• Vicky Poole

To be a girl today

I used to love playing when I was little. I used to love playing football and running around and being an explorer.

There was just one problem with this – I was a girl.

My mum dressed me like a girl – with white tights, pinafore dress and cutesy shoes (that were a bugger to clean). In summer, I had the white frilly socks and the same pinafore’s.

My mum had this preconception that if I were beautifully dressed then everyone would know that she was a good mum.

So, I was always immaculate.

I was so desperate to be playing with the kids in the street – all boys by the way – I didn’t have the heart to ask my mum for jeans and trainers because I knew that she would think.

So, I sat there. I played by myself on a mat in the garden.

I would chase after our cats so they could be tea party guests, but they didn’t want any cake and would often run away and over the gate, out of my reach.

I was so lonely but was never alone.

This stigma of what a girl should or shouldn’t be stayed with me my whole life. It dominated what society told me I could and couldn’t do, what I could and could not achieve.

My Mum raised me to live her life, to be able to do anything a man could do. She didn’t want me, her only daughter to be limited by the same glass ceilings that she experienced. She was so desperate for me to break free of poverty that she would do (and did do) anything to support me.

Mum was thrilled when I could afford to live in my own house and had a successful career – I never fully realized that she was my biggest fan. She was proud of all my achievements, most striking of which was that I was living independently and didn’t NEED a man.

Over time, I met my soul mate and did what came naturally for us – we got married and had a family. My mum was so pleased for me/us because she knew how much I wanted a family. She saw that my life wasn’t her life and that times had moved on.

When I told my Dad that I was pregnant, his immediate response was “What did your boss say when you told him you’d be leaving work to look after the baby?”

The look of horror on my Dad’s face when he learned that my husband and I would be taking “shared parental leave” and that my hubby would become “primary carer” – it was unbelievable. I was in shock.

Then I realized that even today, a woman is nothing is she is not a good mum.

However, it is each mum who defines what a good mum is.

We each suffer comparison syndrome – comparing ourselves to other people and make up idea’s about how easy it is to be a mum, dad, brother, sister or whatever it is that you’re comparing.

You will never find true happiness until you find your contentment within.

My son is borderline feral and we love it. He’s out in the garden nearly every day, rolling around in mud and splashing in puddles. He prefers to read than watch TV. He loves colours and drawing and will do (almost) anything for a sticker.

He is 2 and can use cutlery like a 4 year old. He loves trying new things and his favourite hobby is to copy what my hubby and I are doing, and of course to laugh.

I am a great mum, not for what I let my son do but for knowing that he is happy.

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