When thinking of my Mother the first words that come to mind are; Outspoken, Feminist, Brave and Intellectual.
My mother does not conjure up teary-eyed memories for me as it is evident my Dad does from the post I wrote about him a couple weeks ago. Childhood memories of my Mother not bringing tears to my eyes is not a bad thing because instead my memories of her bring a glow of pride to my cheeks. You see my Mother is a warrior to me.
Mum grew up the eldest of four children. She has three younger brothers, the youngest of which was quite severely disabled when born. As you’d expect this has meant that from an early age my Mum was tough, in emotional and physical strength as she defended herself against, and helped bring up her brothers. My Grampy was in the RAF, so my mother grew up moving around a lot, before marrying my Dad who was also in the Royal Air Force. You see, my Mum does not shy away from new experiences, she does not avoid the things that scare her, nor does she cower from a fight.
If it wasn’t for my mother I don’t know who I would be today, as the lessons she’s taught me have shaped every part of who I am. Some of the lessons I hold dearest to my heart are:
1) How a woman protects her family
When it comes to protection it is usually seen as the mans job to defend his family and ensure their safety. This typical dynamic changes a lot in a forces family because the Dad can be away for extended periods of time, leaving the safety of the family and the home in the woman’s hands. This aside, my mothers unwavering strength and ability to defend my sister and I and protect my Dad still leaves me in awe.
2) The joy of the written word
I can not look back at my childhood without remembering times my mother would sit in the hallway between my sister and I’s bedrooms reading to us great stories from Dickens, Dahl, Blyton and Blume to name a few. The love of the written word saw me through my education; English GCSE Lit and Lang were two of my top grades, I then went on to study English at A Level and University (English alongside Education). Getting absorbed into a story has given me the strength I’ve needed during some tougher times in my life and opened my eyes to the plight of others and made me fall in love with worlds unknown.
3) Pretty is not the price a woman pays for her existence
Any time teenage me complained about spots, bad hair days, ugly days or feeling fat there was never an empty “reassuring” word uttered out of the lips of the woman who birthed me. The standard response was along the lines of, “you’re right, you’re grotesque”, “please stay inside today” or “there is more to you than the physical”.
Was this mean? Was this unhelpful? Were her responses damaging?
No, no and no.
My mum responding in this way instead of the usual “don’t be silly, you look lovely” stopped me obsessing about the way I looked, taught me that the way I perceived what I saw in the mirror didn’t have to impact the way I felt about myself.
I am incredibly grateful to my mum for giving me the knowledge I am more than my body type, clothes size, hair style, complexion or anything else. I am grateful that in a world obsessed with image, I can put my self worth above the superficial.