I’m honoured to feature the latest interviewee in my inspirational parents series. I’ve been reading Suzanne’s original blog, 3 Children and It for quite a while. I’ve always found Suzanne inspirational for her effortless style and her positive outlook during difficult times.
More recently, Suzanne has refocussed her blogging efforts with her new blog, Inside, Outside and Beyond. Her new space on the web is full of the same stunning photos, chatty writing style and fun anecdotes that I enjoy. If you haven’t done so already, do head over and check out Suzanne’s new blog.
1. Tell me about the most unexpected change to you as a person or to your life since becoming a parent?
This is a BIG question to start with! Actually I would say that the biggest change for me was having my first daughter, 16 years ago. I never felt ‘ready’ to be a mum and although my husband was keen to have children as soon as we got married, I didn’t feel the same way. What an unexpected surprise to find out that I was pregnant just 2 years after we got married!
The arrival of a baby, although a beautiful miracle, kind of turned my comfortable, pretty predictable life, upside down. I’m not good with change in any shape or form and becoming a parent is the biggest change out there I think – going from just thinking about yourself, to putting a baby before any of your needs. It was definitely a challenge for me and I found the first few weeks such a hard adjustment. When I found out I was pregnant again just 9 months later, everything changed again but that’s probably another story…
2. What has been the biggest challenge you have faced since having children?
I think for me, it has been going from being my own person with my own identity, to kind of losing that a little bit. I chose to be a stay-at- home mum until my youngest was 3 – that’s 8 years in total. Even then, I only went to work two days a week. I still feel as though I have to justify my existence to people and explain my choice to put my role as a mother first. Will this ever change I wonder?
3. What do you regard as your greatest achievement?
Gosh these questions just get harder and harder! I think I still class getting to the end of the day without throttling one of my children as a major achievement! Parenting is hard, there are so many challenges on an hourly basis and let me tell you – having two teenage girls under one roof is the greatest of them all!
So there’s my achievement – we are all still here, fed, watered and relatively healthy. We are a family that laughs together and loves deeply. This sometimes causes tension and arguments but essentially I’m proud of who we are.
4. They say what doesn’t kill you makes you stronger. What hasn’t killed you?
This last year has been a particularly challenging one for all of us. Back in April of this year, our eldest daughter became an in-patient at The Priory and didn’t return home for another 5 months. It was a complete shock to all of us. After what I can only describe as a mental breakdown, she is slowly getting back to health. She came home mid September and we are now adjusting to our new ‘normal’.
We cannot ignore the fact that this happened to our family and whilst emotions have run high and we’ve struggled to come to terms with the stresses and strains that this has put on all of us, we are still here. Yes our lives are different and we are all still recovering in our own way from what happened, but I think we’ve also learnt an awful lot from this experience. I am certain what we’ve been through will be used for good one day.
5. Who inspires you?
This is hard. Should I be thinking of a celebrity or someone in the public eye, I wonder? I have a number of close friends who I walk everyday life with. We share, challenge and inspire one another in real life situations and I think that’s important.
If you look at someone from a distance, you can always feel inspired but do you really know the full details of what’s going on in their lives? Is what they are portraying just a smokescreen? These ladies are real and they inspire me to live life well.
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?
Right now it would be to my eldest daughter at about the age of 5 – you don’t need to prove yourself to anybody, you are perfect just as you are.
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?
Is it an invention or more of a superpower? Either way, I would like to be able to split myself into 3. With 3 children, I always feel that someone is being neglected (usually the youngest most laid back child!). I would also like to be able to switch my brain off at night for a full 8 hours of restful sleep. I think I’ve been tired since the year 2000!
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?
Wow, so much choice. Day and lunch at a luxurious spa with magazines, coffee, wine and a natter with girlfriends. I think I would probably include a spot of shopping in that 24 hour period (I LOVE to shop!) and the evening would be a table for 2 (my husband) at a nice restaurant (not too posh but not too noisy) where I could wear my newly acquired outfit.
9. How can parents best be empowered to properly balance a career and a family life?
I think there are so many pressures on parents these days to be able to do it all. When I was growing up, most mums didn’t work and dads were traditionally the breadwinner. As women have pushed for more equality (and rightly so) the pressure to have and do it all has become quite overwhelming. As I’ve said before, I kind of feel a bit inferior for not pursuing a specific career at the moment, almost as though I am a lesser person because of it. No one should be made to feel like that!
I think there should be more acceptance of people doing what they want and no one judging them for it. I think better childcare options would make it easier for women to go back to work but essentially, if women (or men) want to stay at home with their children then it should be made easier for them to do so. So many people just can’t afford to make that choice these days.
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?
I like to laugh, a lot. I find it such a source of relaxation for me and always feel better for a good night out with my girl pals. There would be no clubbing (I cannot dance to save my life!) but a nice cocktail bar with some light food to go alongside. Cocktail of choice would be mojito but I do love a glass of Prosecco.
As I’m getting older, it’s important that the music isn’t too loud so that we can all hear one another. Topic of conversation? Probably listening to one another’s tales of woe whilst putting a comical spin on it.