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OPEN LETTER There are no nights away or fancy dinner dates. Just adoring daughters and appreciative me

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Daragh's wife Sarah and mum Marie

Daragh's wife Sarah and mum Marie

Sarah and Marie with Chloe and Mia at Bluebell Wood in Knockvicar, Roscommon

Sarah and Marie with Chloe and Mia at Bluebell Wood in Knockvicar, Roscommon

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Daragh's wife Sarah and mum Marie

WE NEED very little excuse to celebrate something in our house … the guinea pigs have monthly parties, our daughters still celebrate half-birthdays (and they get doughnuts too, by the way) and our house currently resembles the kind of tacky Irish pub you see in the Algarve with all the St Patrick’s Day decorations festooned across the walls and windows.

Christmas and Halloween are like a National Lampoon’s movie each year and even Valentine’s Day last month saw far more homemade artwork and gift swapping than ‘normal’. Although I do think lockdown brings out the inner Don Conroy in us all.

So that brings us on to today: the ultimate Hallmark day.

The first Mother’s Day in lockdown means present giving won’t necessarily come in the form of lavish gifts. It’s the thought that counts though, right?

I still haven’t hugged my mum in a year and I’ve only managed to see her on average once a month since Covid landed in Ireland. And most of those were through windows for random grocery shops and socially-distant catch-ups.

There are regular calls, FaceTimes and WhatsApp voice notes sent back and forth — but it’s just not the same. And I’m pretty sure there is no blank wall space left at home thanks to the regular pictures sent from my two daughters.

In truth, the only thing she wants right now is the vaccine and that is still a month or two away as she is only 68 years young, 40 of which as the best mum on the planet.

I’d like to do something special but it just won’t happen today. The five kilometre restriction and the new threat of spreading the virus now that our youngest is back in school means it’ll be more of the same virtual hugs all day today. But that’s ok too.

So many friends and family aren’t lucky enough to have their mum around at all. My girls have all four of their grandparents alive and kicking so we keep focusing on the positives.

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Sarah and Marie with Chloe and Mia at Bluebell Wood in Knockvicar, Roscommon

Sarah and Marie with Chloe and Mia at Bluebell Wood in Knockvicar, Roscommon

Sarah and Marie with Chloe and Mia at Bluebell Wood in Knockvicar, Roscommon

Speaking of the kids … they would love to do more for their mum this year than ever before — and so would I. We’ve all been through the ringer over the last year, but I would hate to think where Team Keany would be without my wife conjuring up even more superpowers and holding the whole ship together.

That first big shop 12 months ago (remember those chaotic breadless, maskless days?) when everyone was panic-buying was taken care of with ease to ensure we would survive an apocalypse.

‘Protection mode’ was activated. Hair was cut, rooms remodelled, holidays planned … and cancelled.

But it wasn’t just the big things like that. There are the daily fights with the girls to do their schoolwork while I get on with my job upstairs in the spare bedroom.

There are the new routines, the juggling of schedules, the managing of her own career while creating as normal a life for 10-year-old Chloe and seven-year-old Mia as she possibly can.

The meal plan is now set in stone each week and the big shop has to support that to ensure minimum trips to shops and minimal contact with anyone outside our bubble.

According to very scientific research she also doles out the best hugs in the world and has a Masters in magic kisses to stop tears when there has been a fall, which there seems to be a lot more of these days.

Or maybe it’s just that I’m home to hear them more?

We’ve all had to spend a lot more time with each other over the last 53 weeks but thanks to Sarah’s patience, unwavering love, loyalty, her particular set of skills and those world-famous hugs — we feel very lucky to have her in our lives and will be showering her with really badly made cards and artwork today while attempting to make her feel special.

There are no nights away or fancy dinner dates. Just adoring daughters and an appreciative hubby. And sure it won’t be long until the half-birthdays come around again and I’ll get them TWO doughnuts instead of one!

@DaraghKeany

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