The fact that International Women’s Day and Mother’s Day in the UK, are so close together this year, has got me thinking. It’s funny how we celebrate, strong powerful achieving women, breaking barriers and giving men a run for their money on international women’s day, and then on Mother’s Day it’s suddenly all about chocolates and flowers, and getting Mum or Mom, to have a nice sit-down. It’s if we have created two entirely separate breeds of human, those who go out and fly aircraft solo around the world, like Amelia Earhart or who speak up for modern day feminism like Ross McGowan, and those who, well look after kids.
As anyone who has given birth will tell you, all mother’s and strong, very STRONG!
Mothers are strong because we look after small children
Ok, so I am not going to labour the bit about given birth, because we have all seen those videos on the internet of a muscle man crying when put through equivalent pain, if not try searching labor pain simulator on YouTube and you will soon see what I mean. We know that anyone who has even given birth is by definition already a tough cookie. No, what I am talking about here is the relentlessness of toddlerhood. The fact that we still go out to stores with small kids in tow, despite the inevitable tantrums, and just deal with the embarrassment of having everyone look at us, the fact that we don’t run out to our cars with a shopping bag over are heads, the fact that we carry on and do that shopping. That we mostly hold our patient when being asked WHY for the fourteen hundredth time that day, that we mostly don’t cry when we have to wipe yogurt off the floor, and sofa, and walls again. And hey, if you’re a Dad and you are reading this, and you did all that, then yes you are strong too!
I mean STRONG not SUPER!
Back when I was growing up in the 80’s and 90’s there was a lot of talk about superwomen and super mum, about the women ‘trying to have it all’. Power-suited in the boardroom, perfect homemaker in the kitchen. Well, I think that women was a martyr! That women was killing herself, not having it all but doing it all! I think being a strong Mom is about having those conversations with the people you share those children with and making sure they do their fair share. Its about being brave enough to speak to your boss about getting the working hours that will facilitate your family life, it’s about not worrying if your house isn’t as clean as you would like, or conversely if you are a Mrs Hinch devotee, not allowing yourself to be judged or devalued for prioritising cleaning and homemaking above working. Ultimately it's about being strong enough to allow the women around you to make different choices, and being strongly supportive of whatever those are, even if they aren’t our choices.
Mothers can achieve great things while still being mothers
Ok, so now I would like to tackle this issue of this assumed divide between the women who do, and women who look after kids and women who do great things, as if these two were polar opposites, when actually if you made a Venn diagram of these, you’d find an ever-increasing area of overlap. So here we go – two words – MICHELLE OBAMA! Need I say more. Well ok Michelle Obama, and this lady – Jasmin Paris.
In January 2019, Jasmin Paris spent 83 hours running 268 miles over Scottish mountains, while stopping at every rest station to express breast milk. The 35-year-old British ultra-runner is also working on her PhD in her spare time. I have said it once and I will say it again mums, are strong.
Jasmin Paris with daughter Rowan after winning the 2019 Spine Race. Photograph: Yann Besrest-Butler/MONTANE® Spine® Race
Strong women need to tell their stories
So Michelle’s book was the best selling factual book of all of 2018, and why was that? I think it is because women are hungry for stories about other strong women, and not just other women in general but particularly for stories of strong mums. And perhaps these stories aren’t talked about enough in the media, journalist seem to prefer when mum’s go wrong stories, don’t they? So instead we’ve turned to classic literature for inspiration, and as this is British Mother’s Day, the best of British female authors, telling great Mum stories.
So what you gonna do for your mother this mother’s day?
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Due to this level of intuition, all of Forster's novels except for one have been adapted into film format, allowing even those who aren't literature-savvy to enjoy the tales he had to tell.
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