The Teaching Mum

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

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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..!)

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We all went (and returned intact) to Primmy V.

Girls weekend! Girls weekend! Girls weekend (with seven kids under five…). Yes, it happened. Yes, we all had fun but, I have never wanted my own bed more.

Last weekend me, my friends and our children ventured over to the East Coast to reside for two nights at Primrose Valley. Despite having quite a pretty name, there is nothing Primmy or rosey about this place.  Plus, it is definitely not in a valley.  We knew what we were buying into though so it was all good.  Primmy V (our affectionate name for it) is, in fact, a caravan site.  Without sounding like a complete and utter prude, caravans just aren’t my thing and a few people warned me that it could get cold in the night and that is fundamentally what this blog is going to be about: warmth. Or the lack of it.  More on that later though.  
I was very much looking forward to a weekend with the besties as I don’t go out much anymore and I certainly don’t holiday as much as I would like.  Plus, I had a new car that I had picked up the day before so the drive there would be pretty sweet. And it was. The boy slept throughout the whole drive and the girl was very well behaved and was so excited to be spending the weekend in a ‘camper van’ with her little buddies. Like every young child, she asked the age old question: ‘are we there yet?’ approximately every three minutes but, I didn’t snap or become agitated. In fact, I did quite the opposite. As a child, my mum, dad and I used to go to Cornwall every year to visit friends and I had a bit of an unhealthy obsession with Dogtanian and the Muskehounds (you’re totally singing the theme tune). So when I used to ask ‘Are we there yet?’ My mum would reply with something along the lines of ‘six Dogtanians’.  Leeds to Cornwall is a long ass drive; therefore much kudos to my mum for never getting frustrated and for mentally working out how many Dogtanians I would have to watch before arriving in Cornwall.  This was of course the eighties and unless we had a Hitachi TV and a Betamax in the Ford Capri then no way was the squeaky dog and his trusty steed, Sandy, getting watched.  She could have just told me to shut up and read a book and she didn’t.  My mum is the greatest woman I know for many many reasons.
The sun was still shining as we pulled into Primmy V. The Raybans were on as were the tunes (turned way down though due to the explicit lyrics on some of my songs.  Disney does not reside in my car.)  I was directed to the caravan, I emptied the car, bagsied myself a room, realised the travel cot wouldn’t fit in it, bagsied another room, realised the travel cot wouldn’t fit in it.  You see where I am going with this?  It didn’t matter, I would sort out the cot later. We made our way to the other caravan to say hi to my friends and their kids and the sun disappeared. The law of Sod right there.  The night passed with no real events. The kids had a little pizza party while my friends and I kicked back with a bit of booze. I am still boobing the boy so before judgement is passed, it was just a light beer for me.  Yes, that is a halo you see on top of my head.  We headed out, saw the children’s ‘turn’ (a tiger and elephant singing Uptown Trunk, if I remember rightly). The boy was epic and slept in his pram and the girl danced with her buds and her newly acquired flashing wand (thank you CG.)  We were back in the caravans before half 9 with a cuppa and a toffee apple Sourz shot. Not kidding. (Thanks again CG.)
I was sharing a caravan with my oldest and most dearest friend in the world. She has a five year old boy and a three year old girl. We tried and failed to figure out a way we could use the travel cot.  By this time, our girls were groggy and despite my daughter saying she would share a room with my friend’s daughter, she wouldn’t and didn’t and how dare I ever suggest such a thing.  
There were three in the bed and I most certainly didn’t roll over roll over. I didn’t move barely an inch all night. With my girl snoozing beside me, it was time to get the boy to sleep.  Earlier in the evening I had tried to give him some formula as I didn’t really want the happy campers of Primmy V being subjected to my boobs.  I was just giving him a bit of mama’s milk to put him to sleep when…bleugh. Up the formula came all over my pjs, maternity bra, his pjs and his little Grobag.  By this point the cold had set in. An artic breeze swept through the wet bra and my silk pyjamas. Yes, I said silk. What kind of moron takes silk pyjamas to stay in a caravan? Yep, that would be me.  My little man’s clothes were wet too but, he had many layers on and his skin felt dry.
What to do.  Do I change us both?  Thus subjecting us to more wind chill or do I allow us to self dry?  Yup, I went with self dry.  Do wet clothes dry in the cold?  No, of course they bloody don’t.
Half an hour or so later and both kids were asleep in the bed.  They didn’t appear to be affected by the cold unlike me. My dilemma continued. The girl was by the wall (which the following night I realised was the coldest place on Earth) so that left me with two options: the boy in the middle next to his sis who might roll over in the night or me in the middle with the boy at the edge of the bed and what if he learnt how to roll over in the night? By this point the room was freezing and my silk pyjamas were hardening as the wet spewed up formula was turning to ice.  Before leaving for Primrose Valley, my mummy dearest had begged me to be vigilant when it came to heating the caravan. There was an electric heater in the room and I was dubious about using it and leaving it on in the night. I couldn’t feel my nose though so on it went. I positioned myself slightly underneath my son so he was kind of in the middle but far enough from his sister that he wouldn’t get a mean right hook in the face if she turned in the night.  Then I just laid there.  And laid.  And laid.  Hours passed and my son woke for a night feed and he went back to sleep (how he did this is beyond me) and I went back to just laying.  Somewhere around 4am I must have dozed as I dreamt that one of the kids from our little group was dressed as Spider-Man, hiding under our bed and taunting us; it was quite freaky actually.  The only thing that made me realise it was a dream was the fact that this said child hadn’t arrived at Primmy V yet as his mum was just making a day trip on the Saturday.  If it had been any of the other kids in the dream then my sanity may have been pushed over the edge.
I was woken around 6.30 to the cutest little voice singing ‘Let it Go’ to herself in the next room.  My friend’s three year old daughter was in fact the bravest person in the caravan that night as while I was being tormented by Spideman under the bed and literally freezing a boob off, she had slept in a room on her own all night without so much as a moan.
Saturday had arrived and with it came a luke warm shower, two cups of tea, an hour or two de thawing by the fire in the room, a trip to Starbucks for a caffeine fix and a walk to the beach.  The kids played in the sand, a few selfies were taken, I boobed on the beach, which was a first for me, and then we had lunch.  It was a pleasant day.  Rain pretty much destroyed the afternoon and soon it was the evening again.
Once again, we embarked upon the complex’s entertainment bar and slot machines.  While the other girls and children returned to the ‘party caravan’ I went to my caravan to get my two to bed.  I know I sound like a stick in the mud but my boy is five months, remember.  Right, this time I was thinking it through.  I pushed the bed to the wall; the boy would sleep there.  I would go in the middle and my daughter at the end.  Once again the artic wind hit like a knife.  There was a window on the wall and the most deathly of chills coming from it.  I couldn’t have the boy there.  He went back into the middle (both were asleep at this point and I was moving them around myself).  I laid under the duvets (we had two tonight) with a vest on, socks on and my silk pyjamas and lay there shivering.  I heard my friend and her children return from the party caravan.  Her daughter was crying and her son was running up and down.  I heard a loud clatter and then her son was crying.  But, my children slept on.  
Eventually silence fell upon us once more.  Panic then set in.  Maybe my boy was so sound asleep because he was weakened by the cold.  I had visions of me waking in the night and he would be a little block of ice.  His head wasn’t covered.  I had to find him a hat.  I climbed out of bed and whimpered.  I made my way into the main part of the caravan and I could see my breath.  Digging out a hat, I returned to the room and put it on his head.  Before I climbed back into bed, I saw our bags half packed.  That was it.  It was decided.  We were going home.  I could totally do this.  It was midnight by this point and I figured that I could get home by 2am.  I text the other half (who was fast asleep of course) and told him my plan.  Thankfully, he didn’t reply and I didn’t wake him.  I started to pack the bags together.  I even put the travel cot away as it had been left out in the living area.  I was tottering around freezing and still in my silks; I didn’t think about waking the others, which was very selfish of me.  I packed away the steriliser and the few bottles of formula I had brought.  I returned to my room to see if I had woken anyone and was crippled by the cold.  I reluctantly turned the electric heater back on and returned to my packing.  Then (thankfully) my common sense kicked in.  How viable was it for me to leave a camp site in the dead of night with my precious bundles?  I was already knackered from the night before and it was pitch black and freezing.  More to the point – how many trips to the car would I have to make to pack it up?  It was parked just outside but did I mention that it was Baltic?  I would also be a very very bad friend and mum if I up and left in the night.  By this time it was about 12.30am and I crawled back into bed.  My daughter was stirring and she asked me to cuddle her; I did and to my delight, she was warm.  With my favourite people around me and with the electric heater taking the sting out of the room, I fell asleep.  
With the morning came the thawing.  Two teas and a Starbucks later, my friends suggested swimming.  Swimming! It’s safe to say that I hastily returned to the caravan, packed up and drove home with the kids to Daddy and my wonderful warm bed.  
It took me three nights to catch up on my sleep.  Upon posting some pictures on Facebook, my friend put the comment: ‘if we book now for next year we can save 30%’.  It made me smile; she always makes me smile.  They all do.  And that’s why I would do it all again but, the silk pyjamas would be replaced by thermals and the formula with brandy! 
Pictures: bed partners, giant deckchair and a selfie stick!