Wednesday 15th May, I was doing the normal nursery run, when my phone suddenly went crazy with missed calls, Facebook message requests, text messages and emails from the world's press! More frightening was how did they all find me and my contact details, and what had I done that was even news worthy?
Naomi Campbell had just broken the news that she had a baby at the age of 50, (actually, it was a week away from her 51st birthday that she shares with Amélie on the 22nd May) I was asked by the BBC if I could be on air in an hour to go live with Naga Munchety on Radio 5 live? "Errrrr, of course, I can!" YIKES!! This interview was translated onto an online article, which was then uploaded to Facebook which received thousands of comments, some trolling but mostly positive.
The interview went well, I sounded as though I knew what I was talking about, through nerves and my hyperthyroidism issue where I can talk for England, suddenly my voice box felt strangled. I grabbed some crystals and called in my spiritual team, desperately asking for any Arch Angels that might be around to assist to help control my rapid chattering brain and loose mouth, which don't always work in alignment these days. The magic happened, where I came over all calm, sounding compassionate, knowledgeable and most of all legible. The interview was a success.
I then tackled many calls from, The Telegraph, The Express, The Daily Mail, and The Sun Newspapers. Each journalist offering this and that in return for my incredible story of being a mum at 50. I went with The Sun(!), which made me morally wince a bit, as it is not at all my first or last choice of reading material, but the journalist had something about her.
She did my interview later that day, many many questions, which my brain did its best to stay focused. I started to recognise that her line of questioning was quite revealing and deeply personal, they tried to get out of me that motherhood in my 50s was a gruelling, tiresome, even regrettable experience. I fast realised the angle they were getting at, they wanted it all to sound as though we mere mortal, menopausal 50-year-olds, who are not size 6 supermodels with zillions in the bank, houses all over the world, trailed by our sycophantic entourage, were simply too knackered to start a family at this age! "How do you find it running around after Amélie?" my answer, " She keeps me young!" When has truth ever sold papers?
I let slip that once in Morrisons when Amélie was about 6 months, and I was truly tired out, a lady mistook me for Amélie's grandma, silly me as that was translated into a tabloid headline 'People mistake me for her grandma, but I always correct them.' One lady mistook me and I once corrected her, bless those manipulative Fleet Street editors for trying....
When it came to the photoshoot, they came to our tiny little house and set up a studio in the dining room, the photographer was amazing, he worked with Amélie and had her assisting him by fetching and carrying equipment. They had a stylist send over a load of Summer season clothing suitable for a real pensioner. The shoes were two sizes too small and nothing fit, it turned out that my body had been hidden under winter darkness for 18 months, its emergence into the light of day was a shocker.
Luckily the day before I bought Amélie the outfit she is wearing in the photo, she was sorted. But, I had nothing to wear. I had a mini melt-down of disappointment in myself. Damien the photographer came to the rescue as we managed to go through my limited (thanks to 18 months of nothingness and lockdown) wardrobe and found the long Mantaray dress in the photo, but shoes? I only had the sandal's shown, I had not had a pedicure in 18 months and I am very conscious of the size of my feet and hands, as I am a direct descendant of the Shriek dynasty! The editors agreed the dress and sandals along with Amélie's clothing looked absolutely GREAT!
Hair and make-up finished, I was transformed from nursery run to catwalk queen, we were ready to go. The day went well as it gave me a bit of lost lockdown self-confidence back.
Friday morning, Brian and I were sat in Waitrose car park when we listened to the read-through of the final interview. The editors that be, slashed the heart right out of the story, but it still read as a positive story. But it needed something to seal it together, so I came out with the final line. "When you have a stillborn baby you feel so grateful for the chance to be a mum, so I have always looked at the positive sides of parenting." They kept that line intact.
In the bag, that's a wrap, folks! The article was in the papers 22nd May on Amélie's 4th birthday and Naomi's 51st birthday.
I am glad I stuck to my guns with articulating the more positive sides to being an older mum. The positive response from that article has been an uplifting experience. It could have gone very wrong, it was The flipping Sun. But, overall they let me have the final say on the copy.
THE SUN ARTICAL ONLINE CLICK HERE
Photography and confidence booster by Damien McFadden
About the Author
Claire Mear is a