So, it was International Women’s Day yesterday and it got me pondering….
I’m so grateful that brave women have come before us and risked being social outcasts so that we can be equal, so that we can have our own bank accounts, vote and have rights to our children. Everything we take for granted. I’m an ardent feminist, there, I said it. As Caitlin Moran asks; “What is feminism? Simply the belief that women should be as free as men, however nuts, dim, deluded, badly dressed, fat, receding, lazy and smug they might be. Are you a feminist? Hahaha. Of course you are.”
Mum broke the mould somewhat. I remember vividly having conversatons in the playground, perhaps when I was eleven or twelve about who ‘wore the trousers’ at home. Firstly, what the actual f*ck?! And secondly, I was so very proud that my answer was alway Mum, she was the organ grinder, the organiser, the heart beating steadily away. She’d give poor Dad what for if he was late home from evening surgery or if he hadn’t quite organised the drinks trolley correctly before one of their dinner parties. She was the disciplinarian, and would voice empty threats about ‘when your Dad gets home’ but we knew he wasn’t the problem. Kindness itself that chap. I remember distinctly telling one of my 6th form teachers to f*ck off, (bravado, under my breath, trying to impress a boy, blah blah blah,) and her footsteps advancing up the stairs after parents evening ignited fear in my very soul. Luckily, Mum was also pretty cool and just said “she was always a bitch” to my absolute shock and amazement. She was pretty awesome like that. There was no filter, no pleasantries. If one of her brood had been hurt she would pounce. A friend used to to come and play who was obsessed with my sister; she was older, wore a bra and had a cool boyfriend. Mum, in no uncertain terms marched my friend from my sister’s bedroom and shouted “Play with Emma or go home!” Ha! How mortifying, yet how badass can you get? My siblings and I have discussed our memories from the old house. For me, it’s always the dinner parties, the echoes of laughter in my bedroom, the giggling, the smell of gorgeous food, the gin. So much gin. She was the hostess with the mostess, sometimes I was allowed to serve the drinks in my pjamamas, other times, Sarah and I would be banished upstairs listening to the raucous laughter, games and god knows what from the safety of the banisters. They are happy memories and ones that I will treasure. Unknowingly, she was my barometer on feminism, she was equal to Dad in every way and that is a lesson I am eternally grateful for.
I’m lucky to have wonderful friends, feminists the lot of them, even if they’d never say so. They don’t know it, but they have slowly replaced Mum unwittingly, like polyfiller, and I love them for that. Like Barbara, who came and fondled my boobs and wiped away my tears when Annie was four days old and starving, helping me try to breastfeed when it was perfectly clear it was never going to happen. And Rose, my London family, whom I rely on like a sister. I don’t have a plethora of friends, but my God I love them to death. My friend Claire said to me yesterday “do you find the blog helpful?” No, I said, I think I’m a bottler. Writing all this down makes me cry and cry wondering if it will ever stop.But, maybe some good will come of it all.
I hope I raise a boy that loves women and wants to support them and who values them, as much as they value and support him. I hope I raise a girl who values herself and strives to be anything she wants in life. And ultimately they will both learn about their Granny and how important she was to their Mum.