Do You Want A Cup of Tea With Your Cancer?

The delivery of a Malignant Melanoma diagnosis age 26 felt like I had been kicked in the face (not for the first time in my life I’d had that feeling).

We’ve all read the articles about skin cancer awareness, highlighting the unsightly mole pictures and advising you to see a GP if you have one that changes shape or colour so when I was diagnosed with a MM it didn’t follow the usual chain of events.

My first visit to see the GP was actually about something else but typical of me, I had saved up a couple of issues rather than go more than once. At the end of my appointment, I mentioned as a side issue the small red spot on my thigh. It wasn’t itching but it was slightly raised and about 5mm in diameter. The GP didn’t seem too concerned either and sent me away with some Canesten. Yes, you read that right. Some bloody thrush cream. Needless to say it didn’t go away so when I went back about my other problem, I casually mentioned again that the thrush cream had not shifted the little red mark. He said he could refer me to the dermatologist to get it checked but neither of us were concerned at that point.

When my hospital appointment arrived, the Consultant wasn’t sure what it was but said she would remove it to be on the safe side and I went away with another appointment to have it removed. The procedure was done under a local anaesthetic but I am a little but squeamish and had worked myself up into a small frenzy and made the whole event worse than need be but I swear to this day my flesh smelt of burning sausages.

A couple of weeks later I went back for the results. Alone as I didn’t think I had anything to worry about despite the obligatory leaflets that are placed in your hand at times like this. I’d waited over an hour past my appointment time and was wondering whether work would be sending the search party out for me at some point. At the point another patient went in before me and I had heard him say his appointment time was after mine, I thought someone was taking the piss so went and had a word with reception. She made the necessary enquiries and told me that the Doctor wanted the Specialist Nurse there when she saw me, which was why there was a delay.

I sat back down and initially thought, “Bloody marvellous, why does someone else need to muscle in on my appointment?” Then the cogs started turning and I started to panic as to what was going on. When I was finally called in, it felt like there was an army of people waiting for me and even someone hovering in the background with a cup of tea. That’s when you know something is definitely wrong, when there is a brew being offered up. Typically British behaviour of providing a brew when everything is going tits up.

All I could hear was the word Malignant. I could feel the bile rising up inside of me and the tears began to flow. I was asked whether they could call someone in from the waiting room to be with me. No, because this fool had stupidly turned up on her own. Nobody to support me and a million thoughts rushing around in my head. Would I need chemo? Would I die? being a couple of them.

I was told that I would need a further operation, a wider excision to ensure that they had removed all traces of the MM and at that point they would know what would need to be carried out next.

Breaking the news to my family and friends was difficult and I know some people didn’t treat it with the severity afforded to other cancer diagnoses such as breast or lung. Others didn’t know what to say to me and treated me like I was already six feet under.

The wider excision was a bigger operation and my left was left looking like a deep valley and I was embarrassed about showing my legs in public for a long time; I still am but for different reasons.

Fortunately for me, the tests revealed it had not spread further and not into my lymph nodes which wouldn’t have been such a positive outcome. This was 15 years ago and I am thankful for the NHS team that have monitored me periodically since that time. It was also before we used to google everything and if I had, I’d have probably treated myself like I was six feet under as the measurement of the MM suggests that I’m lucky to still be here.

Most people want to know whether I was a slave to a sunbed or tropical holidays and yes I had used tanning beds but not excessively so. My first holiday abroad wasn’t until I was 18 so I don’t think that is the cause either. Studies suggest that a combination of these, genetics and skin colouring are all factors and maybe it was just bad luck on my part.

There is more awareness about the dangers of not protecting your skin and how deadly skin cancer can be and that can only be a good thing. I am now the one who wears the factor 50 and lathers the children in it as I wouldn’t want them to suffer skin damage especially as early protection of skin is vital.

My advice to anyone is not to take any chances in the sun or tanning beds, it’s simply not worth it and any blemish or mole that appears or changes shape, get it checked out; not just the brown ones.

It may just save your life.

Popping the Volunteering Cherry

Way back in 2013, I took part in my first run and on 21st January 2017 I completed my 85th. Those that know me, will tell you that I never tire of telling anyone that will listen of what a great concept parkrun is and how I love the inclusive environment that you can take advantage of, a free local 5k run.

Its success is reliant on volunteers stepping forward to take on one of the various roles; timekeeper, scanner, marshal, tail runner or even photographer! So it goes without saying that for someone who has been so applauding of parkrun, that I need to hang my head in shame that I had not volunteered up until today.

If any excuse is possible, it’s my struggle to find time to run with conflicting priorities and the moment I do have the Saturday morning available, I want to take advantage of running the course. Unfortunately, if that was the case for everyone, parkrun would be no more as a minimum amount of volunteers are needed each week.

So what changed this week?

I was injured and childless and frankly, I had no excuse.

I had fallen the week previously whilst out running (that can be a regular occurrence in my case and I am often accused of not being able to stand on my own two feet) and stupidly and stubbornly I attempted to run around Hyde Park whilst there with work this week.

The leg was not going to hold up to a parkrun so I announced to my fella I would be volunteering. My New Year’s resolution, was not to get fit but to become more of a parkrun tourist ,but for volunteering purposes the easiest option would be to head down to my nearest parkrun, only one mile away.

Friday came and I had still not offered my services to anyone and knew that my opportunity was slowly slipping away. That night, I logged onto facebook and noticed a plea for volunteers at one of the runs I had taken part at previously but it was nineteen miles away. Before I could change my mind, I responded to the request.

Saturday morning, I was up bright and early as I always am when childless (life sucks a little like that doesn’t it?) and made my way to Poolsbrook parkrun. I was starting to get a little worried as to what role I would be allocated and hoped I wouldn’t be given too much responsibility. I’d be bloody mortified if I was responsible for two hundred runners with no official times!

On arrival I was allocated a Marshal in position three which seemed pretty straight forward and once the runners set off, I made my way to my position ready to cheer the runners. Now, although I had received some brief instructions on the back of the lanyard, nobody actually tells you what you should do when people are running past; I know how I have responded to marshals but not everyone wants a cheery shout or a smiley face.

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So as I was shouting morning to people and a round of “well done’s”, my first task caught me a little off guard. A fisherman was extending his rod (this is not a euphemism for something else) right into the path of oncoming runners. We are always told to be respectful of other park users as they have as much right to the park as parkrunners but how do I tactfully ask him to mind his rod? Some runners looked a little concerned so I politely asked him to be careful and hoped that he would retract his rod. Unfortunately, he wasn’t too keen on the idea and told me if anyone damaged it they would have to pay. At this point I was thinking, “This could only bloody happen to me.”

I’m not known for my international peacekeeping skills but I explained that I was there to prevent any accidents from happening and gave him my best cheesy grin. It must have worked as before long he was having a little chat with me and asking how many laps of the course the parkrunners did.

1-0 to me.

My attention could now be devoted to the people passing me and give them the praise they deserved. Respectful of the passing runners and walkers, I attempted to judge how they would want me to acknowledge them although I have never been a great face reader. I continued with my smiles and praise and high-fived a couple of kids. My people watching skills, had a stab at working out how many times I had seen individual runners and based on their pace, how many laps they had done. If I thought they were on their last lap, I shouted “Not far now!” I wondered whether I had made a schoolgirl error in that what if I had miscalculated how many times I had seen their faces? What if they responded with, “are you taking the piss?” I am certain, I told some non-parkrunners well done and others who had already completed their three laps but they acknowledged me nonetheless (maybe to shut me up or out of politeness!)

What was actually amazing was the amount of people who thanked me. I never expected so many thanks and I am completed overwhelmed how parkrunners took the time to do this. I have never felt more rewarded for standing still for fifty-six minutes and in turn I would like to say thank you to the 187 people that took part. I am in awe of everyone of them, from the frontrunners (who I never get to see) to the people who carried on despite struggling through injury or fatigue.

I’m not sure whether the lady in the pink bobble hat was as shit a marshal as she is a runner, but today volunteering gave me a massive incentive to carry on being part of the wonderful community that is parkrun.

Thank you Poolsbrook for allowing me to pop my cherry, and I hope you had no complaints from the regulars 🙂

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A parkrun Tourist (whore) at Sherwood Pines

When I first started a blog just over a year ago, I had absolutely no intention of writing anything other than my chosen topic. There was no passion to be a writer, it was purely a cathartic process to enable me to cope with a lifelong situation and hopefully raise some awareness along the way.

I didn’t want to diversify into any other topic but didn’t envisage that so many people would be interested in reading what I had to say. And then for a little bit of a joke, I wrote about a run I had taken part in and my usual self depreciating humour appeared to appeal to another audience, The Running Community. It wasn’t without criticism though; one kind reader had pointed out my overuse of starting a sentence with ‘I’ and said that the reader would become bored. In my defence, it was an intentional overuse, not dissimilar to a poetic licence. I had never claimed to be a writer and I enjoyed rebelling against the standards I had been taught many years ago; starting a sentence with But and And. I had learned pretty early on when starting my primary blog that my writing and subject would only appeal to certain people and I couldn’t please everyone all of the time and then there was that group you find stalking social media who you can never please any of the time. My ageing leathery skin has become thicker over the years and I know how to block some of the shit out.

Getting to the point of this particular post, my other half announced today that I should write about my parkrun experiences; he’s a little slow off the mark with this great idea given that today I completed by 85th and visited 12 different locations but I’ll give him this one nonetheless.

I decided last week that I was going to become an official parkrun tourist (renouncing my self inflicted title of parkrun whore) and try and get to experience as many different parkruns as reasonably possible without having to leave the house at 0600.

I put out a midweek appeal and asked facebook friends if they wanted to try parkrun for a first time and did anyone want to suggest one. In response, I had one comedy reply and a couple of credible suggestions for courses but nobody who was willing to commit this week. Instead, I had to drag the other half out of bed on a kid-free day to accompany me on my road trip. He has been to parkrun quite a few times and I don’t normally need him to babysit me but I am trying to give him a gentle nudge to get back in the saddle so had given my best puppy dog eyes in order to convince him to drag his rotting carcass out of bed somewhat earlier than he would have liked. To make matters worse, the one I had chosen was going to be about 45-60 minutes drive from our home. Needless to say, it went down pretty much like a lead balloon. It’s worth mentioning that despite his commitment, he is the sort of dick that turns up and still runs the arse off me. Loser.

At 05:45 I staggered out of bed after dreaming I was in labour and about to give birth. I realised the pain was just a bad attack of period pains, something I had not experienced much of previously. I could barely stand up straight and thought about the commitment I had made (inside only my own head) that I would be doing Sherwood Pines parkrun today. I knew the other half would be delighted he wouldn’t be getting an early wake up call but I’m as stubborn as a mule so had a committee meeting with myself and in a Brian Clough sort of way, told myself to get a bloody grip.

When I woke the other half up at 07:20, the absence of my usual talkative self was probably a bit of a giveaway that something wasn’t right. He asked me whether I should be running and I was obviously shit at convincing him there was nothing wrong but there was no way I was cancelling.

Fortunately, the 45 minute drive there gave me time to get my act together and we landed at Sherwood Pines at 0830. We were slightly confused around which carpark we should be using despite me checking the night before about the location of the free one. Typical Yorkshire bird in that there was no way I was paying for something unless absolutely necessary! The instruction was to park in Sparrowhawk carpark which was just after the bends. This may seem obvious to locals but to us, it was all a series of bends and after going all through the swirly roads and back out to the entrance, it was only apparent when more parkrunners turned up as to which one we should be at. The sign seemed to be tucked away (unless we can’t see what is in front of us which is quite possible).

As we had arrived quite early, we took advantage of the warmth of the car for a bonus five minutes before doing our best sheep impression and following those venturing into the woods; a beautiful setting for an early morning run.

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There were toilets available (not all parkruns I’ve been to have toilets available nearby) and the other half abandoned me for his usual pre-race preparation whilst I slowly walked to the start hoping that I would not turn into an icicle before they pressed start on the stopwatch. I was trying to recall what I had read about it in terms of difficulty and how many laps and couldn’t remember anything. I swear blind the temperature was affecting my brain but at least it had taken my mind off my labour pains. I wasn’t too concerned as I knew the key information was usually passed in the pre-run briefing.

First-timers and tourists (and whores) were taken off and I absorbed the only part I needed to concern myself with; one lap. This is where I need to explain my own running ability at this point. I’m not a good runner, I would say I’m more of your Johnny Less Than Average but in the main, I have resilience and heart and that is what gets me to the end each time. I do fight a psychological battle with any course that is more than one lap, so I thought this one would be exactly up my street (or woods).

The main briefing was very difficult to hear due to an extraordinary amount of dogs all barking and it echoing throughout the woods; a very surreal moment. The talk at the start is a huge positive part of the parkrun experience where you get to hear about the triumphs of homerunners. It was a little disappointing that despite the megaphone, you still couldn’t hear it.

A bell signalled the start and we all trundled off into the depths of the woods. The first half a mile was quite tricky due to the numbers participating, it took a while for us all to space out and I was struggling with the cold. I glanced at my garmin at 0.89 miles and wondered how I would complete it. Fortunately, the slight uphill of the start turned into a long downhill which allowed me time to recover and by that point I had warmed by extremities sufficiently. I was nervous about going too fast on the downhill parts and was trying to save myself for the inevitable uphill section that was to come. But it didn’t and before I knew it, I was turning the corner up to the finish line where I made a last ditch attempt at a sprint and chased someone to the line.

My official time was 28:47 and I’ll be honest, I was slightly disappointed with it as I thought the course was one that I could have achieved a faster time. Looking at my split, that first mile let me down and I suppose that’s the downside of being a tourist (whore) and not knowing what to expect.

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I’ll definitely be back but maybe when it gets a little warmer and I will certainly be aiming to smash that time. Overall, I would say it’s a great course and definitely on my favourite list.

My apologies if this is not your typical run review and on reflection, there is a lot of background to me, mentions of bodily functions and only a little about the course itself.

Oops.

 

Confessions of a Shit Runner – Women’s Stuff

I retired from running on October 30th 2016, just after the Sheffield 10k and again the week after when I put in another disappointing run at the Leeds Abbey Dash. It’s not unusual for me to throw the teddy out of the cot and many of my friends have heard about me retiring far too many times.

The first run, I really had been shit and when I say shit, that is shit even by my shit standards. Have I said shit enough times yet? The second run, I was massively disappointed because I had run this race before and knew that it wasn’t a particularly testing route and when I received the official time, it was my slowest there yet. I had felt strong and willing to put the other race behind me but unfortunately yet again it wasn’t my day and I wrote my first piece on shit running (Confessions of a Shit Runner)

Today, I ran another Sheffield 10k but one that has runners fighting over the 2000 places on offer and despite me saying last year that I would never run it again, I found myself caught up in the drama that was the online entry debacle for the Percy Pud.

I’ve only taken part once but been a spectator too and the weather has always been notoriously bad and all in return for a Christmas pud, that I don’t even like! Why on earth was I putting myself through this again?

My young lad had woken me up this morning at just after six when I was in a beautiful deep sleep; I was not happy. I had told anyone who had cared to listen this week that I had seven days to lose two stone as I thought that may assist me in getting round. My negativity was overwhelming once again and I had convinced myself that I might as well go for the hat trick of shit runs.

I had eaten at the right time, made sure I had consumed at least a glass of water and vaselined my lips. What more preparation did I need for a shit run?

Well, there lies the story. Something that us women should never talk about publicly for fear of crossing the line and ensuring that we do not let onto the male species that we actually have to deal with these issues.

The Curse.

Well, this is what my Mum still refers to it as but something that many women have to deal with at least once a month and athletes (and Shit Runners) have to just suck it up (not literally)

I realised I needed sanitary products, shortly before I met my running hero for the very first time; Rachel from Rachel Cullen Writes. Whilst in the midst of girl crushing over her, I pondered over whether I would ruin this first hook up by asking her ‘Rachel, I know I want to discuss a million and one hero-worshipping things with you but do you have any T-A-M-P-A-X?’ I decided against it and plotted my next move. I did also think that it would feature in her next blog and if anyone was going get any mileage out of it, it would have to be me!

We wandered up to the start line and I snaked across to the first-aid tent and whilst I knew sanitary products didn’t feature in an emergency response bag, I had hoped that some kind organised female would have one in her bag. After embarrassingly relaying my story to her she kindly produced something from her bag…

A pad.

I’ve not had the need to examine pads for some years but this was as thin as a sheet and I considered whether it was actually an incontinence pad? Beggars can’t be choosers though so I thanked her and wandered off with my gift.

The start time was drawing closer and I was still wandering around women with bags like someone not right. I approached a friendly group of women and explained very quietly my issue. One of the women looked at me like I was a lost puppy and said ‘Oh you poor thing, let’s try and get you sorted’ and took me over to the rest of the group. I immediately thought I would get sorted by these lot for sure. What happened next totally took me by surprise as I heard the kind lady say very loudly,

‘HAS ANYONE GOT ANY TAMPAX FOR THIS LADY WHO HAS STARTED HER PERIOD?’

Fucking hell, as much as I am now sat here writing about said event and don’t embarrass easily, I must have resembled a cherry at this point. Did all of the tent hear? If they did,  nobody volunteered any and I made my way to the toilet, wishing this day would just be over with. I even considered just throwing the towel (or pad) in and wondered how I would be able to run with a pad in-situ.

I rocked up at the line as it was starting and thought ‘fuck it, just run’ My race itself was what I pretty much expected but when I checked my watch with 2k to go, I thought I could actually break the sixty minute mark; something I had achieved only once before (the Abbey Dash that I failed at the previous month).

I crossed the line to see the official clock say sixty minutes and so many seconds and thought ‘balls, not again!’ and then quickly realised that I had set off after the gun so I checked my watch and realised I had only bloody gone and done it!

The official time came through and I had actually missed my 10k pb by one second but I was chuffed that I had broke the sixty minute mark for the first time in a few years.

As any great runner does, I would like to give out my thanks to the following:

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Girl Crush (I am even more in love with you after meeting you)

Harry Gration & Eilish McColgan (for running at what turns out to be the day that I acknowledge I’m not totally shit)

And finally. The Pad. Without you, I wouldn’t have got round and I wouldn’t have got a pb.

Wrong Side of Forty

When I hit twenty-one, I thought thirty was bloody old and when thirty crept up on me, I thought ‘At least I’m not forty as that’s fucking ancient!!’

Anyone over forty talks about age ‘just being a number’ or ‘you’re only as old as you feel’ but who actually believes that shit? The reality is, unless you have some magnificent genes or can afford a new face, that number is at the root of some serious problems.

Last year I discovered a lump; nothing sinister but I’d just preferred it wasn’t there. The GP’s response was ‘when you get to your age, you can expect these things’.

My Age.

The wrong side of forty.

I recall my own mother going slightly off the rails when she hit forty and blaming it on a combination of a relative telling her ‘life begins at forty’ and The Change.

Shitting hell. Something else I have to look forward to it appears. Night sweats, mood changes, creaking bones and confirmation that your body clock has well and truly ticked it’s last tock.

I’m reasonably healthy but any little ache or pain makes me paranoid it’s because of My Age. Could it be a first sign of arthritis or have I just pulled a muscle?

I find it harder to shift any weight. Ok I don’t have the perfect diet but I do run a fair few miles each week. Apparently, that’s down to My Age and my metabolism slowing down.

My glasses prescription has altered again and the lenses are getting thicker. My Age.

And if all that isn’t quite bad enough, whilst applying some make up on the go, I happened to catch a glimpse of a shiny little thread poking out of my dark nest of hair.

My other half was relying on me to pass some crucial directions in the car at this moment in time and I was screaming that I had found not just a grey hair but a fucking grey hair!!

My Age. Taking the absolute piss out of me again. Cue text message to hairdresser announcing this milestone event whilst the fella was demanding that I tell him which exit off the roundabout to take. For Fuck’s Sake, obviously His Age hasn’t screwed him over yet as he wasn’t understanding the enormity of the situation and what this actually meant. Why would I care which way we needed to go when a dirty great big grey strand has appeared on my head? No doubt the bloody thing will breed too!

It’s ok saying don’t dwell on it, but it’s just one more outward sign of the ageing process and one step closer to the coffin. My only saving grace is that silver does seem to be the new blonde.

I am trying hard to embrace this new phase of my life and wondering whether I should be thankful that although the thirties are over with, at least I’m not fifty.

Screw You Age and Fuck You Forties!

Confessions of a Shit Runner.

I have had a love of running for as long as I can remember. I was the child who had an incredible amount of energy and wanted to race my friends all the time. The problem was, most of my friends had no care for running up and down the street and I had no care for playing with dolls.

I remember the day quite clearly that my dad arrived home and announced that I was going to ‘Arriers’. I had no idea what it meant and wondered whether it was some sort of punishment (I don’t think I was the easiest of children).

I turned up for a Wednesday track session, feeling like the Dog’s Bollocks with my new C&A tracksuit with the elasticated bottoms. Shitstoppers I believe they are now called. As a 10 year old, I had no fear and had no idea how far the 800m was that I was expected to run. All I knew was I was the best runner in my school year.

Unfortunately, although I turned up feeling like the Dog’s Bollocks,  I left realising I was no longer top of the tree. I finished way behind everyone else but it didn’t deter me though and I turned up week after week for the twice weekly sessions and went on to take part in the various races whether it be track or cross country.

Now some who know me would be surprised to learn that I wasn’t competitive in my younger years (I did get aggressively competitive during a game at a baby shower last week!). I turned up, was usually the one making up the numbers as far as the team was concerned but I genuinely enjoyed it. I ran alongside other girls who would be devastated if they didn’t put in a top performance and I think some of their parents attitude to it didn’t help.

I lasted until I was about 13 and then I found other things to occupy my time. I have always kept relatively active but although I considered myself shit compared to the others at the club, I would love to be able to run those times now. No fear of distance or hills, just turn up on the day and do it.

Every so often, I tell myself that I am going to lose a bit of weight and really try a bit harder  and get back on it. It’s hard though and it’s not about excuses. Juggling work and childcare leaves little time for much else without considering hill, speed and generally ‘getting those miles in’. I don’t want to settle for average but I am too old (and shit) to turn pro.

I do my parkruns and a couple or three 10ks a year and usually after one of the tougher ones, I tell myself (and anyone else still listening) that I’m retiring.

Today was one of those days.

Abbey Dash 2016, my third attempt.

I drove myself, because my lift had let me know it was going to be too cold and rainy to go.I parked in one of the suggested car parks and there was a massive queue to get in, followed by a massive queue to pay for the parking. I’m usually (anally) organised and today I was playing a blinder. I had to run to the start (as it started to rain) and was bloody knackered as I arrived at bang on 09:30 – start time. Fortunately the queue of last minute pee’rs had dwindled by then so I managed to land a stinky portaloo without too much trouble (I’d managed a pre race poo before I left home so thankfully that wasn’t an issue).

By the time I queued up in the pigpen, I was knackered but I had already had to have a committee meeting with myself in the car and I wasn’t about to have another chat now. Yes it was freezing and pissing it down but, seriously just get a grip!

I’d been absolutely shit the week before at the inaugural Sheffield 10k, had to walk for 40 seconds at least and I wasn’t about to repeat that. I knew this was a flatter course and I was gonna grab it by the bollocks!

I felt stronger and faster until about 9k when I hit a wall and knew that the tiny hill at the end would be a struggle but I was aiming to break my pb so I had to keep on going.

I thought about the people I’d seen along the route; an old work friend who was acting as  guide runner (the first and only time I would be able to run past him I’m sure) and I was inspired by both of them. I saw a friend from work stood in the freezing cold with her young twins in their buggies (there to cheer a relative on but I got a cheer nonetheless) and I thought ‘Cmon now, get your arse in gear and think of those who have more challenges today and just bloody run’.

I kept on running, right to the line and looked at my watch.

Fuck. Shit. Bastard.

Abbey Dash 2016 was now my third and shittest attempt.

I try and inspire other people and tell them that we have good days and off days and sometimes there is just no explanation, but you have to pick yourself up and give it another go.

My 5k pb time was smashed in the summer with all the odds stacked against me that day but I did it. Today (and last week) was just not meant to be.

Today was about making it to the line. And I did.

My love/hate relationship with running will continue. Today, I am retired but no doubt will be out pounding the streets in a couple of days time.

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Shit to Working, I WANT to Stay at Home!

There is an undeniable amount of pressure on working mothers to fulfil a new role that has been developed over the past twenty or so years. And curiously enough this role has been created by women themselves.

I was raised thinking that anything is possible; women don’t have to stay at home and raise the kids, but to go out and get a career. I felt proud of my own mother that she was working full-time and wanted to be financially independent and not rely on my father for ‘housekeeping’ money. But there was that part of me that craved for me to have my mum waiting for me at home when I got in from school to prevent the need for me having the responsibility of a key. I didn’t want to be wondering who would be picking me up from school, if indeed there was going to be someone; all I wanted was to see my mum’s face at the school gate.

Years have passed with women battling against sexist, stereotyped views so that they can be an equal to their opposite sex. Why can’t women carry out the same jobs as men, earn the same amount of money as men in addition to juggling being a mum? Other women provide us with inspirational quotes to try and empower us to be everything to everyone; government incentives to try and encourage women back to work; employers offering flexible working schemes so that you can go to work earlier or later so you can combine school pick ups and drop offs with your paid role. And the day isn’t over then, because you need to support the children with homework, cook dinner, clean and generally shove the broom up your arse and sweep the floor, assuming you haven’t met the perfect man who is doing it all with you.

And if you don’t succeed in all of the above, your fellow women are likely to judge you as a failure because you are not successfully spinning all of the plates.

But I have seen a new group of women who are trying to subtly make an entrance. Mothers who choose to work less hours so they can spend more time with the family. Mothers who choose to not work at all because they want to spend time with their family and become a domestic goddess with their extra available time. Or even more fantastically, mothers who don’t feel the need to be baking, cleaning shopping or gardening to justify their lack of employment.

I’m a strong believer in that you cannot be effective with so many tasks to juggle and that something has to give. I also believe that every woman has a right to choose whether they want to have a career or whether they want to be a great mum, but to combine the two is stressful and certain concessions will have to be made, even with the most supportive partner in the world.

I have been that judgy woman who questions why my women friends are not working more hours and why they don’t want to fill their time with something more productive. Why can we not accept that some women choose this way of life, not forced into it and have the finances to be able to do it?

My parents generation were lucky in that only one person needed to work. The woman could choose whether she wanted to stay at home and be a kept woman or buck the trend and go out and find herself a job.

If you are that career woman who has chosen to work full time and not forced into it through a financial necessity to work, I applaud you but please do not complain when you miss key events, as that is usually inevitable if you work full-time.

I believe we all have a right to make our choices, whatever they may be. Some people are backed into a corner and have decisions taken out of their hands but let’s not fall into the trap and believe that we have to be something we don’t actually want to be, purely because that is what society expects.