The Terrific Twos

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It was nearly nap time as we left the pool this morning after a good, energy burning session. Little M, seeing Dad use his entry card, resulting in a fascinating beep and flashing light combination, wanted to exit through the turnstile. From her height level, I could imagine the noise, lights and the shiny turning bars, like a untried climbing frame, were nearly irresistible. Much more interesting than the child friendly swing gate we would have to use. “This way” I cheerfully sang out, aware that this needed to be handled swiftly to avoid melt down. “No” came the reply. The line of people trying to leave had started to form behind the two exits, and I could already feel the tension from the irritated adults with so much to do in the remainder of their morning. This situation could play out in a number of ways.

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We have come full circle

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I have started to watch you sleep again.

I didn’t realise I was doing it, but it’s gradually dawned on me. Things have changed, again.

No longer am I disturbed from a book, or my notes, or the washing

No longer does the sound of you crying out for “mama” echo through the monitor

Because I am sat there, with you, watching you as you rouse, blurry eyed, smiling, reaching for me.

It feels like we’ve come full circle, but this time I am choosing to sit next to you as nap.

I recall the times when I had to hold you, here in our darkened room, as you cat napped your 45 minutes.

In those days I longed to be able to put you down, to walk away, to read, to write, to wash. People said, “She’ll get there. She’ll sleep alone. You’ll get your time back”,

And I did.

I have cooked and eaten hot meals, savouring each bite, not having to share. I have  taken long showered, languishing in the warm water. I have watched films, lists collated over the past 2 years. And I have cleaned the house.

I have reveled in two hours to myself

My time

My only time all day

But here I am again, shunning the books, ditching the writing pad, leaving the dishes congealing in the sink.

But I choose this

I watch you sleep again, because I know these days are numbered. This time is coming to a close. Soon there will be no more naps. What do I choose to cherish, to take with me on our continuing journey, from this treasured time of afternoon rest?

Not the book time

Not the writing space

Not the clean kitchen

But the sight and sound of your sleep.

The peace on your face, the sweaty hair, the drool on chin.

You still breathe from your tummy, like a baby. Your whole body using the breath to make you grow, make you strong.

It is this I now choose during those quiet times. I feel like I didn’t take any notice or pay close enough attention in those early days, when I wanted escape, wanted to be needed less, wanted to have my time.

I try now to capture your naps, be close to you as you dream, as I know one day very soon it will just stop.

And there will no more naps….just…like…that…

So now my time is your time again. My choosing. You are my time.

We have come full circle.

I have started to watch you sleep again

 

Febfast 2018

 

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It’s been 4 weeks and 5 days since I started my Febfast health challenge. That’s 33 days of no alcohol, reducing my sugar intake and incorporating a new weights program into my weekly fitness plan. I know there aren’t 33 days in February, but that’s a teachers OCD, feeling more comfortable with a Sunday start date and a Friday end date. I must admit that when I weighed myself today at the gym, I was a little miffed that I’d only lost 3 kilos. I have stuck to it religiously. I work in a place that always has cakes on the shared staff table, and haven’t  touched a single one. I have been quarantined with an infectious toddler (Hand, Foot and Mouth arrived in our home), and still managed to get to all my fitness sessions. Four Saturday nights have come and gone, and I have sat sipping tea after bubs has gone to bed instead of a decent red.

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In spite of everything, we are good enough

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I knew it would be a struggle, if not down right impossible, to write a post in the first week back to work. Readjusting to a new timetable, a reduction in the all important me time and the general malaise of February, it was bound to impact my ability to include any creative time. I also thought that after a week immersed in curriculum, professional development goals and new students, that my first post would be a reflection on career and aspirations. But no, even as I throw myself into this new academic year, full of hope and drive, I find that my deliberations are on my role as mum. Maybe I’m finally grasping that being a parent, is always going to be my number one, my first and foremost, even when I attempt to bring my job to the forefront.

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28 days

IMG_20180202_123608_537Pinch, punch, first of the month.

What a way to start it, a super blood blue moon eclipse, a new school Term and a new health regime. What could possible go wrong? I actually have a problem with the word ‘regime’ for anything health related. Maybe too much time spent teaching 1984 and other dystopian literature, but it sets me thinking I will not succumb to it. This is never a good place to start mentally when you are attempting change or improvement. How about using the term ‘new health direction’? This has positive connotations and gives a sense of challenge and confidence. Much more appealing.

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That sinking feeling

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A very familiar sense of dread, started to creep into my Australia Day weekend, around about midday last Sunday. I knew immediately what this foreboding was. It has occurred at the same time for the past 12 years in my job, and for probably most of my time as a school student. That sinking feeling that comes with the end of a really long holiday, after spending lots of time outside, enjoying the summer. (Yes, this was even doable in Wales, the season does exist there). You try to avoid all the ‘Back to School’ advertisements in the futile hope that if you don’t acknowledge it, it won’t happen. But then you are struck down with this almighty blow; as what seemed an infinite amount of time last December, suddenly comes to an all too abrupt end. Continue reading “That sinking feeling”

A Warm Welcome

IMG_20180127_104139_736Today is the day I release my blog. By that, I mean, share it with my friends, loved ones and acquaintances both here in Australia and also around the world. Where would we be without FB? The phenomenon that allows us to delight in the lives of others. Or cringe with shame at tagged pictures of the past. Or discover a new musician, recipe, way to gain one-upmanship on an unsuspecting work colleague. Although I have been writing and publishing for nearly the whole of January now, the pieces have only gained a relatively small following through the blogging community. I feel that now I have written a good small collection of posts, had wonderful support in preparing my site and encouraging feedback from the few who have read what I have written, I can now start to share and promote.

How do I feel now that my new venture is going public, so to speak? Well of course, nervous. When anyone creates something, and then puts it on display, they are going to generate a response. You know there will be positive and supportive reactions, but our natural precondition to expect the worst, thanks to our amygdala, will be preparing us for fight or flight. We unfortunately are living at a time when people are hijacking the ease with which we can share and obtain information, and are using it as a platform to harass, bully and persecute those they don’t know. Fear and lack of self-confidence along with jealousy lead many to abuse people who share  ideas through social media. It is a sad state of affairs, and one that I am aware I am putting myself up for in writing on-line. When people used to read a book or newspaper article, and disagree, they would write a well articulated, well-edited, formal “right to reply” to an editor or publicist. Those days have unfortunately gone. But this shall not deter me.

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We are all Teachers of Resilience

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As the last public holiday in January creeps up on us and we wonder where on earth did the month go, spare a thought to those teachers you know. Just as all the parents out there are excitedly packing the book list and celebrating the fact that they have “survived” 6 weeks with their children, these educators are nervously checking their class lists and wondering how they will make it through til Easter. Actually, I feel very fortunate to be in profession that affords me such great holidays – I work for them through – as well as being something I am so fiercely passionate about. But still, every teacher gets a sense of dread at this time of year. Will my classes be alright? In the context of Secondary School, I always try to get people to imagine putting 30 people together in a closed room, who don’t want to be there and, at times, can barely tolerate each other, then get them to be productive. You wouldn’t find it in any other work environment. Yes, it is a challenge, but it’s one truly dedicated teachers take up with gusto.

But I can also imagine the nervousness with which any parent send their beloved ones off to school, whether it be into pre-primary, the first year of Secondary School or the first year of external examinations. The pressure, due to an often too demanding curriculum along with the (anti) social structures brought on by mixing groups of people with a growing sense of self and incomplete brain development, is enormous. We must never underestimate how tough going to, and being at, school is for these young people. It isn’t a normal social construct. It calls for such discipline of mind and emotions, and then we add to this the duress to do well consistently. And not just well, but also better than others. When we think about it in these terms, we might be less demanding and more considerate of our young people within the education system.

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The best laid plans

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As I was heading to bed last night, it suddenly struck me that tomorrow would be the last day in which I’d have any time to myself, until July. It was a horrifying realisation. It would be the last day that I had no work, no toddler and no Uni until the middle of Winter. I adore my baby, my job is great and I love studying, but I really cherish my ‘just me’ time. And I don’t get it often enough. So here I was, heading to bed, planning all the things I would do, for me, in that last precious 8am to 3pm slot I had coming up. Of course I had to tick off the Exercise, Rest, Create activities, my life savers that keep me well. A gym visit, some writing and the last episode of Broadchurch on I-view. Then there was the important process of maintaining relationships, so lunch with a friend I’ve been meaning to see since before Christmas. Retail therapy,  something new to wear for the first day back at work. House work, some cleaning and food prep to make next week flow a bit smoother. School work, prepping for the start of the new academic year. The day seemed to be busting at the seams already. But I could make it work. I had to. It was my last chance to do all of this. The list was complete, I said a quick prayer for some sleep (the usual fruitless plea – “please let her sleep through”) and I lay down.

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