By Regular Contributor Eve Curley (@eveyandidotcom)

I am no bra-burning feminist.  In fact, as a self-confessed girly-girl, I was so sure that our Mini Munchkin was going to be one of the blue variety I had already decided that mint and monochrome would be his colours.  I work with lots of males in my profession, my husband’s side of the family are dominated by men and I grew up with one brother and no sisters.  I’m proud to say that the close and important males in my life have been good men who respect women and see both men and women as equal.  For 30 years I just went along as a happy girl with an amazing group of friends and family who turned into a happy woman. Now, however, I am also an imperfect Mum.

I never really thought about empowerment until I became a Mum and my perspective changed.  Unfortunately, Beyonce as much as I love you… Girls don’t run the world. However, after attending positive events like the one I did Saturday and seeing the change first-hand in my profession, we are slowly but surely getting very close to.....well, ruling the world.  As a Mum of a girl that makes me extremely happy and actually slightly empowered.  Can someone turn up Katy Perry’s Roar?  I am woman.  Hear me ROAR.

I love attending an event you have no preconceptions about. When I arrived at the Imperfect Mum Conference - Empowering Women 2015 I headed up the lift and I could hear the squeals and laughter of over 200 women.  It sounded like a giant slumber party. I had decided to attend on impulse.  The guilt about leaving the family for a night and a whole day set in two weeks out, but I was excited.  On Wed Mini-Munchkin fell ill.  The guilt got worse.  Friday afternoon she woke coughing and spluttering, her eyes stuck together. The guilt was now overpowering.  I did not feel empowered.

Obviously I went, my family urged me.  The conference was a sold-out event with an inspiring line-up of speakers which pulled at the heartstrings but also brought humour and practicality.  The one thing that brought all these women together was imperfection. This wasn’t a fluffy marketing conference, this was raw. The women were real and they were authentic.  You can do your own research on the line-up of speakers but here is a snippet of what I’d like to share:

-        The first topic was yep, you guessed it - MOTHERLY GUILT. The speaker spoke about four strategic keys to break free from motherly guilt.  Did she know I was attending?  OMG.  Now, I love a bit of strategic planning so this was right up my alley.  I took notes and yes, while I’m trying to limit my “how to parent and be perfect” book collection and google searches, I purchased her book.  What really resonated with me was the gap between expectations and reality and where motherly guilt is experienced.  She spoke about all kinds of guilt and the breastfeeding example was one that hit a nerve for me. “No-one ever thanked their Mum for breastfeeding them at their 21st Birthday” was one quote. True that.  But she also said guilt is an emotion that is good.  It keeps us in check. Thanks speaker number one. I felt empowered to get through the rest of the day.

-        The next speaker had a tough act to follow.  She entered the stage in her dressing gown with a lot of baggage, a clever touch.  A qualified behaviourist, it was an interesting talk about BEING BRAVE and BEING KIND, but making time to sparkle. Apart from “sparkle” being my favourite word and the little bag of glitter she gave out adding a lovely touch, what stood out for me was the “losing your s**t” reality and the discussion around taking a moment before you explode in rage to ask yourself 'will this make things better?  We’ve all been there.  Husband: “Ahh far out look at all those fingerprints on the window”.  You: “ARGHHHH BLAHHHH RAAAAA FAAAAH GAHHHHH”.  Husband:  “Okaaaay I was only making an observation”.  It made me think and I hope from today I will yell less.  She spoke about work-life balance being a “load of bollocks” and reminded us that no-one is a mind-reader and that expectations have to be voiced.  Families must talk to each other.

-        The next guest was HILARIOUS.  I have little words but her poem about Tupperware cracked me up.  I had tears.  She finished with “write your own permission slips” and “die with mis-matched Tupperware”.  I like that analogy, don’t you Hubby?

So what did I take away from the conference?  Apart from a bag of goodies and some girl power, here are some simple words of wisdom that were touched on I think I have always known but perhaps lose sight of in the ‘busyness’ of life.

-        Prioritise your energy.  Not everyone deserves your energy.

-        Surround yourself with good people.  Unfortunately not everyone wants to see you succeed.  

-        Listen to your intuition.  Turn on the “bull-s**t” detector but also listen to your body.  If something doesn’t feel right, it probably isn’t.

-        Comparison is a joy thief. Drop the comparisons.

-        Women actually compete against each-other for busyness. When it comes to being busy we are all BUSIER, yeah? Me to friend:”How are you?”  Friend: “Oh busy!” Me:  “Oh really yeah I’m soooo busy”.  The analogy made me laugh as it is so true.  Why don’t we just concentrate on supporting each other?  Or are we too busy for that?

Right now I’m back to being the “perfect Mum and Wife” and off to cook a Sunday Roast.  That’s the right thing to do, isn’t it, so I don’t feel guilty? But I’m SO busy, how could I possibly find the time?  Blergh. I like imperfect.

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