Let’s face it; with two smallies in tow it can be nigh on impossible to leave the house. There is a certain window, which you may or may not have ,within which you may or may not have 23 minutes to get somewhere, do something and get back. All this effort while also trying to avoid hissy fits (no, there is no reason) and sleeps at inappropriate times. I’m actually exhausted even thinking about leaving the house now.
But make no mistake about it. There will be times when you really want to get out of the house – and even times when you need to get out of the house. Cue my saving grace this Autumn – the weekly market in Kinvara, our nearest town.
I will admit our first visit in August was a real effort. Spurred on by a need for social interaction and the chance of a coffee prepared by someone else I bundled the babies into the car. It was tricky as “the window” started to rapidly evaporate when the small boy required intense negotiations to get his shoes on. I parked the car to find the two asleep (how could they be asleep? This was their ‘awake’ time and I had chatted loudly all the way to town with my window rolled down) and a light misty rain had set in – the type of rain that soaks into you so even the inside of your raincoat gets wet. I contemplated going home, but after all the effort the thought was too dismal. I drew breath and unloaded the lads. Small boy wanted me to carry him even though baby girl was in her sling. It was a bad start.
But, you know what? The rain moved on, small boy perked up and one of the first people I met was a friend and neighbour who treated me to the longed-for coffee and gave a stay-at-home mother just what she needs; lively and interesting conversation. We wandered around the stalls, made a few purchases, spoke to some truly lovely people, met another neighbour at her stall… At the risk of sounding very dramatic (and perhaps because when you have very small children, everything kind of is a drama) we felt part of something. And we were! One of the world’s oldest but most effective places of human interaction. It was invigorating, it was fun. It was somewhere to go, somewhere to be.
In the 21st century, life is such that you really need to go out of your way to meet people. It is often said that while the Irish are extremely friendly, we can be quite closed off – and although I’m generalising here, I do think that this is quite true. We’re outgoing as a nation, but in many ways we really do like to keep to ourselves and within our own family units. And that’s all ok… It can make Ireland a tough place to make real and meaningful connections with new people but, on the flip-side, we’re great at the small talk and we have a knack for making strangers feel welcome and at-ease.
Sometimes, on a Friday afternoon after a long week in toddlerdom, that’s kind of all you need. I’m getting to know some of the lovely stall-holders by their first name and the chit-chat, story-telling and easy conversation is a tonic.
The last market for this year takes place this Friday (with the exception of a special Christmas Market in December). We will really miss it.