The Teaching Mum

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


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It’s No Big Deal!

I was the first person to hold you when you came screaming into our world.

Birth is not a big deal, I thought, as I passed you to Daddy so he could meet his girl.

The midwife made a big deal when I said I didn’t know how to fasten a nappy,

It made me feel stupid and alone, when really I should have just felt happy.

I found feeding you so difficult at first, but I tried and tried and tried.

Health visitors thought I was being dramatic when the pain came and I cried.

But, I persevered; I fed you myself and in the end it wasn’t a big deal,

The long nights soon started and then the sh*t got real.

Sleep deprivation became a well known form of torture,

Never did you sleep in the lovely cot we bought you.

No big deal.

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About an hour old!

Tomorrow you start school and that’s no big deal,

You’re more than ready and this I know, but what’s this emptiness I feel?

Your uniform is hanging neatly in your darkened room,

And you’re sleeping right now so sweetly with your dreams dancing in full bloom.

“It’s your first day tomorrow! What will you do if Mummy cries?”

“It’s not a big deal, stop saying that!” Then you roll your eyes.

I can tell you’re ready, it’s plain to see because

When I talk about school, you literally beam with glee.

I hope it lives up to your expectations and is everything you want it to be,

I hope you make friends quickly and are not too shy like me.

But, if you find your first day tough, don’t worry, it’s not a big deal,

There’s always another day where you can start a fresh and put up a brand new shield.

Dream big, my girl!


There will be times when I can’t help, there will be issues you’ll have to deal.

And what you feel will one day be felt, because as time passes, you will heal.

Friends may come and friends may go, but please remain kind and true,

Popularity doesn’t matter as just long as you are you.

Mummy is looking forward to listening to your story books,

I won’t make a big deal when you learn new words; I will avoid your embarrassed looks.

It’ll be no big deal when you’re all dressed up, armed and ready to go.

I won’t fuss with your hair, take lots of photos and insist on the girly red bow.

 

As a teacher, I know you are in the best place you can be,

You need to learn from others and not just listen to nagging from me.

Your teachers will know you inside out and will know what it is you like to learn,

It’s not a big deal if you struggle at something; it’s okay to crash and burn.

But, it’s important that you stand back up again and tackle the challenge you face.

Your teachers won’t think it’s a big deal, in fact, they will think you’re ace.

As you go into your new school, I will go into mine too,

And I will greet new pupils who have butterflies in their tummies just like you.

I’ll smile, introduce myself and play down the importance of the day.

“Right!  Who know’s what a homophone is?  Let’s crack on.” is what I’ll say.

It’s alright to feel overwhelmed when you experience something new,

Just smile to yourself because it’s no big deal as friends will always find you.

Go get ’em kidda! (Mummy know it’s a huge deal really!) 

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You rocked Lower Foundation!

 

 

 

 

 

 


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First Days, Friendships and Embracing Those Nerves.

Can you feel those worms, darling?  The ones crawling in deep down in your tummy?  Can you feel them squirming around and making you feel a little bit funny?

Don’t worry, they are called nerves.  They feel pretty horrible don’t they?  I understand that they make you feel a little bit sick; I can see your eyes look wider than usual when you ask me questions about starting school in September.

Nerves are good.

Nerves show that you care.

Please don’t ever stop caring.

Nerves have followed Mummy around all of her life.  They follow her into interviews, they accompany her whenever she starts a new job and they linger in the corner of her classroom at the start of every new school year.  She feels them in the pit of her stomach when she speaks in assemblies and they play havoc with her voice when she wants to speak up for herself.

They show she cares.

They show up whenever she feels passionate about something.

I can see that you’re passionate too and I love that about you.

“Is it September yet?” you ask me daily.

“No baby, it’s still August.”  I say.  “Don’t wish summer away.  I’ve waited so long to share it with you.”

“I’m looking forward to big school, Mummy,” with your eyes wide, you try to assure me.

I smile because you are so much braver than me.  That part of you must come from Daddy.

A few days ago, I took you and your brother to the park.  As we entered, we were greeted by three children chanting both of your names and the eldest girl came running up to you with a big smile on her face.  My heart began to sing a little.  I asked her name and if she was in Lower Foundation at your school and she told me that she was.  Looking over to her mum, I smiled and walked over to her standing and pushing her youngest child on the swing.  We struck up a conversation and she was lovely.  I asked if her daughter was looking forward to starting school in September, and that was when she told me they had moved and her daughter would be attending another school in another village in September.

Such a shame.

A number of your friends in Lower Foundation are going to different schools and the thought of it makes the nerves start fluttering slightly deep down in my stomach because, despite you not moving schools, you may have to start your friendship circle from scratch. You, my dear, appear unfazed by this fact

“Even if they say no (to making friends) at first.  I’ll wait a bit and then ask them again.”

Oh God.  Stop pulling at these frayed heart strings of mine.

At four years old, I can see myself standing beside a wall on my first day at primary school with my only friend next to me. Together, we are looking on at two girls – twins in fact – running around a bench chasing each other.  How I longed to be like them and know some of the other children in my school. (One of the curses of being an only child, perhaps?) Nerves ate away at me that day and I ended up crying.  The second day was much the same and again it ended in tears.  I can’t remember the third day or the fourth, but that’s because I made more friends and I began to settle. The nerves vanished and I loved school and would continue to love it until the day I left at sixteen to go to college with the twins I watched running around a bench all those years earlier.  And what became of the girl who stood with me by the wall as I looked on through teary eyes?  You saw her yesterday; you’re friends with her daughter.  Alas, you won’t be going to the same school in September; I hope your friendship defies that obstacle.

Can some friendships stand the test of time?

Taking what I learnt from primary school, I shouldn’t be nervous for you should I? Instead, I should tell you that the friends you make there could be the friends you make for life.

I try to hide my nerves from you, but you overhear me talking to Daddy about them.

“I don’t have any ‘Mum friends’,” I say.  “I’m not from round here.”

“You’ll make them,” he says.

“When?  I am never at the school gates.”

He tells me not to worry and that I will see them at school events or at the park or in and around our village.  But, this just makes me realise that you haven’t really played with anyone your own age this holiday because we don’t live on a street with children.  I remember when we first moved into our home, your Granddad expressed his concern that there were no other children living nearby.  I didn’t really think much about it because you were eighteen months old and waddling around in a nappy.  Now that you are almost five, I can see that spark of independence in your eye and I know you should be out playing with children your own age.  This understanding hasn’t hit you; you don’t notice that the majority of our neighbours are retired, so it doesn’t bother you…yet. Guilt eats away at me over the fact that other than playing safely in the garden or at the park, you haven’t experienced the joys of ‘playing out’.  You haven’t soared up and down the street on your skateboard; you haven’t raced your friends ’round the block’ on your bike; you haven’t made a makeshift shop at the end of your drive and sold junk to passersby and you haven’t shouted what you think are hysterical witticisms (but, are actually annoying) at loved up teenagers across the road, who just want a couple of hours away from their parents.

I don’t think skipping up and down a high street classes as ‘playing out’.

Therefore, I worry once more that in this carefree summer, as you stand on precipice of a new beginning, you may fall into the space below because you haven’t quite got all of the friends you need to catch you yet.  I feel that this is my fault for working a lot and for taking piles of books to mark at children’s parties when I should be mingling with the other parents carving out new friendships and arranging play dates.  Perhaps it’s both mine and your Dad’s fault for choosing the quiet street, the safe street, the street where we can look out onto fields as opposed looking out onto a pair of loved up teenagers sitting on a bench, holding hands just trying to get a couple of hours alone away from their parents.  Perhaps we should have considered what you would want from a house and a street.

“Kids don’t really play out anymore,” your Daddy assures me.

Isn’t that such a shame?

Playing out helped me make more friends and cement the friendships I already had because the games we played out on the streets forced their way into the conversations we had at school in between learning the alphabet and reciting our timetables.

I wonder, do your nerves start to rear their head when I ask you to blend a word for me?  I think I sense a sudden panic when I ask you what d-o-g spells over and over again.  You know that Mummy teaches English and you’re eager to please, so rather than concentrate on the letters, you spurt out random words in quick succession.  You sense the apprehension in my voice as I quicken how I say ‘d-o-g’ ‘d-o-g’ and then you just laugh and tell me that it says ‘dog’.

“Oops!” you say.  “I’m only kidding.  I know what it spells.”

Do you?

On your last day in Lower Foundation, I was able to pick you up from school because I too had broken up for the summer holidays.  Your teacher came out to see me and I thanked her for everything she had done for you over the year.  I wasn’t feeling any emotions over you finishing Lower Foundation, after all, you would be returning in September.  No big deal.

Your teacher told me that you are a good girl, a kind girl, a girl who knows right from wrong.  She told me that you played with all the children in the class and that you showed compassion to others when it was needed.  Finally, she told me that you would be in a class with some older children when you start your Literacy lessons in September.  At that statement, my vision blurred as my concern for you washed away.

As it turns out, you do know your letters; maybe you were just kidding all along.  I had no need to feel nervous for you.

However, no matter what path you choose in life, I will always feel those little worms.

Because they show I care.

When you’re standing at the gates on your first day at school and you can feel the nerves creeping into your tummy.

Embrace them.

It shows you care.

Your first day in Lower Foundation.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 


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The Twitching Hour

There comes a time that all men fear,

A time that makes mums cower,

Brace yourselves and grab a beer,

My friends, welcome to The Twitching Hour.

And by ‘hour’,

I actually mean ‘night’,

I’m not going to mince my words here,

It’s often just plain sh*te,

Now, you know me and I’m not one for swearing,

But, at 3am after being smacked in the eye, I’m now way beyond even caring,

So let’s rewind, let me take you back and I’ll show you how my sleep stealing kids attack.

Beware of the Face Crawler!

Bathtime is when they grow in power,

Watching the tub, fill with glee,

Thus signalling the start of The Twitching Hour,

As The Dude stands proud and has a wee.

“I’m not washing my hair in that!” She cries,

“You’ll have to put me in the shower.”

“It will make you hair nice and soft,” The Other Half lies,

Yes, God bless The Twitching Hour.

“My toe is touching his willy!” My girl laughs,

“You can’t do that!” In horror, I shout.

I know that I am just being silly,

But I Google ‘suitable bath ages’ and pull them both out.

 

“Don’t know what she’s smiling about but I’ve just done a wee.”

 
Next comes the drying and the putting on of the pyjamas,

Followed by the crying enough to drive you bananas.

Seven attempts to get a sleep suit on,

Surely that can’t be normal?

By this time, my patience is gone,

And my language is no longer formal.

“These effin’ press studs, why don’t they work?”

“Just be patient,” is his advice,

Every night they drive me beserk,

I wouldn’t mind, but I think he has fastened one erm, like twice.

 

And where do you think you’re off to?

 
 
Downstairs I go to make the night drinks,

And, no, I don’t mean alcohol…yet,

From the landing, my heart suddenly sinks,

Because The Dude screams again and begins to fret.

Then we’re in bed and the iPad is on,

Thankfully playing Sky Go,

The Girl happily watching Cartoon Network,

And the Dude, on my phone, watching Elmo.

It starts out innocently with a bottle of milk,

Yanking at my hair as they drink.

The bedding is wet where they have spilt,

And attached to my fresh bedding there is a sour stink.

Sometimes it doesn’t end there,

Sometimes they drink way too fast,

Sometimes he throws up chunks in my hair,

And the clean bedding is now wet and then trashed.

Into the washing basket it goes,

Clean sheets from the cupboard are pulled out.

Dirty washing is every where as the basket over flows,

“Stop crying over spilt milk!” The Other Half shouts.

“But it’s wet and cold and I smell minging!”

All this chaos is beginning to take its toll,

And on my leg, The Dude is crying and clinging,

Oblivious to both the sick and us, The Girl continues to watch Gumball.

I can see you saying: “They’re still awake?

How long is this bloody poem?”

Bare with me, don’t leave, don’t make that mistake,

I’ll move quickly just let me keep going.

And now there’s the calm after the great storm,

But soon we will start with a twitch,

We’re finally downstairs; almost back to the norm,

When a cry from the monitor hits like a bitch.

So upstairs I go and feed my boy back to sleep,

My evening, I realise is at an end,

My discarded chocolate and wine – my evening treat,

“You may as well bin it.” I text from upstairs and reluctantly press send.

And now it is night time and I am officially alone,

Apart from my Little Dude’s snoring,

Of course there is always the light from my phone,

But drowsiness ensues and Facebook memes finally get boring,

 

“Mum! You awake?”

 
Suddenly, I’m rudely awoken,

By a cute, but strong little foot,

Hitting me direct in the sternum,

I’m aware my nose is way too near his butt,

Sighing heavily, I reach and rub at my chest,

Unfortunately, I don’t move quickly enough,

As he has now flipped over squished my left breast,

Tears sting at my face and it becomes difficult to stay still and stay tough.

I silently scream into my pillow,

Because he has just clawed me mid-snooze,

I begrudge The Other Half downstairs below,

Secretly finishing off all my chocolate and booze.

In the dead of night sometimes I shout:

“Come on just sleep for God’s sake!”

I become aware that in two hours I’ll be up, dressed and out,

So I prey that The Other Half is awake,

He isn’t because I can hear his deep snore,

I feed and sleep like a record just repeating,

I don’t think I can’t take this much more,

Of this cycle of feeding and reluctant co-sleeping.

But, then when I think all is lost,

The sun begins its new rise,

So I have lost a little sleep, but at what cost?

Because lovely cuddles from my boy have been my nightly prize,

Glancing at my smiling son, my mood is no longer sour,

You’ll be pleased this poem is finally at its end.

As a new day draws to a close The Twitching Hour. 

“Fresh air doesn’t tire me out, Mum. Nothing does.”

 

 

 

 

 

 

 


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Here if you Need

Growing up, I lived five doors down from my best friend, JC and I have dozens of memories of us running up and down the street to each other’s houses.  However, one particular memory stands out of when, for some reason, my mum ran down the street with me back to our house.  I remember looking at how slow she ran and wondered why she didn’t pick her feet up off the ground properly as she jogged along.  Nowadays, my mum is fitter than me, runs faster than me and weighs less than me.  Why?  Because I am a lazy arse, who likes too much chocolate.  Netball – that’s why.

During her school years, my mum was the best player on her school netball team and they won everything.  However, when she grew up, she stopped playing.  She didn’t want to, but it just wasn’t a game you really played as an adult.  When I was six years old, she built up a team of friends and colleagues and has played ever since.  A couple of years ago, she retired from playing on the court and is now a B Award umpire (a tough qualification to achieve) and the West Yorkshire Umpiring Secretary.  “Netball helped me through a lot of tough times,” she said when she told me that she was taking on the Secretary role.  “Now it’s time for me to give back to netball.”

Therefore, from the age of six, I have never been far from a netball court.  I gave it up during my university years so that I could make time for drinking studying and when I returned over to the right side of the Pennines at twenty-one, I joined a team and have played continuously ever since.

My first attempt playing competitively came when I trialled for my school team at ten; it was almost a disaster.  I played and I didn’t make the team.  Returning home with my head slung low, I felt a failure – my mum and I would not share this common ground.  The next day at school, however, I learnt that they had duplicated someone’s name and I was in.

I realise I am talking about the game as if I am a talented player.  I’m not.  In no way shape or form am I talented.  I am sluggish, lazy, I laugh too much when I am playing, I umpire and talk to myself whilst I am on court, I am a big softy and I am always apologising for throwing bad passes.  The best quote from me this week was “Oh, that was like a wet fish”, as I saw the ball soar limp through the air into the opposition’s arms.  However, this sport has impacted on my life in so many ways that I wanted to write about it and celebrate it.  I am cringing as I write this, but netball has and always will have a special place in my heart and I know this phrase will resonate with the few rather than the many, but it’s not just a game, it’s a family – it’s a way of life.  In the past, there has been many a night out I have turned down due to my having a 9am netball match the following day.

I am lucky enough to be blessed with two children – a girl and a boy and as a mother of a girl, I want her to grow up in a world where women support and encourage one another and for me, netball is the complete epitome of this belief.  A famous saying in the sport is ‘Here if you Need’ and it not only does it embody the game, but it is the underlying factor that makes netball girls the best you will ever meet.  Never in my life have I come across a group of women who will support you in everything you do – not just during a game.  I met a close friend at twenty-one after joining a local team and during my Dad’s illness, I shut myself down and avoided seeing people at all costs.  One Saturday, I played an abysmal game and my opposition ran rings around me and was particularly aggressive – but, she didn’t know my personal battle and wanted the win more than me.  My friend walked through the sports hall doors after the game (she was playing in the game that followed mine) and she spotted that I was about to lose it.  The floodgates, that I so furiously protected were about to burst open and I would not have been able to stop.  She grabbed me, hugged me (and I am NOT a hugger) and let me – a sweaty mess – sob openly into her shoulder.  In an instant, she picked me up and put me back together right there in the middle of the court.

Playing and umpiring Saturday morning netball in and around West Yorkshire for the last fifteen years means that I have been lucky enough to meet some amazing women. I can guarantee that no matter which court I turn up at on a Saturday, I will see someone I know, like and admire and that’s a lovely thing to be able to say.

So, if you are after a new hobby and want to be part of a team of women who will support you and defend you to the absolute death (or until the final whistle blows), then you should give netball a go and here are some reasons why:

  1. Squad Goals

Your team is your squad.  I joined my most recent club three months pregnant and during my first pregnancy, seven of us all had babies within weeks of each other. Since then, the club has birthed over twenty babies. Away from netball, I think it’s clear to see where these ladies get their kicks!  During the early days of motherhood, we were a support network for each other and our children have become friends.  One day soon, my daughter might be lucky enough to intercept the ball from these aging hands of mine and play the game with some of these amazing children.

Raise your hand if you can spell S E X !

 

2.  A two minute team talk can become a life changing epiphany

I am honoured to know a lovely lady who, despite having some health problems, is driven by her passion for the game and is the most positive person I know.  Despite not being able to play as often as she would like, she turns her attention to others via coaching and captaining a team.  Driven by the love of the game and her passion for her club, this lady will always put others’ needs before her own; she is selfless and inspiring and the perfect pin up for what a good player should look like.  She is all about the team and encourages others to be the best they can be.  Who doesn’t want a friend like that in their life?

 

A two minute talk can be a game changer

 

 

3. Netball Mums

I can’t wait to be a ‘Netball Mum’.  Growing up, I only really had the opportunity to play for my school team, but now, throughout West Yorkshire, there are a host of leagues and junior clubs.  My coach at my most recent club only picked up a netball ten years ago when her daughter played for her school team.  In those ten years, she has built a successful senior club and junior club, trained as a coach and is a high level umpire.  For me, this is a little ambitious, but if I can stand on the side lines shouting “that’s my girl” then I will be one happy Netball Mum.  By the way Dads – I saw a Dad last week wearing a ‘Netball Dad’ hoodie, so don’t feel as if you can’t get involved!

Never too young to start.

 

4.  It can be quite a lucrative little earner

Well, I don’t think I can quit my day job, but becoming an umpire helped me pay off my student over draft, contributed to a couple of holidays and now, as I can not umpire as much as I would like, it helps me keep my car fuelled and my wine rack filled which, I think you’ll agree, are life’s little essentials.  One lady I know has, however, turned her hobby into a successful career while another amazing lady raises money through charity leagues and tournaments all in memory of a beloved family member.

5. Netball girls can party

I don’t get out much these days, but last November I put on an old dress, dug out some black heels from the back of my wardrobe and attended the annual ‘Netball Christmas Do’ and for eight hours we ate, we quizzed, we drank, we sang and we danced.  I even surprised everyone when I flashed my netball knickers on the dance floor. Don’t worry, I wasn’t taking my obsession one step too far – they are great for holding up tights!!

 

Knickers, thankfully, not pictured!

 

I’ll end this sycophantic piece by just saying thank you to all the fantastic women I have come to know through playing netball all these years.  I think the picture below sums you all up perfectly.  Oh, and I am sorry for all the crap passes and missed interceptions.

Other team sports are available