Hurrah for women
Something totally unexpected happened to me when I got pregnant …
I started having new relationships.
I began to find the absolute joy of women. A sisterhood, a camaraderie, a respect … something I’d never really known before… and when Hope was born it wasn’t only a perfect wonderful small person who entered my world, but numerous other women. I guess in my ‘previous’ life I’d had many more male friends, I found it easier somehow to talk to men. I had a very very close group of female friends, real loving deeply incredible people several of whom I’ve known all my life, and knew other women, but to be honest the thought of the WI or even a coffee morning or Lord love us a mums and babies playgroup made me feel more than a little nervous. I was happy on a rugby touch line, in the pub, sitting round chatting after conferences and somehow that was always a very male world.
In hospital, lying there listening to women in labour, women coping with pain, with fear, with anxiety and women laughing, something started to change. I started to realise the immense strength and power of women. I haven’t become a radical feminist, many many many men and fathers have inspired me over the last two years as well. My belief in humankind seems to have been rekindled, but the revelation of the bond with women has become something very precious to me.
I have ‘mummy’ friends of all ages, some older like me and some almost 30 years younger, some single parents, others happily cohabiting, others blissfully married and in pretty much every situation it is the women whose lives have changed dramatically, whose social circles / social lives have evolved and who are the most consistently dealing with nappy changing, nose wiping, potty training, sleep deprivation and visits to playgroup, the doctor, the health visitor … the man still goes out to the pub, or for runs, off on motorbike trips for a week on end, has rugby tours, football matches, late nights at the office, and the woman is generally (in most cases) the one trying to fit a night out with friends into her other half’s (if she has one) schedule, or sorting out the baby sitter, child care, school pick up … it’s not just my old friends, it’s young mums at playgroup, mothers of whole flocks of children, women who work full time and those who are stay at home mums.
I now adore going to playgroup (although I was genuinely terrified the first few times and once even bolted before I’d opened the door), I relish the conversations, the advice, the warmth and I love meeting other mothers week after week and sharing experiences. As I said before I am not becoming a man hating harridan and of course I enjoy talking to the fathers when they’re there (which is rare), I just relish and cherish the time I spend with other mothers, and their own mothers too. It’s also given me a far greater humility around my own mother and respect for all she did for me, and still does. What she had to face with my father abroad so much, dealing with grumpy teenagers and truculent children by herself and remaining so positive and present for us.
One morning a week, Hope and I go to a school parent and child class. I feel at home and at ease in a way that I’ve never felt in my life before, I hardly know the other women, but the bond we have made is a close one. It won’t be long before our little ones are scattered to the four winds, to different nursery schools and kindergartens, but the strength we’ve all found from one another has been remarkable. I’d trust any of the 8 of them if I needed help with Hope, and I know they feel the same. We arrive, now we greet each other like long lost friends and we sit quietly watching our children playing, we drink cups of tea, we make things and slowly but surely the stories come of issues with sleep, with an employer, with a partner, with a miscarriage or a bereavement… and we listen, we talk and we support one another and we laugh … alot. It’s not gossiping, it is real conversation and real shared compassion. Another day we go to a more free flowing group, more people and more children, clusters of women with children the same age form and grow, we watch each other’s children grow up and gradually get glimpses into one another’s lives. The ballroom dancer, the executive, the hairdresser, the geologist … another amazing gathering of women and I don’t know who enjoys it more, Hope or I!!
I’m awed by their ability to look incredible as well, some made up, some au naturel, beautifully dressed or in baggy old cardigans and leggings … it makes me feel constantly humble!!! I’ve never been a fashion plate and I do struggle to find time to look after my nails and my roots, which doesn’t really bother me at all, but as I say it does awe me to meet women who look amazing, cook wonderfully, sew, create, mend cars, manage businesses and look after small folk.
I’m learning so so much from them all; aside from the patience, creativity, persistence and calm which I am getting better at, I’ve picked up ideas on financial planning, on computer issues, on attachment parenting, on stain removal, on music, on work, on haberdashery, on theatre, books, toddler grumps, baby food, my own health and so so so much more … I feel very blessed and I have so so so much respect for my new found friends as they juggle time, as the deal with work and child life balance and then how their own lives fit in as well.
I read the notes from friends on Facebook, “if anyone’s seen my husband can you let him know I’m about to miss my meeting / class / night out and the children are asking for him” and the chortling responses that come back saying, “he’s in the pub / on the sports field / still at work he’ll be back soon”, and I wonder at the flexibility of mothers and their ability to just keep on keeping on, not just because they have to but because they want to.
So … now that I’ve said, “Hurrah for Women”, I’m off to find the local WI or Townswomen’s Guild …
maybe I’ll stop off for a pint of Guinness and a run up and down the rugby touchline on the way.