Scanning my complex schedule for last week and disappointed that a meeting I'd been looking forward to had been cancelled, I noted an email from my famous namesake, Lynne Franks, inviting me to her Covent Garden business club, B-Hive, to celebrate 'take your daughter to work day' This initiative has a far bigger profile in the US than here in the UK and has expanded to include sons too, but it has only ever been on the margins of my maternal consciousness here in the UK.
My daughter Grace has had my 'work' enforced upon her since birth - I spent a lot of her early childhood working from home as a freelance media and marketing consultant and she's been very much a part of Funny Women's development over the last 10 years, helping with charity events and flyering for us at the Edinburgh Fringe! Grace has recently entered the world of work herself, at 19 eschewing the traditional university route to follow her passion as a singer and photographer. She has recently helped create a whole new photographic brand image for Funny Women
But, on Thursday 26th April, Grace and I both happened to bit in town with an hour to spare to attend Lynne's 'mother and daughter' calling and join some members of B-Hive and their daughters for tea and cake.
Grace was indeed the 'big girl' at this event, as the other daughters ranged from nine to 13 if they had been allowed out of school - the remainder were represented by mothers, grandmothers, aunts and godmothers. Yet, a solidarity existed amongst those of us gathered, for there is indeed some mileage in introducing our daughters to the worlds in which we working mothers spend a great deal of our time.
The reality check for me growing up was that I didn't want to be like my mother - chief cook and bottle washer to the family, and at the beck and call of my father. I wanted to be 'just like daddy', going out to work, meeting 'friends', talking business on the phone, doing deals - this seemed very glamorous and exciting to me. I felt sorry for my mum who appeared to be slave to our whims and desires with no time to fulfil dreams of her own. I have since surmised that she was obsessed with having a 'dream house' given that a great deal of her time was spent plumping up cushions and whitening her net curtains - she was the epitome of the post war generation of women who were exploited by male ad execs in the sixties. Jog on Mad Men!
But I wasn't buying that one! I wanted more than a nice view from the kitchen sink. Despite a grammar school education, I wasn't encouraged to go to university and instead taught myself how to type (badly) and found myself a diploma course in fashion writing at the London College of Fashion. All this pre-empted the birth of the internet so the success of my search for this 'quirky' choice of profession was remarkable! My bemused educators patted my on the head, sending me on my way with three unremarkable A levels and I forged my early career writing about fashion and beauty for women's magazines.
I had no real 'role model' for any of this - my motivation largely came from watching my hard-pressed mother cook meat and two veg every evening only for these meals to dry out in the oven while my father had 'fun' working late. Meanwhile I slept, ate, and breathed Jackie annuals and made up my own paper magazines.
What is fantastic is that I have shared all of this in conversation, pictures and words with my daughter Grace. She has seen my girlhood 'magazines' and my published work in real publications. She has also played an important role in creating a new image for my beloved business.
Yet, I have no desire to consummate my unfulfilled dreams through Grace - indeed she can speak up for herself and is the embodiment of what I would have wanted for myself at her age - beautiful , independent, ambitious, passionate and with a strong voice of her own. I got married to escape from home, never thought I was beautiful, and it's taken me 55 years to learn how to really express myself!
So, back to the rationale for taking your daughters to work, and your sons too. Mothers, and enlightened fathers, let your children see how you operate away from the domestic hub, what makes you tick as a person, your passions, your angst - sharing this with them will help them to respect you as an equal, and maybe bring you both the kind of fulfilment and satisfaction that no amount of money can buy.
Follow Lynne Parker on Twitter: www.twitter.com/funnywomenlynne