What We Wouldn’t Give…

Usually, the night before we return to school after a break, the internet is full of funny memes about going back to work and teachers playfully grumble about having to return to reality.

Well let me tell you, today is different.

What we wouldn’t give to be getting up tomorrow morning, dropping our own kids to creche or childminder or school, and driving in the gates of our respective schools.

What we wouldn’t give to hear the lighthearted greetings in our staffroom, with “Here we go agains” and “Welcome backs”.

What we wouldn’t give to be walking into our classrooms, booting up the computers which have been sleeping for a week or two, opening the windows to let some light and air in.

What we wouldn’t give to have the door open and the first of many groups of teenagers saunter through the door, fully committed to the “I don’t want to be here” demeanours, but still smiling and throwing the odd “Maidin Mhaith” or “Yes Mhaistreais” as they find their usual seat.

What we wouldn’t give to hear the familiar voices mutter or announce their “here!” or “Yips” or “Anseo!” as we call through the roll before starting.

What we wouldn’t give to see the faces who in many cases have been in front of us for 6 years, some smiling, some growling, some feigning carefree apathy, some feigning interest.

What we wouldn’t give to hear the voice of the secretary over the PA system, apologising for interrupting the class.

What we wouldn’t give to have our colleagues wave through the window as they pass, or coming to the door to ask a question or give a message.

What we wouldn’t give to hear the bell; the awful, invasive, horrible ringing blast which we curse and loath usually; but which right now, would sound like music on the wind.

What we wouldn’t give to hear the noise; the calls, the laughs, the random sounds that can only be created by a few hundred young people moving from classroom to classroom.

What we wouldn’t give to sit in the staffroom and hear the familiar voices and quips and jokes and laughs from the colleagues we have worked beside for years.

Because you see, teaching is more than turning up and imparting information.

Those young faces that sit in front of us are more than just a name on the roll.

Those young faces have grown and changed in front of us daily, so gradually, that like our own kids at home, we never notice them growing.

We know them. We care for them. We get them. Well, we TRY to get them.

And while there is nonsense and rascality and mischief and sometimes tantrums, mostly our young people are a pleasure to teach and to see every day.

Students are under so much pressure right now. The uncertainty is painful, and it is painful for them and for their families… and for their teachers.

We miss them. We miss the craic. We miss their faces. We miss the personalities and attitudes and talents and challenges.

We were not ready to walk away from our students on March 12th.
We were not ready to say goodbye to the Leaving Cert students who we have known and taught for six years.
We were not ready to not see the kids who we taught and cared for each day.

So yes, tomorrow morning, we would do anything to be able to go back to school.

We’d give anything to see our “other babbies” and to do our jobs in the best way we know how, in our classrooms.

We’d give anything to hear them and answer their questions and laugh at their jokes.

And we’d give anything to have the answers to all of their questions and fears and to make them all feel safe and OK and that everything is going to be OK.

Because we miss them. (Every single one of them…even the ones who I guarantee do NOT miss us!)

Instead, we’ll get up early and do our jobs in the only way we can right now… from a dodgy laptop in the kitchen or spare room.

And we’ll doubt everything we’re doing and worry that it’s not enough.

And we’ll worry about the kids who we know can’t keep up.

And we’ll worry about the kids who we know are in difficult situations at home.

And we’ll worry about ALL of the students, (even those who are not doing state exams.)

And we’ll worry about the kids who we know are under serious pressure, for so many reasons.

Because, they are not just students.

They are OUR students, in whom we invest so much more than just 40 minutes a day.

I have a magnet in my classroom. It says “Teaching is a work of heart”. A student bought it for me in 2001.

I always thought it a bit cliched.

But it is not. It is true.

And for most of us, our hearts won’t be the same until we get to see our students again.

And all we can do right now, is look forward to that day.

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Stop Asking THAT Question

I’ve written about this before but it seems that it’s like non parents parking in mother and baby spots or people feeling the need to comment on how your baby is fed; it doesn’t go away!

STOP ASKING PEOPLE when they’re going to start a family or going to ‘go again’.

I know people don’t mean any harm when they insist on telling you that you should “be going again” or “getting a move on”, and yet often, these innocently thrown statements can stab a couple through the heart.

Firstly, why do people think it’s OK to assume that everyone wants to have more Babies? Or actually, even A baby for that matter.  Many people make the conscious decision that parenthood is not for them; that they are quite fulfilled and happy as they are.

Then there are the people who, no sooner have you popped out little Charlie or Nancy, but they’re telling you it’s time to get working on Jeremiah or Jezebel.  Why, oh WHY, do people think that it’s OK to ASK why a couple aren’t “going for number 3″… or 4, or 8?

And as for the people who tease a newly married couple, or indeed ANY childless couple, about ‘getting a move on’, well that is just a whole other level of silly beggar.

Here are 6 reasons to NOT comment on a couple’s NON pregnant state:
1. It’s none of your business.

2. You don’t know their situation. You don’t know if they’ve had a miscarriage recently. People don’t generally go around announcing that do they? In fact, we good Irish still fall into the trap of thinking that we aren’t allowed to tell anyone until the sacred 12 week mark, and so when things go wrong, couples often have no one to share their grief or help them through it.

3. 1 in 6 Irish couples currently struggle with fertility. How do you know if the person you are innocently teasing about “going for another one” or “filling that big house” isn’t one of those couples? You don’t know if they’re trying EVERYTHING and being constantly heartbroken. You don’t know if she’s injecting herself daily, undergoing physical and emotional and mental turmoil to try to help matters. You don’t know if he’s struggling with the fact that his sperm count is low. You don’t know if they’ve put every penny they have (and don’t have) into rounds of treatment, over and over again. You don’t know how deep your playful, well-intentioned words can cut.

4. Not EVERY couple WANTS to have a baby, or another Baby. For their own reasons. That they don’t have to explain to you.  And when a couple tells you that they’re all done or quite happy with their lot thank you, do not raise your eyebrow in a smug and all-knowing, “we’ll see” or tut at their ‘nonsense’.  You’re in murky waters now and you need to paddle back Dear.

5. Maybe that couple are in the process of adoption, or surrogacy. Maybe that couple are at breaking point, physically and emotionally and maybe…

6. …it’s NONE OF YOUR BUSINESS!

Of course people mean no harm when we joke about “filling that big car” or “getting a wee brother for Nancy”, but like all things Parent related, innocent comments and harmless questions can cut through people like a bolt of lightning. We shouldn’t comment. End of.

So next time you find yourself about to joke or jest or ask someone about the state of their baby situation, consider this:  If they asked you about the state or your uterus, or indeed your sperm situation, how would you feel? Would you be comfortable if that person sighed and answered with “Well actually, we’re on our third round of IVF and we’re emotionally and physically exhausted and I’d love to tell you about it”?  Or if they said, “Well actually, we’ve had three miscarriages in the last 18 months” or “Well no, becuase we’re pretty sure we won’t be together this time next year.” If you would be able to deal with those answers, you possibly know the person well enough to know not to ask anyway.

If not, don’t ask and don’t comment.

Simples.

 

I’m Sick of all the labels Mum

So what’s the “Perfect Mum”

 

Baby-wearing Mum, Carry her Mum,

Co-sleeping Mum, Cot-sleeping Mum,

Room of his own Mum,

Still in my bed when she’s 4 Mum,

Who cares as long as he sleeps Mum?

A Disposable Nappy Mum,  Cloth-Nappy Mum,

Dodee Mum, Suck the thumb Mum,

A  baby monitor Mum, Check her twenty times Mum,

Camera in the bedroom Mum,

I’ll hear him if he calls Mum,

Baby-lead weaner Mum, Organic food only Mum,

Puree it myself Mum, Buy it off the shelf Mum,

Feed them anything Mum,  He won’t eat it anyway Mum,

Fish finger Freezer Friday Mum,

Leftovers in my tum Mum

Always positive parenting Mum,

Doing it all in heels Mum,

Never tell them No Mum

Child is in control Mum

Boundaries help them Grow Mum

Nurture them and Love Mum

Ask patience from above Mum

Shower him with kisses Mum,

Temper is in pieces Mum,

Cherish every second Mum,

Will bedtime ever come Mum,

Reading her a story Mum

Playing with his toys Mum

Letting her be bored Mum

Cuppa always cold Mum

Helicopter or Lawnmower Mum?

Let them fall and run Mum,

Breastfeeding Mum, Bottlefeeding Mum,

Whatever as long as they’re fed Mum.

Screaming and exhausted Mum,

Need a shower and pee Mum,

Calm and zen and ‘Got this’ Mum

Stay-at-home with kids Mum,

Go to work, Work from home,

Have to pay the Bills Mum,

Married, single, step-mum,

Co-parenting, need some help Mum,

Foster mum, adopting mum,

Holding on to friends Mum.

Trying Mum, Lost one Mum,

Wish with all my heart for one,

Happy mum, Sad Mum,

Frustrated at myself Mum,

Crying mum, Laughing Mum,

Fitting everything in Mum

Mum Buns, Mum Tums,

Stetchmarks, hormones and Bumps Mum

Afterschool, Sports and Pool, Taxi everyone Mum,

Homework Fun, Housework Done

Trying my best every day mum.

Kids come first,  Mum’s the worst,

Will this bubble ever burst?

Give your kids the love they need

And to the labels give no heed…

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Say what now?

 

I could keep going.

Mums are amazing.  We manage to be many of these Mums at once, but NO ONE can be all of them.

If you are putting yourself under pressure to fit a label that doesn’t fit you, cut it off.

As long as your kids are loved and fed and cared for, you’re doing just fine Mum.

It can’t be perfect all the time, neither can you. But remember that usually, the flaws you see in yourself, are only seen by you.

To your kids, YOU are their Perfect Mum.

And I am the perfect Mum for MY kids…even if you don’t agree with how I do things.

I am Some Last Firsts Mum

My Baby

Tonight Mammy is hormental.

I’m coming to terms with the fact that even though I keep referring to Princess as The Baby, she is in fact, not a baby any more.

Tonight, I put my last one year old to bed for the last time.

In the morning, she shall be two.

Two.  

A real number.  

No longer counted in months… no more 18 months.  No more “one and a bit”.

Nope.  From tomorrow, she is TWO.

And someone needs to pinch me and explain how the HELL that happened?

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In my head, she’s a Baby.  

But more and more as I look at her, I’m getting reminded that she is in fact a little girl. She’s a toddler.  She’s a kid.  

Not a baby any more.

And while her dress for her 2nd birthday party is for aged 3, it doesn’t matter how big she gets, or how tall she gets, or how old she gets.  She WILL always be MY Baby.  

Maybe I’m emotional because I reckon she’s my last first; my Last first birthday. Last first shoes.  Last first tummy bug.  Last first tooth.  She’ll be our last first day at school.  Last first everything.

Does this make me sad?  NOPE.  But it does make me pay just a little more attention to these little lasts.  I find myself memorising things. Watching a little more closely.  Hugging a little tighter.

And while tonight should not be sad, because of course every year marks a celebration of life and of health… for some reason, I have a wee lump in my throat.  I was teary putting her into her cot.  I found myself watching her and savouring her more today.  Maybe because of that last first.  

How did she get so big?  Where have those 2 years gone?  If I close my eyes, I can still smell her as a new baby snuggled into me.  I can still see her face as it was the second I met her.  In my head, she hasn’t changed a bit.  In reality, she’s thriving. And I thank my lucky stars.

Tonight, as I tuck them in, I have a five-and-a-half-and-three-quarter year old who will be 17 on her next birthday… and a Baby.

From tomorrow, I’ll have a five-and-a-half-and-three-quarter year old who will be 17 on her next birthday… and a TWOublemaker.

Let the fun begin.
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I am Spiders and Knickers Mum

Mammy has had a fuckitty fuck-up of a day.

It all began this morning at 6.45am, when Mammy’s coffee was interrupted by a meltdown over an imaginary spider and a pair of knickers.

“Go get your pants and socks please” seems like a simple enough request, doesn’t it?

Apparently not.

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I don’t see a fricken spider…

Apparently, “Go get your pants and socks please” is the code phrase for “Go and imagine a spider that you can’t possibly see on the dark wall without lights on, have an almighty shitbrick attack, refuse to move, scream like a wilder-beast whose nether-regions have been caught in a metal trap until the only way Mammy can get you to shut up long enough to listen is for Mammy to scream even LOUDER than you, to the point that we are both roaring the house down, ending ultimately in a tearstained stand-off.”

 You see Darling, although yes,  it would be much easier for Mammy to go into the imaginary spider infested room and get the knickers and socks for you, this would also require Mammy giving in to your Primadona dramatics and losing the last string of authority Mammy has as well as the last string of sanity she just about has. No. As much as you dig those little heels in, Mammy HAS to wait for you to calm the feck down and eventually back down enough to at least look into the room (which Mammy has lit up with the amazingly clever light switch) to see that the mahoosive imagined spider is gone so you can run in dramatically and get your knickers and socks, otherwise Mammy will never get you to follow a single, simple instruction… EVER again…amen.

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Head to head…

Of course, Mammy should have just sucked it up and given in. Mammy knows that. It would have been much easier on everyone and most likely would have saved everyone from the Hellhole that our home had descended into by 7am.  It might have saved us both from the tears and sobs and snots and general feelings of utter shittiness that lingered over us (me anyway) until approximately 4pm.  Had Mammy not been such a stubborn, bad tempered, thran wench, and had you not been soooo like your Mammy, (you poor cretur), we might have had a peaceful and relaxed and tear-free morning.

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#mammyguilt

But no, we went full on “apocalypse now” and neither of us won. You went to school,  probably knackered and emotional… Mammy walked in the staff-room door and fell to bits when a colleague asked how she was. You might have forgotten all about it by the time you got onto the bus…  I’m still feeling like social services are going to arrive on the doorstep this evening while I’m feeding you whatever the feck is in the freezer, because quite frankly, I don’t have the emotional energy to think about cooking.

But for now, Mammy will have to pull up her big girl knickers and try her very best to make sure that this evening is the absolute opposite of the morning.  The Mammy guilt is real and Mammy needs the hugs just as much, if not more, than you do. And never worry about what’s for dinner. If we’re stuck, there’s apparently a huge spider in your room.  Maybe we could eat him.”

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Like Mammy, like Mini…