I’ve been sitting trying to write a Facebook status. Lame right? I don’t often write statuses, I grew out of doing it after I was a teenager and posted about everything that happened in my life (the ‘memories’ on Facebook each day serve a damning reminder of how much I used to over share).
Today, in line with International Women’s Day, I chose to try and write a status celebrating all the women in my life, but I couldn’t do it. The words seemed so unfitting. They couldn’t do these women justice. In the end, I just found myself staring at my laptop background (a picture of Mindy Kaling if you wanted to know), and wondering what to do. Then I opened up a word document and started typing.
My first thoughts about the status were that it felt patronising. Me, a man, thanking the women in my life for inspiring me. It felt like I was standing on a pedestal and shouting down to those below: ‘hey, thanks for putting me here.’ That wasn’t my intention at all. It should never be anyone’s intention, but I can’t ignore I am where I am, and I am who I am because of women. Secondly, the words I could fit into a status (that people would bother to read) couldn’t sum up how thankful I am to the women I know.
They couldn’t sum up how grateful I am to my Grandma, who has been there since I was born. Who took me to the Albert Docks when I got two weeks off after my Appendicitis, and bought me a packet of pick and mix every Friday after school. The woman who videotaped the Wizard of Ozfor me, and never told me I couldn’t watch it. Not even for the 5th time in a day. The woman who raised my dad to be an outstanding man. The woman who’s largely responsible for the man I am today. The woman who is stronger than I’ll ever be.
To Val, my Grandma’s niece, who looked after me at weekends as a kid and taught me how to stand up for myself and fight for my beliefs. The woman, who when we were in Sefton Park one sunny Saturday, stood up for a young boy as three older kids bullied him. I told her it was embarrassing, that it drawing attention to us was awkward. Now, I know that it shouldn’t have been. Now, I see it was moments like that that showed me how I should act and stand up for myself and others.
To Myra, the woman who looked after me when I was too young to go to school. The woman who still visits regularly and asks how I’m doing, and treats me as if we’re related. The woman whose pride and joy are her family and friends. The woman who inspires me to want the same when I grow up.
To Sue, the woman who looked after me after school. The woman who raised my best friend to be another great woman. The woman who knew me and Becky would sneak into Wise Time to buy sweets on the way home from school but let us do it anyway. The woman who still offers to help me in any way she can.
To my cousin, Catherine, who has always had my back and always supports me. Who was my guarantor on my student flat, who meets me for dinner and lunch whenever she can, and always gives me large measures of vodka at family parties.
To Fiona, who was friends with my mum and dad, and now friends with me. The woman who I called at 4:30 in the morning to ask for help when my friend was considering committing herself into hospital for bipolar disorder. The woman who would go for walks with my dad after my mum had died, and gave him someone to talk to. A woman so kind and firm in her beliefs that if I’m half the person she is when I grow up then I’ll be great.
To my teachers all through primary school and secondary school that taught me the things I needed to know. To Mrs Tobias, Miss Seery, and Mrs Lewis who set me on the path I’m on now. I can’t thank you enough for helping me realise the things that I loved were viable career options. To the lecturers at University, Sarah, Tamsin, and Helen, who listened to those ideas I bought from school and gave me a way to say them.
To my friends, who inspire me every day in ways they’ll never know. Those I’ve known for years, who’ve somehow managed to put up with me for so long. To those I’ve met at college or university that have expanded my mind and helped me learn. To those that challenge me in the best ways (Becky), and those that help me understand things that I’d never have known (Sophie). To those that impart wisdom (Justine), those that support me and always have (Mel), and those that make me laugh (Nat). To those that can raise a child, build a home, and do it so perfectly (Polly). To those that calm me down and work with me (Tammy), those that are always willing to help (Sarah) and to those that enjoy what I enjoy and discuss it with me for hours (Katy). To those that care about people and aren’t afraid to show it (Heather), those that travelled the world with me (Emily), those that take chances and make life better for those around them (Kate) and those that will always be up for Frankie and Benny’s (Hannah and Jane).
No, a status couldn’t say all that. Not one people would read anyway.
‘To the Women I Have Known, and Will Know’ originally appeared on the In The Red website in 2016.