My next interview is with Lauren Brown (@lauren_elizabeth87) who happens to be my cousin. Lauren has been brutally honest and certainly doesn’t pull any punches in her answers While I don’t always agree with what she says, I think she is an incredible woman who is showing her boys exactly what being a strong female means. She defends hr boys fiercely while never wavering in her approach to discipline and briefly had her own business creating bespoke furniture (ever visited the MAC counter in Selfridges, London? She created the reclaimed effect on the stands) and is now a busy home manager for adults. Read on and see what you think!
1) Could you tell us a little bit about yourself and your family?
I’m Lauren, 29 and Mum to two young men, Ethan aged 10 and Owen aged 8 also known as the Krays. My adoring better half Rosie, also 29 resides with us too. We live in Derby along with our very large dog Lily who is often nicknamed “bastard dog.” We’re all slightly nuts, but then all the best people are.
2) If you could give one piece of advice to an expectant mother, what would it be?
My advice to expectant mothers is follow your gut instinct. We can read all the literature in the world informing us of how we should feel, look and our abilities; throughout every trimester. We’re all individuals and need to entrust in our beautiful child brewing bodies. Listen to what your body is telling you. If you need to rest, then lady, you rest.
If you need to eat a family sized bar of galaxy….DO IT!
And…..stay clear of self diagnosing on google. The cave women never used it and we have managed to evolve just fine. If in doubt, call the midwife.
3) All of us parent differently and have different values. What is your most important parenting value?
My main value is respect and trying to ensure that basic manners are instilled into the Krays.
This is very much a work in progress. I feel, as a parent, our work is never completed. It’s not like a picture you’ve painted and you wash your brushes up after, admiring your completed masterpiece. You cannot stand back with children and think “that value is imprinted. My work here is done!” It’s about growing two little reprobates to be able to survive in the big wide world.
4) What motto do you try to live by?
I live by the motto “Be good & be kind.” Every single day before those delightful little cherubs step foot through the school gates, I tell them “be good & be kind!”
I’m usually greeted with an eye roll from the youngest Kray and the eldest Kray usually finishes my sentence.
Kindness is something I feel needs to be instilled into every child. Kindness literally makes the world go round. One example which sticks in my mind. The youngest Kray once took £90 of his birthday money into school, unbeknown to me. He proceeded to distribute the paper money out to his little snotty nosed homies, as he claims they hadn’t had paper money before. Once the steam had left my ears, and the image of darling “Levi’s” mother; rubbing her grubby little hands together finding a crisp twenty in his book bag and waddling off to find out what deal was on at the local off licence that evening, I was actually humbled at the youngest Krays kindness.
I tell them to be good as I’m generally sick of phone calls from teachers. It’s to cover my own back really as the pair can be quite brutal once released into a few hundred strong playground.
5) What are your hopes for your children?
All I hope for my children is they know love. I hope one day, they reflect and think “goodness, Mum loved us.”
I hope they grow into beautiful young men that give love to others. That know the factors of love and not just affection. That the Krays recognised “Mum worked a 70 hour week in order to provide”
“Mum tried to give us the best without spoiling us.” “Mum washed my shit stained pants…”.etc etc. Those are all acts of love. I hope the Krays know I adore them not only from the hugs and kisses, but for the sometimes thankless tasks.
6) You spent time in the care system as a teenager. Has this impacted the way you are raising your sons?
The care system shaped me. It developed me into a driven, annoying and persistent arse hole who expects absolutely nothing from others. I could sit and list the negative impact it has potentially had on my parenting skills, but the positives far out weigh them.
I reflect often on my life, I also fear that I’ll make the same mistakes as others who have parented me. However…..I was once told, if you are continually questioning your parenting, afraid you’ll parent wrong and analysing that mini war that just erupted out of no where. If you’re questioning “did I deal with that in the correct way? Was I too harsh? Oh shit, I’m a terrible parent!” then you’re doing ok! You’re conscious and aware. Therefore you’re doing your best and will not falter.
The care system taught me survival. It taught me resilience and ultimately what not to do.
7) Your first son was born when you were eighteen. Did you find people judged you for your age?
I think I was quite blinkered to others judgements at 18. I don’t recall ever caring what anyone thought. I don’t recall any anxieties over how young I was and what others may think. But, that is not to say they did not exist. As my life has progressed, I’m very consumed what others may think, but fortunately, in my younger days, I was blissfully unaware and quite frankly didn’t give a shit.
8) After recently splitting with the father of your second child, you have introduced your new (female) partner to your friends and family. How did you react to this and how have you dealt with the realisation that you are attracted to women?
My children adore Rosie. It hasn’t all been lollipops and laughter, the Krays have given her some pretty fierce battles just to test the resilience of her boundaries and staying power.
If you ever want to test the strength of a new relationship, gay or straight, throw two children into the pan. Add a pinch of drama and a sprinkle of ‘holy fuck’ and you’ll see if the other half has the guts to remain strong. And boy did Rosie.
I didn’t expect the boys to understand the new situation. How do you tell them that you’re with a woman? I played out all sorts of scenarios in my head how to tell them, but ultimately honesty was the best policy. The eldest Kray was completely cool with the situation. His actual response was “it’s ok that you’re gay mum” However the youngest Kray didn’t understand. He didn’t understand the concept of a same sex relationship. In his ideal little world, there was a mummy and a daddy. In the early days, the youngest Kray used to state “I like Rosie, but can you not love her please? A girl and a girl should not love!”
Through time, the youngest appears to have forgotten those early moments and confusion he felt. His ideal world, once pictured in his head of a man and a woman has gone.
I can only summarise that he has witnessed love right before his very eyes. Rosie and I have demonstrated love to one another and the boys have seen that. Actions speak louder than words. Seeing your mummy content and happy, supported and loved speaks volumes and beams out of me towards those little misters of mine, like morning rays of spring sunshine. My content demeanour ultimately makes for a much more settled family life. I parent better, I work better, I function better.
I was told something which fundamentally settled any niggles I had about a same sex relationship and how my children may feel, by one of those nice people you see in white coats. You know, the ones that assess the rollercoaster you’re currently a passenger on…..a therapist. She stated. “Rosie will only be a positive to your children’s life. She is a maternal figure and not a paternal figure, therefore of no threat.” Rosie has provided the boys with love, nurture and guidance. She has taken to parenthood so well and naturally, it almost makes me do a little vomit in my mouth. Whilst I feel as though I’m battling the throws of parenthood continually. Questioning daily, did I approach that topic correctly? Did the boys go to bed tonight knowing how much I love them etc? Rosie just breezes through it all. Rosie is the earth mother type. The type that seems to balance an equal measure of discipline, stability and love, whilst cooking, washing up, preparing meals for the week and doing 700 loads of washing!!!!!
Telling my family and friends I was with Rosie wasn’t hard. It was new and I had the reactions of shock, which was expected. But telling the world you’ve fallen in love is actually beautiful. My family and others around me have all stated how happy I look. And I am! I didn’t really struggle to tell my family I was with Rosie. I’d fallen in love and did not particularly regard what others may think. My heart was full.
I wouldn’t particularly define myself as gay! Whilst I can appreciate a beautiful woman, I would not state I’m attracted to them. I’ve simply fallen in love with Rosie.
9) What do you feel are the pressures of raising boys in a world where women are often second class citizens?
I don’t feel women are second class citizens….I feel we’re a powerful breed. Whilst woman may be paid less than males in some sectors and it is a current and relevant subject, I don’t have the energy to become a mad hairy arm-pitted feminist at present.
Providing we know our own worth individually and set our standards and expectations high, we’ll be ok.
10) Parenting is tough and beautiful all at the same time. Can you tell u about a tough time and a shining moment that you’ve had as a parent?
There are many many moments of shining examples of parenting, yet I prefer to value the smaller things. I measure successful parenting on smiles, manners, laughter and love.
Focus on the small milestones. The hand holds, good night kisses and bed time stories rather than if your child wins sports day or has achieved an A*. The bigger moments matter too, of course. However it’s the little moments that make my world go round. Daily development and growth are immediate reminders that GIRL, YOU DID GOOD!!!!
I hope you enjoyed getting to know Lauren a little better, I certainly did!
Instagram – lauren_elizabeth87