St. Patrick’s week 2011 is one that will be etched in my memory forever. First and foremost it was our son Colum’s first St. Patrick’s Day. Secondly, we all got to celebrate it in New York, and thirdly, Colum and I got to meet some of the most amazing people in America.
However, the week began with the shedding of a few tears.
John, my husband, and I had booked a night away at Foxwoods Resort and Casino on Saturday, March 12. We went to see our friend and professional boxer Andy Lee take on Scottish middleweight Craig McEwan. In the end Lee did us proud and it was worth the tears I cried while leaving my little man for our first overnight away.
Our good friend Tara Tobin kindly offered to look after Colum for the 24 hours we would be gone.
A few days before, however, I had a number of minor panic attacks at the thought of being away from him for so long. “What if he woke up in the middle of the night in a strange place and cried for hours at a time? Or if he got sick and had to be rushed to the hospital; I would be three hours away,” I said to myself.
I was familiar with other mother’s anxieties in the past (when I was single) and I used to think to myself what was all the emotion about? It’s healthy to have time alone, so is there really need for such drama?
Oh drama -- I brought and a lot of it on the half hour journey to Tara’s home in upstate New York. I cried off and on for the whole trip as I sat in the back of the car with Colum looking into his little innocent face. John tried his best to reassure me our son would be fine, but his words were not carrying any weight.
But we did it. I dropped him off, made a few bottles, got him settled and, if I’m being honest, the little fella didn’t even notice me leave. An hour later I was consumed with thoughts about the night ahead, and no more tears were shed.
Yes, I did call Tara a few times but she constantly reassured me that he was doing great. And how could he not be? He was being entertained by her wonderful kids, Jack and Maeve, and didn’t miss his mommy or daddy at all!
In fact he slept better with them than he ever did in our home. Thank you Tara for being a wonderful friend and looking after Colum like he was one of your own.
We were we elated to see his smiling little face on Sunday afternoon. But will I leave him again? You betcha!
As St. Patrick’s Day drew closer celebrations began to heat up all over New York. Colum and I were invited to attend Irish America magazine’s Hall of Fame luncheon at the New York Yacht Club on the
Tuesday before the big day. I was delighted with the invite but slightly apprehensive about bringing my three-month-old baby to such a high profile event.
But, for the most part, Colum did me proud and the event couldn’t have turned out better.
After hiding away his stroller, throwing the baby bag over my shoulder, slipping into my heels (I wore flats to walk from the train to the event location) and securing Colum into the Baby Bjorn on my chest, we were ready to meet the who’s who of Irish America.
First up was Lord of the Dance legend Michael Flatley. He kindly agreed to pose for a picture with Colum and I, and quickly slipped back into the conversation he was having with friends before we disturbed him.
Just as well because a minute later I noticed Colum drooling down the front of his little suit and onto my dress. I whipped out the baby wipes from my bag and I was back to looking semi-sophisticated again.
Next up was this year’s grand marshal of the 250th St. Patrick’s Day parade in New York, Mary Higgins Clark, a crime writer who has sold millions of books -- even my mother back in Ireland loves her writings.
Colum, donning his first suit, was memorized by this 83-year old woman and smiled at her several times during a brief conversation about him. She reminisced back to when her own children were small and how she coped. She was such a lady.
But the highlight of the lunch came when rumors began to circulate that former President Bill Clinton might pop in and say a few words.
While the event progressed and honors were presented to the dignitaries I sat at the back of the room, gave Colum his bottle and took it all in. What an honor it was to be in a room full of such amazing people.
By the end of the afternoon Colum was getting slightly restless, so I made the decision to pop out quietly before being noticed. I had hoped to stay to see President Clinton, but didn’t want to upset those present with the possible shrills of a three-month-old.
As I trotted down the marble steps towards the front door of the Yacht Club, quietly trying to make my exit, I was stopped in my tracks by hunky men with earpieces. I knew that meant only one thing -- that President Clinton was in the house. They asked me to stay where I was for a few moments.
“Of course,” I responded excitedly while Colum was kicking his little legs all over the place.
Moments later the salty haired smiling president entered the building.
He greeted a few people as he came through the door, and here is where the fun began for us. He took one look at Colum suspended off my person, excused himself from the small talk he was having and came right over.
“Who is this little man,” he asked.
“Colum Mooney,” I managed to say without stammering. “Colum James Mooney,” I repeated not really knowing why!
He gently grabbed Colum’s hands and shook them energetically.
Colum responded as best he could with some coos and ahh’s and an odd squeal here and there.
Clinton said a few more words to Colum directly, none of which I can remember because I was literally star struck (not like me) and then he kindly stood for a picture with us.
Moments later he was whisked into the main function room where he gave an outstanding speech, and boy was I glad he left when he did.
About a minute later my little “gentleman” passed the loudest/smelliest gas that had potential to knock a donkey. Thankfully I was alone in a corner when Colum decided to go for it. I guess I should be grateful for his timing. Now that could have been deadly embarrassing!
Colum slept for the remainder of the afternoon while I updated my Facebook status with the news that we had met the president. Yes, I’m not shy about dropping names that’s for sure!
Fast-forward to St. Patrick’s Day itself. This was also another special occasion.
Although the day began a little hairy with thousands of drunken teenagers falling all over Grand Central Station and the streets surrounding it (I questioned was it the right day and place to bring my three-month-old), as soon as we got down to Sixth Avenue we were much more at home.
I met with my friend Orla and her 17-month-old son Emmet, and we proudly marched behind the Co. Kerry banner. Despite the nearly two-hour wait on the street before it was our turn to march, it was definitely a lovely opportunity that may not present itself again.
Donning the Kerry football jersey in his stroller Colum was memorized by all the people and noise. It was a wonderful day.
During the week I met a number of friends for lunch at various eateries in Woodlawn and Yonkers, and all in all it was a lovely week -- with just one embarrassing moment.
During a lunch in the Irish Coffee Shop on McLean Avenue a girl I hadn’t seen in a few years came over to my table to say hello. She was meeting Colum for the first time and the conversation was great.
That was until she reached for my head and touched my hair.
“I think you have paint in your hair. Were you painting?” she asked.
“Eh, paint, no, maybe it’s dust or something,” I said, unable to figure out what it could be.
“No, not dust,” she said. “It’s stuck to it.”
Slightly embarrassed, I rushed home to check out the painty substance in my hair to finally realize it was my son’s vomit.
Just before we left the house Colum had spewed up while over my shoulders. I guess I hadn’t cleaned it all up like I thought I had.
So there you have it -- Colum’s first St. Patrick’s week in New York. I wonder what will next year have in store! God only knows.