Monday, 27 June 2011

How to be a Super Woman: Meet Motherfunker!

1. Hi! Tell us a bit about yourself
I'm a home-educating mama to four boys, aged 2, 5, 8, and 9 and my real name is Paula Cleary. A few years ago I started ranting on home ed forums and people just really took to it, saying they loved how I expressed myself and to keep ranting! Some folks asked to use my musings on their websites and so I progressed to writing articles, some of which have featured in EOS magazine, amongst other places. I do love a good rant, so have now taken up blogging, after thinking I wouldn't be techie enough to do it for several years. Now I realise how easy it is, I wish I'd started sooner! 

Education Outside School Magazine
Just recently I started Doula training, since I obsessively read earthy birthy books and get a kick out of the whole trip of bringing life into the world. I have loved all my births and pregnancies and supported friends through theirs, so this feels like a great thing to do! I live in Cambridgeshire with my husband Pete, our kids, and our crazy, fluffy, bearded collie called Martha. I'm very outnumbered being the only human female in the house, so I borrow my friend's daughters as often as posssible to balance things out and keep me sane!

2. Do you have a 'grand plan'? Do you think this has changed at all over the years?
The plan has always been to wait till the kids have their wits about them enough to go travelling. I don't fancy having a two year old stropping their way round the world with us, and running off all the time etc etc! So when it is a sane and safe enough time to go, we'll up and see the world a bit with them. There are so many places to see... Poland where my mum's family are from, all of Europe, and particularly Italy and Greece (we are crazy for greek legends in this household), Egypt, Morocco where we have some lovely family posse, Kenya to visit the family of a little boy we sponsor through PLAN, the States where we have a bunch of family dotted around... so many places! We will probably have to do it on a shoestring so that will be a challenge!  On a personal level I would be very keen to visit a variety of birth centres around the world including a centre in Bali I would love to go and volunteer at. I figure that if I can learn from beyond the little world of my own experiences and those within this culture, I will be a really kick-ass Doula in my 40's and thereafter! 

But plans can change, and the kids/we may need something different then. We shall see as things unfold who needs to be where, and at what time...

3. What gets you up in the morning?
Being jumped on by our 2 year old. Then Pete usually gets up first (I am a bit of a dragon if I get up first) and makes coffee. Until that point I am a little grumbly and S-L-L-O-O-W. I'm not a jump outta bed kinda gal. I need to be poked and prodded and jumped on and dragged!

4. Run us through a typical kind of day
Get jumped on. Hear an audiobook being played very loudly in our oldest boys' room - usually the voice of Stephen Fry reading Harry Potter (for the millionth time). Fumble and fudge for clothes, breakfast stuff etc... Come to after about 1/2 hour of being awake!!! We might have a plan for the day or not. If we are going out for the day somewhere, full-scale pandemonium ensues - searching for shoes, beakers, nappies, socks that match, socks that don't have holes in, clothes that don't look or smell feral (boys are stinky little beggars!) - a whole bunch of going out for the day stuff. Usually by this point I need a stiff drink and a lie down. How you schooling mamas do it every day I have no idea! Hats off to you. The kids then sit in the car for about 20 minutes while I look for everything else I forgot to pack. 

Home-edding: What do they do all day?
Basically I am pretty scatty and disorganised but hey, could you think straight with four crazy kiddos firing questions at you left right and centre when you're trying to get out the house? We might meet up with friends at a park, or forest, museum, sports centre or at their house. It might be just our family and one other, it might be a smallish gathering, it might be a full-blown home ed convention! It might be something ad-hoc or organised weeks in advance. The most families we will meet up with at any one time during the week is usually about 15 or so, except for the odd really big event. Otherwise we do stuff at home - cook, garden, play games, read books, listen to audio, dance, do crafts, make things, do workbooks, watch some educational programmes/play pc games, all sorts. Or it may be a boring day with loads of errands to do.

5. When you experience a setback how do you pick yourself back up again?
I reflect. Maybe sulk a little. I ask for help or different perspectives, and talking it out helps. And when I'm 'over it' I just try to learn from my mistake or try to be more patient or whatever is going to be required to push on past that hurdle and move onwards and upwards. Sometimes doing nothing and letting things play themselves out is all I can do.

6. Who or what inspires you the most?
Homeschooling-ideas.comStrong characters inspire me. Folks who break the mold and do things their way. Different people inspire me at different times. It is sometimes those very close to me, or others in my life who are overcoming difficulties, or it may be more well known people, certain authors or musicians or thinkers. TV celebrity culture doesn't really inspire me. I think everyone has the potential to be inspiring. I actually wrote an article on about inspiring people, you can read it here.

7. We all have bad days when we doubt our abilities and ourselves. How do you get through yours?
I stew. I feel the full force of it. I doubt myself, and this starts to snowball - the doubt mentally projects and creeps into my thinking on all sorts of things, situations, etc. I start to feel despair and it becomes a wider and wider issue, until I have reached the point of lamenting for all of humanity! You know, the whole "Oh the human race is so stupid, we'll screw it up and and ruin the planet and everthing will be bleak and horrible" line of thinking where everything seems doomed and pointless. My fears spiral and grow to bursting point. And my husband is the one who brings me back, who talks me down from that place. I spew out all my frustrations and fears and doubts and he questions me on each point in isolation.  I feel better breaking it all down, and by talking we disentangle that big ball of worry. I realise that I am only responsible for some of the things I have been worrying about. That some things are easier to fix than I had thought. That some things are beyond my control, so I need to let them go. That I am not crazy, just trying too hard to do too many things at once. Or spreading my energy too thinly. And after a good cry and lots of hugging, I feel like the weight of the world has been lifted off my shoulders and I can move forward again, a little freer and lighter than before!

8. What do you feel are your greatest achievements and why?
I'm really proud of my relationship with my husband. We brought it back from the edge, and have something really beautiful because of that. We have four lovely children that we feel very close to. They drive us nuts but we love 'em like crazy. We work hard to create a happy home, a welcoming home with an ethos of love, of caring for others, and learning and living in freedom. It's not easy and some days are very hard, but I am super proud of what we are doing, living out our dreams, and giving others a helping hand wherever we can.

9. Tell us what you think constitutes a "Super Woman" and list 3 key ingredients for success.
I think a "Super Woman" is one who can rise above the selfish and destructive actions of others and forgive her own too. A Super Woman gets out of her own way, gets over her baggage and leaves it behind to be who she would like to be, to be who she dares to be. She challenges herself and takes responsibility for her own self-worth. I think a superwoman is someone who tries to bring others closer to their dreams and seeks to help them move beyond the painful things that hold them back or keep them 'enslaved'.

10. Final words of wisdom?
Get over youself. Forgive everyone. Love yourself. Love everyone. Follow your dreams and passions. Visualise yourself succeeding. Proceed towards your goals. Accept there will be some set-backs. Get over them. Make things happen, don't wait for things to fall in your lap. Hold onto those you treasure with both hands and handle them with great care and love. Accept that you can't be good at everything simultaneously, that you can't please everyone in your life simultaneously, that you have a finite amount of energy. Rotate your care and attention a little rather than spreading yourself too thinly - you will simply burn out in the process otherwise. Keep a smile on your face, your feet on the ground, your head in the clouds, and help your fellow woman and man be the best they can be.... helping each other to be happy is what being  'super' is really about, don't ya reckon?

Where you came from or where you are now really needn't hold you back from achieving your goals. Don't let yourself be defined by your grief or sorrows, by the negative, by the unjust or misfortunate things that have happened in your life. Doing so, is in a way, a bigger tragedy than whatever misfortune struck you in the first place - to STAY stuck, to waste your life on hate, sadness and self-pity. I say these things because I have trodden that path, and really did waste a lot of time being defined by my own tragedy and personal grief. Transform your hurts into positives, turn hatred into helpfulness and love, and live your life to the full!!!

You can find Motherfunker over on her blog, Feet on the Ground and Head in the Clouds.

Do you know someone who fits the bill of Super Woman? Even yourself - don't be shy! If you would like to take part or recommend a friend, please send a message with the details to me at giveanearthly at gmail dot com.


  1. Wow! What a great interview. Very inspiring. Paula - you make our house look like an oasis of calm!! I am glad you have those boring errand filled days too though.

    I totally agree that you have to take responsibility over how you define yourself - and not let situations or problems take over your life. Great advice.

  2. Just read your interview on Pixie Mama and found it very inspiring! I am a new follower! Nice to meet you! My name is Giulia! Take care!

  3. Thank you for reading it. I'm very flattered that dear Mother Earthly has seen fit to put me on the same platform as these awesome women. Julie- I would love to escape to your oasis sometime, my house feels so bonkers some days!! hehe.

  4. Just read your interview on Pixie Mama and found it very inspiring! I am a new follower! Nice to meet you! My name is Giulia! Take care!

  5. Great to read more about you and your life. Laura x

  6. Hey there! Thanks for stopping by and glad you like what you see :) I am pretty much what you see is what you get...! x


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