Punching Out the Sadness. An Essay by Joanne Henry

The last week of home schooling and stricter isolating measures has been tough on us all, I’m sure you all agree out there. Even more so when you have an eight year old who is missing her friends from school and her friends in the neighbourhood.This was further reinforced when Hannah, my eight year old daughter accompanied me to leave groceries to my parents. After leaving them safely at bottom of their garden and shouting a hello from a safe distance. We then returned to the car and she turned to me and asked wide eyed , “when is this going to end, I miss Granny’s house. Its not the same talking to them through the phone. I want to hug them” Well my heart broke for her and as I steadied my voice while holding the wheel tightly I told her we were staying away because we love them. That she was as brave as mammy who goes to work as a nurse to help patients who cant see their family either at this time. That by her staying at home like her friends she is also doing an important job that future children will thank her for.

Later that evening I found her in her room and she was upset. She said she knew that she had to be brave but that she still missed everyone especially her wee nephew Ezra as she loved our days with him.

At that moment I spied her punch bag and glove. I said “right that’s it we are going to punch the sadness out.” She looked at me like she often does with that look of Dear Lord what’s this mad women going to do now. I put the glove on her and put the punch bag over the door. I then said “right go for it. Punch the sadness out.” Again I got that look of mammy your crazy that was accompanied by an eye roll.

So I demonstrated. I punched the bag hard and shouted,” I hate you virus, we will get through this, I am strong you will not break me.” Boy it felt good, I turned to my daughter who was now a heap on the floor laughing so hard it was silent at times. (Gets that weird laugh from her dad ha.) Anyway I said “your turn” She stood up still laughing and went for it, punch after punch she shouted out her sadness while punching the bag. She said she missed her friends, teacher, granny and grandas . She missed her Gaelic and Football groups and even Mathletics classes. She missed playing on her bikes and scooter with friends.

I had to interject after the tenth punch and direct the punches to positive affirmations. She started with ” I can do this, I’m strong like my mammy” ( yes I may have prompted that one but it is the truth to ha) She then got on a roll, she shouted about looking forward to hugging her granny and grandas when this over, that she couldn’t wait to kiss and hug wee Ezra. That she would try and not fight with Granda Harry as much when he temps her and that she cant wait to be able to go to Derry matches with her uncle Colum and Granda Lawrence. We laughed hard after she had finished. She went to bed smiling that night and probably exhausted to from her workout so win, win.

I was working the next day and received a call from my hubby who told me he awoke to a banging noise and ran to Hannah’s room as that’s were it was coming from. He said he walked in and there she was smiling and with glove in hand had been punching the bag. He asked her what she was doing, she said “its O.K. daddy I’m fine now, I was just punching the sadness out like mammy said “. He told me he could do nothing but laugh as even though because she only has one glove, the other lost like all things in this house she was happy but had red knuckles on the ungloved hand. To rectify that and prevent self harm ( what we don’t want ha) they had ordered her new gloves and she was excited about their arrival.

So there ye go maybe if you have kids or for yourself and finding it hard to deal with social restrictions go punch the sadness out. It really works and great craic to !

Joanne Henry is a nurse by day and recently self published author of “Memoirs of a Mad Mammy”.

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