WITH DENISE PEMRICK OF
COPPER & EUCALYPTUS
No journey is the same when it comes to being a parent. The moment you lock eyes with your baby for the first time or feel the clasp of their tiny hand wrapped around your little finger, their first smile and first steps – they all bring forth a feeling of utter powerlessness. The emotional vulnerability felt by virtue of loving someone an infinite amount more than you love yourself is scary, overwhelming and like nothing else in this world. But though these new sensations are commonly felt within our mighty mummy community, the mother’s tale can come in many different shapes and forms. This month, we caught up with Denise Pemrick of Copper & Eucalyptus to delve in deep, and learn more about what it’s like to have three teens and a toddler.
Raising teen girls can often pose some difficulties when it comes to teaching them the power of self love and personal discovery. What would you say is the most important thing to teach them as they grow into young women?
I was pregnant with my oldest daughter Seren when I was 19 and I remember having so many thoughts regarding the sort of mother I hoped to be. I wanted to guide rather than be authoritarian, share my experiences so they could possibly learn from them while on their own paths and also be the best role model I could be by showing them to never lose sight of their dreams and ambitions.
Now the beauty of having had a child when young is that I was actually able to ask this very question to my almost 18-year-old grown up daughter. I asked her what she honestly felt was one of the most important things I’d taught her as a mother about showing her the way as she grows into a young woman. I was humbled that she quickly replied ‘self-respect’. I frequently worry and overthink whether I’m getting it right as a mother and should I be doing this or that and often think I’m getting it so wrong. Therefore, I couldn’t have been more happy and proud of her to hear that response as I feel having respect for yourself is one of the most important attributes a person could have in life.
We love seeing children’s character’s develop and their individual quirks shine through. Who plays what part?
It’s quite funny as each of my children almost play to stereotypical birth order traits. Seren my oldest is very responsible, quietly confident and very much knows her own mind. She is passionate about justice and loves engaging in a strong debate. By contrast, Holly, our middle born has a rebellious streak and such a dry sense of humour which I find so cool, I’m always in awe of her wit. She’ll be quite guarded with her emotions yet has the biggest heart. She is also one of these people who has naturally got rhythm and loves to dance. Our youngest girl, Izzy is kind, loving, affectionate and always thinks the best of people, she is passionate about singing and you’ll hear her most evenings singing her heart out by the piano! And then 11 years later came our little boy, Ezra, the whirlwind comedian with a cheeky sparkle in his eye, full of mischief, wonder and imagination! He is so wild and fiery that it makes me giggle about the paradox of how well-mannered he is, this toddler will never forget to say please, thank you or you’re welcome.
Having respect for yourself is one of the most important attributes a person could have in life.
What did they think of their little brother coming onto the scene?
They were delighted. I actually remember Izzy’s reaction so clearly and I wish I’d captured it so one day I could have shared it with Ezra. I told her the news and it went something like this ‘No mummy, really mummy, are you joking with me, really mummy, seriously??’ then she broke down with tears of happiness. It would have melted anyone’s heart. Now they are three of the most doting big sisters and he adores them in return. In the morning, he will shout up to their bedrooms ‘Girls, girls!!’ and his little face just lights up when he sees them.
What sort of support does your creative space for young people with disabilities offer and what has it taught you about the struggles they face?
Our Creative Space is a programme for young people with disabilities to come together and express themselves, learn new skills and build confidence through the medium of art. I feel that the disability that the young people are diagnosed with having on paper barely conveys the additional struggles they face in life which include social isolation, anxiety and lack of self-esteem. To me, the young person is not usually disabled by their ‘difference’ but by the way society is organised, be it attitudes of other people, the environment, language or the systems that have been put in place. That classified disability also does not give a true representation of their amazing talents, therefore our Creative Space is to celebrate ability and to transform their perceptions of themselves, building and developing creative skills, imagination and experimentation through the power of art. The pieces of art that they have created over the years ranging from ceramics, to murals to digital fabrications have been phenomenal.
You run a Rock School so are obviously passionate about music, how did it start?
Rock School was started as a result of one 15-year-old boy with Cerebral Palsy coming to do work experience with our organisation. He would find it very difficult to communicate with us conversationally yet we soon realised that he had a gift for singing and when he sang the words and confidence just flowed. Music was his absolute passion so we tried to locate somewhere in our area in order that he could pursue his dream of singing. However, it was quickly learned that there was a huge gap in services and a real need for a space for young people with disabilities to come together and engage in age appropriate activities that interested them, particularly music. The project emanated from there and has now been running for ten years benefitting hundreds of young people living with Autism, Down Syndrome, blindness and learning disabilities. They have performed in theatres, festivals, recorded their own CDs and created their own music videos. Their talent is tremendous, on one of their most recent performances they sang, played guitar and danced to ‘This is Me’ from the Greatest Showman as well as signing the whole song in Makaton to which they got a ten minutes standing ovation! They were just amazing! Rock School is a place for young people with disabilities to learn new skills, bring feelings of achievement and empowerment but most of all it is a place to build strong friendships, just recently one young person told me ‘Rock School is like a family to me’
What about the kids’ education is most important to you?
I’ve always been passionate about my children’s education, not just in an academic sense (which I also 100% support and encourage) but more importantly within the family and through the world around us. I’ve always felt one of my most important roles was to create an environment where there was awareness, acceptance and appreciation of difference and diversity. I’m also a strong advocate for them to travel the world and enjoy different cultures. For our family, education is about free and critical thinking, strong moral values and a thirst for continuous learning. I feel if there is a true joy in their learning, it will inevitably lead to them being fulfilled and realising their goals in life.
Is there anything about motherhood that has surprised you?
I’m surprised that there is the expectation that having four children makes people think you know what you’re doing! Each and every time I’ve been pregnant it has all felt very new and my parenting style has always been to trust my instincts or ‘wing it’. I used to worry that I wasn’t a ‘proper’ mother (probably arising from insecurities that I was too young) and aspired to be more structured and organised. We never had a strict routine like the books or experts would talk about, I would feed on demand rather than on a schedule, baths weren’t at a set time, I didn’t believe in time out or naughty steps, just talking rationally and respectfully. I know it was messy and unstructured but it was also fun, spontaneous and adventurous and I feel consequently I was quite relaxed as a mother as I was never a slave to routine.
How do you juggle such a full on life and make time for yourself?
I feel like I’m always playing catch up but have accepted I’ll never be that super-organised mother who has it all together, I’m more the ‘will get there in the end, probably a little bedraggled’ mum. However, one thing I always make sure to do to make time for myself is to take my lunch break away from my desk. I go to my local coffee shop and just relax. It is one of the only times of the day… although ironically surrounded in people, that I truly get to be alone and with age I’ve come to really enjoy my own company. I like to enjoy a coffee in peace, get lost in my thoughts, read articles and then just scroll on my phone. I feel this hour of the day is one of my loveliest and most relaxing luxuries…I sometimes get cake too!
What advice would you give to new mothers?
Now having the girls as teenagers I know acutely how fast and fleeting their childhood is, you almost think it is a cliché when people say to cherish it as it goes so fast, but it truly does. With Ezra I feel like I have been given another chance to just take it so much slower, not worry so much about silly things like the housework etc. and just embrace the chaos of the younger years, the feeding, the tantrums, all the firsts. Conversely I also know now not to worry so much about how swiftly childhood passes as I realise that there is going to be so much more to look forward to in the coming days and years with my daughters, celebrating the next phase of their lives and all the new firsts that it will bring too.
Love the Look
Little Creative Factory
Black and Cream Brush Stroke Haiku Kimono