My son Colm and his lovely wife Elaine have recently moved into their new house right next door to us. It is the beginning of a new era for the O’Leary family. I watched their new home unfold over the last year and documented the stages on my phone from my bedroom window.

Now the project has come to fruition and family life for Colm, Elaine and their little son, Peter, has begun properly. Tim and I are thrilled to have them in Woodside. It marks this new stage where the farm partnership will continue to develop and change. The development is fun, exciting and challenging. Responsibilities are shifting and will continue to do so.

Colm and Elaine are full of knowledge and enthusiasm. Their married and working lives stretch out before them along with their, hopefully, growing family. Elaine will throw me a dirty eye at the mention of another baby. Peter is just five months old and is winning over hearts right, left and centre.

Meanwhile, Elaine’s new role as a mother is consuming her every moment. I remember with fondness those early months with my four children. They are so beautiful and you realise that you could never have imagined being so much in love with this new little person. Every day brings something new. Watching the trusting relationship develop between Peter and his parents is very special. We are truly privileged that this little family are just across the lawn.

Preserving relationships

At just five months, Peter’s reactions and daily development is pure joy to behold. He grabs onto our fingers and gives big broad smiles. He has the deepest of blue eyes, just like Colm. Otherwise, the Reilly side lay claim to him.

He is very like Grandad Donal Reilly. Every time Peter sees Tim, his face lights up with a smile. Needless to say, Tim is delighted and makes sure I hear about every smile. For a while, when he saw me, the bottom lip came out, the face grimaced and he began to cry. I wondered if it was my glasses. Tim got a great kick out of the shunned Granny. Now, all is well and he comes into my arms easily.

My relationships with my daughters-in-laws and son-in-law are very precious to me. So, I work hard to make sure that I behave appropriately and not crowd them too much. My own mother’s advice around the time Tim and I got married was to choose my words carefully when talking to my in-laws. “Remember,” she said, “your own will forgive and forget – but your in-laws won’t.”

I think it is very sound advice. I want my relationship with Elaine to grow and flourish. I do not want to interfere in her life or judge her. I love her and I want to help her as much as I can. The bottom line is that she is Colm’s life partner and soulmate. I cannot take this relationship for granted, I have to work at it and we will grow into it together.

Manners and respect

My late mother-in-law, Lil and I had a wonderful relationship. Looking back, I acknowledge that it was based on love, respect and tolerance. I’m a firm believer in the value of tolerance. Nobody is perfect and the idea that love can flourish without tolerance is nonsense.

My relationships with my daughters-in-laws and son-in-law are very precious to me. So, I work hard to make sure that I behave appropriately and not crowd them too much

I know that I will do things to annoy Elaine and she might bother me, although I can’t imagine it. Nevertheless, we will let it go and move on. If I need to apologise for something; I will do it quickly. Never let a hurt or indiscretion fester. Good manners and respect will oil any relationship. I’ve chatted with Elaine about this. I feel it is important to be open and honest and to make a judgement on where the boundaries are. Every relationship has to have boundaries and knowing where they are is crucial for success.

I know I’m probably sounding a bit preachy. It is because I think about this a lot as I want so badly for it to work.

Time is precious and every time a family can be together should be a joyous time. We are utterly privileged to have Colm farming with us and Elaine involved as much as young motherhood allows. My heart skips a beat of gratitude when I see the lights on next door.

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