I realised something today while I was looking through my photos. They are all of my kids and Jamie. Now don’t get me wrong, they are my world but there’s huge part of it missing looking at those.
All through my life I have been lucky to have been surrounded by strong women (or girls depending on when we are talking about!) I went to boarding school at 8 years old and found the first 4 years pretty crazy. It was a massive amount of changes for me; moving from Africa to England, living at home to a room full of girls I did not know. I did find my feet but looking back I lost myself in those years. During that time my mother wrote me long letters with news, filled every holiday to the brim with fun and love, and made every trip to visit she could. She helped me make it through and when I went to Roedean at 12 I was finally ready to work out the kind of person I wanted to be.
I felt like I entered a whole new world of boarding when I went to Roedean and better yet I found a group of girls who I still consider my closest friends to this day. The next 6 years of my life I figured out who the person I wanted to be was. I did this surrounded by friends and all my photos from these years are filled with them; countless nights messing about, wearing way too much makeup to dances, celebrating birthdays and a hundred other milestones that filled our years.
I danced from school to Warwick University via Mexico, dyed my hair green – don’t ask and threw myself into American Studies and Top Banana. I took great pleasure in challenging myself into seeing how often I could get someone picked on to answer questions in Spanish, actually much easier then you would imagine – Sorry Em xx. I spent my last year feeding ducks out the window and living with friends from my course. All those ladies still amaze me with their passion and determination, they make me realise that there is still plenty of time for figuring out my dream and going for it. I have photo albums full of the life I shared with them, and I still get to add to them which is the best part.
In 2007 I had Abi and all those years of study and working went out the window, suddenly I was clueless and lost. I’m still figuring out babies and kids but being a mum is like getting an invite into a club that you never knew existed. It is both terrifyingly huge and tiny, suddenly you have this connection to women all around you, and a stronger connection to women you already knew. I found a NCT group who are mostly, let’s be honest, crazy women I got to hang out with every week, eat cake and occasionally hold my baby up and say ‘is this normal?” One of my better moves I think.
There are women who don’t fit into any of those moments. Women in my family, women I met through friends, though Jamie. But all of them fit into my life and changed the way I saw the world in their own unique way. They helped to make me the person I needed to be for the next move in my life.
In 2010 we packed up and moved to Australia. Facebook, email, Skype, they all make the world smaller but I was still moving thousands of miles from families and friends and starting all over again. I was more than a little terrified because I knew as soon as we arrived I was on my own. Jamie threw himself into the new business and I sucked it up and threw myself at Port Fairy.
Almost 5 years in and I cannot believe how fast the time has flown by but more than anything I cannot believe how lucky I am. I never expected to make best friends over here. I never thought I would be lucky enough to find women who make me feel blessed to be part of their lives. More than just those who are close friends, a community of women who made a space for me and made me one of theirs. I love walking down the street, into school, driving into Warrnambool and seeing cars flash their lights in greetings or shouted hellos. These women around me show me everyday the kind of person I want to be, and the things I could do if I wanted to. Being even the smallest part of their lives opens up worlds of possibilities and connections I never even knew existed only a few years ago.
But if you looked through my photos over the last 5 years you would be forgiven for thinking I have basically revolved my life around my kids. Very rarely do you glimpse any of these women and I think that it is a loss. One day I’ll show my daughter all these pictures and I want to be able to show her them. I want her to know how important they were to me. Those days at the park, drinking coffee at each other’s houses, the times I watched their kids or they watched mine and those rare night’s out. I want her, and them, to know as a woman how important it is to have strong women in your life and how lucky I feel to have found them. Because everyone has crappy days, or weeks or months. No one has a life that is easy or straight forward, we all deal with a lot of shit, some of which no one else will ever know about and some of which is out there for everyone to know. But the most important thing I learnt from the women I share my life with is this…… I know that when life is shitty and dark and miserable, and your back is against the wall, all the women I have been blessed with throughout my life are the ones standing there beside me.
They are the people who gave me the tools to get myself out of the darkness and when that is not enough they are the ones who make phonecalls, leave messages, send flowers, make dinners or just show up on the doorstep. I love each and every one of them and when I am a purple haired, wrinkly old granny (with a young at heart attitude I hope) I want to be able to show my granddaughters their pictures, clip them round the ears and tell them if they do nothing else with their lives they must find these kind of friends. Strong women who will inspire and encourage them, who will challenge and support them but most of all who will fill their lives with joy.
So this is my challenge to myself, and to anyone else out there who finds themselves agreeing with any part of this. Next time you are hanging out with friends whether it is complaining about kids, trying to figure out whether to go back to school, do I really need a new pair of shoes or even just where the best place to buy coconut oil is ….. take a picture. In fact better yet take a selfie with the women in your life, because they are amazingly kick-ass women which in turn makes you an amazingly kick-ass woman. xxx