The Teaching Mum

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


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The Green Eyed Monster

Once upon a time in a land not so far away, there was a minuscule entity that existed deep within most residents that resided there. The entity was dark, twisted and fed off feelings of inferiority and fear. You may call it a parasite because when it latches on, it sucks and it feeds and it grows into something known only as The Green Eyed Monster.

A young princess lived in this faraway land and every day she attended school along with her fellow princes and princesses and she loved it. Now this princess was no angel and she had her flaws, much like all of us. She was known to answer back, sulk, leave her clothes on the floor of every room in the house and she drove her mother mad with her stubborn attitude towards reading. However, despite these imperfections, she knew what it meant to be kind and accepting (more to her school teachers and friends than to her parents) and it was these personality traits that caught the attention of a local King. The princess was told that she was a wonderful role model, someone who could be trusted to look after and care for others and she was offered the role of Town Representative. This important job meant that she would welcome visitors to her fairytale land and show, with pride, the place she called home. She would be a voice to talk to and an ear to listen if any of the town folk needed help, advice and a friend.

Rushing home from school that evening, and being careful not to trip on her dress train, the princess dashed into her mother’s arms as she shared with her the news she was so proud of. Tears welled in her mother’s eyes and she congratulated her daughter. The mother, seeing an opportunity, seized it and told her daughter to go upstairs and read her reading book because that’s what a good Town Representative would do.

“No!” was the princess’ reply.

See, I did tell you she was no angel.

The sense of pride inside the princess’ heart withered like a poisoned apple the following day. She was taunted by some other princes and princesses who weren’t given the Town Representative role this time round. One even threatened to tell the King about the princess’ imperfections so that the role would no longer be hers.

The parasite growing slowly inside the children’s bellies giggled. How it thrived on jealousy.

With the weight of the world laying heavy on her shoulders, the princess cried in her mother’s arms.

“They told me I didn’t deserve It, they said I would be rubbish.”

Now, the mother, knowing that there’s two sides to every story, (she is penning this masterpiece at the moment) simply responded with:

“They’re jealous, darling, that’s all.”

She explained about The Green Eyed Monster and how she too had suffered from it on more than one occasion. She once envied someone who was nominated for an award when she wasn’t; she once lusted after beauty and youth when hers were lacking and she was jealous of those with money who looked to be living their best lives every single day.

“How did you slay the monster, Mummy?” the princess asked.

“That’s easy, my dear. You simply kill it with kindness. You pay compliments, you acknowledge when someone has achieved something fantastic, you congratulate, you accept other’s beliefs and you truly believe everyone to be beautiful.”

The princess’ growing smile faltered a little.

“What if The Green Eyed Monster grows in me someday?”

“It may well try but as long as you accept that in this little far away land of ours, there will be someone who may be able to sing more melodious than you, dance more coordinated than you, solve maths equations quicker than you and achieve their dreams before you, you’ll be okay. If you welcome this, embrace this and tell others how freaking awesome they are, then I don’t think your monster will dare raise its ugly head.”

The princess smiled and told her mother that she couldn’t wait to be the Town Representative.”

“Now, go and read your book because you don’t want to have someone bragging that they’re a better reader than you.”

“Ha, Mum! Good try but no.”

Be kind and remind someone every day that they’re kickass.

Absolutely 100% not based on a true story…)


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Teaching Mum’s Guide to Wellness

So, a fellow blogger and I were contacted last week by The Times magazine and were asked to write an article about wellness.

Hers started like this:

7.45am – I wake up having had, on average, seven hours and forty one minutes’ sleep – I have analysed my sleep over the past few years and I know this is the perfect amount for me.  I turn on the near-infrared light at the end of my bed and sit there for seven minutes meditating, to focus my mind for the day ahead. 

I take shots of probiotics and Quinton Isotonic, a supplement that comes from plankton and contains enzymes that help me stay hydrated, and a glass of water.

Mine, on the other hand…

5.37am – I start the morning filled to the brim with anxiety about the day ahead. I’ve had approximately five hours sleep. I blame this partially on the fact that I was playing on my children’s Nintendo Switch until midnight. The down side is that my eyelids feel like they have 20kg weights attached to them but the upside is that I have over 50 Pokemons in my bag and my Pikachu is at level 34 and almost undefeatable. I could go back to sleep as my alarm isn’t set to buzz until 6.15am but my head is already organising and reorganising my day: have I planned my lessons? Yes. Have I marked my books? Yes. Have I ironed the school uniforms? Yes. Did I pack my daughter’s PE bag before coming to bed last night? No. Sh*t, but I did bag myself a rare Pokemon instead so swings and roundabouts and all that. I pull my arm out from underneath my son; it is numb because he has laid on it all night, so my somewhat stealthy operation has failed before it has even begun as my arm is flopping around like Magikarp out of water. My son will wake and demand his morning kale Fruitshoot and wake the house. I sit in the darkness on the edge of the bed praying that I will one day win the lottery (that I don’t play) before early mornings get ups are the death of me.

I quietly nip downstairs where I take my daily dose of thyroxine, a tablet that is supposed to help my thyroid work properly because having children f*cked it up.  Silently creeping back upstairs, I step on a plastic Plankton from SpongeBob, cry out and wake the house.

8am – Take a shower using natural products, as the chemicals found in shampoo and shower gel can be toxic.  Weigh myself and use a litmus test to measure my urine pH levels.

6:23am – Take a shower in the company of 6547 Mashums and Smashers. Wash myself using a half empty Mr Matey and a unicorn sponge from B&M.  I worry that the chemicals in my hair are now toxic due to the fact that it hasn’t been washed since a week last Tuesday.  Residing myself to the fact that it won’t be washed again today, and feeling confident that perhaps in my hair lies the cure for an underactive thyroid, I climb out, get dried and weigh myself. This is usually followed by crying, swearing or hopping back on the loo in the hope for a poo in order to lose a couple of pounds.

8.20 – I turn on my HumanCharger, a device that looks like an iPod with an ear piece that shines a light into my ear to give me energy, and make my bullet-proof coffee, using a table-spoon of coconut oil, some chaga mushroom powder – a little bit of potassium, colostrum and collagen.  I use a low-mycotoxins, toxic chemicals produced by moulds.

While I am having my coffee, I fill out a spreadsheet on my computer inputting my weight, my urine pH, my hydration and how well I’ve slept.  I then sync my Oura tracking ring, a sleeping and activity tracking device that I wear all day., with my phone and look at the data on how well I’ve slept and how much deep and REM sleep I’ve had.  I get dressed and stand on the balcony in my flat, which clears my mind.  I then feed my mind by reading for 20 minutes.

6:30 – I turn on every charger in the house because I have forgotten to charge tablets and phones the previous evening. In order to look more human than zombie for work, my children need some form of entertainment whilst I apply three layers of foundation and concealer. Unfortunately, and I’m ashamed to say, that the entertainment comes in the form of You Tube where my little ones watch other families acting out scenes from various retro films you used to love. I watch in awe at mums and dads acting out scenes from Ghostbusters – all with special effects and costumes – and all I can think is ‘Where do they find the time?’, ‘What the hell am I doing so wrong?’ and ‘I wonder if I can buy that Slimer on Amazon.’  My husband brings toast up stairs for the children to eat in bed; they attend Breakfast Club at school each morning so technically I’m paying for them to sit in a chair and watch other kids eat their breakfast.  My morning rant falls on deaf ears so I grab discarded crusts where I can and know that if there is a little Lurpak left on the crusts then it’s going to be a good day.  I haven’t had a drink of water in three days and my first cup of tea of the day will be at 11:05 during breaktime at school.  I wonder briefly if my insides look like a prune.

When it’s time to get dressed, I ask my children politely to grab their outfits for the day. Often I am ignored so this is followed by begging, pleading, shouting and the confiscation of all technology. I am then labelled the Worst Mum in the World but at least the cherubs are dressed. Me, however, I’m still in my dressing gown. I meander into my room and contemplate a life where I could stay in my dressing gown all day and yet still have a respectable career. Could I teach ‘Romeo and Juliet’ to my Year 10s via Skype, for example? Yes, I think so.  I feed my mind for 20 minutes with unachievable goals and unattainable wishes.  Then I realise I am running late. Sh*t.

9.15am – I leave the flat and fist bump the concierge.  I’ve fist bumped him every morning for the four years I’ve lived in that flat.  I like to make people smile and feel valued… I stopped reading the article here as I no longer believed the person writing it was a real human being. 

7.30am – I drop my children at Breakfast Club and on my way out through the school gates, I spot another mother – a kindred spirit.  We fist-bump each other and as we pass, I notice she is wearing pyjamas under her coat and Ugg style boots.  Perhaps she has mastered how to have a respectable career whilst staying in her dressing gown all day.  Perchance the dream really is attainable and I find myself both envious and in awe of her.

The definition of ‘well-being’ is ‘the state of being comfortable, happy and healthy’ and despite all of the above, I am.  Who wants to drink coffee made out of some weird mushroom anyway?

Always good for my well-being

**Please note that I wasn’t asked to write an article for The Time magazine, but my guess is that you have figured that out by now.**

Deny yourself nothing.

 

 


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The Fortunate Four

You’re twisting my hair as I type this. Twisting hair brings you comfort as it is something you have done since you were a baby. The hair twisting needs to stop because when I brush my hair, I pull out knot after knot after knot and it’s excruciating! However, right this second, as you twist while drinking your bedtime milk, it feels so relaxing. I’m sitting up in my bed wearing my pyjamas and you’re next to me. You’ve just got out of the bath and you’re in your pyjamas too (so is your sister, who is also in my bed.) It’s my favourite time of the day – together we lay reading, chatting, playing with tablets, watching Netflix or You Tube and you snuggle in next to me and lull me into a false state of relaxation with the hair twisting. In the back of my mind I know that in about twelve hours, when I am straightening my hair for work, I’ll be cursing the fifth knot yanked from my scalp. But, we’ll deal with that tomorrow.

Right now, let’s focus on you.

You LOVE opening presents and during the Christmas holidays you have ripped your way through your Dad’s birthday presents, your Christmas presents and my birthday presents. After every present opening session was complete you asked: “Is it MY birthday yet?” And we would reply with “Not yet, but soon.”

When you were born, you completed our little team of four; you’ll always be the baby of the family but tomorrow you turn four.

You’ve been a great three year old and these are the things you have enjoyed at three:

  • Fruitshoots
  • Hitting your sister
  • Running (‘From that day on, if I was goin’ somewhere, I was runnin’!’ – Your Daddy often quotes Forrest at you.)
  • Shouting ‘poo’, ‘wee’ or ‘butt butt’ at any given opportunity
  • Mooning and saying ‘look at my bum’ (that went down well in a beer garden this past summer…)
  • Transformers (although how they transform into a car has beaten us all.)
  • Gizzy and the Lemmings (you make us read out the title of each episode and if we don’t do it, you go beserk.)
  • Teen Titans Go (the Pee Pee Dance episode was repeated at least 3562 times back in August.)
  • Fruitshoots
  • Playing with your two best friends
  • Climbing on your Dad’s head
  • Cuddles
  • Hitting your sister
  • Ghostbusters 1, 2 and even the universally panned 2016 remake.
  • Smashers (we have at least 73 perched around the bath – you may have had 75 but then Mummy got in the bath and they were never seen again…)
  • Smelling my hair (you grab it and breathe the scent in – perhaps you learnt that from me because smelling your hair and breathing you in is my morning ritual.)
  • Cuddles
  • Fruitshoots

There was a cow at the birth of Jesus

You are, without a doubt, a Mummy’s Boy. and give me the best cuddles. Sometimes they are rough cuddles when you clamber all over me; sometimes they are sad cuddles when you’re hurt and sometimes they are mischievous cuddles when you know you have been naughty but you know you can soften the ‘blow’ by insisting on having a cuddle.

Your sister – from day one – was a Daddy’s girl so when you were born, you became my boy. Feeding you as a baby came so easily. I struggled with your sister and gave up breastfeeding after five months. But you? Well, you wouldn’t unclamp for fifteen months! But that’s enough on boobing as you might read this as a 21 year old and think Christ, Mum stop writing about your boobs on a public forum that your friends and colleagues read…😉 The subject, however, brings me perfectly to my next topic: co-sleeping. Oh, it’s a taboo subject and I have been told on a number of occasions: “Ooh *looks at me in a judging manner* you’ve made a rod for your own back there.” I can categorically say, hand on heart, that I do not have a rod in my back (I mean, I may one day because sleeping on the edge of a bed for the best part of seven years will probably have caused some critical damage) but metaphorically there is no rod because waking up next to you nestled in close brings me nothing but comfort. Waking in the dark winter mornings at 6am knowing I have a five lesson day, followed by boosters or a meeting, followed by a swimming lesson or Brownies, followed by umpiring or playing netball, followed by washing or ironing followed by…(oh, the list goes on and on), well that can make a person feel somewhat f*cked off overwhelmed but waking and feeling your body tucked into mine, smelling your hair and taking that moment to appreciate that you sleeping next to your Mummy makes both of us feel safe and loved and protected, well that just makes me happy. And for as long as I am happy and you’re happy, then I guess we’ll co-sleep. You’re little for such a short period of time so as long as you need me, I’m yours.

There is something that your Dad and I worry about.  You’re obsessed – some might say even an addict.  You cannot make it through the day without a Fruitshoot (or three).  Each morning your first words to me aren’t ‘I love you, Mummy’ or ‘Mummy, you look at least five years younger than your real age of 38’ No, your first words are ‘Fruitshoot’ and heaven help us all if your Dad has forgotten to put a Fruitshoot next to my side of the bed.  You have been known to punch bottles of Evian because we – God forbid – denied you that devil in a little orange bottle and told you that you needed drink more water.  Did you know that Evian spells naïve backwards?  Your Dad and I were certainly that when we thought we could end your addiction to Robinsons with a bottle of clear liquid that tastes like nothing, smells like nothing and yet costs twice as much.

Are you looking at him or shaking your head at all the Fruitshoots in the background?

Sometimes I have days when I feel that no one is pleased to see me; perhaps I have had a challenging class, maybe I have had an argument with your Dad or possibly your sister has told me that I am the worst mum in the world.  Whatever the reason, there are days when I don’t feel my self-worth but then I pick you up from after school club or Grandma drops you off at my school after a long day and I see your eyes light up when you see me – you ignite my light that occasionally doesn’t shine as bright as it should. No one loves me like you love me and no one will ever reciprocate that love one hundred times over quite like your Mummy does.

Happy Birthday, son.

I didn’t choose the kit…


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An Ode to the Parent & Child Parking Space

An ode to the Parent Child Parking Space. 🚗

I’ll admit, once it wasn’t important to me,

Not when driving round Gran, who aged 93, 👵

Insisted on going to Morrisons to do her big shop,

Into the car she would climb and I would hop,

Off we would go to her favourite place,

And I would park in a parent/child space.

I know, I know, it’s totally shocking,

I’m one of those trolls you should be blocking,

But allow me to try to explain my madness,

You might feel empathy or even sadness,

Gran was frail, weak and rickety,

Stubborn, forthright and a little pernickety,

Walking far was not her forte,

Because at 4ft 10 she was a little shorty,

We searched high and low for a parking spot up close,

A blue badge holder? We were not one of those,

So without looking anyone straight in the face,

I pulled up into a parent child space. 😱

Now I’m am a Mum, I have to apologise for this huge error, 🙋‍♀️

Because plucking children neatly from my car fills me with anxiety and terror, 👩‍👧‍👦

What if they slam into another car door?

Scratch some new paintwork and I’m hauled in by the law? 👮‍♀️

So imagine my anger, imagine my surprise,

When a huge Mercedes parked up by my side,

I glanced over to greet a kindred spirit – another stressed mum, 💆‍♀️

What glanced back was a guy struggling to see over his rather rotund tum,

The back seat was empty – in fact it was pristine,

That leather upholstery, a child’s hand it had never seen, 🍫 🍭

Despicable, disgusting a down right disgrace,

This man had pulled into a parent/child space,

Out he climbed and the Merc gave a sigh of relief,

So we decided to the chase the space-stealing thief,

Confidenly, he strode straight into the shop,

While we followed shouting: “Hey! How many kids have you got?”

Our shrieks and demands he chose to ignore,

While he perused the shelves of the grocery store, 🍅 🥓🍞

“Right that’s it,” I said. “We’ll give it all we’ve got”,

Later on he would find his Merc covered in my son’s snot,

So next time you’re out in your car kid free,

Take some advice and listen to me,

Most people prefer their vehicles polished and clean,

Park in a parent/child space and you might find that your car mysteriously ‘turns’ green!


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Girl Code

G I R L C O D E

(Basically, you’re a dick if you don’t follow it! 😳)

There used to be this thing, you see,

This disgusting trait called jealousy;

In younger years – I admit – I’d experience it some,

But less I feel (I hope) now I’m a Mum,

Beauty was something I longed for and saw it in everyone but me,

Spiteful words, twisted comments only made me more ugly,

Then I grew up and matured in every way,

And now I admire and praise the beauty I see each day,

I tell my pupils that in this life there will always be someone who is better at something than you,

And how they choose to accept this will reflect in all they do,

Coveting, we are taught, is a most evil sin,

If you want what others have, then the problem is deep within,

Take my girl – she’s beautiful, talented and smart,

She’s MY picture, perfect work of art,

But a day will come where she won’t feel good enough,

When perhaps school work just gets too tough,

But I don’t want her to desire the life of her peers,

She will be taught to face her fears,

You see, there’s this moral I have now learnt,

If you live by it, you won’t get burnt,

Motherhood: for seven years how I have glowed,

Because I fully live by the rules of the GIRL CODE,

Simple acts of kindness; compliments here and there,

‘Amazing outfit today and even better hair’,

Praise your sisters when they’re winning at life,

Doesn’t it feel better than twisting the knife?

Feeling fantastic and wearing that smile,

We’ll return that compliment and go an extra mile,

Stand by your girls; offer them support,

Make sure they don’t fall; ensure they’re caught,

Real girls won’t tear you apart or watch you break,

And the ones who do – it can’t be nice living in such hate,

Girl code means we love your family as much as we love you,

Follow our code and feel empowered in all you do,

Choosing not to listen and following the darker path,

And you’ll feel our collective wrath,

Stealing a kiss will turn you into a toad,

A perfect punishment for breaking our GIRL CODE!


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Life’s a Mountain

Life is a mountain we have been tasked to climb,

The battle though is where do we find the time?

You see, today I have washed three loads of washing,

ironed our clothes, marked 32 books,

wiped and wiped and wiped my son’s runny nose,

I’ve vacuumed twice, I’ve cleaned the loo,

Washed the dishes and dried them too,

But failure is written all over my face,

The mountain – I didn’t even reach the base,

Today I didn’t sit down and enjoy time with my children,

Their eyes were glued to screens too small,

Me at my laptop, I am even there at all?

I planned five lessons, wrote 60 reports

And then there was the other 32 books…

I teach a love of reading; ‘it’s my passion’, I claim,

But when my daughter wants to read with me,

My answer is always the same,

‘Soon, my dear’, ‘tomorrow perhaps’ and

‘I just don’t have the time, my love’

And the mountain’s top grows and shifts from above,

I feel so small because my children

haven’t seen their mother at all,

And so I start to wash and dry the dishes,

Feed the cat and clean the fishes,

It’s my job, my role to keep things ticking over,

Ensure to keep my house, my home, us alive,

Then the thoughts creep in,

Would anyone notice, notice if I…

This rhyme isn’t one I wish to finish,

My light, I won’t let it diminish,

And on I fight to make it through another day,

I text my mum and ‘sorry’ I say,

‘Sorry I came over feeling so stressed,

I don’t think I’m at my best’,

There’s no money left in the pot,

My housework has taken a back seat,

There’s just too many deadlines I have to meet,

I’m middle class, white, with a degree,

Our government takes no pity upon the likes of me,

With no pay rise in sight, my money fears grow,

Will I be able to provide for my family, I’ll never know,

It’s okay to talk and it’s okay to admit defeat,

It’s fine that you might not ever reach the mountain’s peak

Don’t stress about the unreachable summit,

Ask for help and please don’t plummet.

 


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I Am Woman

I am woman, hear me roar,

You call it nagging, but it’s so much more,

We can change the world with our coalesce voices,

We’ve fought, protested and died to get our own choices,

I am woman, hear me roar,

The louder we are, the harder to ignore,

Be vigilant, they warn, for an incoming attack,

But a woman will always have another woman’s back,

I am woman, hear me roar,

Can you see us up here, up here as we soar?

Mothers, wives, friends, sisters, aunts and teachers,

We’re not not impenetrable though, fear and grief – it can reach us,

We are women, hear us roar,

I’m not here to preach, just to implore,

You call us subversive, renegades, rebels and try to drag us down,

But you can watch from the sidelines as I wear my crown 👑

Some inspiration found in Parliament Square