shortlist banner_FINALDo you think mums deserve to be recognised for their efforts?

I had no idea of the challenges that come with parenthood when I embarked on motherhood 14 years ago and I know compared with a lot of mums I have had it very easy. Parenting can be hard work and so many mums dig deep and also make a difference outside their immediate families.

Mums have a great habit of keeping on keeping on whatever the issues life throws their way. Mums get involved in their communities and when faced with overwhelming odds, try to make a positive difference in the world. I have worked in the charity world and it is often mums who are fundraising so effectively or even setting up good causes from scratch.

Tesco have announced their shortlist for the 2015 Mum of the Year Awards. It is the 10th anniversary of the awards promising to be even bigger and better than ever. Thousands of mums from all over the UK were nominated, and I can’t wait to meet some of the 26 inspirational women shortlisted for the final. Each of them will receive a £1000 donation from Tesco to the charity of their choice. They will also attend a star-studded and glitzy awards ceremony.

I know mums who win these awards really appreciate how the publicity sheds light on some amazing charities and causes over 80 to date since the awards began.

If the mums are like those recognised last year, you can bet they will be self-effacing about their remarkable achievements. That is why it is important to highlight what they do and to help them raise awareness of the things that really matter. When a mum does great things for her community, she inspires others to do the same and that has to be a very good thing.

To find out more, and to follow the progress of the Tesco Mum of the Year Awards 2015, follow the hashtag #MumoftheYear on Twitter. I’ll be bringing you news of the finalists very soon!

Disclosure: I am a Tesco Mum of the Year blogger ambassador for 2015. In that capacity I have been compensated for all my #Mumof theYear posts, though all copy, opinion and editorial remain my own.

This post was supposed to be written on Halloween but ill health kept me away from creative blogging. Better late than never and if anything, the whole Striking Mums concept says it is OK to take a break when we need to and to forgive ourselves if things don’t go entirely to plan.

So do you fancy playing Trick or Treat for Mums with me?

Here are this week’s questions to inspire you. You can answer one of them, all of them or none at all. The trick of Striking Mums is that it is your very flexible linky friend. So let’s first consider tricks for mums.

trick

Tricks

1. How do you outwit people or circumstances who prevent you getting the life you want?

2. What clever parenting tricks do you pull off regularly?

3. What is your top time-saving trick?

4. What is your top housework trick?

5. Have you ever carried out a practical joke? How did it go?

6. If there was a trick of the light what would you like to see?

7. Have you ever been tricked and how did that feel?

8. If you designed your own coat or arms what colours, images and words would you include in it?

Actually that is quite a lot of questions so I will post about treats next week but this week, I will pick my favourite post that is linked up and a little mystery treat will sent to you.

I would love to have your comments and if you blog in any way about yourself and how you are taking steps tiny or otherwise to change your life, please link up below. I will comment on every post, promote them on my social networks and include links in a round-up post next week.

Please use the hashtag #strikingmums on social networks.

Please grab the rather attractive Striking Mums badge in the sidebar and display on your blog.

Most of all, please visit the other people linking up to lend them your support.

I have set up a Facebook group for Striking Mums – you don’t have to be a blogger to join this. You do have to be a mum.

I have also set up a Pinterest board for Striking Mums

Have a lovely week and I look forward to hearing about your mums and your tricks.

Last week’s Striking Mums post was about style but when I talk about labels this week I am not talking about designer ones. I am talking about the labels used about us by ourselves and others, the things that I said to identify us.

Like other mums, I carry the labels of woman, daughter and mum. For me sister is a bit complicated because officially I don’t have any but blood-wise I have at least three sisters. I guess that goes to show that adopted was always a big label for me marking me out as different from people at school and so on. Mum used to do her best to say it actually meant chosen but then and now I tended to focus on the fact that it must also mean rejected. Identity matters and I think adopted people often feel that keenly because by the time they become aware, one of their identities has already disappeared. Is that why I insisted on keeping my maiden name as part of my married name I wonder?

Perhaps you have a religious label. I am a Roman Catholic and have heard a few negative labels about that one in my time.

You become a pupil at some point carrying some sort of loyalty to your school and perhaps like me you go on to become a student. I went to Cambridge and there are huge assumptions made about people who carry the “Oxbridge” label. Apparently I should be highly intelligent, posh and rich – really?! At university, the label of our subject area was huge so that “lawyers” tended to stick together and one subject area’s student may well look down at students from another group. As a collegiate university, there were also labels attached according to which college you attended.

Entering the workplace, I joined the charity world so inevitably the do gooder label made its way into my world along with expectations of amateur work performance. Wrong again. Yes I did good and sometimes got paid for it too but I took pride in my wrk and delivered often with very limited human and financial resources.

You become a mum and the media will do its utmost to convince you that you are inadequate in some way or to set you up against other mums that are not exactly like you.

I remember my Mum defined people as well-to-do, rough or like us. I guess labels act as shorthand way of describing and assessing people at best. On the other hand, shouldn’t we be seizing the power and selecting our own labels?

In a lifetime, people will give you labels and some of them will change a lot.

I once was told I must be a vegetarian as I was so skinny. That was clearly a very long time ago and now I carry the fat or obese label and hate it.

People who get close to me will comment on how much I talk but if you don’t know me well that might surprise you as I will be the quiet one in a social setting if I am feeling unsure.

My mum’s friend always used to say how beautiful I was but nobody else has ever really thought so perhaps with the exception of my own children.

Other labels folks have used about me over the years include:

Sensitive
Moody
Cute
Uncivilized
Broad
Inspirational
Sweet
Sulky
Bright
Kind-hearted
Hard-working
Smelly

1. If I gave you a label and pinned it to you and you were allowed to put just 3 words on it, which would you choose?

2. What labels that others have used about you do you think are spot on?

3. Has having a particular label ever got you into trouble or held you back?

4. Does or did one of your labels mark you out as very different from others in your circles?

5. Which label are you particularly proud of?

labels

In the blogging world, I think labels can be dangerous too. On either a monthly or yearly basis, I see bloggers allowing their self-belief to be defined by a score, a nomination or an award. We are more than our blogs and we are more than any commendation for our blog that happens to come our way through whatever reason (sometimes hard work, sometimes a stroke of good luck and sometimes through a whole lot of self-promotion) Our blog labels like other ones may change over time. One day we may be a granny blogger and not a mummy blogger. I might suddenly develop a new interest, blog about it and become known for that instead of whatever I am known for today.

I guess that is a good way to conclude. If we don’t like our labels, we can change most of them. If we do like our labels, we should celebrate them.

I have more to say on this I think but for now I am going to close or this post will be too long.

I can’t quite believe it is time to do my weekly reasons to be cheerful post again. Funny old week in which I lost Internet access for a few days which is not good news for a blogger. Anyway I am back whether you missed me or not.

Here is my smile-inducing stuff this week.

1. I did not throw anything through the window when the Internet problem showed up. I took it in my stride and did constructive things with the time I usually spend online. I must be maturing in my old age.

2. I have caught up with things today so am feeling much more on top of things. I did not like having to post Striking Mums late as I know some mums look out for it on Thursdays.

3. My teenage son came home with a milky bar after me telling a story about how my parents used to bribe me to behave in church by giving me one during the service. He often brings me little gifts out of his own spend which I think goes to show what a lovely son I have.

4. The same son is now on the Special Needs register which pleases me as one day someone might actually accept that he has a condition as I am pretty sure he has something possibly dyspraxia but getting a diagnosis seems nigh on impossible.

5. My younger son went to the GP yesterday as he was complaining about pains around his body. The GP gave him a really good check and thinks the pains are probably the aftermath of a mild infection and that they will pass in time. We are to go back for blood tests if that proves not to be the case. My son was worrying and now feels a lot better.

6. My daughter continues to be gorgeous putting styles together and having her own very firm opinions on things.

7. Him Indoors has worked late this week which suits me as I have chilled early evenings doing my own thing and then enjoy his company when he gets in.

8. We went to an superb presentation on the Autumn Night Sky at Winchester Science Centre on Saturday night. I know feel so much more confident about constellations and will be looking out for them. Have always felt clueless on such things before. The children were gripped as the presenter was so passionate and humorous and linked the starts to stories of Ancient Greece.

9. On Sunday, we visited Butser Ancient Farm on its last weekend opening of 2014. We went round a variety of roundhouses and a Roman villa. We learned about food by tasting it, enjoyed the herb garden, tried on armour, played with Roman numerals and enjoyed time with pigs, sheep and goats.

10. We have good plans for the weekend ahead.

Today I am talking about how being different is good for my Striking Mums post.

For most of my life, I hated feeling different from other people. Odd because I was adopted, strange because we visited London and other far-flung places at weekends, not normal because I liked learning and not fun because I did not like sport. Of course, all I wanted to be was popular. Nothing much has changed on that score. An old friend once told me that everyone likes to be liked but that with me it is almost an obsession. My husband tells me it is impossible for everybody to like me and I should look at the calibre of people that do.

I felt a little more at home when I went to Cambridge because however they acted, inevitably most people there had a love of learning. My differences there were celebrated as just being amusing or quirky.

After 3 years back to normal society and struggling again to find a place where I fit. As someone said to me this week on Twitter, if you don’t fit in, perhaps it is because you are born to stand out. How inspirational is that?!

If the blogging world, I have found kindred spirits who seem to get me. I like that. It makes me feel safe and I see blogging as a sanctuary.

Do you like this?

differnt

Here are this week’s questions to consider.

1. Are you different and, if so, how?

2. Do you celebrate your uniqueness or strive to fit in?

3. Are you ever judgemental of other mums who are different from you? Answer honestly even if only in your own head.

4. What would you like to be different about you?

5. Have you ever being attacked or bullied for being different? How did that affect you?

6. If you had to write an advert for yourself as a limited edition ,what would you say to make people think you were great?

I would love to have your comments and if you blog in any way about yourself and how you are taking steps tiny or otherwise to change your life, please link up below. I will comment on every post, promote them on my social networks and include links in a round-up post next week.

Please use the hashtag #strikingmums on social networks.

Please grab the rather attractive Striking Mums badge in the sidebar and display on your blog.

Most of all, please visit the other people linking up to lend them your support.

I have set up a Facebook group for Striking Mums – you don’t have to be a blogger to join this. You do have to be a mum.

I have also set up a Pinterest board for Striking Mums

Have a good week and I look forward to celebrating just how different you are.