30 life questions that will strengthen your closest friendships
30 life questions that will strengthen your closest friendships

Geraldine Carton

7 comforting films worth watching to take your mind off Covid
7 comforting films worth watching to take your mind off Covid

Jennifer McShane

This Dalkey home, with sea access and incredible views, is on sale for €3.95 million
This Dalkey home, with sea access and incredible views, is on sale for €3.95 million

Megan Burns

Pandemic regrets: 20 things we would have done differently if we’d known what was ahead
Pandemic regrets: 20 things we would have done differently if we’d known what was ahead

Amanda Cassidy

Marianne Smyth, aka @smythsisters, picks 42 summer staples
Marianne Smyth, aka @smythsisters, picks 42 summer staples

Holly O'Neill

Paris Hilton and the physical, verbal and emotional abuse she suffered while at boarding school
Paris Hilton and the physical, verbal and emotional abuse she suffered while at boarding school

Lauren Heskin

Afore After: The new womenswear brand that’s so sustainable, it uses buttons made from Irish milk
Afore After: The new womenswear brand that’s so sustainable, it uses buttons made from Irish...

Sarah Finnan

6 new Netflix picks we can’t wait to watch in August
6 new Netflix picks we can’t wait to watch in August

Jennifer McShane

Friendship fallout in a pandemic: “I realised that nobody had picked up the phone to see how was I doing”
Friendship fallout in a pandemic: “I realised that nobody had picked up the phone to...

Niamh Ennis

Sophie Toscan du Plantier: 10 questions we’re still asking about the case
Sophie Toscan du Plantier: 10 questions we’re still asking about the case

Jennifer McShane

Image / Editorial

Things fall apart: My magical daughter infuses joy in my every day


by Lia Hynes
11th Jun 2018

In the last year, Liadan Hynes’ marriage fell apart. She is now working on adjusting to the new reality. In her weekly column, Things Fall Apart she is exploring the myriad ways a person can find their way back to themselves.

I’m willing to admit that there might be a modicum of parental bias at play here, but our daughter is magical. It is her fourth birthday party this weekend, and as is appropriate for someone magical, the theme is unicorns. After much deliberation (she has been planning this event for almost a year), the cake is carrot, with blue sprinkles, and a miniature Princess Celestia (of My Little Ponies) on top.

I know that when people separate, it is common to say “thank god there were no children involved.” I know this. I have said it myself, about friends. But then I also thought that the she in that case was brave; brave to leave a marriage in her thirties, and maybe give up her chance to ever have children. Men can come and go. There is a window for children. “Imagine if I didn’t have her,” I say to a friend in horror.

But I am lucky, I have her.

And so I can relax into getting used to this new life, the new ways.

And so I thank my stars that there is a child involved.  A child makes it harder to end things, but easier to bear when they do end. When your life involves a joyful almost-four-year old, and ours is particularly joy-filled, then that infuses your every day.

I remember walking home from a tough day at work when I was pregnant, and realising that there was only so bad a day could be now that I was equipped with the knowledge of Herself’s burgeoning existence. Already, she was acting as a sort of emotional trampoline.

When the midwife told us at the five-month scan that we were having a girl, unbidden, the thought popped into my head, “we’ve won the lottery.” I hadn’t even admitted to myself how much I wanted one. A girl that is.

Christmas morning

When they handed her to me in the delivery room I thought “fifty-two Christmases in one.”  It was my tired brain’s way of saying her arrival was as good as a year of Christmases.

As a tiny baby with reflux, she would only sleep lying with her head on the crook of my arm, on waking she would look up at me and smile. For the first few weeks, there would be a split second upon waking where I would forget she had arrived. And then I would remember and again think, Christmas. She is like Christmas morning.

Now, she is a messer, the source of constant laughter. “More tea?” she croons in an exaggerated imitation of her grandmother’s cork accent. She has her own language, a sort of guttural affair she speaks with utter conviction. “Shalamaluk, as they say in Sabalee,” she was overheard saying to her best friend recently. Much of the day is spent making up songs. “I love my mommy, she is the best, she makes my dinner, she cuggles me at bedtime,” she sang the other night. She plans to get a tattoo like Moana’s Maui when she is sixteen, and open a cake shop when she grows up.

For those in her inner circle, she is a child overflowing with love, who will walk into a room to say matter-of-factly “mommy, I love you”, before returning to whatever she is doing.

I didn’t understand when Gwyneth announced her conscious uncoupling. Is it possible to do such a thing, end a marriage, unconsciously?  Now though, I think I get it. In her own, inimitable check-your-privilege way, GP was saying that they were consciously creating the kind of post-marriage life their family would have. As opposed to being caught up in some sort of maelstrom. It’s the kind of thing you get to do if you are lucky.

We have been lucky. We are very amicable. It helps that there is a child involved, everyone tends to pull together; the focus goes to them. When your child is a magical, joy-filled person, you focus on protecting that.

We’re going on a family holiday together next month and we’re all counting the days. She is going to teach Daddy to swim, she has announced, and we will live on a diet of chocolate chip mint ice cream and spaghetti bolognaise.

None of this is to suggest a picture of parenting that does not involve hiding your head behind an open kitchen press door and screaming in silent frustration because they will. Not. Put. Their. Shoes. On. Or the kind of exhaustion that feels like your skin has been flayed, so raw are you. Or the endless tyranny of dinner making, laundry doing, night-time waking. Sometimes though, when she is asleep, I miss her.

“Are you overcompensating?” says a friend jokingly when she hears of the party, and the cake and the bouncing castle and all the planning. Actually no, I think. We’re celebrating. Celebrating our girl.

Also Read

EDITORIAL
‘We went to the zoo today – and life felt deliciously normal’

What’s seldom is truly wonderful, writes Amanda Cassidy Dublin Zoo has been the backdrop to our children’s lives – birthday...

By Amanda Cassidy

EDITORIAL
Book gift ideas for every kind of reader

Anyone who said books and socks make for boring gifts has clearly never received a delightfully absorbing book or a...

By Amanda Kavanagh

EDITORIAL
‘In a public health emergency, why does so much of the post-pandemic talk revolve around drinking?’

No other European country is having the same public order challenges our capital city is experiencing, writes Amanda Cassidy I...

By Amanda Cassidy

audiobooks
EDITORIAL
6 brilliant audiobooks worth listening to during lockdown

Six great audiobooks to listen to in lockdown. It took me ages to come around to the idea of audiobooks....

By Jennifer McShane

EDITORIAL
The Howth train attack represents a lawlessness that makes me fear for my daughters

I fear the true fallout of Covid on our cities is just getting started, writes Amanda Cassidy As the pandemic...

By Amanda Cassidy

BRITs
EDITORIAL
Best BRITs – The standout moments everyone is talking about from last night’s BRIT Awards

The BRIT Awards took place over in London last night, welcoming the who’s who of the music world inside the...

By Sarah Finnan

rings
EDITORIAL
Rings that help you draw attention to your newly manicured nails

Rings to help you flaunt your fresh mani? Non-negotiables. Nail salons reopened their doors to the public earlier this week...

By Sarah Finnan