Bessie was born in April 2014. She came into the world making some funny old noises, and so the clever midwives whisked her away to the Neonatal Care Unit to make sure she was OK.
After a long and painful 12 hours, Bessie met her Mummy and showed her how strong she was, despite being only a few hours old. Bessie’s Mummy fell head over heels in love. When she gazed down on this amazing little girl, Bessie’s Mummy realised that equality for women now seemed thousand times more important than it did before.
Bessie spent a lot of her first few months crying and uncomfortable because she had a silly condition where every time she swallowed, it burned. Because she couldn’t talk and the adults didn’t know what was wrong, everyone struggled to cope. Bessie’s Mummy found that the lethal combination of hormones, lack of sleep and a constantly crying baby made her feel more than a little sad, and for a long time there was a lot of darkness.
But as sure as night becomes day, the darkness lifted with help from some amazing people. From women, who understand what it’s like to struggle. From men, who recognise that struggle and know the importance of lifting up another when the weight is too much to bear. Bessie’s Mummy became strong again because she had a kick-ass daughter and an older kick-ass son to look after. Bessie’s Mummy also remembered she was kick-ass too.
From a very early age, Bessie’s Mummy and Daddy tried to teach her and her brother that they both should be treated equally. They can have the same opportunities, the same dreams and they can do anything they set their mind to.
At times this was tricky, as society was still dragging its heels a bit when it came to equality. Often, people they would meet would say to Sonny, “Oh, aren’t you strong” whilst dismissing Bessie as simply being “pretty.” This upset Bessie no end, as she could lift a full 6 pint bottle of milk and was proud of her muscles. So Mummy and Daddy reassured both children that their strength was real, and that sometimes people would say funny things but it did not matter a jot.
Bessie refused to be categorised as being ‘girly’ or a ‘tomboy,’ because frankly both categories are bullshit. For her 4th birthday, Bessie asked for a pink guitar and a Kai from Lego Ninjago dress up. She wants to be a ninja rock star, and if Bessie’s Mummy has anything to do with it, she will be. Now and forever.
Sonny saw Bessie growing to be strong and determined and knew that her achievements should be celebrated not because she is a girl, but because they are achievements.
Every time Sonny or Bessie repeated weird stuff they had been told or heard from others, like ‘pink is for girls’ or ‘only boys can play football,’ their parents reminded them that anyone with a leg can kick a football, and anyone with sight can like a colour. Your genitals do not decide your choices (until much later in life 😉 ). You do.
Bessie doesn’t realise it yet, but she is the future. Because of every woman who has said #metoo, or #timesup, Bessie will know that sometimes, people are dicks and that isn’t OK.
What Bessie, Sonny, their friends and peers learn now will shape the next generation. Bessie’s Mummy and Daddy know this is important, and they made promises to themselves (and the world, via a small and relatively unimportant blog) to be the change they want to see.
All Bessie and Sonny’s Mummy and Daddy want is for them to be happy. To choose their own career, their own partner and their own way of life free from ridiculous boundaries and inequalities.
To be celebrated as individuals, not pigeonholed because of their gender. We have come so far in the past 100 years, but we have a way to go.
We’re getting there. We will get there.
On International Women’s Day, this is for you My Bessie, and for my Sonny who is just as important in the battle for equality. You can’t read this, but I tell you every day: “You are special, you are kind and you are important. Always.”
I have wonderful men in my life. So this is also for my husband who I love infinitely, my best mate (Councillor) and countless others who make me laugh and give me hope every day.
This is for every woman who has lifted me up, in real and internet life.
For my ‘Baby Bores.’ For my Northern sisters who have returned to the homeland and who I miss a lot. For my travelling buds who have shared some of the most amazing places in the world with me and are my London family. For my Mums who brunch. For my Nan, who died last year. The most kick-ass woman of all.
For the women on the internet who I know but I don’t know. Alexandra from Flaps and Baps. Fran from Whinge Whinge Wine. Kate from The Mum Conundrum. Romina from Mini Mummi Blogger. Helen and the BlogSquad from Mummy’s Gin Fund. Sarah from Pearls of Kiddom. And many more. You guys are brilliant and inspiring, and although we all do things a little differently I am forever grateful I stumbled across a tweet or post of yours.
For the women on the internet I don’t know at all, who are trailblazing in their own way. Constance Hall. BrummyMummy of 2. Hurrah for Gin. The Unmumsy Mum. I know I need to stop talking. A Sprinkle of Glitter. For every blogger or writer or vlogger who has millions of followers and faces a torrent of negativity every day largely because they are a woman doing well. Thank you for blazing that trial. We are all grateful.
Happy International Women’s Day.