In light of International Women’s Day, I began to consider the female inspirations in my life. I’ve already written about Audrey Hepburn, who has been an idol of mine since my early teen years, but who else could I tribute?
There is only one woman who I draw strength from every single day, and have done since the moment my skin met the air – my mum.
When I was a tiny tot I remember how she encouraged me and made me feel like anything was possible. Growing up she fiercely protected me from bullies, when I couldn’t stand up for myself my mum was my back up and she never let me down. She protected me from everything, keeping all of my secrets and sheltering me from adversity.
When I was 6 she told me that I was going to be a big sister, something I wished the stars for every single night. I wanted to be like my mum, taking care of a younger sibling and loving them as she loves me. We soon discovered that our family were blessed with twins who my mum carried with pain and struggle, yet with strength and grace. My little sisters were born on the 31st of July 2002 and our mum blanketed unconditional love over all three of us.
As a teenager my mum was my style inspiration. I would borrow her clothes and she would support me in my alternative fashion sense, no matter how many bullies challenged me. My fierce protector never left my side. When I had boy troubles she was there, confidence and body issues she was there, friend fall-outs she was there. My mum became my rock.
She was diagnosed with a rare muscle wasting condition, called Charcot Marie Tooth disease, when I was 15. At this time our family was in turmoil and my mum, being a proud “grafter”, was devastated when it transpired that she was no longer fit to work. She battled mental as well as physical illness and did so whilst raising a family. She reminds me of a swan, legs frantically paddling beneath the surface but to the world she exhibits unwavering beauty and composure. Many people would give up if they had to carry my mums cross, but she persevered. She learned everything she could about her condition and fights it whilst being an exceptional mother to her three girls.
I’ve seen my mum in some really dark places but the way she always bounces back has inspired me to face my own demons in the same way. Because of my mum, I can be strong.
Every single day my mum is in pain, yet battles on with her life, never allowing herself to be defined by her illness. She walks every day, is on her feet running after her family, doing things that she shouldn’t be able to do because she has the strength of mind to do them.
Even in the little things she does, day in day out, I admire her. Throughout my life she has fed and clothed me, catering to my fussy needs and providing everything for me. Still now, when I live in a flat without her, she provides me with encouragement and security (and the occasional shopping). When I need her for anything she is here, despite dealing with her painful condition.
There is no greater inspiration to me as a woman. My mum has shown me that women can be strong, no matter what society thinks, and that I can be whoever I want to be. My mum is the strongest woman alive, she is my best friend and my hero.