Monthly Archives: August 2017

Mums – it’s all in the lengthy job description.

‘You’re only as happy as your least happy child’. I recently read, then pondered this quote on my sunbed in deepest bluest Greece. A place of such beauty and wonder that nothing could upset the peace, calm and tranquility of the Ray Winstonesque ‘Sexy Beast’ cicada buzzing air. As I looked to my left, I could just see the rise and fall of His chest. A scan of His reddening Brit abroad body saw a tapping of the foot and a nod of a Beats clad head. Hmm, I thought, lost in the world of music. I turned, laboriously in the 40 plus heat, to my right. All the children were splashing away in the cool water of the pool. You snap the moment for comfort on s cold November day: laughter, splashing, shrieking…only that scream isn’t one of pure unadulterated joy, it’s because there’s trouble abrewing in the masses…

You see, it doesn’t matter what you do, where you go, how much effort you apply, it’s simply never enough to make them all happy. I sometimes wonder what I’m doing wrong? What essential ingredient am I missing in my recipe for motherhood? I sometimes feel like I live on a knife edge. If I don’t intervene I’m being a coward and watching a car crash in front of my eyes. Intervene and I’m the most hated woman on the earth. Both scenarios bring stress and tears. I’m damned if I do and damned if I don’t!

This week I heard in the news, that we spend two days – 48 hours, of our lives dealing with family problems. All I could think was – oh god is that all? I seem to live in a bad smell of child moodiness, which, for want of a more eloquent analogy, lingers like a bad fart in a room.

So why do we do it? Why do we put ourselves through such hell and damnation? The excruciating tension which emanates from a family on the edge. Him thinks it shouldn’t dominate. Him pleases himself and ignores it mostly. Tells them all to crack on and tells me to develop a thicker skin. I, on the other hand, pray for salvation and for it all to come good! I’m a fixer though and spend hours racking my brain to find equilibrium for the unit. I guess we do it to ourselves as we want the ones we love to be happy. Who takes cares of our own happiness though?

This is currently our hot topic for our usual over a bottle of (much needed sometimes) wine. My good friend tells me it’s the same for her. My other good friend seconds this. We constantly try to make everyone happy. If we open our big mouths to utter anything slightly negative we are ‘bitches’. Hated for, what seems like forever, but generally a day. We discussed stressed and snappy husbands, grumpy grandparents et al. All agreeing that we simply can’t solve everything. The constant worry of trying to get everyone to smile. Therefore extending from the children to the husband and assorted family members, it seems the opening quotation should be modified to ‘yours only as happy as your only as happy family member’.

So, as my tan developed and the heat got hotter, we decamped to the sea. A long, dusty, hot bus ride followed by a trek down a ‘Clash of the Titans’ style hill, was meant to refresh and reinvigorate – and that it did! The list of anxieties of suspected complaints (yes, it is in the job description of being a mum ‘customer service manager’) was pushed to the back of my filing cabinet labelled ‘Causes of Stress on a Family Trip’: walking back up the hill, too hot, sunbeds in incorrect position, needing copious amounts of drinks and food – or they’ll die (don’t understand cost and it being on par with Greece’s national debt) etc. Instead I focused on storing the good stuff and filing it at the front labelled ‘Happy Place’ I captured to cobbled steeets, took great breaths of the salty air, gazed up at the ancient architecture from the iridescent blue lagoon my friend and I were floating upon. I stored the children’s happiness and exhalations of praise to the Aegean. We counted fish, swan lengths and thought about nothing other than how lucky we all were to be sharing such beauty. We revelled in the lack of technology and relaxed knowing our bikini clad bodies were not being broadcast via snapchat. Him and Him’s right hand man swimming away into the open waters. Drinking it in, savouring the happiness for the dark times!

Sleeping (metaphorically) with one eye open? Knowing that for every amazing memory you create that there’ll be another ugly one to match it, is not necessarily the way to survive. Finding a way to survive family holidays and life is an acceptable solution though. So yes, I savour stuff and store it up. Recalling in quiet moments whilst running, walking, cooking, anything really that gives me time to breathe. You see we need to breathe and we forget that of each other. I’ve lost count of the amount of times these holidays that I’ve been demanded whilst I’m having a quick wee. The constant sound of a fridge being opened (depending on time of day this can be the grazing/emptying aspect of fridge-life, or can be semaphore for ‘I’m hungry why are you cooking?’). Set to the backdrop of trail of items strewn across the house as ‘it’s ok as she’s not at work and needs something to do’ Whatever the setting it requires me to be ‘food and beverage manager’ and ‘head housekeeper’ – an industry I haven’t been near as a paid member of staff since my early twenties.

The solution? I don’t know. Until a magic wand is created (and as a consequence would ruin the world) or I become a Stepford wife, it’s not easy. Like I say, I many others have ways of coping. One friend has a technique she uses which she took from a hypnotherapy session. She turns to it when times get tough. One brave lady advised that she:
‘I get in a big bath and suit myself for a couple of hours. Locking myself in the bathroom with music on loud and a scented candle cam block it out’. Wise words – block it out!

Whatever works is what I say. Inner peace and calm needs to be found so we can deal with ‘the unhappiest family member at the time’. It’s not in us to abandon those we love is it? It’s not in the job title.

Final words: enjoy and embrace the last week of the holidays. We will look back and savour the memories of these ‘carefree days’ when deeply entrenched in the mundanity of school life. Happy Bank Holiday!

Keep smiling xx

 

 

That Summer Glow

That holiday glow soon leaves but maybe the teachings leave an indelible print.

Six weeks off. Teachers. Holidays! Pah! Yes, the age old argument of how unfair it is that the teaching profession has ridiculous amounts of holidays. And before you say (those of you who are at the chalk face) ‘well no one knows what we do term time…’ I’m going to put forward a more resilient argument. True, terms are PACKED with ridiculous amounts of red tape and planning. I’m not asking for any sympathy and certainly don’t court it. However, I know what it does to the brain psychologically. Staying on top of your game; 12 hour day by long working week, puts a massive strain on teachers mentally. I could list the workload but no one needs to know that. It’s the holidays after all and we don’t need reminding…instead I think it’s more important to explore the importance of R and R.

Psychologically, high pressured jobs drain you. There is no argument there. Physical jobs also drain but afford an opportunity for the body to fully recoup and rest. Unfortunately mental strain does not help you sleep and when mixed with anxiety and worry (which becomes magnified by long days and tiredness) can keep you wide awake at night. This is why I train so much – it prompts sleep. So, as exhausted as I am by work, it doesn’t necessarily mean I am able to have a super refreshing sleep. The cycle is one of tiredness and hard work is they only way out: mental and physical. For example: if I don’t mark a set of books ‘that night’ it’s on my mind. Therefore have to do them.
Consequence is: I’ve not done anything to unwind. Therefore 10.30pm dog walk it is (lucky Rosie dog). Right, that’s enough of the problem. As I said, this isn’t here to remind…

Six glorious weeks always stretch out like a annual golden chalice which we are lucky enough to hold. Colleagues count the number of days (from September) to the next holiday, Christmas and even the hallowed six weeks! Are we greedy? Some would say yes but what if say is the following ‘it means I can be me’. The six weeks means I can go on holiday and not worry about workload when I get back (I go away at the beginning). It means I can be a mum without any distractions. The middle one says ‘we can tell when mum goes back to work as we get rubbish teas’. She’s got s point. I recently had a discussion with my head where I expressed the point that ‘these kids in this school are my kids’. I then told her that unfortunately, as is the nature of my job, that they get more of my time and attention than my own children.

The holidays also allow me to relax, enjoy life and actually sleep (It can take me two weeks to begin sleeping properly. That means for the other 48 weeks of the year I’m living on a sleeping knife edge). Additionally, my inability to sit and watch a programme on the telly box has been (temporarily I’d suggest) conquered by my feeling of calm and tranquility. I don’t sit there worrying about my to do list. I lay there and think about nothing. This is a rarity for me and as guilty as it could make me, I know, deep down, that it’ll all soon end; even when I start the new year with the best of intentions.

What frustrates me is we don’t value our time enough (this extends to others valuing your time too). We ask so much of each other and want things done instantly. The pressure to perform instantly can become unbearable – I blame technology for this. So much so I think my family think I’m a walking talking Martini sponsored Google search engine, who is available for questioning: any time, any place, anywhere. Evidence is: during a recent migraine, I had taken myself off to bed to try and sleep it off. However, I was found by every family member wanting something of me. I just needed a sleep but they couldn’t possibly wait to have their questions answered. But, when work is on the back burner and the email can be turned off, I can breath cleaner air. Time off allows me to think and you can’t put a price on that. It opens up new opportunities. My head is clearer and this enables me to sort things out. We don’t think and reflect enough as the fast pace (and family) of modern life doesn’t allow it.

So, two weeks to go and although I’m entrenched in domesticity, I’m doing alright. The Greek glow might be fading (my goodness already planning next year as it’s ‘what I go to school for’), but also my family is well fed and in order. The Rosie dog is loving all the walks and the house is super tidy. All good. Mostly, I feel rested. When I think back to the last term I see one fraught with a busy packed to do list and endless deadlines. I didn’t celebrate my big birthday. I stopped blogging. I I felt very low and lonely. I was just too exhausted to think straight and no one can tell when you just need looking after. Therefore, to lead a life I’m content and proud of, I need to take comfort of the teachings of these summer holidays: rest and relaxation is an under promoted and precious thing, I have, and will continue to, cherish my happy summer memories made and hold them tight in my heart. I will endeavour to cook good food for my beauties; keep the house homely; get back blogging; and I shall continue (as hard as it will be) to sit for at least half an hour a day, to watch the telly!

Fingers crossed for a sunny last fortnight!!