Yesterday I broke down in tears while I was trying to tidy the guest room/playroom/nursery. Danny was cross with me because I was trying to tidy, he was explaining that he was going to get round to putting away the things. Nives couldn’t get in her play tent because of the things. I’m too pregnant to sort out the fact there’s a table in pieces scattered around the floor and a drill – a drill! – lying next to it. Nives was trying to climb over her dolls house to get to her tent. It was too much, it was too supercharged and I couldn’t cope. So I cried.
Danny was halfway up the loft ladder sighing at me (I think he’s used to these meltdowns now) but you know what my girl did? She stopped trying to launch herself over the dolls house and came to me and said “Don’t be sad mummy, everyone gets a turn”. And she hugged me and said “I love you to the stars and to the moon”.
And oh, my heart.
She didn’t ask me why I was crying. She didn’t shout at Danny for causing the crying. She told me what I needed to hear. That she loved me. And yes of course you can argue that she was merely mimicking the same things I have told her and she’s too young to understand, but I don’t believe that. I believe there is real power in being female and that there’s an understanding sometimes when someone is feeling overwhelmed that they don’t need a solution or an explanation or even to talk things through. They need to feel listened to, they need support.
And I have to say when it comes to female support I have it in droves. This week has been remarkably humbling and powerful in the love that I have seen at work for me and my baby. Not even just this week, but this pregnancy.
I used to say to a friend of mine who suffers from depression: if you feel overwhelmed and if it helps, picture an army of me walking behind you when you walk down the road. imagine I am there, supporting you (this was before I knew anything about depression, don’t judge me, I was trying).
But I have felt like that army has been with me.
I have felt the things my friends and the women have done for me. From my lovely mum’s friend (as in, she is friends with my mum but I love her just as much) Mary constantly checking up on me, to my friend Emma driving me to hospital when I thought I was in labour and squeezing my hand when I was having the speculum (I don’t think I had this before, it’s basically not very nice). My friend Claudia and everything she does for my me and my daughter, her goddaughter. Jane for being wonderful and calm and strong and powerful when I needed her to be in hospital and so loving and organising my wonderful Mother’s blessing. Marie for seeing the humour in everything. Jade for never forgetting me, Laura for her hugs and her honesty and laughter. Imi for her bare vulnerability and loveliness. Liz for calling me and leaving me voicemails to let me know she’s thinking of me… I am so blessed for these women.
And I’ve been thinking a lot about this female collective and the power that it holds. It’s not something I take for granted, please don’t think it is. I know how lucky I am.
This has not been an easy ride. I say that in the knowledge that I am very lucky to be this pregnant at all. I know that. I had two miscarriages before this pregnancy held. But despite my gratefulness and the love I have for this baby, this pregnancy has been off-the-scale hard work. Physical issues (morning sickness, hives, horrible SPD flare ups, thrush, UTI, diabetes) aside, I’ve had to also seek professional help for my mental health. Long overdue, but still. There’s been a lack of control at every level.
The women in my life and the new women I have met on this journey have held my hand through this. The women in my phone and on social media who sent messages of support when I admitted I was falling apart, the women I see every day who offered up their shoulders to carry my burden. Thank you to all of you.
Over a year ago I got so fed up with the way things were going in the world. With the whole Trump election, the constant images of droves of refugees risking their lives to flee their country, reports of racism on the rise, Brexit, Grenfell, knife crime, school funding cuts, the rise of food banks, homelessness.
The list isn’t exhaustive but it is overwhelming. How does one person start to try and make the world a better place? I wondered. All I could do, I thought, was to put kindness out there, all I could do was face each situation from a non-judgemental standpoint, teach my daughter love and respect. Be kind, help those that need help. And do this quietly, but steadily. Counter narrow-mindedness where I found it. Try.
This new way of living has opened my life up in unbelievable ways. I feel so much richer for it. My relationships are stronger, I have connected with incredible women on this journey, I feel significantly less stressed.
I don’t mean this to be a sermon on how to live ones life – I am not advocating anything here, just explaining where I am coming from and attempting to unpick this power that comes with being female and using that power in a positive way instead of judging, backstabbing, comparing. No good comes from that.
So here is to women, to our girls. To being kind. To supporting one another. We are so much more stronger when we stand together.