Our last Mummy Plus interview was back in January with Proudly Imperfect Parent Dr.Karen Osburn (from Mom@41), adoptive Mummy to two boys. Karen was very generous as she shared the story of how she became a Mum at 41 and how the reality of motherhood led her to create the Mom at 41 community, ‘Embracing Imperfect Moms Everywhere’. Read Karen’s interview to find out more.
Today’s Mummy Plus is actually a GrandMummy Plus – Sarah Beeson MBE, author of The New Arrival – a heartwarming memoir of her time training to be a nurse in the 70s, and brand new parenting book, Happy Baby, Happy Family: Learning to trust yourself and enjoy your baby, which was launched earlier this summer at a series of events including one I attended for working mums, which was a lovely mix of networking, sharing stories and eating cake! Of course, in addition to writing a baby advice book and two memoir books (part two – She’s Arrived! is coming soon!) spanning her career as one of the youngest health visitors in the country, Sarah is also mum to Amy Beeson, and grandmother to Amy’s Little One, four-year-old Ava.
I caught up with Sarah at her Modern Mothers event and asked her a few questions:
It’s lovely to see you again Sarah. I last saw you at the launch of your memoir, The New Arrival, after which I interviewed your daughter Amy. How has the Happy Baby Happy Family project been different to your memoir?
Well actually, the baby advice book was the first one Amy and I wrote and sent to agents and Harper Collins responded immediately, offering us the best package. It was Harper Collins that asked for two volumes of memoirs, which we actually wrote after Happy Baby, Happy Family, although The New Arrival was the first published. She’s Arrived follows on from this and covers when I started my health visitor training in Kent.
Writing the memoir was quite different to the baby book! Having my nurses schedule helped to make sure everything was in chronological order – we used to have to write down absolutely everything we learned on this schedule, which was signed by the ward sister. I kept all of mine so this really helped.
I asked Amy last year what it was like working so closely with Mum, so… What’s it like working so closely with your daughter?
It’s lovely. We have a really close bond so it’s an enjoyable experience. We talk every day anyway so it’s just that some of those calls would be much longer skype calls to go over the details. Logistically it could be a bit tricky, with us not being in the same place but emotionally we are on the same wavelength, which helps! Amy’s role on the baby book was more of an editing one but with the memoirs, she had much more creative input. She used to come on some of my rounds with me so she has a good understanding of the work and was able to get much more involved with these books.
How would you compare your experience of work and motherhood to Amy’s?
Actually, in terms of parenting, I see many similarities. Amy has a really gentle approach and treats Ava with respect. I think this is so important. All children, even babies, should be respected and treated as people with emotional as well as physical needs. People don’t realise just how much of an effect even harsh words have on children and I’m not an advocate of the naughty step. I think being punitive is cruel. Often, children just need more choices. They have so little control over anything and if they don’t get choices, they can become angry and frustrated. That said, I really do think that this generation of parents is the best yet. We are seeing mums and dads who put their children’s best interests at heart more than ever before.
How it being Grandma different to being Mum?
Oh it’s just wonderful seeing how your own child is with their children. I always used to see grandparents so besotted with their grandchildren and I just didn’t get it until I had my own. And the experience is just so, so full of joy.
Is there anything from your experiences that you would change if you could?
No. You make your choices and try to live by them. I take a positive attitude (although that’s not always easy every day!). I did face many challenges throughout my career as a result of speaking up but I wouldn’t have done anything differently. Parents deserve a good service! It was important to be professional at all times but something needed to be said. Even now, more needs to be done. I really feel for social workers at the moment – they are so maligned, getting the blame when things go wrong and they haven’t intervened and being called ‘awful’ when they do – they can’t win! I worked very closely with social workers throughout my career and most are good people.
Who or what inspires and/or motivates you?
I have always been driven by a vocation to nurse. From the age of 17, I never considered anything else. It was my calling. As for writing the book, I was so motivated that I left work on the Friday and started writing it the following Monday! I worked from 9am – 1pm every day, stopping only for a coffee at 11am. I had a routine and it worked – that’s how I met the deadlines for all three books!
I wrote Happy Baby Happy Family following all the requests for baby advice I received from Amy’s friends after Ava was born that I’d been to Amy by email. I wanted it to be a handy guide for the first year of baby’s life – a sort of health visitor in a book as of course no health visitor could possibly cover everything! The book became my new vocation, although I still love seeing people 1:1 and sharing my advice and experiences through blogs, at events and via #AskSarah.
If you had to describe Amy and Ava in just three words (that’s three each!), what would you say?
Amy – Enthusiastic, Capable, Caring.
Ava – Energetic, Empathetic, Joyful.
What one piece of advice would you give to modern mothers today?
Trust Yourself. You know your baby better than anybody else and have his or her best interests at heart.
If you have any burning questions about parenting and would like a direct line to Sarah, you’ve got one! You can just #AskSarah anything via Facebook, Twitter or directly via the website and she’ll write you an answer packed with plenty of advice/suggestions.
Giveaway… Giveaway… Giveaway…
I have one signed copy of The New Arrival to give away* to one lucky reader! To be in with a chance of winning, simply comment below. If you’d like to add an #AskSarah question to your comment, please do and I’ll pass it on! The winner will be announced on Friday 11th September (I’ll give you the summer as I know many of you are on hols/taking blogging breaks) and Mushroom will pick a name from a hat (I’m old fashioned like that) – I’ll post a photo here to show the competition is closed. Good luck!
If you would like to take part in a Mummy/Daddy Plus interview, either leave a comment below, email me or DM me on twitter. If you’re a bit shy but know of someone else you feel is a Mummy/Daddy Plus, let me know why you think they should be interviewed and pass on their contact details so that I can get in touch.
*There may be a small charge for shipping if the winner is outside of the UK.