Today, I want to share my #HerStoryOurStory in honour of International Women’s Day.
I am not blind to the plight of women. For so many years, we have had to take a lot of nonsense for a lot of things and this had become the accepted way. I have watched the struggle and seen the issues and faced some of those challenges myself.
But today’s story won’t really be about feminism. It will be about one female in particular; the one who has had the most impact in my life so far – my mother.
My mum is small.
I tell her she’s the perfect cuddle size. I also tell her that she was given big children (ranging from 5’3 to 6,2 – far enough from her 5’0) so they could reach things on high shelves for her. She doesn’t like hugs or kisses because they tickle, but we hug and kiss her anyway because we love her… and her reaction is also kind of comical.
When I was young, she was my first role model. I learned that women take care of the house and the men go to work. So I would grab a broom and try to help with the sweeping up or want to watch her cook or sew. These were the things she did. I knew that since we were similar, I would have to do them too,
She tells me of times when I would be very quiet and she would come looking for me only to find (much to her horror) that I had played Picasso with the clean white walls. I remember her buying us many books and reading them to us. She told us to take good care of them and to put them away when we were done. (Some red biro marks in some of the books proves that maybe we didn’t listen so well to this at first but…) Now we have a large personal collection of books and the interest in reading has not dimmed.
If it were not for my love of reading, I would not have wanted to write. And writing is one of my greatest passions in this life.
Very early on in my childhood, we rarely went to church. It was a concept I didn’t understand and as a kid, it was a boring place full of adults who would stand and sit, stand and kneel then sit and pray long, long prayers and speak in unison words I didn’t understand.
But that was my first brush with Christianity.
My mother would go to church and she would take us with her. So, for the first few months into my forays with religion, I was a Catholic. I would ask mum what it meant to dip your fingers into the water at the church entrance and make the sign of the cross. I asked her what her pretty prayer beads were for. I learned to say “The Grace” and “Our Father” in a Sunday School room where the Sisters smelled distinctly of onions…
Then dad caught up and decided to take us to the church where he grew up. And so we did and have been going ever since. When I think about those early days about how little I knew then and how much I have learned since and all the lessons I find myself giving and learning, I am grateful. I was given a stepping stone that first Sunday morning.
My mother gave me my first experiences with Christianity.
When I was younger, mum used to cut my hair. It was getting unmanageable and she didn’t want to have to take the time to deal with it so I have very short hair in all of my early photos. It didn’t take away from my cuteness (I mean, not to toot my own horn but I was a pretty adorable baby) and it was a practical solution.
But dad didn’t like it and asked her to stop so she did. And my hair grew. I had a large mass of kinky hair that now needed to be dealt with. The small plaits mum would do weren’t enough. SO she took me to the salon for my first blow dry at the age of five or six.
I remember breaking so many of the wooden combs the salon had. I also remember having my face shoved into someone’s thigh so they could reach the back of my head. It took a long time, but it was finally maintained. I don’t remember which hairstyle I walked back out with or what was done, but it was my first ever salon experience and she was there with me for it. Now I take myself and choose my own style where she once chose for me.
It brings back memories every time someone brings up those old wooden combs.
I hate injections. I see people’s reactions at having to take injections and I am comforted because it isn’t just me who doesn’t like them. My earliest memories of injection were at the catholic church (see above) where we would go to get our vaccines. I don’t remember which ones they were but I remember that one or two were injections. I remember the doctor coming up to me with a needle and mum telling me not to look. I was seated in her lap so she would turn my face into her shoulder as I was injected.
Honestly, I don’t remember the pain and mum doesn’t like injections either (maybe I got it from her?) but I appreciate that she was there for me then. And when I cried, she comforted me and I soon forgot all about it.
She faced her fears for me – she held me when I was most scared.
Last year, I took my mother on holiday with me to the coast. I realised that we had never really hung out before so I decided that, since I had planned to go on holiday on my birthday (an important day for all children and their mother’s), I should include her in my plans. We ended up going a couple of months late but we had a blast. We took so many photos and videos and all those precious memories I will carry with me everywhere.
I really hope I can go on another trip with her this year.
There are countless other memories and I cannot really tell them all here. There are many other women in my life who have contributed to who I am. SO even though she protests and makes a faux angry face at me, I will still hug her and kiss her. Because I am grateful and I know that our time together is not guaranteed in any way. And because I love her to bits and pieces.
She doesn’t have a lot of money and she’s not super-rocket-scientist-crack-the-universe’s-secrets smart but she is pretty street smart. She’s not famous or conducting some ground breaking thing. But she’s fun and she’s funny. She laughs a lot and so do we. She helps us where she can. She quietly gives advice. She does her best to calm us down. She does what she has to do. She’s strong (in the real way), soft and so very warm. She is everything I need her to be. Even when she’s been wrong about some things, I understand. We can’t all be perfect and neither can she – but that’s good enough for me.
I will also give a nod to my dad for being super awesome and protecting us and encouraging us to go out and be. I am a feminist because of both of them. I believe in myself because they believe in me. I am the writer I am today because of all the books they bought us. I am the Christian I am today because of all they taught us and are still teaching us. I have courage because they gave me courage and they are still rooting for me even now. When I need help finding my way, I know they will help.
I am the woman I am today because of all they have taught me and how they have raised me and I will always be grateful for it. Even as I face some trepidation about taking the next step and moving out, I know they have my back. And they have taught me what I need to know to survive out in the big wide world – and not only that but to thrive.
And this women’s day, I’m going to give my mum the biggest warmest hug for being the best mum ever.
What experiences do you have to share this #InternationalWomensDay? What is your #HerStoryOurStory?
May your world be filled with light both by day and by night 🙂