Read It And Weep

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Once upon a time I had a very well-defined role within my family. I was the 'reader'. If you needed any kind of a reading done for any kind of an event - I was the girl for the job.

Wedding masses, funeral masses, anniversary masses (it was all masses, to be honest) - I was available.

"Who'll do the reading at great-aunt-whoever's funeral?" a grieving relation would ask and somebody (usually my mother) would be quick to say: "Oh, ask Sadhbh, she has a looovely speaking voice and she does drama so she'd be well able."

I was well able - in that I could read - and I was happy to do it too. I mean, how could you say no to a grieving relative or an excited bride? Or your mother?

At that stage in my life I was dreaming of becoming an actor so I tended to view each occasion as a chance to hone my skills. I would be handed 'my script' at the church door and read over it while waiting for my 'cue' to take my place at the podium. I'd adjust the microphone, clear my throat and begin reading ... not too fast... not too slow... pausing at all the right places for maximum effect. The 'audience' would sometimes be moved to tears (mostly at the funerals.. but still) and without fail I would be praised afterwards for having done such a great job of it. I even got to take a bow... sort of... okay so it was really a genuflection and I was totally facing the wrong way... but... whatever... la-la-la-la-la...

Long after I had abandoned my dreams of becoming an actor, and even after I had decided that the church wasn't for me, I was still the person in the family asked to do the readings. I still obliged and I still treated it in exactly the same, slightly detached way. No matter how emotional the reason for my reading, I could still push all of the feels to one side, do the job required of me and resume my sad/happy tears afterwards.

And then I had children.

During my pregnancy, my body was filled with mother-making hormones and all of my emotions were amplified by a million. I cried for ten days straight after my girls were born. I cried with joy. I cried with fear. I cried with worry. I cried about the sheer overwhelmingness of the entire world. Almost six years later, I can still cry at the drop of a hat. Or a cute ad on TV. Or twee internet memes. Or anything at all really... especially family milestones.
Shortly before the tears... although I'm pretty sure I was welling up already over the CUTENESS of my little girls!
 [Photo by Dara Munnis]
At my sister Cáit's wedding I did a reading... about dinosaurs of all things. It was sweet and funny and IT WAS NOT A FUNERAL. But as I was reading the sweet, funny thing... I happened to glance over at Cáit... sitting beside her new husband... and I immediately started blubbing uncontrollably. I barely managed to get through the whole thing and there was not a hope I could just push my emotions to one side like I used to.

At my sister Saorla's wedding I did the same thing. I managed to get through the poem her new husband had written for her ( I mean, come on! He wrote a poem for her!) without actually shedding a tear but I definitely made an ugly trying-not-to-cry face for the duration and it is debatable how much anyone could understand through the choked trying-not-to-cry noises I made.

Afterwards, instead of accolades I got pitying 'you did your best' looks. It was embarrassing.

When it comes to family funerals, these days I just say no outright, if I'm asked to take part. I know that if I can't handle reading joyful things there is not. a. hope. I could handle a funeral reading.

So, I am out of a job. Some other up-and-coming theatrical person will have to take it on (I can totally see Sábha doing this when she can read) but it can't be me any more. I have too many feels. And they keep spilling out of my face.

Tell me I'm not alone?! Did having children make you a soppy eejit too?

3 comments

  1. Oh totally Sadhbh! I am just like that. I used to be able to do a reading no bother. But at the last two family funerals I was at I only had to do the prayers of the faithful. The first one I got through with the trying not to cry face. The second time, the whole second sentence was just noise and choking sounds.
    It is the same with books and TV. I had to struggle through the first chapter of Danny The Champion of The World trying not to cry and lose the run of myself. The kids didn't know what was going on.
    So, you are not alone. (Even The Bavarian has had weak moments readung bedtime stories).

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    1. I am so delighted to hear I'm not alone! And that I'm not alone in undecipherable choking voiced reading. I cry at picture books and everything these days. I started reading Pippy Longstocking to the girls and the bit about her parents dying was just too much for me. It's been shelved for now!

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  2. You're not alone! I too used to be the reader and am now an emotional wreck. Was close to tears hearing Ali's speech at the Get Crafty launch! Love the wedding pic btw - gorgeous!

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