The Teaching Mum

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


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The Things I’ll Never Say.

I like to think that I’m quite good at speaking in front of people.  After all, it is something I do most days.  Talking in front of a group of thirty-two pupils daily, however, is very different to presenting to a large group of your peers, your friends and your loved ones.  I am not saying I couldn’t do it, I am certain that I could.

I did it at your funeral, remember?

It’s that awful feeling you get leading up to it: the churning of your stomach, the sickness making you feel dizzy, light-headed and not truly in the moment and then there is the fact that it’s all you think about before you stand to make your introduction to your awaiting audience. 

I don’t want those feelings.

Not at my wedding and I hope you understand.

Months ago, when the wedding planning stages were in their infancy, I had the idea that I would write something, hide it in my dress pocket and ta-da!  I would suddenly magically produce it from the pocket, stand up and present it to my captive audience from where I stood in the centre of the top table.  On lookers would smile and remember you with a fondness, Mum would look on at me proudly as I spoke with confidence and without wavering, Rob would roll his eyes willing me to finish and I would say all the things I want to say about missing you on one of the most important days of my life.  I would talk about how proud you would be of your grandchildren and if only you had met them because they would love you so much. I would speak of Mum and how, at low parts of her life, she refused to be beaten down. I would explain the many ways in which you and Rob are similar but so different in others (he supports Barnsley FC, I know someone has to) and how I saw him in a whole new light on the day he became a Dad for the first time.

I would be sentimental, funny, nostalgic and celebratory and I would make it through my speech without once stumbling on my words and without any tears.

That’s what I thought I could do six months ago.

As it turns out, with only three days to go, I can’t do it and I don’t want to do it.

Sorry.

Allow me to try and explain why.  It may sound heartless; bear with me though as I am anything but.

This one day is about me.

Your funeral gave me the opportunity to stand up and talk about the most important man in my life: you.  It was all about you, so understandably it felt right to talk about you and the father you were.

I don’t want you to be one of the main topics of conversation at my wedding because what will it only serve to remind me of? The fact that you’re not here.

Let me make myself clear.  You are never far from my thoughts and you know I speak about you often.  Over the last few weeks, you have been at the forefront of my mind despite my constantly trying to keep you at the back of it.

That’s not very a very nice thing to do, is it?

But, I have reason.

It’s those damned floodgates, you see. I fear that if they open, I will struggle to close them.  I know they didn’t open at your funeral and my only suggestion as to why is that I was all cried out and still in some state of shock that my father had been taken away from me when he was still so young.  

My friends keep asking me if I am excited about my wedding and I am but I have also told them that I just want it to be over.  That, I can guarantee you, is not true.  Having waited ten years to finally marry the father of my children, I do not want the day to be over.  I want to enjoy it.  However, there’s this thing lurking silently in the pit of my stomach just waiting for Saturday morning to arrive before it can leap out and paralyse me with nerves, anxiety and a deep feeling of loss.  I think the thing lurking is the thought of you and your absence.

Last week, while out shopping, Mum hooked her arm into mine and told me she was looking forward to the weekend and was starting to get ‘a bit giddy’.  I wanted to get giddy with her and yet instead I unhooked my arm and told her I was feeling so very apprehensive about the imminent Big Day.

I know what you’re thinking.  You’re thinking that it’s very ungrateful and ungracious of me and you would be right.  After everything she has done for me and my family, I was throwing her excitement and her generosity back in her face.

Here comes my attempt at justification.  Shortly before hooking her arm through mine, Mum had told me that she had found and washed an old blue and white (LUFC colours, obviously) handkerchief of yours. She had been using it while pressing some trousers and it was clean and ironed and ready to be my something old, something borrowed and something blue and it could hide secretly away in my dress pocket.

I felt the flood gates unlock then.

It was a beautifully simple suggestion. No one would know and I would have something of yours.  But, I don’t want something of yours.  I want you.

I am not a religious person but I do put my faith and my belief in that there is something greater than all of us.  I have to believe this because if there is nothing after we die, then where are you now?  And it’s for that reason that I chose to get married in a church.  However, it’s the church ceremony that, over anything, even the poor weather forecast, that I am fearing.  Fearing my wedding ceremony.  Can you hear that? That’s horrible isn’t it? I’ve picked the flowers, the hymns and asked for the bell ringers.  It’s sure to be beautiful (and chaotic with nineteen children in attendance) but I am fearing it.

Why?

Because, no matter how hard I try to push you to the back of my mind I know I won’t be able to.  Standing outside that church with just me and Mum is where I am going to miss you more than I have probably ever missed you since the day you left us.  I’ll see you in Mum’s eyes as she too tries to not think about how her husband isn’t here to walk his only child down the aisle and I will feel it as she takes my arm to walk me down the aisle.  Every child hates to see their parents cry and as a parent myself, I know how much it pains me to see my children cry when they are genuinely heartbroken, in pain and distress.

With you in our minds, we will both be trying not to cry and if one of us utters your name, the floodgates will come crashing open.

I don’t want look heart-broken as I walk down the aisle and I think that’s why I am choosing to explain this to you now because if I speak about you on Saturday afternoon standing outside the church then my heart will be broken.

If, however, I think about you and make sure you remain firmly in my thoughts throughout the day then perhaps my heart will only be bruised a little and we can all smile through a little bit of pain, can’t we?

I’m sorry.

I hope you understand.

I also hope you enjoy the day, Dad, where ever you are (or when ever – I haven’t ruled out time-travel as an after-life possibility yet.) Be happy in the knowledge that I am marrying into a good and kind family; a family who have looked after me like their own for the past ten years.  Your grandchildren could not be more loved.  And Rob, well, like I said earlier, he is very similar to you.  He likes being at home (getting him to a family party is a nightmare), he loves to watch sport (shame about the football team though), he is quiet (unless he has had a drink), he doesn’t let me get away with anything but he supports me, cares for me and offers advice when needed (often with the lines ‘who cares what anyone else thinks’), but above all, he is a fantastic Dad.

Just like you.

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Chaos is a Caravan

“We have the caravan from Friday until Monday,” I said.  “So I thought, with it being the school holidays, we could go on…”

“We’ll go on Saturday afternoon,” was his reply.

“Well, I’ve paid for it all weekend and don’t you think some family time – just the four of us – would be nice?” I suggested.

“Saturday,”  came the reply.

“It’s a privately owned caravan,” I continued.

“It’s still sh*tting in a bucket,”

His stubbornness is relentless endearing but so is my nagging.

“Will you just consider going Friday afternoon, please?”

And so he did and so we did.

Family weekends away: what you want VS what you get

1. The Holiday Shop – what you want

A family trip to Tesco where you walk hand in hand with your partner laughing and smiling about the forthcoming weekend.  Your children, seated in the trolley, behave impeccably and do not ask for anything.  Life is bliss as you buy the caravan essentials of milk, eggs, bacon, bread, butter, water and a bottle of wine.  Just think: eating bacon and eggs in a caravan.  What a time to be alive!

The Holiday Shop – what you get

A family trip to Tesco where one child demands sweets, crisps, chocolate and a toy whilst the other one is proving to anyone who will watch that he is the Usain Bolt of the supermarket world.  As you reach the top of the cleaning aisle, he is already at the bottom of the pet aisle grabbing at a tin of Pedigree Chum and you don’t own a dog.  As you reach the tin of dog food and place it back on the shelf, he is already locked inside the ice-cream freezer holding up a box of half priced Magnums (and you can’t help but praise him on that epic find).

By the time you reach the alcohol aisle, you wonder if swigging a bottle now and then paying for it at the till will be frowned upon.  The one bottle of wine you were planning on taking to the caravan has now changed into a box of Tiger beers, two cans of Pimms, two gin and tonics and three bottles of cider.

On arrival at the check out, you will learn that you have spent over £30 on Haribo and packs of Pringles.

Then, when you eventually arrive at your caravan and unpack your shopping, you will find that everything you bought that needs putting in the fridge is precisely where it needs to be: in the fridge.  Only, the fridge the food is currently residing in is the one in your house back in Yorkshire.  Therefore, over the weekend you will survive on chocolate raisins, Haribo and prawn cocktail Pringles.


2. The accommodation – what you want

The caravan is clean, tidy, fresh smelling, warm and cosy.  Bedding is provided and every want and need is catered for.

The accommodation – what you get

Having spent half an hour driving around the camp site because “caravan 243 does not effing exist” you will eventually arrive at caravan 243 to find that it is clean, tidy, fresh smelling, warm and cosy.  Bedding is provided and every want and need is catered for…until…

“Mummy! I NEEEEEED A POO!”

Despite the kitchen being literally right next to the toilet, the door must remain open in order that you, whilst realising that you have no cold food packed, can keep one eye on your defecating five year old.

“Oh my Gosh!” You’ll exclaim as you abandon the shopping to grip your nose.  “What have you eaten?”

And in an instant, the caravan is no longer clean, tidy, fresh smelling, warm and cosy as windows are frantically opened and food  is left discarded on the side.

3. The entertainment – What you want

A free kids’ disco and reasonably priced alcohol.

The entertainment – what you get

After paying £54 for two adult entertainment passes (thank God the kids are still free) you would expect EVERYTHING in the entertainment complex to be free much like an all inclusive holiday.  Absolutely nothing (apart from two slides, a set of swings and a roundabout) is free.  There is, however, a kids’ disco that’s open to all but navigating your way through to it is like wading through mud and you’re sinking, sinking and sinking because in order to reach the end goal of the disco and (more importantly, the alcohol), you must first battle your way through hundreds of 2p and 10p slot machines.  Expect to wave a sad goodbye to your July wage as the slots swallow up your pound coins.  Your daughter, when standing next to the 2p change machine, won’t believe her eyes when 2ps come showering down into her plastic cup.

“Look mum! I’ve won!”

“No, love.  No you haven’t,” You may be crying at this point as you pick out another pound coin from your purse.

Can we have some more money, Mum?


Like jungle explorers, you will eventually manoeuvre yourselves safely around the various slot machines and into the bar. While it’s great that your moods remain unscathed at having successfully pacified your kids with pound coins and rides, your pockets will now be filled with ‘winning tickets’ as opposed to precious pennies.  At least you’ll be able to get that beer (and hope that ‘winning tickets’ can be exchanged for cash) and sit and watch your children dance to the music that’s been just beyond your reach for the last hour.

As you open the doors, however, you hear the dreaded words: “Can we have the lights on? Eyes down and get ready for Bingo.”

Bugger.

4. The precious family time – what you want

Having spent an evening enjoying the odd slot machine and the kids’ disco, you’ll walk back to your caravan.  Perhaps one child will be on your shoulders while the other one claims that you are the ‘best parents in the world’ for bringing them away on this little break.  Once inside your caravan, your children will change into their pyjamas and take themselves off to bed as you cuddle up on the sofa and watch television with a cup of tea and a biscuit.

The precious family time – what you get

After missing your chance to purchase a Bingo ticket, you head back to your caravan.  One child is clinging to your hip because they are over tired and the other is veering unsteadily on the path because perhaps the three slushies she downed may have contained a little too much food colouring and sugar.

“Hold my hand!” You’ll shout but it will fall on deaf ears as your five year old will already be off running to try to find the caravan that a grown man couldn’t find in daylight and with a map only three hours earlier.

Lo and behold, she will find it though and as you open the door and ask your children to change into their pyjamas, they will ask for more food and refuse to go to bed until a ‘tablet time’ deal is struck.

After ten minutes of ‘tablet time’ you will ‘playfully’ wrestle the tablets out of the little hands that have a surprisingly firm grip and you’ll lay with them because they are scared of monsters.

Unfortunately, because your children are warm, snuggly and give the best cuddles, you will invariably fall asleep and wake up cold three hours later.  After a slight panic at the thought that you have no idea where your other half is, you’ll find him snoring on the sofa wrapped up in a sleeping bag he bought for a biking weekend last May.

Hmm, where’s Daddy?


The weather – what you want

Sun.  And at some point over the weekend you will get this.  However it will be at an inappropriate time like, for example, when you’re waiting for your friends to arrive.

Waiting in glorious sunshine for her friends to arrive.


The weather – what you get

Rain. 


On the day that you book the Pleasure Beach that’s when it will rain.  Don’t be fooled by the morning sunshine peeking from behind the clouds.  It is tricking you.  It is giving you false hope.  It is telling you not to layer up, not to take a coat and to leave the waterproofs behind.  This is a mistake.  By 2 o’clock in the afternoon you will be p*ss wet through but because British stoicism will always shine through (unlike the sunshine) you will continue in your quest to find pleasure at the Pleasure Beach.


The theme park – what you want

You get to go on every single ride (even The Big One) without queueing for more than five minutes.

The theme park – what you get

A ride in a fairy taxi, which your son will hate.  A ride in a hot air balloon, which your son will hate. 


 A slow, slow ride through the exciting, multi-lingual world of Dora the Explorer but all of this will be worth it just to see your partner and your daughter battle it out on SpongeBob Square Pants Splash Bash.

“You’ll get wet,” you will warn your child.

“I don’t care, Mummy.”

Famous last words.


Friends – what you want

You will spend your weekend in the caravan with your friends.  Together, you will eat, drink, chat and be merry.

Friends – what you get

You will spend your weekend in the caravan with your friends…and their kids.  Together, with your children, they will become a force to be reckoned with and the caravan will descend into a pit of chaos as beds are jumped on, poos are pooed, tantrums are thrown and food is dropped.  But, despite this, you will eat, drink, chat and be merry.

And you wouldn’t want it any other way.


“Never again,” he said as we left the caravan with two content and dozing children.

“The kids have loved it,” I said.

“Yeah, but it’s still sh*tting in a bucket isn’t it?”

Don’t worry. He loved our family break. Here’s my proof.


 

 

 

 


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Back to Work with Love the Sales

I know I shouldn’t be thinking about going back to work yet as I have only been off a week and a half.  But, I am.  Unfortunately, work is never far from my mind.  I know I have data to analyse, new schemes of work to write and seating plans to create before I head back in September.

However, before I start creating my new ‘Horror Writing’ scheme for our new Year 7s, let’s first think about creating a new work wardrobe.

When I return to work in September, I will be a ‘Mrs’ as opposed to the ‘Miss’ I was when I left.  Therefore, with a new name, let’s look at some new clothes.

I like wearing dresses for work and one of the dresses that caught my eye was the navy Hazar Night dress from Reiss.  It’s really simple but I like the high neck, the length and the fact that it comes in at the waist.  More importantly though, I think this is a very professional looking dress and it is important, when working in a school, that you look professional and formal at all times.

With a new dress must come new shoes and because this Hazar dress is navy, I have had a look for blue shoes. Usually for work I tend to wear black shoes because they are ‘safe’ but blue and black don’t always sit will together. I have taken a look at the Ted Baker site and picked out these little beauties. However, after a day of teaching back to back lessons, I am not sure if I will still be able to stand! I had better invest in some of those gel pads you can place in your shoes.

 

Ted Baker

Ted Baker Saviy Pointed Toe Court Shoes, Dark Blue Suede

For the last two years for work, I have been using a hand me down Marc Jacobs bag. My mum, a keen collector of designer handbags, gave it to me when she was done with it! Since then it has been filled with red pens, board pens and exercise books and is now literally on its last legs. If I were to buy a new handbag for work, it would again have to quite large as being a full-time working mamma, I bring a lot marking home with me. Once again, I looked at the Love the Sales website and found this black handbag from Ted Baker.

 

Ted Baker Taleen Bag

Taleen Bow Detail Leather Bag

Despite preferring heels for work, when it comes to casual wear I love jeans, t-shirts and trainers. Once work finishes and I arrive home, that’s when I become Mummy again and there is no way I can chase my kids around in heels. Looking at the Converse section on Love the Sales, I have picked out these floral trainers. Having owned a number of Converse trainers in the past, I wanted something a little different and I think these are perfect. They come in two different colours also: green and pink or lemon and pink.

 

Converse

Converse Breakpoint Ox Floral Textile

Finally, I love Superdry T-shirts and own a number of them because they are comfortable and not expensive. I found this bright t-shirt on the Superdry site and thought, when teamed up with blue skinny jeans and the above Converse, it would look very summery and when I return to work in September, the outfit will take me back to summer 2017!

 

Superdry

HIBISCUS – Print T-shirt

Right, I think that’s enough talk about work for this week. Now to go back to enjoying my summer holidays with these two.

All of the above were sourced from Love the Sales.