Chichester Copywriter’s Katy recently did an interview with her mum for Jane Friedman’s blog. “When Mom Was My Age” is an interview series between daughters and mothers and the original interview can be seen here. Katy thought it would be interesting for Chichester Copywriter’s blog readers to see the similarities and differences between these two Lassetter women:
Gillian Lassetter, age 63 years.
Where did you live when you were 29?
I owned a home with my husband Dave in Chichester, West Sussex, UK. We lived there with our three sons (Dan 5 ½ yrs, Matt 3 ½ yrs and Joe 9 months) a guinea pig and budgie – they were both male too!
What was a typical day like when you were 29?
After getting up and dressed I’d change the baby then make sure the other boys were up and dressed, all the while battling with Action Men patrolling the floor! Once they were all fed and I’d found that odd shoe, I’d get Dan and Matt off to school. I’d go shopping, with Joe in his pram, on the way home then Joe would play in his playpen while I did the housework until I was back out to collect Matt at 11.40. When back at home, we’d have lunch before I put Joe down for nap and read to Matt. After preparing the evening meal I’d be out the door again at 3.00 pm to collect Dan from school and, when reunited with his brothers at home, the boys would play together until tea time. It really was a monotonous daily routine and with three small children in tow time for myself, and time with my husband, was pretty rare.
Once or twice a week my parents would come round to the house and give me a hand. My mum was famed for ironing everything in sight -in fact my youngest son says he now can’t stand the smell of ironing because it was so constant in our household, with three boys to keep neat and tidy and a lack of easy-care fabrics. My dad, on the other hand, was a dab hand in the garden and was a master at removing the food that I had burnt on to the cooker – I wasn’t that keen on getting my hands dirty! Sometimes we would all go out for a drive through the South Downs or to a local park, which made a nice break from the norm for me and the boys.
What did you worry about most at age 29?
Money! My husband took over the family garage from the age of 25 when his father died suddenly. He had no former business experience and hadn’t yet worked out what he wanted to do for a living so he was very much thrown in at the deep end. I was in charge of running the household but money was irregular – I didn’t know when I was going to get it or how much there would be. His workload was a worry too, as well as his health and his happiness at work. However, because we were married young (21 years) and weren’t very mature we never seemed to get around to having adult conversations to sort things out so these kinds of worries were always there, niggling in the background.
What did you think the future held for you at 29?
I felt at a loss, and didn’t know what my future held apart from my children. I just saw myself stuck in the same rut for the rest of my life. I didn’t even know what I would have done with my life if I wasn’t a mother, I didn’t have any ambition or drive.
I trained to be a florist from 17-20 years, working as an apprentice at a local floristry while completing my Society of Floristry Parts One and Two. Once I was in a senior position I had a great deal of responsibility with regard to ordering flowers (weekly and special) and delegating duties among the team. We also ended up counselling bereaved customers when they ordered their funeral flowers, which was pretty tough for a teenage girl at times.
We were responsible for decorating the Chichester Festival Theatre and sending flowers to the performers. At this time I entered various regional competitions for floristry displays – bridal, funeral etc . When I was in my early twenties my father-in-law offered to buy me my own florist shop but the thought of this terrified me. I had no idea about how to run a business and having to refuse his kind offer made me feel inadequate. This is probably the one and only chance I got to make a career for myself.
How do you look back on being 29 now?
I look back with quite a few regrets with regard to the choices I made but I think that if I was 29 in the present day I would have had a lot more support. There are a lot more ways to communicate with friends and family now– with the internet and social media etc. I think that not feeling so isolated would have been a big help to me as a young mum. At the time, I thought I knew everything and didn’t see that there were any problems but looking back I can see I had no self-confidence and lacked self-belief; this wasn’t something that parents instilled in you back then. I just wonder how differently things would have turned out had I been brought up in a different era.
I also think that my education let me down. When I got to 15 it was time to leave school and I was asked what I wanted to do. I didn’t have the first idea so I received the stock answer “you should be a book-binder” – and this didn’t really inspire me! I suppose my creative interests started at this age as I applied for a job in a bakery because I wanted to learn how to decorate cakes. If I was 29 now I would have gone on to further education and got qualifications which would have given me more choices once all my children were in school and this would have changed my life drastically.
Katy Lassetter, age 29 years.
Where do you live?
I also live in Chichester, West Sussex, UK with my fiancé Pete. I’ve been engaged for the same amount of time that mum had been married at my age. I guess there’s a lot less pressure to get that piece of paper to bind you as a couple, socially and politically, now. We certainly intend to get married but there are many other priorities, such as affording to buy our own house, that come first.
What is a typical day like?
As I don’t have any children you might presume that at a typical day would be far easier than it was for my mum at my age, but it isn’t always. I suffer with Chronic Fatigue Syndrome so getting out of bed can be a physical struggle some days, even without the demand of small people and having to contend with Action Man strewn across the floor!
Most days I wake up and spend a few hours catching up on social networking and planning my day before I get dressed, have breakfast and settle down into my home office for a day’s work. This can involve anything from writing blogs and copywriting for websites to proofreading and organising Writers’ Retreat events.
My daily work differs but my routine is much the same and being self employed allows me to work at my own pace. However, while I chat to lots of clients and contacts via, Facebook and Twitter throughout the day, working at home can get tedious and lonely if I don’t manage to get out and about for a change of scenery and some creative inspiration. I try to make sure that I get out for a visit to an art gallery or a walk in the park, at least once a week and I usually invite mum along too.
Some days mum comes round to help me with the housework; much like her parents did for her. She helps me out with a few tasks in the office too; I don’t want that creativity to go to waste! An extra pair of hands takes a great strain off me as it’s a challenge to keep a business running and keep the home tidy too. Mum’s inherited granddad’s green fingers and keeps my balcony planted up and watered so that I can enjoy writing in the sunshine among beautiful flowers in spring and summer.
What do you worry about most?
Getting healthy and keeping my business ticking over in the face of adversity. I left a full time job to start a business just as the 2009 recession got into full swing. Some people thought I was crazy but it was something that I just had to do for my own wellbeing. It was actually a very good time to start working freelance as a lot of businesses were beginning to outsource their marketing. Now, I have to concentrate on marketing the business and building up the brand – but that’s what I do best!
Last year I had a series of eye operations which made it difficult to carry on copywriting but I’m proud to say I managed it as it would have been very easy to just give up. That was a very worrying time but coping with one eye for much of last year has certainly made me stronger and while I fear that my vision could go downhill again at anytime I try not to worry about it and strive to make the most of what I can do at the moment.
What do you think the future holds for you?
Full health and happiness! It was my life plan to have children by the time I was 30 and although that’s not going to happen now, I’m on a mission to restore my health and get my business generating enough profit to allow me to take time out and start a family. I know mum’s longing to see little versions of me running around too! I’m not sure I’ll have as many as mum but who knows if I get all boys I might keep trying until I get a little girl too!