Sunday, 2 August 2009

Sisters and Superwomen

We expect so much of ourselves as women. Recently I have been thinking about the wonderful women in my life and how I wouldn't be without them. My sister, my Nan, my best friends A and G, my babysitter and good friend of 5 years M, and then of course my floozy friends, Amanda, Caitlin, Melanie, Crista, Tartan, Minx, Susan, Dolly, Olivia, Claire, Amy to name but a few. Oh alright then, my Mum too.

Actually my Mum can be quite sensible and supportive when she wants to be. Recently I was telling her that I'm going to really go for it this summer and get from a size 14 to a size 12. "Oh don't be so silly, if you're doing it for yourself then fine, but just remember, on your headstone will it read 'Here lies Laura, she was a wonderful mother, friend, sister and daughter. Oh and by the way she was a size 12 too.' I think not." She has a point. Quite apart from being a thorn in my side for most of the time, she has been quietly supportive insofar as she recently said " I don't pretend for a minute to understand your desire to do your job, but I am your mother and will support you no matter what." I don't think you could ask for anything more. She was also wonderful when I had my little princess because I was absolutely terrified, I could barely look after myself let alone a helpless newborn. As an indication of how utterly green I was, the hospital showed me how to bath the baby by supporting her head etc, and as it was February and she was born with a mop of black hair I asked where the hair dryers were. The midwives thought that was hysterical, I on the other hand was mortified. It was my mother who had to gently explain to me, " Ahem, you towel dry her hair."

My sister and I were each other's birthing partners, so I don't think you could have two women closer than that. The day of her delivery was one to be remembered for a long time. Her labour started so I was busy doing my make-up, in case of cute doctors, obviously. Hello, priorities ? Anyway, we thought we had hours and hours to go so I was busy making tea and keeping her calm when her waters went so we thought we'd better get to the hospital. I'll never forget driving like a loony through the city, screaming at white van men to get out of my way. Eventually we screeched to a halt on one of the busiest roads of the city and I double parked. I had some paper in my handbag and I put a note in the window : "WOMAN IN LABOUR, PLEASE DO NOT CLAMP." All credit where credit is due, they didn't even give me a ticket, it must have been a lady traffic warden. ;)

The role of women has changed so much over the years, something my Nan and I have discussed many times. She thinks women have it so much easier now with washing machines, dishwashers, etc. Actually I disagree. Not only do we expect much more of ourselves now, but society does too. We should be thin, educated, beautiful, successful, glamorous, practical, diligent, hard working, loving and caring whilst still strong, nurturing, empathetic, the list is endless. I remember watching a movie late one night with my Nan when a sex scene came on. (EEK !! ) She turned to me and said ;

"For the love of God, why is she making that racket ?"

"She's enjoying it Nan."

"Don't be ridiculous".

To her sex was a chore, something you did as a duty to your husband. Mind you she comes from an era when patent leather shoes were banned at school because the nuns said they reflected the girl's underwear.

The reason I started thinking about women is that I have just finished re-reading "A Thousand Splendid Suns" by Khaled Hosseini which is set in 1970's Afghanistan and tells the story of two women who bonded in the face of unspeakable brutality and oppression. It is one of the very few books that moved me to tears. ( A big thank you to the lady who asked if I was ok at Ayr beach, I'm fine, I just need some more evening primrose oil and to stop reading books like the afore mentioned. )Such appalling treatment of women continues to this day, as can be witnessed with so called "honour killings". I've included a link below which I must warn you is very upsetting.

It is truly incredible that this barbaric practice continues in an age when we celebrate our rights as individuals to basic human rights.

Please don't worry, I've not transformed into a Julie Bindel wannabe and am not about to shave off my hair and don some dungarees. Aside from the fact Amanda would kill me with her bare hands, I wanted to celebrate my sisters, for their courage, tenacity and strength. I'll leave you with my favourite quote from Eleanor Roosevelt;

Women are like teabags. We don't know our true strength until we are in hot water.

LL xx

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