"THE WORLD WILL ONLY CHANGE AS WE CHANGE." By Liz Valloor "Learning how to say no was extremely difficult. It is like coming off a drug." My formative story is like the numerous stories we hear daily. We think it has changed profoundly but when you hear women being praised on our national stations for denying themselves and their lives for the sake of their children and their families, we see really the changes are superficial. Repeatedly, I hear, she was a fantastic mother, she never thought of herself. I was born on a farm in Co. Meath. I was the fourth girl on a farm that had been in the family for generations. I was told by my mother that at my birth I was such a disappointment that my grandmother wrote a letter of condolences. I attended our local National School and was happy enough though I was told on a regular basis “I never saw a Dillon any good”. I was changed to a bigger convent school in the nearby town aged nine-years. I had little self-esteem and found it difficult to make friendships. I progressed to the Secondary school and though I worked hard to do well in my exams it was motivated by a fear that I would have nowhere to go. I couldn’t stay on the farm and my parents were not involved in discussing options. This created tremendous anxiety so when I went to Dublin to do a secretarial course I suffered my first panic attacks. There was no understanding by doctors or parents at that time and somehow or other I managed to get a position in the Bank of Ireland. It was there I met my future husband and by twentyone years old I was married. It wasn’t unusual at the time because couples didn’t live together, we were bound by family and church rules. I had to resign on marriage as it was a societal rule at the time.
It was after I got married that I attended college. This was perceived as being outlandish. Thankfully, my husband was happy I do this as he wanted for me to be qualified so that full responsibility would not be on him, should we have a family. It was when I had children that my script kicked in. I did not see it like that at the time. What we do is, we either follow the pattern of our parents or react to it. It is the polarity. I was determined to be fully present in my children’s lives and to do as much for them as humanly possible. I created a cocoon. Though I qualified as a Primary School teacher I resigned from it when my second child was born. I did not want to let my children be brought up by a stranger. I founded my own preschool and ran it for fourteen years. I loved it because I could be myself with the children. I created a happy space for them where they could develop socially and emotionally. I was not overly concerned about academics as I knew that each child was different and would develop differently, though the children who were ready, I worked with them. There was no pressure. It was only when my children were teenagers that the whole dream began to unravel. They had difficulty dealing with more assertive peers and their self-esteem academically was low. I couldn’t understand this because I had a comparison. I saw them in my pre-school and I knew that they were talented and intelligent. Why was this happening? I was doing everything I could for them, I spent every penny I had on courses and activities for them, but it wasn’t working. I found an old school essay belonging to my daughter Helen where she wrote that she could never aspire to go to University. That would be like her father buying a Ferrari. It was never going to happen. Why should she at twelve years of age even think that? P
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