Super-Mums! They're the cool mummies, the inspirational ones who are perfectly lovely too...
PUBLISHED: 12:15 14 April 2010 | UPDATED: 17:02 20 February 2013
...Jo Malone asks how they do it.
They don't drive swanky cars or own the latest designer dog, but we all want to be them-they're cool mummies, the inspirational ones who are perfectly lovely too. How do they do it, asks Jo Malone.
Every school, gymnastics club and football team has a selection of parents. There are the noisy, pushy ones; the drop and run ones; the yummy-mummy ones; the always-late ones and then there are those who your children sometimes wish were their parents.
Theyre the cool mums, the smiley ones who are confident without being arrogant, look great whether wearing paint-spattered jeans or arriving straight from work, and always seem to be doing something interesting.
But theyre cool because they dont know they are! Theyve made interesting lives, and always seem to have aspirations for the future, from learning to snowboard or organising a fundraising appeal for charity.
Norfolk, being a county of creativity and a can-do attitude, is packed full of them. Every reader will know some the mums that children love because theyre fun, caring and make a great cricket tea, and that women love too because theyre normal, natural, busy yet always ready to help out. I spoke to just four of our many inspiring, energetic, busy women who are proud to be mums.
With her butterfly-adorned pink helmet and co-ordinating protective jacket, trousers and boots, we might expect Isabel Hewitt to be riding pillion on the motorbike equivalent of a
Land cruiser. But the 41-year-old mum of Lucy Towndrow, 13, and Henry Towndrow, nine, has recently passed her advanced bike test and rides a black 650cc Kawasaki ER6F.
A personal banker for Barclays and an active yoga teacher qualified with the British Wheel of Yoga, she adores riding her bike. I like the adrenaline and the excitement. I love it, says Isabel, from Hethersett, adding that she also likes seeing peoples faces when they realise its a very petite girl on what is a good-sized bike.
Shes a sensible rider rather than a girl-racer, she says. I took the advanced test because I feel I should try to live as long as I possibly can, she explains. Having taken up skiing with the children this year, plus looking after chickens and with plans to learn French and to play the drums, Isabel feels that living as full a life as possible is the best inspiration she can be for her children. She hopes they will look back on their childhood and see that while she was busy, she was always there for them and loved them unconditionally. Mum is really good. I can talk to her about anything. She is great, she has two jobs and still manages to make us a warm meal when we get home from school, says Lucy.
When Catharine Mackenzie Dodds heard of plans to build 38 houses on land in the middle of her village, she decided to find out what other residents felt. Discovering many were keen to keep the three acres in Melton Constable a green site where children could play, people could stroll and dogs could run, she launched a campaign to keep it as an open space. More than two and a half years later, the villagers expect to hear this summer if it is to be officially designated a village green or if they need to start serious fundraising in a bid to buy it.
Catharine, 32, realised the importance of the open space when she was virtually housebound with Lyme disease, as it was just about the only countryside she could reach with daughter Penny, now five. She felt a calling to help her community and, when the house building plans were unveiled, knew this was her chance.
Part of the campaign is working towards classification as a village green, and Catharine heads those starting a community land initiative to raise money if needed to secure and maintain the area. Catharine hopes that Penny, who has been along to some of the meetings, will still be playing on the land in the future. I think it is good for her to see that if you believe strongly in something it is important you stand up for it, adds Catharine.
In the meantime, while the village waits for a decision, Catharine has taken on a shop as a community focus, offering craft workshops and a Citizens Advice-style drop in. Its a place where people in the village can meet, share skills, get help if needed and get to know one another, and is helping to keep the neighbourly feel of the north Norfolk village.
The dance teacher
Dozens of little girls and boys think Estelle Clifton is one of the coolest people they know.
Most young dancers adore their dance teacher, but Estelle is a performer too, and the children know that if they work hard they can follow in her footsteps.
And thats currently to the Hippodrome Circus at Yarmouth, where dancers trained by Estelle performed in the Christmas Spectacular and will be back for the summer season too. She choreographs their acts and those of the professional dancers, and helps Jan Baines choreograph the synchronised swimmers for the circus too.
Mum to three-year-old Billy Jay, grandson of Hippodrome owner Peter Jay, Estelle teaches ballet, tap, modern and freestyle dance at her 180 pupil Yarmouth-based school Dance Estelle, plus basic gymnastics and synchronised swimming.
She aimed to stop performing when Billy was born, but still steps in when dancers are ill.
I do really enjoy going back. Im not being a mum, Im being a dancer, and I do think it is good for Billy to see me doing something like that, she says. Estelle, 34, says life can be quite a busy juggling act as she fits in teaching with choreographing and looking after her son and her partner Ben Jay, but she feels working with young people helps her to keep a fresh outlook.
Her family is her priority and she hopes Billy will be proud of her when hes older. I would like to think he will be, she says. Billy is already showing a keen interest in music and loves the circus. I think Peter is hoping that he will be the next drummer in the circus! she adds.
Asking for chainsaw protection maternity trousers is typical of sculptress Kate Munro, who couldnt let a baby due in two weeks stop her finishing a large art piece for a housing project at Long Stratton. I had some very large pieces of wood to cut, she explains.
She admits now that perhaps chainsaws and very large pregnancy bumps arent a great combination, but if there is something to do, 37-year-old Kate gets on with it such as recently travelling with rather large bump number three to Zambia for two weeks with husband, photographer Adam Shawyer, and children Martha, four, and Reuben, three.
If I want to do something, or the family wants to do something, we do try to do it, she says, feeling there are a lot more experiences and fun to be had in the future.
While one of her more high profile pieces was a vibrant mirror-clad elephant for Norfolks Go Elephants! project, Kates work ranges from beautiful ice and snow sculptures to grass turf armchairs, and more permanent pieces in willow, wood or steel. She does lots of education projects too with Norfolk students and community groups, working to inspire, encourage and enable creativity.
Kate, whose baby is due this month is expecting to work until the last minute, as she has a large sculpture in wood and metal for Holt Country Park to finish, but then she is hoping for some time off. I havent really had maternity leave before, but I am hoping to get a bit of time, she says.
A keen gardener, with a family allotment, she feels it would be nice if the children grow up to enjoy her work too. At the moment I have to explain that I have to go to work and its not because I dont want to be with them, she adds, fully aware thats a comment every working parent will understand!
See her work at www.katemunro.co.uk (soon to be updated).
The dos and donts of being a cool mum!
Cool mums do:
Have clothes their daughters want to borrow.
Have a good haircut.
Manage to be there when they are needed.
Tell their children, in private, they love them.
Have hobbies, interests, sports.
Always have food in the fridge.
Have time to play with their children.
Join in duvet days and watch DVDs on the sofa or play games with the family.
Cool mums dont:
Borrow their daughters clothes.
Ask childrens friends endless questions.
Mention coats, spare knickers or ask if children or friends need the toilet.
Stress about muddy shoes, crumbs, untidy rooms.
Hoot and wave goodbye.
Talk about embarrassing things their children have done.
Refuse to join in games of football, Frisbee, trampolining or catch.