Becoming a grandma is an important milestone. I interviewed Nickie who became a grandmother aged 36. Nickie was one of the first bloggers to be kind to me when I started my blogging journey telling me that content matters so very much. It seems fitting to see her featured on my blog at last with her views on life and parenthood.

granny

What is the striking story you have to share?

​I was a teenage mum giving birth to my daughter at the age of 18 and then she became a teenage mum at the age of 17 which, if we count on our fingers, meant that I was becoming a grandma at the age of 36.​

What were the joys that this experience brought your way?

​My daughter had cancer as a baby so we were never sure if she could have children after receiving intensive chemotherapy for 6 months. In one respect, her having a baby and me becoming a grandma was nothing short of a miracle.​

What challenges did this situation bring your way?

​Stereotypical opinions! I wished that my daughter would have had the opportunity to forge a career rather than become a young mum. Dealing with the emotions across the family (and extended family) that come with the stigma of teenage pregnancy including wanting to tell our story so that it could be shown that you *can* get through this even though it’s an emotional journey but STILL being met with preconceived opinions.

How do you ensure you get time to yourself and what do you do with that time?

​I have had a myriad of hobbies which include blogging and vlogging, crafts and studying for a degree with the Open University but my new love is running. It’s totally changed who I am as a person and how I give back to the community who helped me find this new passion.

Have you ever rediscovered or reinvented yourself? How?

​My life is a continuous path of self-discovery. Each step is part of that journey. I woudn’t be who I am now without my past and I won’t be the person I’m going to be without what is happening now. ​

Describe at least one physical feature you have that you consider to be beautiful

​My eyes. I love their shape and the colour. ​

What makes you stand out?

​I’m not afraid to share my opinion, I’m a very loyal friend. I’m a very determined person who isn’t afraid to fail because it creates a learning experience. ​

Is it important to you to support other mums?

​Absolutely. I’ve been through so much in my life as a mum that there’s always some advice I can give. I can also learn from others too if they are prepared to share. ​

Which mum inspires you?

​My own. She died at the age of 55 after suffering for 45 years with Bronchiecstasis (wrongly diagnosed as TB when she was a child). She managed to keep a house, a family, a small part-time job, deal with the divorce of her and my dad (the only man she’d ever been with) and still had time for everyone else. I didn’t appreciate her enough and regret that every single day. ​

What would you like the next Government to do to improve the lives of mums?

​I don’t necessarily think the Government needs to specifically target mums but look at family life as a whole – maternity/paternity leave, childcare costs, working hours (making it easier for the employer as well as the mother/father) and also​ to fully support non-traditional family units as an equality.

Cuddle Fairy

asharedparentalleave

As April arrives, the question is how will shared parental leave work for families?

You may be entitled to Shared Parental Leave (SPL) and Statutory Shared Parental Pay (ShPP) if:

your baby is due on or after 5 April 2015

you adopt a child on or after 5 April 2015

Until 4 April 2015 fathers may get Additional Paternity Leave and Pay instead.

SPL and ShPP must be taken between the baby’s birth and first birthday (or within 1 year of adoption).

You can start SPL if you’re eligible and you or your partner end maternity or adoption leave or pay (or Maternity Allowance) early. The remaining leave will be available as SPL. The remaining weeks of pay will be available as ShPP.

You can share the leave with your partner if they’re also eligible for SPL, and choose how much of the leave each of you will take. This means you can look at your contractual maternity and paternity rights and see what pattern of leave would be most advantageous to your financially.

SPL also lets you suggest a flexible pattern of leave to your employer. You have the right to take SPL in up to 3 separate blocks but your employer can agree to more. They can also let you split each block into several shorter periods of work and leave.

Check out your eligibility to leave and pay on having a chld.

What I like about the new regulations

There is an implication that fathers should be actively involved in the care of a child in its first year. I am one of those mums who believes that if a man has conceived a child he should be willing to step up and do nappy changes, night feeds and whatever the mum is expected to do.

I always like things that offer flexibility to individual circumstances. I wish more policies offered that as life is made up of individuals and changing situations.

I am pleased to see the regulations apply to employed, self-employed and agency workers.

When finances are tight, it may be best for the higher-earner to return to work quicker whichever parent that is. There may be projects at work that one of the parents particularly wants to be involved in at a given time.

I also like the idea that parents could be on leave together for a period building up that family unit.

Where it works best, parents will understand each other better and that could contribute to a lower risk of relationship breakdown in what is a wonderful but challenging year.

What are my concerns?

There may be a low-take up. That might be because it of no real interest to some families. It might be because some dads just don’t want to step up. It might be that some mums think it is only their role to be heavily involved in the child’s first year. It might be that people do not know about or understand the regulations.

There is also the key point that not all parents will be eligible and if one is and one is not I can see that leading to tension.

As with most family-friendly initiatives some employers will not like the idea and do things to prevent parents taking advantage of the regulations. Bad employers may use bullying tactics to put pressure on parents not to benefit from the regulations. It two employers are involved and both of them are not family-friendly, that could be a very troublesome situation at a time when a family needs all the help it can get.

My experiences

When my first son was born, his grandparents were very keen to do daily childcare to enable me to take up an exciting new job and for my husband to continue in his work.

When my daughter was born, my parents were not able to offer the same due to their age and infirmity. My husband worked and I stayed at home. I hated not having a work role and was blighted by post-natal depression.. My husband had a very long commute and I felt totally cut off from the world. He was so tired when he got in that he never saw how much I was struggling. Shared parental leave could have helped us so much on this one I think.

When my third child was born, my husband was redundant so he took care of my son while I took on a well-paid job.

This goes to show that circumstances can and do change rapidly as I all three of my children in less than five years.

Conclusion

It would be great if shared parental leave could work well and not just for a few families.

Lots needs to change for it to work at its best including our culture being less sexist when it comes to who should look after children and less discriminatory against men who do want to stay at home with the kids.

We need regulations to insist that employers are family-friendly. You cannot in all conscience say you back hard-working families if you do not put rules in place so that employers have to be family-friendly. Most people have children and a society should do all it can to ensure those children are well cared for and enabled to be great adults in due course.

How will shared parental leave work for families? I guess only time will tell.

Angelina Jolie is a world famous actress who has a life very different from most mums. However, every mum can teach others a thing or two and she has certainly done that.

angelina

Two years ago she spoke about her choice to have a double mastectomy as she carried a mutation in the BRCA1 gene. It gave her an estimated 87 per cent risk of breast cancer and a 50 per cent risk of ovarian cancer. This month she wrote powerfully about the removal of her ovaries and fallopian tubes.

Angelina Jolie inspires us to take charge of our health and is a Striking Mum.

1. She speaks honestly and openly about issues in order to help others.

2. She describes genuine feelings which helps others to feel less isolated.

3. She is committed to doing all she can to see her children grow up and to meet her grandchildren.

4. She accepts that women have a right to do their own research and to decide on the best course of action for them.

5. She is an inspirational woman and yet like so many others that inspire, she does not big herself up.

6. She counts her blessings particularly her husband and children.

I was moved when I read Angelina’s comment:

“The beautiful thing about such moments in life is that there is so much clarity. You know what you live for and what matters.”

I remember finding a lump in my breast and knowing that all that mattered was living long enough to see my children were OK. It also reminded me that I had things I wanted to do so I got on with doing some of them.

When I was diagnosed with pre-diabetes and told there was a possibility of reversing it, I changed my lifestyle because to do otherwise would not be fair to my children. A wake-up call to act on.

Mums can do so much to support other women. I was delighted to hear that one mum in particular had decided to go for a full health check after I spoke openly about my issues. How much bigger an impact someone like Angelina can have and how wonderful that she uses her profile to such good effect.

I leave you with this thought from Angelina:

“It is not easy to make these decisions. But it is possible to take control and tackle head-on any health issue. You can seek advice, learn about the options and make choices that are right for you. Knowledge is power.”

Angelina Jolie inspires us to take charge of our health so do something for yours today.

What will you do?

You can inspire women to take care of their health by highlighting this post by clicking one or more of the sharing buttons below.

If you would like to share your story on this blog please get in touch.

What film characters inspire you?

They say you should never ask a question that you cannot answer honestly yourself. The film that springs to my mind is Erin Brockovich played by Julie Roberts (who I used to think I had a look of until I did a celeb lookalike thing and it came up with Minnie Driver. I know. I sometimes think ridiculously big and why not?

juliaroberts

So why do I rate Erin?

Well with a background in Law, that side of the film made me watch the film. When I intended to be a barrister or solicitor I always wanted to be one who would fight miscarriages of justice.

Erin has a mouth on her and I do like it when women speak up.

She has the guts to ask for a job and sometimes it is so true that if you ask, you receive. The problem is most of us don’t operate like that most of the time and then wonder why we are disappointed with things.

Erin is a risk-taker and that side of her appeals to me.

She has passion and I know that passion has the power to persuade.

She is cynical enough to question things – also a good trait in my view particularly when dealing with authorities.

It all comes right for her in the end – happy days!

So what film characters inspire you?

This is my question for you this week and as usual if you want to blog about the question or about any way that you are changing your life proactively, please do link up and I will promote your post via social media.

Mums are very good at inspiring each other and we need to commit more time to that as it moves mountains.

Julie or Minnie? Minnie or Julia?

minniedriver

My son says both are wrong and this one has a look of me.

annhathaway

When my dear Dad saw my boudoir pictures (the tamer ones) he said I looked like a real film star.

boudoir

So tell me which film character inspires you and if you like which one you think you look like.


Did you enjoy the Eclipse 2015?

eclipse

It got me thinking about the life experiences of mums.

There are times in our lives when the individual spirit and qualities we hold are obscured a little. Sometimes, life throws something at us that makes the skies dark for a while. We can feel cold and hopeless. It can be a quick rush into blackness.

There is light even on the days when it is not quite visible to us.

It can be dangerous to force ourselves to look at that light. However, we can take baby steps towards it making little changes every day. I set up Striking Mum to help myself and other mums to toddle in the direction of a brighter future.

Most days we have a choice. We can think everything is a bad omen and our best times are over. It would do us far more good to face the future with excitement.

Does an Eclipse mean the light is being eaten and the end is nigh?

Or should we face it with butterflies of the right type proactively seeking out what might come next?

Sometimes stuff just happens and we can give it too much meaning. King Henry died in 1133AD. Was it the Eclipse that caused it or was his time just up?

So this week’s questions are …

1. How have you changed since the last total eclipse of the sun in August 1999?

2. Has anything obscured your light? What was it and how did it get that power over you?

3. Are you going through dark days now? What can help you move forwards? Who can help?

4. Where do you want your life to look like in 2026 when the next Eclipse heads our way? What can you do today to help you move towards that?

In case you were wondering, it is not the end. If you take control and seek support, it may well be your best beginning.

Please link up any post that shows you are taking baby or huge steps to change your life or have a go at the questions above. Roll up if you see yourself as one of the Striking Mums – all mums welcome!