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The “Teacher Mum”

This is such a new concept to me, like many first time school mums, it is a minefield. The expectations, the waiting at the school gates, the meeting of new parents and children, meeting the teacher and the reading and homework. It’s a whole new ball game. 

I’ve adjusted to life a school mum quite well, I only do it once a week as I work but I love drop off and collection, preparing his school lunches, reading and finding out about Jenson’s day. I love every part of it and treasure it. We had parents evening next week and I couldn’t wait to hear about his progress. He did amazing, I loved seeing his classroom work, the wall displays ans hear how he was getting on, superbly infact. I felt happy with his progress so far as we also have access to Tapestry, an online learning journey. This is amazing. I get live updates when they upload an observation and I can also upload things we do, it is so lovely to see what he has done. 

It was so bizarre being on the ‘other side’ of the table, I am so use to just talking about the child and filling the silence, making sure there isn’t any gaps and avoiding questions at all costs! As a rule that you learn, you always ask the parents perspective and feelings at the beginning, then you can run with the rest of the appointment on your terms and that way you avoid over running. Jenson’s teacher knew all of the tricks of the trade, something you learn with experience. 

The sharing of career, however, has meant we have an understanding. I know that it isn’t always possible to hear children read, that teachers are human and forget things and that his teachers works her arse off. Especially when she is adding tapestry observations at 9pm on a Friday or 3pm on a Sunday. I relate to that life. 

As a teacher mum, I also know the importance and value of supportive parents. I understand that he needs to read at home every night, know his sounds, count and recognise numbers and calculations. I’ve given him the best possible chance by teaching him how he should be taught, lower case letters, numbers, correct formation of letters and numbers, letter sounds etc. It has meant that he is off to to the best start and will therefore shine and thrive above his peers, not because he is a genius (which he obviously is), but because he has had lots of opportunities. I also find myself over excelling with his homework, I really enjoy the opportunities it gives us to be together, we have been on a nature walk, number hunt, shape searching and we are taking his bear on a trip. We have had good feedback so far! 

I also understand her pressures, the fact that there are 29 other children in the class, with a variety of needs, some more complex than others. I know that the parents are different, some more complicated and some so laid back they forget to dress their child. I get that she doesn’t have eyes in the back of her head and some things do go unnoticed but it is my child in her class, I want him to be the centre of her world. Her main focus. I want her to adore and love him, challenge and push him, which she does but I hate that I do not have that involvement. 

The hardest bit has been separating myself from him. Spending maternity leave and all summer with Jenson to then nothing, someone else seeing him more and teaching him things when thay was my job. The logistics are perfect for a teacher Mum, but it’s in my heart that I struggle to deal with someone else doing my job as both a Mummy and a teacher. I imagine it will just get harder.  

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Everyday she does something different 

It goes so fast” – the line you hear throughout your parenting life and the line you say over and over constantly.  Whether it be when you’re watching them do something new or cradling them in your arms. It’s so true. There is nothing faster than looking back at the years, months or days of your child. 

Looking at Jenson, I am astounded at how old he is, how clever he is and what he can do. I remember the moment he was born and we cuddled for the first time. I was so mesmerised and completely overwhelmed. I had no idea what to do or how to feel. Then we had weaning, teeth, crawling, walking, running, talking, counting, reading, riding a bike, scooter, eating his own dinner… it’s endless. 

Amazingly, I am surprised each day by Emeline’s accomplishments. Every day she does something new. The beauty of the baby years. They change in a snap shot. Emeline is 7 months but I still look at her and see the tiny, warm, slippery baby that I delivered in the water 7 months and 4 days ago. 

The growth spurts and learning come hand in hand. She has two little teeth and she can say ‘mama’, ‘dada’ and ‘na na na’ as well as other sounds, she is learning to wave and she dances to familiar music, Emeline signs for milk and recognises familiar people. We have also experienced the attachment phase. Crying when she is put down or I leave the room. My ultimate favourite thing she does at the moment is drop things and cry, or cry when things are taken off her or she can’t reach something. The cause and effect stage. It is so frustrating for her and utterly traumatic but it makes me smile, it shows her ever developing little personality which I can’t wait to learn more about. 

There is definitely a difference between the first and second child when it comes to their accomplishments. I remember cherishing every moment Jenson did something, being utterly proud and mega excited for the an extra achievement. This time, I am still so excited but I want Emeline to slow down. The excitement and pride rushes over me and then the sense of disbelief that my 5 minute old baby can dance and clap! It makes me realise how quick it is going. I couldn’t wait for Jenson to have tummy time and get crawling, with Emeline, we avoid tummy time at all costs!! 

I try so hard to treasure every moment. To live for every minute and capture a snapshot and memory together but I also love every stage. I don’t want to wish their lives away but I have high hopes for them and their future. I don’t care what they do as long as they make themselves proud. I will always be proud of them.

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End of an era

I am sitting here tying to keep my shit together. I can’t. 

September 2014. Jenson’s first day.

It is Jenson’s last day at preschool today. He joined when he was 2 years and 7 months. He leaves at 4 years and 5 months. The journey he has been on since joining is incredible, he has learnt to count and recognise numbers, learn all his letter sounds, read cvc words and actually read a book amongst other things. I am beyond proud of his achievements and what he had accomplished, we have done a lot with him at home but the support he has received from the ‘Aunties’ is incredible. I know how teachers dedicate themselves to the children in their care and I love that he has received this love. 

Jenson loves his nursery, he has always been so happy there. He hasn’t always gone in well and has had his tears but he has made so much progress. His confidence alone has grown so much. He was amazing in his end of year show this week, he spoke loudly and confidently and my heart exploded. He wouldn’t even stand up and dance at the end of last year. 

The nursery go over and above for the children there, they put so much effort in. Jenson received a wonderful end of year report with a gift, poem and a pack for his learning over the summer. His poem was what sent me in to emotional turmoil earlier in the week. 

So, here we are, the end of an era. Jenson said to me this morning:

“Mummy, tomorrow I won’t have nursery anymore”

I am not sure either of us are prepared for today, emotionally or mentally. We have spent so long preparing for big school that actually I hadn’t really thought about leaving nursery. It was only this week that it has really crept up on me.

I am sitting here realising that he must be upset. The women that have been in his life for two years no longer will be. The women who cuddled him when he cried, wiped his tears, grazes and even his bottom. The ladies who laughed with him and even at him and who made him smile and feel safe. The Aunties who taught him so much and made him feel so special, like he could accomplish anything. The girls who sat with him to do activities for surprises at Christmas, Easter, Mother’s Day and Father’s Day. They’ve loved him, disciplined him and cared for him whilst I wasn’t there and I am will forever be grateful for the bond and relationship they have and that grew. 

They have no idea how highly thought of they are in this house and through his eyes. We talk about them constantly, we are excited when we bump in to them in town. They’ve given my boy the best possible start to his learning. I love how they know him so well. His report modelled that, identifying his his little personality and mentioned his favourite things and quirks. Especially how he is a chatter box. I know that he has been happy there and felt safe and it proved it. We made the right choice in sending him there.

15th July 2015. Jenson’s last day at Nursery

So, thank you Christchurch Nursery. You wonderful ladies who we adore. See you in a few years with Emeline, we will be back. (Depending on Emeline, I suppose that could be a threat!!)

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Babyled weaning won for us!

We have been weaning Emeline for around 3 weeks now. She is a lover of food. She will try everything and nibble and suck on it. We started our journey using the Ella’s Kitchen weaning guide. Having weaned before, and it was successful, you’d think I would know exactly what to do this time round. Well I didn’t! Ideally, I wanted the same weaning experience as Jenson as that worked really well for us and he is a superb eater.

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I followed a brief plan for what I remembered with Jenson. I started about 2/3 weeks before he was 6 months and I did the same with Emeline. We started with dinner, the easiest time as there isn’t anything to to rush for and she could take as long as she needed. We did this for a week and then we introduced breakfast, once she was 6 months and she could eat a range of food, we introduced lunch. 

We tried puréed vegetables to begin with and Emeline’s first try of carrots was a huge success, then peas and lots of other yummy bits. Emeline then wanted her own spoon, very strong minded for a 6 month old but she was refusing to open her mouth. This solved the problem for a few days but then she didn’t want us to feed her at all. She had tried all the first taste vegetables so I knew her basic likes and dislikes. 

First try of carrots


I decided to just give her some of our vegetables, huge success. She nibbled on them with her two tiny spikey teeth. We haven’t looked back. Some days are better than others and generally she will eat everything and anything given to her. We definitely made the right choice by Emeline. 

Following Jenson’s lead


Crackers and cream cheese


One negative that I am struggling with is the amount of mess and food wastage. Emeline likes to squash, squish and throw her food. She has a brilliant mouth aim but once she has had enough, she just moves on so quickly. We have been following Ella’s kitchen on Twitter and Veg for Victory too, with the aim that children’s first taste should be vegetables. It gives the children a good start in life and familiarises them with these tastes rather than sweeter foods. They also run a little competition to win a veg for victory baby grow, Emeline won for being “brave in the face of broccoli“!
I worry about how much food Emeline is taking in and is it not particularly measurable once she has squashed it and thrown it everywhere but if she was hungry she would eat more. Her breast feeding has become more efficient and I know the saying ‘food before one is just for fun!!’ So I don’t need to worry just yet. 

I’ll keep going for now and just pray that she has the same food love as Jenson but Babyled is definitely the way forward for now. 

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Parent failings

As a Mummy, I am constantly questioning myself. My children make me do that and I make myself do that. I want to do the best job possible in being their Mummy, make them so proud and bring them up to be lovely little human beings. 
Without fail, every parent doubts themselevs, constantly. All my actions, the morals and behaviours I promote are managed in totally different ways to everyone I know. Not one single person parents the same, yet every one of the children I know are beautiful little people. We all want the best from and for our children but nothing is ever done the same.

My biggest parent failing is bottle and breast feeding, right now. Obviously it changes frequently, sometimes daily! There are so many mixed messages surrounding this and every professional will tell you something different. Both my children have been exclusively breastfed, both my children refuse to take a bottle. With Jenson, I spent a small fortune on a variety of bottles and didn’t start attempting the feeds until he was a little older. In preparation for this, I had a double breast pump and pumped in the early days for Emie to take a bottle, she had no interest, attempting her first bottle on Boxing Day, 5 days old. We are now at 16 weeks and we are not any closer. Jenson survived and eventually took a Mam bottle, this made me relax a bit more when I returned to work but Emeline just does not seem to be budging. I admire parents that ‘get it right’, how do you do that? 

 

I have no idea what else I can do, she just doesn’t seem to get the suckling. She won’t even get a dummy, yet she feeds off me brilliantly. No matter what bottle we try, there is no budging. I have a freezer full of milk which is great for when I need it and when we are weaning but I just want the reassurance that she will have a bottle of she needs too. All these feelings are bittersweet of course because I love breastfeeding, I love the closeness I have, the snuggles that no one else gets and the eye contact and chatter Emeline gives me. It is so easy, wherever we are, to just feed her, during the night and not needing to worry about all the other bits and pieces that bottle feeding brings.  

 

I am feeling very sensitive about the breastfeeding débâcle today. Tomorrow is a new day where I’ll relish in exclusively feeding and Emie not having a bottle, but today, it is on my mind.

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Little fish

As I grew up, I loved swimming. I use to go with my Nanny and Grandad, they swam a lot and my Dad was a swimming teacher before he joined the police force. I swam early and we went almost every weekend. I am a strong swimmer and I really enjoy it, I would love the same for my children and this has already rubbed off on Jenson!  Jenson started swimming lessons really early with our local council, we both really enjoyed them. We moved at one point to a private gym that was local and were so disappointed with them, the leaders didn’t care about the classes and it was mostly just a bit crap. We went back to the local council pool and lessons and then Jenson had a break for a whilst I returned to work full time and Scott started to work Monday to Friday, so there was no one to take him. 

I enquired about swimming last December, knowing that Jenson would be four and would therefore be able to go swimming ‘alone’. His sessions were parent and toddler before but I wouldn’t have been able to get in there with him and leave our ‘new’ baby on the side. As soon as he hit four, he started them again which is good as during our Center Parcs break, Scott taught him the basic doggy paddle. 

  
Every Saturday Jenson goes swimming now, his lesson is at 9 so we have the rest of the day to do what we like thankfully rather than waiting around. I have seen so much progress since his first lesson. He can swim on his back so well although he needs to remember to keep his head up rather than watching his feet – he wants to make sure he is doing his feet properly. He can ‘scoop’ well too and can go some length on the front but needs to remember to breath! It’s all so much for a little person but I am super proud of him.  

 I love his confidence in the water, out of everything that is the most important to me. I take children swimming with work who are terrified of the water as they don’t swim often, they don’t have lessons or that experience. Our local pool does free swimming for children so you only pay for the adult, to me, that doesn’t make sense. You should pay a smaller price for the child and the adult should go free with them as it is essential they have parent support. It makes even less sense that Jenson gets ‘free swimming’ with his membership, considering he is free anyway, how will he benefit from that?!

I am sure the highlight of the lessons is being able to shower! I am having to ration the shower gel as he gets as far away as possible so I can’t nan the bottle off him, we were going through loads! Within seconds of leaving the pool he asks for a cup of tea but Grandad Mark took him last week and now he requests a milkshake at the diner opposite! Can’t afford these treats and habits every weekend… Grandparents!  

 

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Wishing time would slow down…

With Jenson, I was so utterly excited by each ‘first’ he achieved, so proud and desperate to move on to the next thing for a new memory and a picture in his memory book. This time, it’s heartbreaking. I realise how time is flying by and how quick everything is going. Emeline is 12 weeks old and she can do so much already but I want it to stop. I want her tiny little self to be curled up in a ball in my arms like the moment she was delivered. 

 Jenson wasn’t in his own room particularly early, he was breastfed so the longer he stayed with me the better, he constantly woke up in the night too so it made my life so much easier. The idea of Emeline moving to her own room makes me so anxious, I need her with me. I am so scared to let go to watch her grow up and change. Emie is starting to thrash about in the crib, it’s beautiful her crib, but she is wriggling and moving and attempting to sleep sideways – madam! She still has length in there so I am going to keep her in there but it’s a reminder that soon, something else will change and she will meet another ‘first’. 

Emie has lost that foetal snuggly position and now uses her head like a mole to nose around and see what is going on, she is happiest baby so she is always smiling but I wish that warmth of my little baby ball stayed forever. The arms are up over my shoulder and her extra long legs hang down. She looks around to explore and buried her head to flirt when she is shy!  

Jenson rolled at 11 weeks, I actually missed it as my mackerel was on fire on the grill in the kitchen! Emeline is almost there, using her legs to turn over and flick. She has such good head control and loves tummy time. Once that starts though, it’s all downhill! Rolling her back to stop her whinging, moving her away from Jenson’s small toys or the corner of furniture, waiting for the next stage where she rolls over and over. I just don’t want that to happen. I want time to stand still. 

 I totally took Jenson’s baby year for granted, my first baby, I was in awe of everything he could do and did but this time I want it to stop and for her to slow down. I was so excited for him to learn and equally I want Emeline to be a bright little button but I was this day to stay forever, so none of us get older! 

I can’t deal with the idea of never having another baby in the house, never having another ‘first’. Not breastfeeding or snuggling a little dot, or even having a baby again, I have enjoyed both my labors. But for now, she is the only baby and who knows what will happen some days I want more, some days I think we are perfect as we are.

 These little people are life changing and I don’t want to lose this amazing baby feeling, slow down missy, Mummy misses it all already!