Archive for October, 2009

Superwoman 5 – the feedback

October 22, 2009

We’ve never had so much feedback from an event.

“Rosie Swale Pope rocks!”

“Funny, moving, motivating, inspiring.”

“I’m going home determined to make a few changes in my life because I am Superwoman!”

“Rosie Swale Pope – what a brave, funny, warm and fantastically quirky lady.”

“Your best event ever.  Loved all the speakers.”

I’m delighted so many of you enjoyed.  The fancy new staging and lighting from Genero went down well and you loved the warm scones.  You asked for savoury food after the speakers and we’ll look into that for next year.  Rosie sold 90 of her books and Morfudd Richards sold every single book she brought with her so the opportunity to buy a few Christmas presents went down well.  We raised £4725 for our two charities Valleys Kids and Kitezh Children’s Community and we also sold 50 copies of the Superwoman cookbook, which was launched that evening.   A nice start to Tenovus’ goal of selling all 2000 copies printed and raising  £10,000.

It’s taken me and the rest of the Superwoman team at Darwin Gray a week to recover.  Although we love putting Superwoman together – sweet talking speakers, drumming up sponsorship and goody bag items and forwarding your lovely cheques to the charities  the week running up to the actual event is pretty stressful and tiring.  I don’t relax until the last speaker is speaking.  I was even more tired than usual for Superwoman 5 because I’d got up at 6am to sew badges on my son’s Scout Uniform (Long story.  And I sewed two of them on in the wrong place.) to find that our fridge freezer had fused and our kitchen floor was a sea of water and defrosting frozen peas.   I felt like I’d done a day’s work before I even got into work.   Starting the day knee deep in mushy peas is not a good look for any Superwoman.

But a week has passed and already I find myself, round about my every day work and my family,  thinking about all things Superwoman.  How shall we do things better next year?  What speakers and sponsors shall we manage to find?  And then of course there’s the Superwoman lunch in April to plan.

Rosie left a message on my voicemail yesterday.  She was in Edinburgh giving more talks.  Princess Bethan, her message said (?!) the women I met at Superwoman 5 were amazing, I loved it, they were all truly inspiring, lovely people, brilliant event.  If she’d actually been on the phone I would have quoted back to her her husband’s line “Rosie, Rosie, shall I take a breath for you Rosie.” But her message was clear.   It’s not just Rosie that rocks.  All of us Superwomen do.    Go girls!

Tell us what we want, what we really really want..

October 13, 2009

According to Cristina Odone in her study  for the Centre for Policy Studies published last week  called “What Women Want” we don’t find satisfaction in full time work but in our other roles as carers, partners, community members and above all mothers.  Only 12% of mothers wanted to work full time and 31% did not want to work at all.  49% of mothers with two children under five in a family where the father worked thought that those mothers should not work at all.  Fathers who were asked the same question gave an almost identical response. 

According to Ms Odone’s report the research found women feel bombarded by images of ‘superwomen who manage everything, plus a high-profile career’, when many just wanted to be stay-at-home mothers with their husbands taking the role of breadwinner.

OK, here are my thoughts on all this:

1.  Most people wouldn’t work if they didn’t have to, male or female.  If my husband and I won the lottery we’d give up work, spend lots of time with our kids, get fit, learn a language, do volunteer work, etc, etc.  That’s not to say we don’t enjoy work – we do and we get satisfaction out of doing it well  – but we’d have no qualms about giving it up.    A life made up entirely of weekends would be lush. 

2.  Frankly I don’t really believe people who say they’d carry on working if they didn’t have to.  I think when they say that they think their bosses are listening and are frightened in case they demonstrate lack of commitment.   However according to the What Women Want report 19% of women and 28% of men say they would not work if they did not have to.  Yeah and the rest.   

3.  Truth is, lots of families can’t make ends meet unless both parents work at least part of the time. 

4.  Another truth is that lots of women are single parent families and don’t have the luxury of being stay at home mums while their husbands take the role of breadwinner.  These women have no option but to be superwomen according to our definition of Superwoman – see the earlier entry on this blog. 

5.   And what about the blokes in all this?  I know  a lot of men who would love to give up work and stay at home with their children if they could but to pinch a phrase from Ms Odone’s report,  they feel bombarded by images in the press of Supermen who have high flying careers and manage everything.   Reports like this that seem to suggest it’s every woman’s right to stay at home and rely on her bloke don’t help any.    It’s socially acceptable for a woman to take a career break to be with her children but it’s a ballsy man who does the same, one who doesn’t mind people thinking that doing the school run every day means he hasn’t got any.

6.  I’d love to know at what time of day they questioned these people for this report.  Was it 9am on Monday morning say or 5pm on Thursday evening?  In the flurry of the start of a new school week, most working mothers ask themselves at least once “Why do I do this?  I’d like to give it all up and be there when my kids get home from school and bake almond cake and have clean skirting boards for once” but come Thursday evening with a good working week achieved and the weekend in sight and some money to spend on your kids you know exactly why you do it.  And you’re glad you do it.   

7.  Here is the thing: What women want is complicated.  It varies from woman to woman.  What each individual woman wants also varies from day to day.  Hell it varies from hour to hour.   In the space of a single day we want to be mothers, workers, friends, daughters and wives.  We want to be fun and cuddly and supportive for our kids, then kick arse business people at work, then soft and cuddly again at tea time and then have a grown up conversation with our other halves at night and get the odd bit of night time action.   

8.  What women want, what men want too, is the freedom of choice and not to be judged for those choices.  If you want to stay at home with the kids and can afford to that’s what you should do.  If  you want or need to work full time you should not be made to feel guilty about that choice.  In my experience part time workers are very committed and productive and employers should embrace and support part time working.   What we want is to decide for ourselves what we want.  One size does not fit all.

Zigazig  ah

Your socks is on fire..

October 5, 2009

I’m a little embarrased to admit just how much my household is in the grip of  X factor passion.  Yes I know it’s all heavily staged, yes it’s terribly repetitive (that’s why we Sky Plus it and fast forward through quite a lot of it) and yes John and Edward are deeply annoying but the thing is it’s such good telly.    I know it’s good telly because when I got into work at Superwoman towers this morning everyone was talking about it.  (There was also a conversation going on about Strictly but it was strictly a sub-conversation; not the main event like X factor.)    I was genuinely looking forward to the results show on Sunday and when Lucie and Lloyd got through there was widespread punching of the air from my family sofa.    Oh and Jamie Afro has got my 4 year old prancing round the house singing “Oh o oh, your socks is on fire”.  Am hoping no one bothers to put her right on the lyrics. 

I know it’s sad that a telly programme should be one of the highlights of my weekend.  It’s all relative.  Immediately prior to the results show I was at a 4th birthday party.  30  kids, bouncy castle, full decibel disco music.  150 minutes of sheer hell after which you’re going to get thirsty but not for Lucozade.  I was harbouring a small glimmer of hope on the drive there that it was the kind of party where you get to dump your kid and come back after a mad dash round the supermarket but no such luck.  One parent per child, each standing dutifully behind our respective child’s chair while they ate one pink wafer each and a handful of chipsticks before running off to play with their mates, leaving the birthday parents in possession of half a tonne of limp egg sandwiches. 

There is a point to this story Superwomen.  Bear with me.   This party was a fancy dress party.  The boys were dressed in a variety of outfits – Buzz Lightyear, an assortment of Super heroes, a pirate, a cowboy.  For the girls however, there were 17 princess/fairies, 2 cheerleaders, 2 nurses and one sole doctor giving the girls something to aspire to.  There were also 33 adults in attendance , 28 of which were women.  Of the 5 men,  4 of those were related to the birthday girl leaving just one man who had actually accompanied their child to the birthday party of a friend.    Now here’s the thing, my husband had offered to take my daughter to the party but I said I would do it because it would mostly be mums attending and therefore it would be easier for me than for him.    Which it was but that’s not the point.   Ladies – it dawned on me during pass the parcel that we inflict this stereotypical chore on ourselves, constantly perpetuating the current state of affairs that it’s easier for us women to take our kids to parties because it’ll be us women who’ll be there in droves thus making it a self fulfilling prophecy that it’ll mostly be women there.     So here’s the lesson of the day:  there’s no point making your daughter dress up like an architect or a judge – that’s boring when you are four and fairies are so much more fun BUT let’s at least make our other halves go to kids’ parties more often so that it’s no longer the case that its Mums who watch over the bouncy castle in the company of other Mums.

All together now – Oh o oh – your socks is on fire……