Wednesday, 23 September 2015

Mummy on the Edge May/ June 2015

Now, I have time on my hands and writing on my mind.

Time to hover over Midi-Me’s shoulder when she’s supposed to be doing homework and make sure she’s not on sodding Minecraft. Time to keep the house clean (er… maybe not). Time to drive her to Chuck in Hatch End for a cheeky, midweek burger. Time to ponder over birthday riddles meted out to overworked Singaporean children. And time to unblock my own creativity.

As new and odd as this feeling is to me, it must be equally weird for Midi-Me. She has lived her entire sentient life, from the age she was in that picture, knowing that her mum is a Sign and Sign teacher. We constantly bump into my past students at restaurants and at Tesco’s and every end of term she helps me munch through the chocolate gifts and reads my cards out loud exclaiming “Aw! That’s so nice!” while adding another piece of evidence to her mental Mummy is a saint dossier. She softens my furrowed brow when I’m thinking about how many places I have left to fill for next term and chops vegetables for fried rice when I bark into the kitchen that I “HAVE to get this booking email out tonight!!!”

Now however, flowers, chocolates, wine, champagne, scarves, sunflower pots, notebooks, key chains and MORE chocolates cover every surface. And a massive load of cards, emails and facebook posts, each message vying with the next for heartfelt gratitude and tear-inducing farewells. “Thank you so much for helping me communicate with my child, we love you and will never forget you. Good luck with your writing.” I am handing over the reins of Sing and Sign, the business I have run (by the seat of my pants) for 12 years.

This was not just a business but a way of life for me and my Midi-Me. It supported me during single motherhood and enabled me to make drop-offs and pick-ups and hang around for after school shenanigans. It enabled me to remain independent, and gave me something important to wake up for, a purpose that felt like I was doing good in the world. I met thousands of lovely parents who came back again and again with their thousands of gorgeous children along the way. They all put up with my crazy days and my bonkers ways; my badly made tea and terrible jokes. Their patience never faltered when I was late; when I had forgotten integral items of kit, and whole verses of songs (that I had sung daily for years); and when I had to pause the class for five minutes until I could stop my laughing fit seemingly, brought on by nothing at all (well, the latest was when the editor of this magazine had cold coffee poured accurately and without spillage into her shoes by someone else’s toddler). And these parents and their babies kept me laughing and laughing through the years. They were my therapy and I sometimes felt that I should have been paying them, not the other way round!

If you are reading this, thinking, Oh no, this all sounds like the warm, fuzzy, hilarious non-scary baby class for me, did I miss out? Rest assured. Sing and Sign continues in Harrow and Bushey, Ricky and all over the country. I looked far and wide to find a suitably multi-talented, experienced, loving and mildly bonkers replacement for me… and found the marvellous Shell Clohessy ( who has thankfully agreed to take up the mantle.

So now, it is entirely conceivable that I will spend all my free time eating nachos and watching Real Housewives instead of indulging in more high minded pursuits. And Midi-Me will discover who her mother really is. However we will both be busy very soon. This August, Midi-Me will acquire a step-dad (gasp! -I will have to think of a suitable sobriquet for him; no doubt he will pop up in future blogposts.) And I will acquire two step-daughters. Just call us the modern-day Brady Bunch. So there’s cake to choose and dresses to buy (- although Midi-Me will probably want to wear a polo shirt). But there’s time for it ALL now. Phew! And time to write about it too!

For those of you whose kids are sitting the 11+ this year and have not done any prep, I’m going to sum up my non-expert advice and recommendations for a couple of good books. Find me at or at or on twitter at @appleina

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