The Teaching Mum

A light-hearted look at parenting through the eyes of a very busy English Teacher.

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Moderation Sickness and Multibuys

Saturday 16th May and it’s the bedtime hour (two hours).

I have been trying to blog all week about my first week of moderation and to think of a way to make it interesting.  Truth is: I can’t. At the back of my mind though, I have it in my head that this is a teacher blog so I have to get some teachery (totally a word) stuff on here too. What you have then is an amalgamation of the week’s events where I try and fail at my first attempt at moderation, survive a vomit filled night and attend a birthday party where three of the girls all wore the same dress.

Tuesday morning arrived and I know you have missed them so the first thing I will tell you is that my trusty jogging bottoms made an appearance. As did my make up free face, a t-shirt that was ‘won’ in a 10k race from years gone by and the (everyone has to have one) mum bun. In fact, I even planned ahead as I knew that I was going to wear the exact same outfit on Wednesday too. And I did. 
However, as with every morning comes the dreaded night before and on both Monday night and Tuesday night when I really needed to be ‘on it’ the following day, I was doing the old tried and tested lay down feed every two hours. 

Both nights played out a little like this: 2am – awake again for the third time. I can’t do a sitting up feed again in fear of falling asleep, slumping over the boy and giving him a deathly bosom for a pillow. Sideways on. Boob out. Boob in. Doze. Wince as boob is shaken all about. Doze. Have a weird lucid. Doze. Become aware that the boy is waking again. Oh, he can’t be, it’s only been ten minutes. It’s 4.30am. Repeat the pattern. It’s 6.15am and he is still asleep when suddenly the bedroom door is pushed open by the other half, who is currently getting uninterrupted sleep by bunking up with his favourite girl (which, by the way, certainly isn’t me). The carpet to our room is really thick so when he opens it, it’s like he is opening a World War Two bunker that’s been locked for seventy years. He isn’t even opening it to say good morning; he does it to make sure I am awake for when the girl wakes, realises Daddy isn’t there and wants a *shakes head in shame* morning Fruitshoot. The opening of the bunker this morning did wake both me and the boy or maybe is was my ‘SHUUUUSH’ before slamming my head back into my pillow and silently screaming.

With the girl dropped off at nursery, it was time to begin my work. I took out my first batch of coursework and began. Within minutes, the boy decided to reach a milestone in his little life and he rolled over. He was very pleased with himself; so was I. Pen down. Phone out. Video on.
‘Roll for Daddy,’
No movement.
‘Come on, roll so I can show Daddy.’
A blank stare. 
This continued for a while until I returned to my work and then he ninja flipped onto the carpet. Perhaps I was looking for a reason not to start my work as I tried to film it again and again. Poor Daddy had to wait four days to finally see a roll.  We learnt that he does not roll on demand as he isn’t a performing monkey. How were we supposed to know that? 

A knock at the door came just as I was about to tear my hair out. It was my mum; she had come to look after the boy whilst I ‘got my head around’ the first batch.  It wasn’t so much the moderation I was struggling with; it was (and still is) all the paperwork that I have to fill out and return alongside it.  My mum came and helped out on Wednesday also and I finally finished and posted my first batch that afternoon after starting it on Tuesday morning. I have to do this for twenty two other schools – it’s going to be a long old slog. Oh well, only twenty one to go.

Thursday morning arrived and it was the same pattern Tuesday and Wednesday.  The guilt hit on Thursday.  Was it unfair and selfish of me to stay at home all day with the boy just to try to earn a bit of extra cash?  I felt like he was missing out on baby classes similar to the ones I did with my daughter when she was a baby.  Although, I have to admit that Baby Yoga and Baby Massage were pretty bloody horrendous when I took the girl.  She used to get ‘olive oiled up’ and then scream the place down and I would leave the place dishevelled and smelling like a chip pan.  By Thursday afternoon I had almost finished my second batch of moderating and was starting to feel a bit more confident about it.  Then the girl returned home from Grandma and Granddad’s and for the next twelve hours a sea of vomit descended upon us all.  We were doomed.

She came through the door.
‘Mummy, can I have some big girl crispies?’
Granddad informed me that she had already eaten a lot today.  However, I had two more scripts to moderate and if I did that then that would be another complete batch.  I gave her the crisps and the next hour passed without drama.  I am not the cook in the house and Daddy was at Parent’s Evening so as a treat I suggested that we go to the local garden centre for tea. (How lucky are my children?) We were putting on our shoes when the girl put her hand to her mouth.
‘Do you want to be sick?’ I asked.
She shook her head.
‘Shall we go to the toilet?’
She shook her head.
‘Let’s just go for a wee before we leave anyway,’
‘Noooooo, I don’t neeeeed a wee.’ She said.  She raised her hand to her mouth again.
‘Do you need a poo then?’
She shook her head.
‘Are you going to be sick?’
She nodded her head.
I grabbed her to rush to the toilet, but the pointless conversation you have just read above meant that we were too late and BLEUGH.  All over the living room floor.  Twice.  I didn’t panic.  We jumped over it and made it to the toilet just in time for her to stand over it and just spit.

After wiping everything up and making sure that the girl got fluids, I went to check on the boy.  I had left him on his play mat.  The ninja flipping Little Dude had somehow made it over to the TV and was currently face planting the laminate floor.  Oh.

I decided on an early bath for all.  I simultaneously bathed boy the girl in the big bath and the boy in the baby bath all while silently cheering myself on for being so calm and completely handling the situation.  Suddenly, the girl retched again and her hand came to her mouth.  I lifted the boy from his bath, wrapped him in a towel, emptied his bath in the shower, brought the bath to the girl’s mouth and BLEUGH!  I caught it.  Could not have timed it any better if I had tried.  Amazed at my quick thinking, the girl could remain in untainted waters until the boy’s PJs were put on.  It wasn’t until I emptied her bath that I noticed three pieces of sweetcorn and a stick of carrot going down the plug hole.  There is always a bit of carrot isn’t there?

The night was pretty awful with the girl waking and retching every hour.  For Friday then, I envisaged a trip to the doctors followed by another day of being trapped in the house with a poorly princess, Peppa Pig and unmoderated coursework staring at me.  However, she woke, smiled and asked for a Fruitshoot so off to soft play we went.  Hurrah!

That kind of brings us back around to today.  We have been to a joint third birthday party and I have two very tired but content children on my hands.  Now, I assume that three years ago there was nothing much on television one night as most of my friends all had babies within days of each other. This means lots of birthday presents and parties – which is lovely for the children as they are now growing up and playing together.  However, with me being the most unimaginative birthday present buyer ever, I think my friends have come to expect a present from Next.  I am worried that the kids have too.  ‘Oh look the boring lady who brings us shirts every year is here, yey’.  But hey, at least clothes don’t take up a load of room in your dining room or living room, right guys?  Needless to say, three children at the party (including my girl) were all wearing the same dress that yours truly bought them for their birthdays.  You’re welcome!  They looked cute though and I promise that they weren’t purchased on a ‘buy one get two free’ offer!  Fortunately, today’s parties were boys’ but it’s safe to say that had they been born girls, then they too would have received a grey spotty dress for their third birthday.

Just before I sign off.  After returning home from the parties, I noticed that my first batch of marked moderation had been returned back to me with a request to do it all again.  I had filled out the paperwork incorrectly but on a Postit note have been reassured not to feel ‘downhearted’ as I started with a ‘problematic centre’.  So that’s twenty two to go then…

Oh and just before going to bed last night, the other half was sick. BLEUGH indeed.

Pictures: That Dress! and The Little Dude rolling amongst my work.

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Tube Tackling and Boob Handling

took a couple of days off from writing as I had an up and down day on Friday and felt very blue without my not being able to put my finger on why.  Anyhow, Saturday saw me go to London to attend a Moderater Training Meeting as I am going to be moderating coursework from Tuesday in order to earn a few extra pennies while off on maternity leave. I wrote this on the way back up on the train. I hope you enjoy. As always, any feedback is much appreciated.

Currently sitting on the train home from London, it is 7.20pm on the 9th May and the lady sitting next to me has no idea of the agony I am in. I am not talking emotional turmoil here with me agonising over the guilt of leaving my two precious beings at home.  No.  Pure, physical agony.  I have lost count of the amount of times my boobs have filled up today and each tingling sensation has served as a reminder that my son might be at home starving as he hasn’t been taking a bottle very well. Okay, okay that is over dramatic as I have this little thing called a mobile phone which I used to call the other half.  He has assured me that both children have been angels. The girl went to ballet, a party and then saw her cousins at Grandma and Grandad’s (which, for her, is the greatest day ever) and the boy hasn’t cried once.  This is lovely and reassuring news but, for an instant I feel very unneeded. Then I brush my arm up against a boob and wince; the pain reminds me that I am very much needed.  By this time, my shirt is sodden. It’s a good job that I planned ahead this morning and ‘layered up’. Thank God for my body warmer. I doubt when Jack Wills designed them, he (is he a person?) thought his body warmers would also be excellent hiders of leaking boobs as I suspect right now that I smell like a week old carton of Cravendale. 
Upon reflection, my day has gone well.  In the lead up to it, I had been getting myself into a tizz as I felt that it signified the end of my maternity leave. I also have an irrational fear of the tube. But, I made it. 
I arrived at King’s Cross at 9.30 and had half an hour to get to Kensington High Street.  I had Goggled and Googled (I love that this an acceptable verb these days) the hell out of the tube maps and had my route embedded into my brain and a screen print saved on my phone. I haven’t been to King’s Cross since the refurd; it’s rather nice isn’t it?  Last time I was there I was sitting on a little travel case next to Upper Crust, hung over, with a copy of Heat magazine and was staring at the display boards begging for my train to Leeds to arrive so that I could go and quietly die on it. I don’t have weekends like that anymore.
I jumped off the train and saw platform 9 3/4 and fondly thought of one of my Potter mad friends at home.  I noticed that Uppercrust had disappeared and that suddenly I wasn’t in Kansas anymore.  I didn’t panic. I found the entrance to the tube and marched towards the Circle Line. I figured out my platform and waited. A train arrived and I let it leave as I noticed it said ‘Piccadilly’ on it. Then, as it left I saw it flash the word ‘Circle’ too. Damn it! Another came. Not kidding. I did the same thing! My meeting started in fifteen minutes. A third train stopped and I stepped on. Gluing my eyes into the line map, I counted down my stops. I made it to Edgeware Road and jumped off. Another train arrived at Edgeware Road and I boarded it; I panicked as the little tube map didn’t match the one screen printed onto my phone so I jumped back off before the doors closed and took me to God knows where. I crossed platforms where another train was sitting patiently for me. I couldn’t see where it was going so I shouted to a seated woman in my broad Yorkshire accent.
‘Does this train go to Kensington High Street?’
She was French and asked me to repeat myself.  Great.  A chance to practise my multilingual skills. I spoke louder and slower.
‘Does. This. Train. Go. To. Kensington. High. Street?’
She nodded. I jumped!
After counting down my stops again, I arrived. By this time the meeting had been going for ten minutes. Swiping my Oyster Card (given to me by the World’s Greatest Father in Law) I almost did a little jump and heel click as I passed through the gate onto the high street. 
I eventually found the hotel after a ten minute walk making me half an hour late for the meeting. I wrongly assumed that loads of delegates would be late. I arrived at 10.30 and another lady took the utter pi@s by arriving at 11am…! I was directed to my table (13!) which was right at the opposite end of the room.
‘It would be wouldn’t it?’ came my response to the man at the delegates table.  He smiled.
‘Yes, and the easiest way to get to it is to walk in front of the speaker.’
I met the rest of my marking team and my team leader, who every time I asked a question reasurred me that she would eventually answer it.  She’ll hate me onTuesday when I start marking and ring her to remind her that I am still waiting for her answers.  However, despite this, she was very lovely and I was just happy to be at the right venue.
At lunch time I sat with two English Teachers who were also new to moderation. Both were living in London and one of them brought up the election. The two teachers were very much against Gove and the Tories and a politically charged conversation ensued. I nodded along humming and pretending to understand the political jargon and realised that I needed to contribute somehow.
‘It was a shame about Ed Balls losing his seat,’ I began. ‘Did you know he had a stutter?’
It was safe to say that the politics conversation was over and I went to get some profiteroles.
It was after lunch that I first accidentally brushed a boob and felt pain. I went to the loos in order to ease it. Now, I was in the cubicle a while trying to rid myself of milk (I am trying so hard to not keep typing ‘boobs’) and I was well aware that there were other women waiting outside. Admit it. If someone is in the loo a while then you think they are having a number two don’t you? I didn’t want the women to think this, so upon my exit I considered saying:
‘I was just emptying my boobs, as I am still breastfeeding. You know how it is.’ 
I didn’t do this, of course, as it would have been more moronic than what I had actually just done so I left with a sheepish look on my face knowing that each woman in there thought I had had the audacity to have a public number two in a London Hilton.
The meeting drew to a close an hour earlier than scheduled. This gave me a whopping two hours to get back to King’s Cross, which meant that I miraculously mastered the tube and made it back to King’s Cross within half an hour without even needing to switch tubes albeit my screen print on my phone insisting it. 

A phone call from my partner and a call to my mum, a Starbucks and some boob squeezing into a toilet at King’s Cross (which I paid 30p for the pleasure) and I was boarding my train back up North to my little family. 

And here we are now. As I am just passing Doncaster, I reflect briefly that my last trip left me exhausted and in desperate need for my bed.  The feelings are the same now apart from knowing that before I can sleep, I will need to feed my boy before I literally explode and my bedtime probably won’t be for another few hours.

As it turned out, both children were still awake and I got a lovely cuddle from my girl who asked me to put her to bed. My boy maintained his ‘Little Dude’ persona and just fed and fed himself to sleep, thus taking away the agony of having boobs the size of a late nineties Victoria Beckham and the guilt I felt at perhaps leaving him when he was still very much in need of me. 
So, the moderation will begin on Tuesday with a five month old probably clamped to me and a three year old whizzing round me.  Should be fun.  I take my hat off to those of you who moderate/mark while working full time too. 

Pictures: The tube journey I didn’t dare veer from and my boy after drinking himself into a milk filled oblivion. (He then woke less than an hour later..!)