The Teaching Mum

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


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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

 


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The Rough Mutha – An Alternative Assault Course

I’m not a runner. I go out running regularly (rarely), but I am not a runner. As soon as my trainers hit the ground they sound out the rhythm of ‘go home’ ‘go home’. After half an hour the beat is some what slower ‘go…home, go…..home’. After forty five minutes, I am usually limping with some kind of age related pain and I just hear the word ‘home, home, home on repeat. By the time I hit one hour, even my playlist is telling me to give up. Bon Jovi tells me ‘Oooh we’re half way there, oh oh just go home.’ (Sing it, it totally works). Or Meatloaf tells me that ‘Like a Bat out of Hell’ he’ll be ‘home when the morning comes. Like a Bat out of Hell’ he’ll be ‘home home home.’ You’re loving my playlist aren’t you?

Finally, when I do get home, I get my breath back and feel like I could do it all over again. However, then I look at my running app and it tells me this:

Obviously I have to oblige and make my way towards the fridge…

I have found it difficult to lose my extra baby weight the second time round, mostly because I don’t diet and eat copious amounts of chocolate. My Facebook time line is often filled with people participating in the Total Warrior, The Major Series and the Tough Mudder. I particularly love (hate) waking up at 6am every morning knowing that some lovely svelte mum, who I haven’t seen since school, has already clocked up 15 miles and is sharing it on Facebook.  (Don’t stop doing it btw – it’s me who needs sorting out – not you, you’re perfect…)  Also, as I write this (I wish I was kidding), I have just inhaled a bag of Mini-Boosts.  After having my second child, I vowed to get fit (not thin), but alas, it’s all gone by the wa(ist) side.  Rather than moan into empty bag of Boosts though, I aim to see the positives in this situation.  No longer will I say ‘so effing what’ when I see that some mum has managed 15 miles before breakfast.  No more will I lounge around in my netball jogging bottoms thanking the Lord for their elastic waist band.  Never again will I eat a huge cheeseburger (thank you TGI Friday) and complain that I have just consumed enough calories to last me up until my next birthday because I have decided that everyday is a work out for me as I am forever multi-tasking.  Therefore, ladies and gentlemen, mummies and daddies, I present to you: The Rough Mutha – An assault course not for the faint at heart, but for the weak at will.  Having done this course a number of times over the last three and a half years, I just don’t know why the weight isn’t dropping off me to be honest.  (I do, it’s the chocolate, cakes and carbs.)

Can you see that speck in the distance? That’s my 60 year old mum kicking my ass at running.

Obstacle One – Retrieve wet washing from the machine one handed, take it outside, hang it out to dry all while balancing your baby on your hip.

This is one of my favourite challenges because not only are you working your biceps as, if you are like me, you will cram as much dirty washing in your machine as physically possible so when it comes out wet, it actually weighs the same as the bundle of joy balancing in your left arm.  What’s really great about this activity is that no matter how I scoop the washing up, one of the Other Half’s PE socks will ALWAYS fall onto the kitchen floor.  Then I have to squat to pick it up.  And when I stand, another one falls, and another…  Why does he have so many damn socks?

Obstacle Two – Breastfeeding and maintaining the latch while you take your three year old for a poo

Ah, this one I haven’t done in a while since weaning began, but in the early days, I was an expert.

The girl: “Mummy! I neeeeed a poooo!”

Me: “Your brother is feeding.  You’re old enough to go sit on the toilet and I will be with you in a minute.”

The girl (voice raised): “Mum! It’s coming out!”

Grabbing the boy’s head gently and yet firmly, I would heave myself up from the couch (where there was an actual imprint of my arse) walk precariously to the toilet, pull down the girl’s leggings with one hand, help her onto the toilet, carefully take a seat on the stairs to wait for her to finish (oh yes, this one rules the roost in our house) only for the Dude to unlatch and join in with the heaving party. (He did a poo too – in case you didn’t get that.)

Obstacle three – Wrestling your Ninja Flippin’ Dude into a sleep suit.

When I reach the pearly gates, the first thing I am going to ask God is why oh why did he (or she) create press studs.  Getting my son ready for bed is my cardio.  Never have I faced such a difficult challenge in my years as a mother.  My daughter would lay there cooing while I would quietly and peacefully dress her for bed.  The Dude though, he pulls out clumps of my hair, pokes me in the eye, flips and races off into another room.  He moves that fast, I have literally lost him on more than one occasion.  When I do manage to pin him down (I have to put him in a leg lock), he fiercely kicks and flips and all that can be heard is me shouting up at the heavens: “God damn you press studs!”

As punishment for holding him down in my spotty M&S PJs, he holds my Kindle to ransom.

Obstacle four – Highchair Hijacking

The Dude (Mini-Houdini) can wrangle himself out of any high chair.  Firstly, he leads you into a false sense of security by sitting quietly and eating your home made Hipp Organic Jar.  Then, from out of no where, he is clambering on top of the table in an attempt to escape you, the food or both.  Once again, a great exercise for your arms as you have to hold him in his chair, stop him from falling and feed him at the same time.  This is also a great core exercise as usually, when I am preventing the boy from leaping from the table, I am stood with my stomach held in, anticipating his next move.  The constant heart palpitations get the blood pumping nice around the body too.

Everyday we fasten him in; everyday he climbs out.

Obstacle Five – Getting ready for work and leaving the house on time.

This, for me, is my most difficult challenge – one that I haven’t quite mastered.  Yes, I have probably burned a few calories, but no matter how hard I try, I cannot leave the bloody house on time.  What makes this challenge particularly frustrating is that while I am dressing, straightening my hair, moaning at my Dulux Dog style fringe, putting my make up on in the dark, dressing the girl, wrestling dressing the boy, packing the bags, eating breakfast and taking my medication for my underactive thyroid (a gift from birthing my second child), the Other Half is taking a half an hour long leisurely shower at the same time.  This is an excellent work out for your legs, as kicking his arse on his way out of the house does wonders for toning your thighs.

And there it is: The Rough Mutha.  I hope you’re better at it than me.

Admiring my elastic waist band (and my son.) And me after fifteen minutes wrestling with press studs.

My Kid Doesn't Poop Rainbows
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