International Women’s Day is upon us. I woke up this morning to a twitter feed full of well wishers. Women celebrating women, us giving ourselves a well deserved hug and acknowledging that despite the difficulties we’re in it together. I don’t mean that we are oppressed and down trodden and marginalised (although that’s true in many cases) I mean that being a women is, despite all the upsides, tough.
It’s tough because we are expected to do it all. To have it all. No sacrifice. No failure. No mistakes. And all while looking fabulous. We expect ourselves to have the perfect relationship, the steady career, the ultimate group of girlfriends, regular chats with our families, a tidy home and a permanent smile. We need to cook, like Nigella but be skinny like Kate Moss. We need to enjoy ourselves but not too much. Work hard but not too much. Be friendly but not too friendly. We, once the ominous biological clock starts to tick, need to stop what we’re doing at all costs and make babies. Babies that will appear without trouble, our competitive selves will not let anyone know the difficulties that sometimes arise. Once we have that beautiful baby, he/she will be suitably perfect. Well behaved, sweet and placid, if he/she cries too much surely it’s a reflection on me? We need to feed her organic food, home-made before we head to see a personal trainer and then dash to work for a morning meeting, full of smiles and concealer. We need to pick up said child, take her home to play and cuddle before feeling utterly sexy and rearing to go in the bedroom in order to please the fabulous man that lives in your house. We need to send flowers on mothers day and remind our fathers and other halves to do the same.
If we do not do all of the above, with a smile and a slick blow-dry we have failed. Not only ourselves, but our men and our mothers and our fellow sisters. We have shattered the illusion and let the side down… What makes it worse is that your ‘friend’ next to you will smile with a sort of mired pity that suggests you really fucked it up for yourself. That your’e not enough, you haven’t managed to keep it up. To keep it all going. Plus, you’re not even back in your jeans yet.
I do not have a child. I have a nephew and a sister who is a rocking mother. I have friends with babies and families and the weight of expectation of the world on their shoulders and the underlying feeling of guilt that underpins everything they do. The dream of ‘having it all’ pulls and drags them, and me, in different directions. Makes us feel like whatever we do and whatever we have is somehow not enough…
It us enough. Everything you do, everything we do is more than enough. We need to help each other out and offer support not criticism. We are all in the same boat, making similar sacrifices and trying to keep our shit together. It is not easy for anyone, no matter how it looks. Offer a helping hand where you can or a smile or an encouraging word or a shoulder if needs be, do it without motive or judgement because you will need it yourself at some point. Offer love and support and understanding… It will come back to you. We are not competitors, we are all the same. We are brilliant and powerful and sensitive and fucking deadly! We are so much more than we ever admit to ourselves.
Today is International Women’s Day. Make the call, to someone you think is holding it together or maybe falling apart. Send them chocolate or porn or a ready meal or whatever it is you think they need. And while you’re at it, send yourself something. And just so you know, those thank you cards on the table that you keep forgetting to post are evidence of good intentions and gratitude, they’re not just another thing on the list of things you failed to do properly. Give yourself a well earned break… xx
*’Deadly’ for the non Irish among you is as good as it gets. It’s the best possible meaning if the word!!