Catherine Grenfell has always been one of my girl crushes. The day Catherine started following my blog and left a comment (back when I posted my story About Being A Mom With Tattoos) I nearly pee’d my pants. I know I am pretty awesome (I mean, come on..) but she is just next level. For those of you who do not know, Catherine is a tattooed mom of three gorgeous kids and forms part of the Fresh team, Mondays to Fridays 5-8AM, as the executive producer on 5fm.
I admire any woman who can juggle a successful career, healthy lifestyle and family life. Catherine carries herself with so much grace – and she makes traffic bearable in the morning! It is safe to say that I want to be like her when I grow up… if I ever decide to grow up that is.
Q: Let’s start with the boring, obvious question – How did you get into radio?
A: I studied lighting and sound and then moved into production management. A friend of mine was doing some work for Mark Gillman who was the breakfast show DJ at that stage on 5fm and she was leaving. So I went for an interview with Mark and got the job. l did production work on the show and then was asked to be on air, as they wanted a female voice. And the rest is history.
Q: If you did not have the career you have now, what would you want to be doing?
A: I would be working in a theater as either a stage manager or lighting designer.
Q: Tell us about your kids?
A: I have 3 children, Noah (14), Aaron (12) and Holly (5). Noah is a jock (but a kind jock), who has just started high school and has suddenly grown into a young man. He loves music and his favourite band is Shortstraw. Aaron loves paintball, archery, and loves learning about history. His favourite band is Alt-J. Holly is a tomboy princes. She does modern, tap and hip hop dancing.
Q: What is your parenting style?
A: I am strict, yet I am caring. I want my children to see the world and learn about South Africa and peoples cultures. I try and take them on surprise trips / holidays and they know they can talk to me about anything. It is very important that they see beauty in the world, and strive to be the best they can be.
Q: How do your kids feel about your tattoos? And their friends?
A: Holly recently designed a tattoo for me, which I had done and now she is on a tattoo design mission. The boys are also busy designing tattoos for me – so they love them and love the stories and love the fact that they are part of the process. Their friends generally think I’m the cool mom and will say “I like your tattoos”.
Q: Have you ever faced any discrimination due to being a tattooed mom? What happened?
A: I did have one of my son’s friends mom that initially couldn’t really deal with the tattoos. But once we chatted about it and discussed it, things were a lot better. I am sure that people have looked at me and maybe moved away slightly, but I’m actually oblivious to it. I think often older parents at school are normally skeptical, but when they see that I work on sports days, sell food, help with backing day etc, they realise that I am just a normal mom wanting the best for my children.
Q: Tell is about your tattoos? Who did them? What do they mean and which one is your favourite?
A: My tattoos are quite varied with a lot of spiritual messages and a lot to do with my children. I have been tattooed by Tony (in Hatfield – who did my first tattoo), Ant (from Hartebeespoort, who sadly passed away a couple of years ago). Now I get tattooed by Manuella (wildfire in CT) and Thys (Fallen Heroes in Parkhurst). My favourite one….always a hard question. Love the tattoo that Holly designed for me, and I can’t wait for the boys to design ones for me.
Q: Which one was your first and how old were you?
A: I was 20 and it was a design from a graphic novel and it goes down my ribs.
Q: Is it weird knowing that thousands of people listen to your voice every day?
A: It is weird. People will turn around in queues at the shops and say “hey, I know your voice” and people will ask me questions about my children and they say they know me. But it is something that you deal with, because I think it is very important to be real on radio.
Q: Who is your favourite local act?
A: I have so many, but am loving what PhFat are doing at the moment.
Q: Do your kids love music as much as you do? What do they want to be when they grow up?
A: They love music and all types, so anything from classical to Hip hop to rock. Holly wants to be a Hip Hop artist when she grows up (anything with dancing) and the boys are still very undecided.
Q: With such a busy schedule and so many kids – how do you make time for your family? Do you have any tips on balancing a successful career and family?
A: I think it is very important to focus on your family when you are with them. It’s actually about having quality time and not quantity. I also love for them to cook with me in the kitchen, because it’s a great way for me to teach them a very important skill – cooking as well as chatting together.
Q: Would you rather fight a vampire or a zombie? Why?
Definitely a zombie. They’re slower than vampires.
Q: What is your idea for “me-time”?
A: Me-time is definitely going on walks of Joburg. I do anything from food walks to art walks to history walks. And it is my favourite thing. I love finding the beauty in anything.
Q: What is your biggest fear?
A: My biggest fear is being hijacked and not being able to get the kids out of the car.
Q: Being in the public eye/an SA celeb – how do you keep your life so private? How do you protect your kids from the media/exposure?
A: I don’t feel the need to constantly take pictures of them and put it out there. I also just do everyday things, so I think that is actually boring for the media – which is great for me 🙂
Q: What is the biggest lesson parenting has taught you?
A: It has taught me to love unconditionally and also to not be selfish.
Q: What is next for you?
I lecture Radio 2nd year theory at Boston media house – which I definitely am going to carry on doing. I have also started a new show on an online tv station (www.openroom.tv) that I am very excited about. It’s all about music and lifestyle etc. And then I am still very passionate about radio, but I do see myself moving around as I think that change is very good.
Catherine, thank you so much for taking the time to answer my questions, well done on raising three stunning kids and helping break the stereotype for Tattooed Moms all over the country.
Lots of Love