal (compliments to the chef at Rory’s for putting out tasteful dinners one after the other when the place was so busy), I watched the interaction between the Costello and O’Reilly families (Angela’s maiden name is O’Reilly).
Michael John’s grandmother, Alice O’Reilly, flew over to be with her grandson on his special day, and it was evident from his face that he loved having granny around. Angela’s sisters Breda and Rosie and her brother Dessie (who all live here) were also present with their partners and children.
When I asked Michael John what was special about his day he said two things -- the last song he sang at the Communion ceremony and having all his family together. It nearly brought tears to my eyes.
We had Colum christened on February 5, and were lucky enough to have John’s mom Mary with us, and the godparents, Eoin Markham (John’s cousin) and my cousin Carly Collins who flew in from Ireland.
But the rest of our families were missing, and sitting back watching the interaction between the O’Reillys and the Costellos on Saturday put everything into perspective.
As I wrote before, Skype has definitely been a lifeline for us to keep in contact with family back home, but if I’m being honest it just isn’t enough anymore.
Now that we have started a family we crave more than anything for Colum to know his grandmothers, cousins, aunts and uncles. I never thought I’d get sentimental like this.
John and I always loved our lives in New York and still very much do, but it looks like moving back to Ireland is on the cards in the not too distant future. We’ve had a fantastic eight years in this country, made friends for life, traveled places we would have never seen if we’d chosen to stay in Ireland and certainly gained very valuable life lessons while here. But I’ve a feeling this chapter is about to come to an end.
Like all immigrants before us we’ve missed countless weddings, funerals, christenings, communions, confirmations, and special birthdays, as well as the birth of nieces, nephews and friend’s children.
Everyone living away from home knows the sad feeling that comes with that, but we always get over it and thank God for the great lives we have here, especially during these turbulent times in Ireland.
However, getting over it, for us, isn’t cutting it anymore. We don’t want to miss any more family events, and more than anything we don’t want Colum to be a stranger to the Drew/Mooney families. It will be a year or so before we finally get the courage to give up this wonderful place and say goodbye to our dear friends, but it’s something we need to start planning for now.
Sunday was Mother’s Day, and one that I’ll cherish forever. My own mother was the first on the phone wishing me a happy first Mother’s Day, and even though the holiday was celebrated in Ireland a few weeks ago the day was still filled with a tinge of sadness because we couldn’t celebrate it with Colum’s grannies present. But we made the most of it.
Probably not the most traditional way of doing things -- John wanted to book a dinner somewhere, but I told him I had a special request, fish and chips from the famous Salt and Battery chip-shop in downtown Manhattan, and my wish was granted.
I don’t think I’ve ever enjoyed fish and chips so much out of a plastic bag as I did on Sunday sitting in a little park in the middle of the West Village with my two favorite men as the sun shone brightly overhead.
We recently purchased an iPhone so I was able to document the moments with pictures which I sent straight home to Colum’s grannies.
We finished up the evening with a walk on the new High Line Park followed by a cupcake from Magnolia Bakery.
I had heaviness in my heart when I began to think about not having these special New York moments when we do move back to Ireland, but John quickly reminded me that there would be lots of beautiful and interesting places in Ireland that we’ve yet to discover.
And he is right. I know that and I look forward to the day we can bring Colum to Dublin Zoo, Fota Island in Cork and dip his little feet into the sea in Lahinch in Co. Clare. But the thing I most look forward to is being able to share those moments with our family, Colum’s family.
Naturally it won’t all be roses and daffodils back home, but John and I are relatively positive people and certainly make the most of situations. We’ll survive the recession like the rest of them over there, and we’ll do it hand in hand with our families.
As I sat watching Michael John in his element with all the love he was getting from his own extended family, I knew without a doubt that I want the same for our little man.