The latest in my Inspirational Parent series comes from Stevie at A Cornish Mum blog. I have always admired the way Stevie has come hurtling into the blogging scene and flying up the rankings into the Top 100 at breakneck speed. This is all despite the challenges she has had to face personally during the past few years.
Stevie is amazing at covering important issues like Type 1 Diabetes in a way that makes people sit up and listen. She also captures the beautiful Cornish countryside in her photos and has loads of fun competitions. If you don’t already follow her, do check out A Cornish Mum.
1. Tell me about the most unexpected change to you as a person or to your life since becoming a parent?
My confidence has grown so much. When I was younger, I struggled in social situations if I wasn’t drunk. I was fine with friends, and I suspect not many people knew I was shy as I was fine in my comfort zone. However small things like asking for something in a shop or restaurant, going into a new exercise class or having to phone someone I didn’t know really panicked me. I’d refuse to eat out as I felt people would be looking at me, and I worried about what people thought of me.
I don’t know if it has come from becoming a parent, or more from age, but even though sometimes I still get nervous – I parked outside a yoga class for 40 minutes last year, and then drove off as I couldn’t face going in – most of the time I am fine and my life is so much better for it. I even went on local radio this year, I’ve pitched in person for blog work and I speak to strangers every day pretty much. I also really don’t care what most people think any more, I am me, take it or leave it.
2. What has been the biggest challenge you have faced since having children?
This would definitely be dealing with my eldest son’s Type 1 Diabetes. Before he was diagnosed I, like so many other people, presumed it just meant an injection a day and no sugary foods. The truth is very different. My son has had 4 or 5 injections a day since he was diagnosed at age 5 (he’s now 11 and a half).
He has to test his blood glucose levels a minimum of 7 times a day through a needle finger prick. We weigh most of his food to calculate the carbohydrates in them, and then use a specific ratio to work out how much insulin he needs. I have to constantly work out new ratios and tweak things. If he’s ill or his levels are playing up, then it’s a lot of night checks – where I set my alarm to test his blood glucose in the night.
That’s not even all of it, but I’m probably boring you all to tears by now! Basically it’s not easy, it has gotten a lot easier over the years, but it has been a major challenge to me, to him and the rest of our little family.
3. What do you regard as your greatest achievement?
Cheesy as it may sound, it’s my children. I am so proud of both of them. Other than my children, I’d say having the confidence to start my blog. It has been life changing for me, I have some amazing new friends, my confidence is at an all-time high and I feel useful again, I have a purpose and a career that I am gradually making out of it.
4. They say what doesn’t kill you makes you stronger. What hasn’t killed you?
Being in a loveless and mentally damaging marriage. I won’t say more than that, as you already know Natalie and I love my boys too much to say more. However I will say, that having the strength to leave was one of the best things I have ever done. I am so much happier now, my life is a million times better, and I’m with the man I feel I’m ‘meant’ to be with.
5. Who inspires you?
So very many bloggers. I don’t mean the ones who are earning loads of money and going to swanky places every day whilst wearing designer labels – although the money part sounds nice. The bloggers I mean are the ones who have a voice, whose writing I can’t read without nodding along. Also the bloggers who write about their children with additional needs, the children who don’t moan about their lot in life and who could teach the world a thing or two with their strength. Reading between the lines, the parents’ pride often makes me well up, the small things mean so much more to them.
6. I have just invented a time machine (and you thought you’d achieved something great). You can now go backwards or forwards to any point in time and deliver any message to any person, what’s your message and who is it for?
I honestly wouldn’t use it, as I’d be too scared of changing things for the worse. Other than the truly horrendous things in life, the things that happen in life make you who you are, they adjust the path of your life in some way. I love my life, so I wouldn’t take the risk.
7. You have the opportunity to influence the entrepreneurs of the future. What life changing invention would you like to see on the drawing board?
This will be very predictable, but I want a cure for Type 1 Diabetes so anything that they can invent that could facilitate that is the dream. In 6 and a half years my 11 year old has had roughly 10,000 injections of insulin and 20,000 finger prick blood tests. That is a lot for a child to cope with, and there are times when the anger that he has to gets to me. My motto in life is ‘it could be worse’, there is always someone way worse off than yourself so there is no point in being miserable you just have to get on with it – but that doesn’t make it any more fair.
8. I have waved a magic wand and all of your responsibilities have been taken care of for 24 hours. What are you going to do?
Head to a clifftop somewhere for a head clearing walk, views like we have in Cornwall are awe inspiring and it’s impossible not to smile when you’re on the top of a cliff with the fresh air blowing in your face and such a beautiful view. I’d take Si with me for a picnic on the beach afterwards and just to keep the Cornish cliché going we’d obviously have pasties in the picnic basket – I say picnic basket, I obviously mean grubby rucksack.
9. How can parents best be empowered to properly balance a career and a family life?
I think this is a challenge for any parent, I didn’t work for years as the wages in Cornwall aren’t very high, but the childcare is expensive like it is anywhere. I think the best help is to have affordable childcare, or supportive family to help out. Getting the balance is something we all struggle with I think, but I feel so lucky to be able to work from home so that balance is easier for me than most.
10. You’re off for a night out tonight. Where will you go, what will you drink and what will be the topic of conversation?
To a nice restaurant somewhere local so neither of us have to drive, my drink of choice is usually vodka and lemonade, and if it was my choice Si and I would be discussing holidays. You can never have enough holidays in my opinion – my bank account chooses to argue with me on that one.