We are on day three of my young sons bout with influenza. I have produced chicken soup, crackers, lozenges, cold and flu meds, hot apple juice with lemons and honey and ofcourse large doses of TLC including a first class place in my bed watching TV, fresh warm socks and oh almost forgot the smoothies made with blueberries and bananas. I have been up and down the stairs one hundred times a day feeling the poor guys forehead and delivering soothing words of sympathy, required drinks and on and on. But I'm tired now and my great plans for devoting time to writing eaten up. But stop. Hey, what am I saying, what is a mother if she cannot give? When her child needs her, when there is no one else to count on, no Granny, no smothering Aunt eager to play Mom. Even though I was raised Catholic I am not religious. My children and husband and I are all Humanists but that aside strangely enough I have started to collect icons. There is something about the image of the mother and child that fascinates me. The pure serenity of the mother, the joy of the child, the bonding, the physicality....................And while I'm on the Mother issue, I heard a horrendous news item on the radio today. A mother in Co. Roscommon is being sentenced for neglect and abuse of her six children, she is also being sentenced for incest. Apparently their living conditions were appalling, no heat, no water, no food, the childrens hair burned and falling out from chemicals that the Mother had put into their hair. She also physicaly beat them for six years before attention was called to the matter as prior to that the mother threatened the children not to tell the social workers. The Mother regularly left the house at six p.m. to go to the pub and did not return until late leaving the children to fend for themselves. One of the children said ''it was like a crazy house'' then with them fighting amongst eachother and throwing what little furniture around. You know, I have to say this, that this woman I am guessing probably went to church, a devout Catholic, she must have had a few statues around the house, holy water fonts.....she might have even prayed. I don't know. All I'm saying here is how could this happen in Celtic Tiger Ireland in the year 2008/2009, how did she have children? How on earth did she not possess any maternal qualities? And those six children that belonged to her, those poor neglected mites, how the hell will they ever mend?