In 2007, at an assembly at my school for International Women’s Day, I delivered this tribute to my Mum to our Yr 7 – 12 students. I stumbled through the last paragraph, shedding a tear or two in the process. So many staff and students found me out that day to let me know my words had impacted them. My Mum wasn’t present at the assembly, but I had shown her my words in the days preceding the assembly. She had asked for me to print them out for her, and I never did. It seems right to me now to publish those words here, in this digital space, where hopefully they will be preserved and members of my family can revisit them in years to come.
At our celebration of International Women’s day I’d like to speak to you about a significant woman in my life who has shaped me into the woman I am today. I think it’s important to recognise that what may appear an ordinary life to some can have deep significance and meaning for others.
My mother was born in 1935 and spent her formative years in Carnegie in the home of her Grandmother. Her own mother was another remarkable woman who endured a violent marriage and had to work long and arduous hours to support a family in an era when many women were home makers , living out the stereotypical mothering role. My mother’s school life was not a happy one and she left at the age of 14 to embark on her own working life.
My mother married early but the relationship failed. She became a divorcee in an era when women didn’t do that sort of thing. I admire her for recognising that to stay in an unhappy union was to deny herself deserved happiness.
My mother married my father and I was born in 1965. We lived in a housing commission estate. Some would consider this an inferior beginning. I can only disagree. I was given a wonderful childhood with many rich, rewarding and happy experiences. During childhood my mother imparted her love of reading to me – one of her favourite things to say was, ‘You’re never lonely without a book’. It is thanks to her that I now spend many of my working hours here imparting upon you my love of reading and my desire that you also discover the wonderful friends that books can be.
When I was young my mother worked in factories to help support our family. She suffered from a bad back and still does, but that did not stop her from standing on hard concrete floors and attending every day. It was this strong work ethic that became my model in life and drives me to this day.
My mother has supported me in every aspect of my life; she has guided me through childhood, my teenage years, my time at college and into my married life with children. She is my anchor to this world, my moral compass, my confidante, my mentor, my teacher, and my friend. I hope that you are all fortunate enough to at some stage in your life know a strong woman who can be a role model to you and can guide you through life’s tricky bits. I’m very lucky that for me, that woman is my mother.
Happy Mother’s Day, Mum.