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Confessions of a working mother: Valentine’s Day isn’t a romantic date for us ...

By karen Ireland

Love is definitely in the air this week. Yep, it's on the TV, all over the radio, supermarkets are full of it and even the small people in my household are discussing who is going to be sending a card (a handmade one, of course) to whom.

Still no sign of my date though — unless you count being invited to a Murder Mystery Party in which Tom is playing one of the suspects. I hope he isn't trying to tell me something ...

Between murders and his mountain walking, the rate things are going I'll be lucky if I get a night out this side of my birthday ... which is in July.

Still, I have to admit I’m not a big fan of this particular saint. I hate being told when to be romantic and feeling like I have to make a special effort or do something nice simply because it’s February 14.

We gave up on the cards and the romantic meals some time ago when we had a big fight one year because we both felt forced to be romantic and it just felt trite and all wrong.

I'd much prefer a card, a bunch of flowers or a nice meal (which I must admit I get a lot of anyway, the meals, not the flowers or cards) just because Tom felt like doing it or we wanted to surprise each other rather than because of good old St Valentine.

So I imagine it will be a cosy dinner for five on Sunday as opposed to two and any cards will strictly be in the 10 and under age bracket.

I don't want my date (which I have been waiting for since Christmas) to happen on the busiest night of the year — when the world and his granny are out and it is ‘couple city' — never mind trying to get a babysitter who have all been booked up, but I would like it sometime before I turn another year older.

Speaking of a year down the line, Jesse has just done his first P7 practice test (I don't even know what the correct name for the 11-plus replacement is). Yes as the first lot of results are revealed, the next set of guinea pigs are waiting in the wings, readily starting to prepare for next year.

My heart goes out to all those parents and children who have had all the upheaval and uncertainty of this first time round — many of whom are still not really sure what Saturday's result means for them or where they will end up going come September.

I've tried explaining this to Jesse, who is already starting to panic about the tests and wondering what school he will be going to — that's all his classmates talk about, he tells me. Who knows what changes could happen between now.

Now that I’m feeling a little better I’m getting back to the world of work, yet I've now started to dread Thursday nights as the boys all have tests on Fridays (very common day for sore tummies and heads in the house, funnily enough). Throw Jesse's practice tests into this equation and we’re a very uptight house.

And with my childminder still in Africa, I am now resolved to trying to work as much as possible around school runs. Still, with a 2pm, 3pm and 4pm pick-up some days that means getting as much as possible done in the mornings. In the afternoons I run a taxi.

Mind you, this new schedule should be good for the waistline as meetings now take place over breakfast or coffee; I need to stay out of places like Avoca — or at least avoid their muffins.

And, yes, ‘Monster-Mum' is back in the afternoons (she never went that far away) when we undertake three sets of homeworks. Given that she’s also taking up residence on Thursday evenings for the next year, she’s going to be around for a while.

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