The inspiration for this particular entry came from a slightly unusual place, considering how personal and revealing the subject is going to be. Whilst searching through my trusty Netflix (does anyone else spend more time searching through films, than actually watching them, or is that just me?), I came to a selection of recommendations based on “Powerful lead women”, as I apparently watch a lot of films with such protagonists.
I’m not going to argue- I do.
From Cher in Clueless- say what you like, she’s a powerful woman- to River Song in Doctor Who, I love myself good role model. I know at twenty-ahem-nine I am too old to be a fangirl, but I can’t help it. My idols range from Alanis Morissette to Taylor Swift, from Julia Roberts to Audrey Helburn, from Samantha Jones to Monica Gellar (technically fictional, but does it matter?). J.K Rowling and Jane Austen are my literary idols, writing some of my favourite novels. However, Kelly Clarkson and Lena Dunham share my number one spot! Both are intelligent, funny, incredibly successful- and I’m not even resentful that Lena is younger than I am! The fact that they couldn’t care less about what people think of them, and that in their own ways both are pretty ballsy iconoclasts, is more than remarkable. It’s awe-inspiring. When I grow up, I want to be just like either one of them! Add to the mix my obsession with the Kardashian/Jenner clan (no time to justify this to all of you cynics, but Kris Jenner has made successes of her daughters, for having seemingly ordinary- or limited- talents…) I clearly have some supreme women to look up to.
A woman who I class as an inspiration to me is my mother-in-law, Sandra. She has welcomed me into her family since day one, thirteen years ago. She’s a constant support for us, especially with Noah. I’ve never met such a calming influence in my life, and I definitely wish I had more of her serenity and kindness. I’ve always felt that I can go to Sandra with anything, and she rarely has a bad word to say about anyone.
People say mother-in-laws are hard work. Mine really isn’t. Sandra lets us live our lives but is always there when we need her. I’ve never felt like I’ve stolen her son, and I’ve always felt included. She’s raised two awesome boys, and definitely helps me raise Noah, reassuring me that he is just a boy, being a typical boy! Sandra is the perfect mother-in-law and I’m very lucky to have her in my life.
I’m lucky to have a lot of friends in my life, and even now, as a grown up, there are many people I know I can turn to.
I count myself even luckier to have a friend who is more than just a best friend. She’s my sister, my wifey, my other half (sorry Andy, girl power and all that)! She’s my Johnston! We’ve been friends since we started secondary school, and on paper it’s a wonder we worked as we didn’t really have much in common! In my eyes, I was a geek, she was cool. She was popular, I certainly was not! Our lives went in completely different ways, but we’ve never lost our friendship at all. It’s actually gotten stronger as the years have gone by. Even now, almost twenty years on, I know I’ll come out with something to which she just shakes her head, or says “WTF”… My plan to dye my hair grey and lilac over summer is one such time. I can be myself completely, as can she. I don’t mind if she’s seen her arse (Sarahism for being in a mood), and she doesn’t care when I do something exaggerated, or come out with some hippy shit! There’s a complete acceptance between us, and I hope I can safely say we’d not change a thing about each other or our friendship. I can tell when she’s pissed off with someone, or something, by the way she goes quiet and sets her face in a certain way. Sometimes her eyes almost pop with anger, and I know she needs to “wind her neck in”! I know when she’s happy as her eyes light up instead, and she gets extremely animated. Her facial expressions get out of control when something really good is going on! It’s endearing! Sarah is ridiculously funny, and rarely intentionally so. To say she has a dry sense of humour would be an understatement! I’m over the top and outlandish. We’re opposite sides of the same coin and I think that this is why we work.
It’s not all shits and giggles with us, and not all about “living it large” and having mad drunken nights (although we are the queens of those). Sometimes we catch up and barely talk. There’s never an awkward silence, just comfortable ones. When I’m feeling crap, and want quiet I go to Sarah, and she can do the same. Its one of my favourite things to be honest. It’s comforting to have a friend who knows me better than I would admit. When you’ve been in a relationship with someone for 18 years, it’s surprising how much gets said with hardly any words. We’ve been there for every milestone since we were eleven, and have quite often made milestones out of pretty mundane occurrences. Just this week, when I saw the photos of Caitlyn Jenner, the first thing I did was send Sarah one. I knew she’d appreciate a photograph of a transgender celebrity on a Monday afternoon, more than anyone else! She gets my quirks, and my annoying habits, and I’ve never once had to explain or justify myself to her. Having Sarah in my life just makes the world an easier place to be. It always has done, and it always will.
I’ve never hidden my admiration for my sisters, Kate and Lucy, and I never will. I was so lucky growing up, to have sisters who are six years older than me. They were my protectors when life was hard. When our parents were going through their divorce, I have no doubt about how much Kate and Lucy sheltered me from. I was eight, they were fourteen. Too young to know what was happening themselves, they still made sure that I didn’t end up screwed up by having my Mam and Dad live in separate houses. They did all the things that big sisters did- trick me into drinking booze (Castaways are just orange juice, you know), teach me about the birds and the bees, lie to me about my dead rabbit… Pretty standard stuff. But over the years they have done so much more. When they went to uni, both sisters wrote me lots of letters, sent me little cards, and let their annoying teenage sister go and stay with them in their grown-up world. When I got engaged at nineteen, they didn’t mock the idea (not to my face anyway), they supported it! They planned me an awesome hen night, were by my side on my wedding day, and they both love my son a ridiculous amount.
Sometimes there’s still a tendency for them to treat me like their little sister, and we maybe don’t keep in touch as frequently as we should, but regardless, when we’re together you can tell we’re close. I know I must drive them mad with my ways- there are a lot of personality differences between the pair of them and me. I’m not an easy character, and these two have put up with some shit over the years- most of which is down to my own special kind of crazy! As twins, Kate and Lucy are very tight, but I like to think I’m not too far behind. I’ve found that the age gap does make a difference at certain times in life. Right now, for instance, I think it is noticeable, but I always think, when I’m such and such an age, I want to be just like Kate and Lucy. I’m grasping at having my last lot of mad nights in my twenties, whilst they’re preparing for their lovely second babies; I know in a few years, when life balances a bit, we’ll be closer than ever. It’s the nature of being the little sister! I’ll always be proud to be their little sis, and to be the aunty of their beautiful children. I cannot wait to meet the next couple of rugrats to be added to our clan. For me, it’s the most exciting thing about this year. I love my sisters an immeasurable amount, and I’m thankful everyday for them.
How can I write about my biggest female influences and not talk about my mother, Jen Wil? As far as mams go, I hit the jackpot. My mam is a complete nutter, in the best possible way! I don’t think I can write enough about how highly I value her. There aren’t the words to express my gratitude and love. We always have our ups and downs, and without doubt we piss each other off to high heavens. But usually, five minutes later we’re best friends again. No amount of door slamming, stroppy bitch behaviour and (regrettably) “I hate you”s as a teenager ever stopped my mam from being my number one fan. My god, I must’ve been a nightmare at times… But she’s always made me feel like I am important, like I am special.
As I’ve grown up, the bond between my mam and I has also grown. Her support with Noah, and every other aspect of my life has been constant. When I find life stressful, which with my disposition is quite often, my mam will do something to help that I didn’t even know I needed help with. Nine times out of ten, even when unwarranted, my mam gives great advice; it might just take a week or so for me to realise it! For better or for worse, so much of my personality comes from my mam… My temper, and my ability to hold a grudge for a lifetime definitely come from her! But so does my generosity, and my kindness. I’ve got the same sense of humour as my Mam, and we both swear like “chimneys”, as she once said! My mam would do anything for us, and I think she’s a mother who always puts her children first. She has so much love for us, and I do think that her daughters and grandchildren are her world. I hope that I show Noah the love that my mam has always shown me.
It might be childish and odd to still depend on my mam as much as I do, but I don’t care. I’m a Mammy’s girl, and I still will be at 60, never mind 30! I speak to my mam almost everyday, and Noah adores his Nanna Jen (silly Nanna)! Jen Wil is one of my best friends. Her house is an institution from where she took in my friends and I as teenagers. I know I can always go to her for a cuppa, some biscuits and a therapy session! I love my mam with all of my heart, and sometimes think I don’t show it enough.
Of course, I have many women in my life whom I idolise; my Nanna, my friends, aunties, Andy’s aunties, cousins, work colleagues… But the women I have talked about today are ones who I sometimes take for granted. I often neglect to tell them how much they’ve shaped my life, and how much they mean to me. If ever they feel like I’m leaving them out, I hope they read this blog and see my thoughts and feelings immortalised in the web. I love a strong female lead, and these four women are the strongest!