International Women’s Day (re-post!)

This blog is a report of last-night’s late-night blog. Don’t blog tired! So here it is again, hopefully more coherent!

I completely missed that last week was World Book Day, preoccupied as I was with cake-baking, banner making and all-round clipboard, whistle-blowing control freakery. And I’ve almost missed posting about International Women’s Day. But, I’ve remembered in time.

It’s important, because my head in the latter part of the day was filled with the women from my own life and what I wanted to say to them – some of it advised, some of it not. Then I recalled it was IWD.

There’s much I would like to say about the amazing women I have met in my life. My mother, about whom I have posted much, whose selflessness is a vignette of love and kindness, a woman made to give to others. Who lit the spark of reading in me. I, hopefully, tell her every day what an inspiration she is. Without her, no me. Obviously.

My maternal grandmother, my relationship with whom is best described as challenging, but who nonetheless taught me to bake, how not to cook veg and to love cookbooks. Maybe her greatest role in my life will be to teach me how to let go, so that I can it teach my daughter. With family, no matter what the history, for the most part there remains love even through bitterness and bad feeling. I don’t know why family exerts this tidal pull, for me at least, irrespective of what lies behind us. But, despite anger and hurt, I acknowledge the debt of legacy, the past love shared, the kindnesses, the instruction.

My family – in which I include myself – could be described as a family of strong women and I ponder what that means. That they all want to lead. That they all have opinions. That they mainly, like Margaret Thatcher, will not be moved. Is that strength, I wonder? Or just headstrong?  I hope I am learning, a little late in life, that these behaviours are barriers to communication and understanding, at least betwixt the people we claim to love.

I admire strength but more than that I admire those who are courageous and passionate enough to be moved to use their strength wisely and to display it sparingly. In my teens I read all of Shakespeare’s works and – to this day – my favourite character is Iago’s wife in Othello, a character with a core of reason and loyalty, that made her stronger and more perceptive than the warriors and generals around her. As Victor Kiam might have said, I liked her so much I named my daughter after her. Strength is not might. It is forgiveness and confidence and self belief and love. All of those things are defined by strength because when we most need them, we choose them, not because that’s what we feel but because it’s what we choose to feel instead.

I look around me and think the world could use more of that, starting with me.

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