Under Pressure…

The exam is done. Well the first attempt is complete. And no. I don’t know how it went. It was an MCQ, and I’m human, so out of the 200 questions I answered, I keep remembering the 3 I got wrong. I could have got all 197 others correct (I didn’t, but theoretically I could have) and I would still only remember the 3 astoundingly irrelevant ones. I could have revised day and night for a lifetime and I would still never have got those right. 

Now, in my younger days before children and responsibilities when my time was my own and how hard I worked was down to me- I would be anxious about the results- could I have done a little bit more? Should I have done those extra few questions? Should I have approached it differently? But now. Well, what will be will be.

If I pass it’s because I am amazing. It’s because I worked so blinking hard. Its because I arrived an hour early for work and my lunch breaks were spent alone in my room reading NICE guidelines and the BNF. It’s because I put the kids to bed each night and hid in the spare room answering question after question. It’s because I packed off my children to any willing relative and knuckled down with the cool kids in the library. Its because I sat down with the GCSE and A level candidates and the uni students. Its because I sat surrounded by top knots and high tops, exposed mid drifts and teenage angst. Its because I sat opposite the younger version of me, and watched as she shared her pens with her boyfriend, swapped medical books with each other and had lunch lying on the grass outside together. 

Its because I wondered. I wondered what the hell possessed me to still be doing this. Why 12 years on I’m sat in the same library revising again but this time on my own? Is this really what I signed up for? Didn’t I work hard enough when I was younger? Could I not have taken an easier option? Could I not do something else? 

No. No I couldn’t. I know nothing else. And so, I got on with it. I gave it my best shot. Therefore, if I pass, it’s because I am ace. 

Well, that and the fact Phil put his work on hold and didn’t once moan about the fact that he was bottom of my priority list, my mum basically moved in for a week and became my house keeper and chef, I let the neighbour mow my lawn, I paid a lady to clean my house, a man to cut back the garden, my sister in law took the children to play group, my dad taught The Girl to ride her bike and picked her flowers that made her “sooo happy” when I couldn’t, making my heart swell and break in equal measure. 

They say it takes a village and I’m incredibly lucky to have mine. 

And if I fail? Well, I tried. I did my best. 

So yes, being a working mum and revising seems pretty tough. So many people have remarked on how challenging it is to do all this with kids. But in some weird way it actually makes it easier and less stressful. Somehow having children gives some perspective, a limit to how self absorbed I can be, and constant reminder of the bigger picture. 

The Girl told me today, “Mummy you’re going to be a winner, you have worked so hard, you’re going to be a winner”. So I may not have learnt enough to pass this exam, but it looks like The Girl learn something pretty important. 

Then she puts on the toy stethoscope and tells me she is going to be a doctor. Actually, maybe she learnt nothing at all… 

Always Look on the Bright Side…

In need of a sunny day? I have a fail safe way to ensure glorious sunshine….

1) Arrange to spend the day sat in your local library revising. 

2) Ensure your children see you leave the house so that you can depart to the enchanting sound of wailing and screams of “But I love you don’t go”.

3) Sit in a window seat (thinking it will lift your mood to at least see the beautiful blue sky) but make sure that the radiator positioned right next to you is on full whack. That way you can pretend you are sat in a greenhouse. 


Trying to be positive, at least I am getting a break from playing “Post Office” with The Girl. There are only so many letters a mummy can post before before she is wishing she can post a Molotov Cocktail in the letter box…





Old School…

I’m revising. The last time I did this properly I was a student. My stationery was supplied by my parents (Perhaps acquired from their respective places of work- the plus side to teacher parents!), my time was my own. I had access to so many libraries – of which I used maybe one. Once. And my biggest issue was fitting it in around meeting friends for a cheap glass of wine. 

This time it’s all a bit different. It’s postgraduate General Practice exams. I have had to purchase stationery. Everyone who has ever sat an exam (successfully or not) knows it’s all about the stationery. I invested this time, I’m revising and earning (theoretically although my wage is solely to pay the childcare bill which if I didn’t work I wouldn’t need…so why I am working is a question I dare not dwell on). 

So my stationery shopping trip resulted in: 

-A selection of highlighters.

-3 brand new biros with the little clippy bits at the top so I can have 4 different colour biros encased in one slightly more girthy shaft just like my school teachers of the 1990s.

-A rainbow assortment of fine tip felt tips, some it turns out are too neon to be written with but too fine to be a highlighter, so actually an entirely useless item. 

-A rather fancy faux leather post-it note selection holder, half of which are too tiny to write anything of any value on and the others so large, I may as well just fill a page in a notebook.

It’s a truly magnificent set up I have invested in. 

To complete the kit, the creme de la creme is a hard back, A4, Looney Tunes notepad which I won in 1998 by sending a postcard in to the address in the back of my “Fast Forward” magazine and subsequently deemed too precious for everyday use, so I have moved it from house to house over the last 22yrs and it is now, officially, in use.

I also had to spend £100 on a subscription to a revision web site advertising nearly 3000 questions, like thousands of questions is a great thing… which yes it is, but equally it’s totally horrifying to think I’m going to spend weeks of my life trawling through these thousands of questions in a vain attempt to hope I get lucky on exam day and manage to scrape a pass. 

So on top of the £500 exam fee and this whole experience is quite the investment. In an effort to not have to pay for it all again in 6 months time, I need to pass. To do that I need to revise. A concept entirely wasted on my children. 

So last weekend in an attempt to knuckle down and do some work, I made arrangements to drop the kids off with the in-laws and head to a local library (it goes without saying that Phil was at work!). I took with me my backpack, computer and stationery, because revising isn’t revising unless you are making pretty pictures. 

So, I settle down at the only available desk in the silent work area (if silence is an option I’m totally going to take it) and set myself up. I look around and see that I am sitting beside an acne ridden (moderate severity if my revision serves me well) teenager who is revising for his biology GCSE. Next to him are two girls studying for their maths GCSE and an AS level geography student behind me. There is officially no one over the age of 20 revising. I am sat in a library, on a sunny Saturday, as a 31 yr old married mother of two, surrounded by teenagers studying for school exams…..How have I ended up here?! I think I have made some bad life choices. 

None the less, I crack on with a couple of questions before the afore mentioned spotty adolescent next to me turns to ask me if he can borrow a phone charger. Unfortunately glancing at my neatly arranged work station he appears somewhat distracted. No, not by my magnificent array of stationery, but by the fact that on my computer screen is a larger than life up close photo of a vagina – covered in genital warts.

Needless to say I explained I didn’t have a charger and then after an awkward pause proceeded to attempt to explain to the hormonal, awkward and perhaps now mentally scarred school boy, why, in a public library, I am looking at a close up photo of a vagina. Nothing like a spot of freelance health promotion…

Despite this slight mishap I did manage to get a couple of hundred questions done. So provided that I’m not struck off the GMC register for showing inappropriate material to a minor, I will continue with my revision in an attempt to edge closer to the much desired mirage of exam freedom…..Although perhaps saving my sexual health revision for the privacy of my own home.