Irish mothers are the ruination of Irish men! There, I said it. Again! What is it about Irish mothers? I’m sure you heard about the Irish Mammy’s son that was still living at home in his thirties…No? Well, his mother thought he was God! But I think Irish Mammies can’t help themselves. They, including me, have got some kind of Sure I’ll do it for ye syndrome.

I have grown up watching my brothers being lifted and led and Irish females hindering domesticated capability in Irish males and yet, after resolutely deciding that I will never be one of them mothers, that old syndrome kicks in like an involuntary reflex and before I know it I find myself standing in the men’s section of a clothing department store trying to decide if the tie in my left hand is skinnier than the tie in my right because my beloved son texted me that morning. 8.03. Make sure it’s a skinny one.

This was the morning after the night before when he sent me a pic of the girl’s dress…well, a bit of it anyway, more like a bit of the colour of it, for matching purposes only. It was my favourite colour, a good sign. At least she has taste! The text messages followed:

19.00 Mam you have to get the same colour!

19.01 You think you can find me one?

I answer…                                

19.02 Yeah…leave it with me.

Yes…that how I answered. No protest.  No ‘Aren’t you going to look too?’ Oh no, Sure I’ll do it for ye syndrome doesn’t work like that!

When I get the early morning text the crows are hardly cawing. My darling son is dreaming of skinny ties and I head to the shops without as much as a skinny latte.

In the store, I stop a male shopper and ask his opinion on the ties in my hand. He maintains there are far skinnier ones in another department store while adding a few tie preferences of his own. He thought that my son wouldn’t like the size or colour.

“But that’s the colour he wanted.”

“Did he? The man looked surprised.

“Yes, he sent me a pic. Look.” I proudly presented the blob of colour on my phone with my heart swelling with pride.  My son was going to a formal with a girl who had nice taste.

 “Ah, right.” he said. “What colour is that?” “Hmmm, well it’s the colour he wanted,” I said. Realization was dawning, bubbling up from somewhere inside me, screaming at me ‘What the hell are you doing?’

But total awareness of Irish male ruination didn’t stop me from heading across town to get the perfect, skinny tie for my son who is excited—it’s going to be lethal apparently—about his first formal and Mam is too. It’s another milestone, isn’t it?  A coming of age, if you like, a time to make sure a son is looking great so why not? I’ll have the suit, the skinny tie, the shirt and shoes polished to perfection…I’ll even wear it for him if he wants me too because he is my son and sure there is no harm in a little spoiling. At least that is what I tell myself while I tell the rest of the world Irish mothers are the ruination of Irish men.  Is it any wonder when girlfriends become wives to Irish men their husbands can’t pick their own tie? Irish mothers! Who would have them? Irish sons, mostly…


Aileen McCallan

(592 words)