My first memory of a boiled egg hit me in the face this morning. It was like happiness raining all over me. I remember my mother calling me to come to the kitchen and as I walked in she rolled an egg towards me. As it rolled towards me I was so anxious, I thought it was going to break and spread its oily slimy consistency all over the floor and then she would be sad and cross at having to clean it up. BUT miraculously it didn’t break and I thought she must be the most amazing person in the world for rolling it so gently. The look on my little face must have been priceless, a mixture of wonder; excitement; fear and incredulity – it was enough to send my mother into hysterics. Which only confused me more.
The smile on her face and the joy in her eyes when she revealed her secret to me was something I will treasure forever. A boiled egg rolling on the floor. Just that, but it was enough to make us feel like the happiest family in the world.
That recollection makes me realise that life is full of the simplest most incredible moments. My mother taught me to look for wonder in the most mundane things. She is one of the most wonderful women I know. She is someone who inspires me daily, if I can be a fraction of the mother she is to me then I will be a great mother to my children (when they appear in my life;).
However my mother is not without her flaws. She is a veteran of hard knocks and terrible decision making. I don’t see these flaws as something that detracts from her, because they have shaped the woman who is my mother and who has instilled in me the values I have in life. However these decision making flaws she has has taught me about decision making in my life and I have vowed never to compromise myself for a man. You see, my mother gave up her dream job for a man. She regrets this decision to this day. That decision did ultimately result in me, which she does not regret in the least, but perhaps she would have had me anyway…who knows. This one terrible decision she made had a knock on effect in her life and to this day she doubts all her choices in life, so that deciding what colour curtains to buy becomes a disproportionately huge decision in her life because she is afraid of making the wrong decision.
I don’t want that for my life. And as much as she has failed in certain aspects of her life she has tried so hard to instill in me the value of believing in yourself. To follow your instincts and not to let other people walk all over you. She teaches me these lessons over and over again. So that now I refuse to be trampled on and I will not stand by and let other people be trodden all over by others. My mother taught me to stand up for myself and others. I am young and I do still make mistakes and sometimes I do compromise myself, but I try so hard to live by these lessons and to feel as little regret as possible. with the words she uses and her daily actions my mother is an inspiration to me.
My mother is not perfect, but she is just like that boiled egg to me – fragile and hard simultaneously – a wonder. She makes me smile and she is one of my closest confidants in life. She knows me inside out and sometimes her words are painful and cutting, but I know that they are embedded in love and a desire to see me succeed where she could not. The world is teeming with remarkable women who do selfless acts everyday to make sure that their children grow up to be people who can make a difference. These women deserve more recognition and respect. Women need more respect. One of the most important lessons my mother ever taught me was that words are powerful. The language that we use has the ability to influence the people around us. She was disgusted one day when I came home from a play date at a friends house and I asked if our girl was coming in the next day as I wanted to give her something I had made at pre-school. Now I had never heard my mother refer to Hilda, our helper, as the girl, nor would I ever hear her say it, but it had been used at my friends house to refer to their helper and being very young I thought it was ok. My mother sat me down and asked me if I thought that Hilda was an adult or a young child? I said an adult. Then she asked me why I had thought it was ok that I had called her a girl. This made me think. It still makes me think. Our language has the power to change political thought or to enforce a narrow and dangerous world view. So when I hear racist, homophobic or anti-feminist jokes being told by intelligent people, I make it known that their language is entrenching a view point that is flawed and perpetuates inequality. My mother was never afraid to make herself unpopular by saying these things to people and because of her and other very strong women in my life I too speak out.
I challenge every woman who reads this blog to be a hard boiled egg – someone who has been transformed by tremendous heat and struggle into something better, someone who is fragile yet able to be rolled on the floor and come away unscathed. Be a good egg in this life.