What worries women in Norfolk?
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Courtney Pochin spoke to women across the county to find out what issues were most important to them...
A selection of my current concerns, aged 62
1. I may want to chat up younger men but I don't want to frighten them. Gone is the careless banter that is not-quite-flirtacious. Now, I am wary that giving any indication that I enjoy the company of a bright young thing might be considered a bit yucky.
2. Incontinence. The dangerous sneeze is the third one. The usual sequence is one for a wish, two for a kiss, three for a letter. Nowadays it's touch and go - it could be one for a wish, two for a kiss, three for a letter...and the letter is pee.
3. I don't want to end up in a nursing home smelling of urine, wearing a tea-stained dressing gown and being looked after by people I don't know and who only ever call me 'dear'. Until my dying breath I want dignity.
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4. I don't want to grow a beard. What happens when my eyesight is too dim to pluck the hairs on my chin?
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6. Feet. What happens when I can't clip my own toenails?
7. Where do you go after Radio 4.
8. Am I getting dementia? I forget names, what I was going to do, who I was going to call, why I am upstairs, what I was going to write next...
9. I want to see my grandsons grow up and become wonderful adults, happy and full of promise. I don't want to be left out.
10. Where did my waist go?
Will I make the most of my life?
It's great that I get to grow up as a young woman in today's society. Granted, there are still huge problems surrounding gender inequality and female representation that will probably never get resolved in my lifetime, but at least I am not expected to take the traditional route of motherhood anymore and there are lot more opportunities open than in the days of my ancestors.
I have people to aspire to and goals which are nowadays largely achievable.
So why should I have any worries?
Yet having the world at my fingertips is precisely my worry: harnessing everything that I possibly can, whilst many others before me (and many in less privileged countries still do) only dreamt of such a lifestyle.
Will I be deemed a good role model by my future children? How can I make sure I uphold the legacy of feminism going forward?
Mariah Feria, Norwich
My parents' health and the future
Being someone who suffers from Generalised Anxiety Disorder, you would think I have lots of worries but that perception is wrong. In fact, GAD means my body has panic responses randomly and not due to a specific thing.
I have very few worries at this point in my life, but the ones I do hare:
• The health of my parents. My parents, especially my dad, are reaching an age where things are starting to go wrong and they aren't as healthy as they used to be. My Dad is 81, 82 in December and has had two strokes. He is also blind and losing his memory, so my Mum is his full-time carer. One of my worries is how Mum will cope with my Dad's failing memory and how I can help her cope. I worry my Dad won't be around to see his first grandchild grow up to be more than a new-born, (I'm pregnant now) and I worry how my Mum will cope with the grief of losing Dad
• Money. I do think this worry probably stays with you throughout your life, however the reasoning has changed from when I was in my twenties. Where I was worried about having enough money to go out socialising, I now worry about how much bills are, how our future finances will be and preparing for having children. I think this is even more so because we are self-employed and so rely on ourselves to generate our own income, which is not always stable.
• Government policies and current politics. The Government, in my opinion, don't seem to have enough awareness of what every day people need or want. Inflation is rising, interest rates are going up (great for savers, but in this economy how many of us our savings?)And I own a house so it's not great for me), the pound has dropped, and policies regarding small businesses restrict our business in terms of growth. Worldwide, politics worry me too; terrorism is rife, Donald Trump and his policies are just down-right scary and war with North Korea seems imminent. We can't seem to sort Brexit out, which leaves us in a time of extreme uncertainty. I have stopped watching the news on television as it upsets me, and seems to be constantly repeating itself.
• The cost of transport. The cost of fuel is rising, he cost of public transport and diesels are supposed to be fading out, so if petrol companies aren't making their money through diesel I am sure we shall see an even higher petrol prices. • The state of the NHS. I don't think I need to explain this one.
• AndI worry for my children (to be). Will they have the same opportunities I had? Will they be living with me till they are middle aged? Will they get a well-paid job? Will they have to work till they drop? Will sexual assault be taken seriously? Will schools be given the funding they need so the teachers don't cry in class under pressure as is what happened at a school I worked at?
To conclude, my main worries are for the future. It seems a scary place. But there are a lot of things I also look forward to and enjoy – a list of my worries makes me sound very morose.
Zean Maskell, 29, Thetford
My daughter Holly says the things she struggles with most are, 'people being unkind, and putting too much pressure on her'. As her mother it is extremely hard to watch your child go through this. Being a working mum brings its own sets of worries, it is always a juggling act. But life is short and the most important things are family and friends making memories together.
Donna Mckenna and her 12-year-old daughter Holly, Norwich
I am nearly 50 and my poor Mum has Alzheimer's. Yes, I worry about her constantly, and my Dad caring for her but my main worry is that I will get Alzheimer's when I'm older. Seeing how my Mum has little by little lost her beautiful personality, I worry constantly that I will get this as I am so similar to my mum.
Janie Lowe, Norfolk
10 things I worry about in my 40s...
• I'll never get to sleep with Richard Gere circa Officer and a Gentleman – although probably wasn't his 'type' anyway and life is as good as the movies!
• My absent mindedness could get worse - I once found myself holding a packet of butter outside the car and the car keys were in the fridge?! But in my case there's definitely an upside to memory loss!
• ?My wrinkles are here to stay however much expensive moisturizing cream I trowel on –they certainly reflect the high living and laughs I've had.
• ?Those delicious Gregg's chocolate muffins will pile onto my hips and bum a lot quicker - swap them for ryvita and low fat cream cheese – no way!
• ?I could one day find myself on the deck of SAGA cruise ship sailing down the Rhine – hitchhiking across Israel during the first Arab uprising was a bit hair-raising anyway.? ?
• Perhaps I look a bit mutton in my 1980s little black dress – time to swap for a aptly-named body'con' dress. No, forget, think I've still got a few more years of body conning left.
• ?That my 11-year-old son will soon (if not already) realise that I'm totally clueless about life – guess he's lucky – wish I'd learnt that lesson earlier.
• That thanks to Brexit I won't be able to retire to the foothills of Ibiza so I'm going to party there while I can still dance.
• With no pension I'll have to work until I'm 80 and live on dog food – it might (definitely) taste better than my lasagne and there's still plenty of time to learn to cook.
But now I'm almost 50 there are fewer things which truly faze me and as Erma Bombeck said.?'Worry is like a rocking chair: it gives you something to do but never gets you anywhere'.
Nicky Barrell, 48, Norwich
I turned 30 on February 4 this year! For a few months before I was getting worked up! I thought maybe I'm going to have a midlife crisis because I'm truly scared how quickly my life is going and now I'm classed as a proper adult! All I was thinking was I still haven't found the perfect job or worked out where my life was heading! I always wanted to make my family proud of me by having an amazing job and being high up like an executive of a massive company! I do feel very proud of myself being a mother of three beautiful children, but I just haven't found the career I feel I am made for! When I was younger I always dreamed of being a actor. Then when I got to high school I thought about criminal psychology. Neither happened! Also I was pregnant with my 3rd baby on my birthday so I was very hormonal which didn't help. I don't even own my own house yet.
Will I ever get on the property ladder when the cost of living is going up and up every year and wages are not reflected enough by this?
Even renting a bigger house is getting absolutely ridiculous! It would be cheaper to get a mortgage but most of us can't,it's such a viscous circle. My husband works his so hard trying to get better pay but money struggles are a massive stress. You would like to treat your children to a lovely holiday, but the holiday companies hike their prices up in schools holidays which I find absolutely outrageous and if you take them out during term time they fine you! So what are families meant to do? The world is trying to make the poor poorer and the rich richer!
This year has been a very emotional rollercoaster as at 23 weeks pregnant we found out our baby boy has a very rare heart condition. We are very lucky that he is doing very well and is a very happy 16 week old baby. My husband is raising money for Great Ormond Street Hospital by doing a sky dive next year to say thank you to this amazing hospital.
Let just say turning 30 definitely been an eye opener.
Melanie Ferdani, 30, Norwich
I feel guilty worrying
My name is Vicki. I'm 46. Married to a chap of 67. Both have children from previous marriages. Our boys touch wood are doing well.
Life for us and like many is a month to month struggle. My Husband is retired and on a basic pension, and I work as a live-in in carer for my 63-year-old Mum. I worry I still have just over 20+ years to work. I have no pension. My job is on a self employed basis and the wage is not great. I privately rent and although my rent is very good, it only takes me to be ill for us not to be able to keep our home and pay bills. I worry about heating costs and running my car which is a must for work. My joys are simple. My dogs, walking on our local beach. It is my chill pill. It's also free. However, I feel guilty worrying when you know there are people far worse off than yourselves.
I also worry at the speed of technology and the lack of jobs for people in the future. The state of our NHS, which we are so lucky to have. Global pollution and the big guns making more money and not paying taxes that are due, when the little people struggle on and obey the laws that are set. But we just keep paddling as best we can.
Vicki Morcher, Norfolk
It worries me that often, from the moment of the positive pregnancy test a child's life, progression and experiences are documented on social media. It worries me that parents, rather than capturing precious memories with the naked eye, are looking through a lens, obsessing over the amount of likes it might get.
It worries me that whilst they are checking notifications and thanking everyone for the wonderful comments, there's a child playing in the corner (or fixated to a tablet). Harsh... but true.
Anna June Dodds, Norfolk
I'm worried by the huge expectation on people to be perfect. In this day and age you are expected to be a perfect mum, successful businesswoman, caring friend, look good, give to charity... The list of titles is endless - throw in housework, finances and life. Phew!
Stephanie Boyce, Norwich
So much goes on behind the smiles
The 'to do' list is endless and I've had many moments where I could spiral down but then I hear something horrific in the news, or witness people struggling to keep their heads above water, and it slaps me into remembering how fortunate I am to have my family, to have a home to clean, to have the freedom to work... It reminds me to just 'breathe'. But there is a pressure. If you're not married, what's wrong with you? If you haven't had children, get cracking. If you've only got one child, why? If you don't own your home, work harder. Nobody really knows what you are going through, we hide the heartbreak of infertility, we put our defences up and say 'I'm ok'. We'd all be better off saying 'I need a bit of help sometimes. Do you feel that too?'.
Jill Smith, Norfolk
To be the perfect mum as well as working to support your family. Feeling guilty about not spending as much time with your child/children as you think you should. Finances and saving for a mortgage on top of that. And there's too much pressure on women to look a certain way and be the perfect caring friend....
Christine Dye, Swaffham
Terms and conditions of future jobs worry me. They way things are swinging with zero hour contracts, no company sick pay, paying for uniforms (the list goes on and on), my grandchildren will be nothing more than slaves, working not to live, but to survive.... just!
Julie Emma, Norwich
Choosing not to have children
I've decided that I won't be having children, I worry about other women accepting me or excluding me because of it. It has happened a lot in the past. Just because I won't have my own children doesn't mean I don't love kids and understand women who do have them.
Lisa Gibbs, Norwich
For me it's three things:
1. Pathetic pensions and cost of living.
2. No jobs for my kids and their partners. Poverty and cold.
3. An out of control children's services will come after my grandkids because of whatever hideous reason and I'll have to give it all I've got to fight them.
Dee Goulding, Norfolk
We haven't had heating or hot water in years, if this was 50 years ago when people weren't texting/being forced into work all the time I imagine I'd have a whole community offering to help. People used to pity the disabled, now others take their parking spaces and their benefits are cut. There is no compassion in today's world.
Leanna Barnard, Norfolk
My child's future
Worryingly for a single mum working and paying NHS pension... if something happens, in event of death, the child receives a small percentage from his Mum's fund. The pension is thought to go to the survivor husband but in a single Mum situation the money are lost. That's my worry.
Laura Gavrila, Norwich
Trying to save a deposit for a house. Then worrying about how long I've left of my life to pay the mortgage off once we actually managed to save enough for one.
Kirsty-Louise Bentley, Norfolk
Being that 'sandwich generation' where our ageing parents need us, our teenage kids need lots of support, we're still supposed to give 110pc at work and also run a home.
Helen Carlile, Norfolk
Everything! Here is a run down of the last 24 hours:
• My 6 year old hasn't had swimming lessons but all his friends do. Am I a bad mum?
• We have zero money in our bank until payday on Friday. Why can't I be better with money/earn more money?!
• Our electricity bill is going up by £30 pcm , how can we cope with this? Why the flipping heck has it now gone up to £120 pcm from £70 two years ago.
• Is my son too sensitive? What have I done to make him this sensitive, can I wrap him up in cotton wool and protect him from the world? This doesn't even make sense. What is wrong with me!
• Does my 4 year old need speech therapy?
• I cannot cope doing my job in the hours I do! Are the reindeers definitely booked?
• My car is so old I am sure it's going to fall apart.
• My children are so tired ALL the time, I need to fill them with vitamins and kale.
• How come I've been left out of the mums message about arranging a Bad Mums cinema trip. Maybe they all hate me, maybe they hate me and my children. Why do I feel like I am at school?!
• Why am I even feeling like this, I am so irrational.
• I didn't do my full hour on the cross trainer yesterday, will I put on weight.
• This is just a snippet of my worries! I think I may be an extreme case!
Jo Smith, 34, Norfolk
What worries me is that at the age of 44 I have only 5 years left before I have to sell my house as part of my divorce, no one will give me a mortgage, rent will be more than a mortgage, I would need at least a 5 bedroom house as I have 3 biological children and a girl of 15 who I have taken on as her parents kicker her out, how on earth will I keep my family under one roof and pay the bills.
Elaine Byrne, 44, Norfolk