Well here we are on ‘Brexit Day’ at the end of what must have been one of the craziest weeks in British history. Our business is feeling the impact. We work with a number of Sci-Tech businesses that are being badly hit by the loss of European funding, the stalling of potential global funding and the inability to get innovations passed in the absence of a governing system. As a result, some people we know are facing the loss of their businesses and their homes because they’re being suffocated by a macro-economic nightmare that is going on too long.
I know you don’t need me to tell you any of this but as always, this is partly a record for the future and also because I feel as though I haven’t been as present on either the blog or Instagram as usual. And Brexit has even affected the journey of my straw bags which were due to leave France this week but had to be delayed because we didn’t want them to be tangled up in any No Deal customs chaos. They’re on their way now and should be here in the next ten days. Anyway let’s move on…
Outfits of the day
A London trip
As you can imagine my focus has been on staying local. However I did go down to London a couple of weeks ago and this is what I wore. I know some of you weren’t sure when I first got this trouser suit last year but I think everyone’s eye is now adjusting back to tailoring and I have to say I love it. At a time when I want to feel business-like and in control it really helps. It’s like taking a shortcut back to the high flyer that I was in the nineties although now I wear trainers instead of heels.
Baukjen trousersuit (gifted SS18); Continentals; Longchamp Le Pliage past season
A working lunch
Other than that one trip I’ve been based in the north. This was last week when I was popping out for lunch. I wore this lovely navy satin slip skirt which is another of the new season samples that Hope sent me to review, it’s in a size Slim which fits fine.
As you’ve probably gathered, I love slip skirts. I tried really hard to adapt to pleated skirts when they first came in but for me they just have too much fabric in them so I’ve found that slip skirts are a happy solution. They always feel sleek but the difficulty lies in finding one that doesn’t crease because a lot of them are made from cheap satin.
This one is blended with elastane which overcomes the problem. Whenever Hope set their minds to something, you know they’ll excel at it and this skirt is cut on the bias so it drapes rather than clings and pools nicely when you walk.
A slip skirt with a cashmere jumper is now a core part of my working wardrobe and as we move into warmer weather, I’ll just adapt it with a t-shirt. You’ll notice that my orange bag is out of storage so it must be spring!
Slip skirt (on loan); Pure Collection Jumper (past season); Hush boots (gifted AW18)
So where was I going? I was off to meet jeweller Claudia Bradby who was up here visiting local retailers. Claudia was a very early supporter of Midlifechic and over the years she’s become a friend. As you know, I wear her jewellery almost every day and I was saying to her that it’s the one part of my wardrobe that I feel is perfectly organised. I have a few of her pieces and they go with absolutely everything I wear.
So, while we’re talking about Claudia, I must mention that she’s launched her spring collection and I think she’s excelled herself this season. I love listening to her talking about her jewellery because she has so much passion for what she does and each piece has a personal story behind it. I keep pleading with her to introduce more gold because I have enough silver jewellery and I just want to show you some of the earrings she’s come up with:
Anyway there are lots of other lovely new designs here and I was thinking that they’d be a lovely last minute Mother’s Day gift if you know somebody with the right sized pockets to buy them for you.
A theatre trip
Here’s an outfit from Wednesday when we were going to watch the middle son debut in his latest role at the local arts theatre.
Hush coat AW18; White Company jumper AW18; Leather leggings; Hush boots gifted AW16
He had to sing as part of his role – a beautiful folk song that he’d learned in Norwegian. And I have to say it’s the first time I’ve ever coveted any of my sons’ footwear!
The other highlight this week was last night when I went to Manchester to learn how to make gin with JD Williams at the Three Rivers Gin School.
JD Williams are challenging a number of midlife bloggers to try something different and their list includes things like cookery schools and beauty classes which all sound like fun but I definitely hit the jackpot with mine. My partner in crime for the evening was Natalia otherwise known as She Dreams Of Gucci.
The evening started with gin tasting and we were told all about the history of gin and how it’s made. Then we were given our own mini still so that we could create our own botanical mix.
There were over 50 different botanicals to add with recommended measures for each. I chose rose petals, cardamom, lime peel and black pepper along with a few oats which change the texture and make the gin slightly viscose.
And here I am with the final result, my Midlifechic Gin and looking ridiculously pleased with myself.
So, it was a really fun evening and Natalia and I were inspired to carry on drinking gin for quite a while afterwards which I’m regretting somewhat as I type. It’s going to be a quiet Friday evening on the sofa for me tonght.
More thoughts about mothering
I’ve had a few emails since I wrote about Mother’s Day last week and a couple of people asked me to expand on my thoughts in a little more depth so here we go. I’m not pretending to be any kind of guru, I’m just chatting in the way that I talk to my friends because the topic of mothering is something we discuss a lot.
I think mothering is a particular preoccupation for women of our age because in a way, we’re reaching a conclusion of some kind. Both our days of active mothering and our days of being actively mothered are approaching a close. Any individual’s experience of being mothered and mothering feels unique and so often it feels as though there won’t be any relevance for anyone else. What strikes me though is that the outcomes are often similar and they generally encompass feelings of loss, grief, nostalgia, regret, gratitude or fear of failure.
So I thought I’d have a go at getting a conversation started on here because we haven’t had one like this for a while and sometimes shared experiences can help other women to make a breakthrough. I was surprised by the number of people who mentioned in the reader survey that they avidly read the comments and feel part of the conversation even though they don’t have the confidence to join in themselves.
I’m going to start by addressing the loss of your mother because last week I had more emails about that than anything else. Unreconciled grief is hard to carry around and Mother’s Day often opens it up. My mum died at the end of November 2011 but the following Mother’s Day was the only time that I openly grieved. Until then I’d been ‘coping well’ but as my then little boys came towards me in the village church, clutching their bunches of daffodils, it struck me and I was inconsolable. There was something in their open, smiling faces that crystallised the vulnerability of the mother / child relationship and just what a lifelong impact it has on the people we become.
No two women have the same experience of being mothered or mothering and I really do believe that the former has a huge influence on the latter. Really we’re all a rolling generation of our maternal ancestors. Some of my friends feel they’ll never match up to their own mums; some had such a difficult experience that they’ve chosen never to be a mother themselves and others have mixed feelings as they see themselves turning into their mothers when they look in the mirror.
My experience of being mothered taught me both how to do it well and how not to. As I said last week, my mum wasn’t archetypal. She had a career as an infant teacher and although she had no desire to progress towards headship, she was a very driven perfectionist (qualities I now recognise in my own work self).
She never stopped working and the pressure she put herself under was often extreme. She had a large classroom of children aged from four to seven so it must have been hard to keep them all in hand. Her classroom displays were legendary locally and she was known for being able to teach the most challenging of infants to read and write. I still have boxes of letters from grateful parents not only thanking her for her perseverance but also asking her how she “managed to get through to our Billy because he’s a right little sod at home” (actual quote)!
She was good at what she did and she was proud of it but it meant that until she retired when I was fifteen, she was quite an absent parent. Being an older mum (she had me when she was 42) I now realise that she was probably also going through the menopause which helps me to understand her unpredictable outbursts of temper a little better.
Everything became easier when she retired. Our relationship developed from then until she died and we became very close. As the only one of her children who didn’t follow her into education, she was fascinated by my career and lived it vicariously through me. I always knew that her expectations were high and I had to accept that I’d disappointed her when I chose to pull my career back for my children. I’ll never forget the day that she turned to me in frustration and said “you’ll see – they’ll grow up, walk away and they won’t look back.”
Until I started thinking about this post, I believed that my decision to downshift career-wise was an instinctive one but I hadn’t realised how much that instinct had been honed by my own experience of childhood. You see my primary school years were spent hanging around in classrooms waiting for my mum to finish for the day. By the age of seven I’d reached the top of the reading scheme and read every book in the school so the head ordered new books in for me to read during the long evenings spent in the classroom.
I realise now how this subconsciously affected certain elements of my own mothering. When my children started school, I was determined to be there at the gates every night to pick them up and whisk them home. I was rigid about not letting my work interfere with my time with them and sometimes missed out on exciting contracts because I wouldn’t bend. I pledged never to lose my temper with them and, to this day, I know that I’ve only shouted at the eldest and the middle one once each… and the youngest never… so far!
Because my mum was extremely controlling in my teens, I’ve worked hard to balance the teenage boundaries with my boys. First and foremost I’m their mum but I’m confident that we’re good friends too. They trust me well enough to tell me things that sometimes make my toes curl but it means I can steer them gently if I feel they’re veering towards the edge.
We have our moments though…
Looking back I can see that I have so much to thank my mum for. Even when I’ve been trying hard not to follow some of her examples, it’s helped me to carve the path that’s felt right for my own family. What I’m trying to say is that mothering is one hell of a job. I’m sure there will be mistakes I’ve made that are unique to me and that will go on to inform my sons’ parenting style. I hope I’ll be around to watch and see.
In the end I was lucky that my mum and I had time to grow closer. My sixth form years when she’d finished teaching were still tricky but then I suspect that lots of parents and teenage girls would say the same. Even so, they gave us enough time to build a foundation for the years to come. My older siblings didn’t have the same opportunity and so they look back from a different perspective.
I’ve found thinking this through to be quite illuminating. It’s been another step along the grieving journey that never ends. It strikes me that if my mum hadn’t demonstrated so much professional drive in midlife, I might not have either. My Mum then found happiness in her late fifties by winding down whereas I suspect my fulfilment will come from revving up. As a generation we’re lucky that our working timeline is much longer now, giving us a chance to pick up our careers where we left off or even start again. Midlife is now a time when you can begin something new. I’m grateful that I managed to drive my own agenda by being at home more when my boys were little and then working hard to pick things up again now.
As I said last week, If your experience of your mother was challenging in any way, I encourage you to look back now as I’ve done and find the positives – even if it’s meant that you’ve chosen to mother differently or not at all. And if you’re in a place where it feels as though your own mothering isn’t going well, have faith that there’s time to work it out. I believe that children of any age always want to have a good relationship with their mum. Sometimes it requires work to iron out past hurts but you can get there and it’s worth it.
Thinking about the fact that a lot of us have children in their late teens and early adulthood, I know that I needed the university and London years of distance from my mum for us to become close. As I’ve said on here before, after my mum’s death my bereavement counsellor warned me that if we don’t let our children go freely when they’re in their teens, they’ll fracture the relationship sharply and I suspect that’s what I did for a while. From the age of about 23 onwards though we spoke to each other every day. She was always there when I needed her and always on my side.
I no longer feel sorry for the lonely little girl that I was, I can see that my past has made me who I am and I’m ok with that person. I know that my mum always loved me, I wish she was here this weekend so that I could thank her for it all – the lessons she taught me the hard way and the good ones too.
This Mother’s Day is a lucky one for me, I have all of my boys together and we’re going out for tea. I’m going to treasure every moment because I know there are far fewer Mother’s Days ahead of having them all with me.
Mothers’ Day 2014
So this weekend I’ll enjoy their company in the knowledge that I’ve showered them with love and been the best mum to them that I know how to be.
In the end, that’s all that any of us can do.
Disclosure: “Outfits of the day and more thoughts about mothering” is not a sponsored post. Gifted items and experiences have all been declared.
ME+EM have a new collection for April with new chic athleisure styles in bright colours. Investment dressing but unbeatable quality.
A new drop has arrived at Baukjen here – there are lots of spring pastels and florals that have been hand painted in their London offices.
Stories have jumped into their summer already with their new April collection here.
Hush have released their April collection here.
Sèzane released a new collection on Sunday but a lot of it has already gone.
The new collection at M&S is here.
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