NourishEd: Mother, Daughter, Sister, Woman

Four labels, four identities, four experiences. How does the intersectionality of these roles shape me into being the person who I am and who I have become?

I am Hannah. I am a woman who is a daughter and a sister. I am not a mother, but I am a god mother, I am also an aunt. I am a human being who is sisterly.

mother daughter sister woman

Motherhood

A mother is a woman in relation to her child or children –  I always wanted to have kids and thought I would be a mother one day. I am now 41 and single, and I have accepted the fact that that ship has probably sailed. I am not sad but am at peace with that reality. I am not a religious person, but ironically, Hannah is the name of the wife of Elkanah in the Old Testament. Her rival was fertile Peninnah, whilst Hannah was barren. After a blessing from Eli she did become pregnant with Samuel. If I am meant to be a mother, it will happen, and I am open to what that may look like. I have always dated men who have children and I have often considered becoming a foster parent. My own Mum got married at 18, she had me at 20 and my sister at 21. She was a young mum as I grew up, a lot younger than most of my peers’ mothers. Her own mother had passed when I was 3 or 4 years’ old, so she navigated being a young mum without the support of her own mum. My Mum owned and ran a large successful nursery school, so I was already around kids growing up, Gran was also a primary school teacher, so it is probably why I ended up teaching. Mum throws herself headfirst into being a Grandmother, I wonder if it is because she is subconsciously making up for us growing up with that figure in our lives.

To mother is to give birth to but also to bring up (a child) with care and affection. As a teacher, I have been a maternal figure in every school I have worked at. As a Head of Year, a Faculty Leader, the only female in a school as Vice Principal and as the founding Headteacher of 2 schools, I have always mothered my students, my staff. I am nurturing and a matriarch, and I was very much a tiger mum with my team.  So I may not have given birth to lots of the children who I have nurtured over the years, but I have been a maternal presence for them and often get called ‘Mum’ by students in error.

“It is not about how much you do, but how much love

you put into what you do that counts”.

Mother Theresa

Godmotherhood

In the traditional sense, a god mother is a woman who presents a child at baptism and promises to take responsibility for their religious education. I am the God mother for 3 families, 3 of my close girl friends have bestowed the gift of choosing me to play an active role in their children’s lives. To be a god mother these days is to be an additional adult, a role model. I treat all of the children in each family as my god children –  I am an aunt to all of them. Godmother can also be defined as a woman who is influential or pioneering in a movement or organisation. I was not aware of this significance and love this use, I am thus the Godmother of #WomenEd too, a 30,000 strong community of women.

Daughterhood

Daughterhood is the state of being someone’s daughter – I am the eldest daughter or our small family, both my parents are also the eldest. We have all experienced being the firsts in our families. As a teenager my relationship with my Mum was tumultuous, we argued a lot. We are both of a fiery disposition, we are strong willed, opinionated and we are not afraid to articulate our thoughts and feelings. This led to regular fireworks. As I left home to go travelling and then to University, my relationship with my parents changed. They enabled my independence, they encouraged my adventurous outlook, and they supported my career aspirations.  I know they are very proud of everything I have achieved. As I have got older, my Mum and I have found a peace and an ease to our relationship where we seldom argue anymore.

Sisterhood

I have a younger sister, Philippa,  who is 18 months younger than me. In some ways we are chalk and cheese, in other ways, we have a lot in common. At secondary school we often fought, but when I went to University and she moved in with her partner Jon, my now brother-in-law, we became closer. Despite this, I was fiercely protective of her and would always fight her corner – no one was allowed to be unkind to my sister or they would receive the ‘Wilson Wrath’. She is one of my best mates and I would choose to have her in my life, even if we were not related. I know I am lucky to have her as a constant source of emotional support. She is the kinder, gentler, more thoughtful and more free-spirited version of me! She is also a fantastic mother. She married and had kids young, like our own Mum, so it often feels like she is my big sister as she is much more settled and more responsible than I have been.

Sisterhood is not just those who are blood related though. I am lucky to have a lot of sisters in my life, friends where the connection is really and truly deep. My best-friend Zoe emigrated to Canada 10 years ago, but we are as close today as we were then, in some ways we are closer as we make the effort to talk once a week. We make a concerted effort to stay in contact and updated with one another’s lives. I am the god parent of her eldest and visit them each year or we meet on a holiday somewhere in the Americas. I have other ‘sisters’ who are fellow kindred spirits, they are soul sisters and they are my wing women. I am fiercely principled in sisterly conduct and I just do not understand women who are not sisterly in their attitudes and actions. Unsisterly behaviour is a non-negotiable for me in my friendships and working relationships.

Aunt

I have added Aunt as this is a facet of my identity that is really important to me. I am a proud aunt to Flinn and Etta, my sister’s kids. I was there straight after their births and I have been very involved in their early childhoods and a constant presence as they have grown up. I love spending time with them and am proud of the lovely characters they both have. I take my responsibility as their legal guardian very seriously, should anything happen to my sister and my brother-in-law, they have bestowed their trust in me to bring them up with their values. I am also close to my own Aunt – Bec is my Mum’s younger sister and I lived with her for a period when I first became a teacher in London.

Womanhood

I am proud to be a woman and I love the different facets of my identity. My relationships with other women make me the woman I am today. I consider myself very lucky to have so many strong, phenomenal women in my life looking out for me. Founding #WomenEd five years ago opened a flood gate and I have met so many inspiring women: women who have smashed glass ceilings; women who have smashed concrete ceilings; women who have survived tragedy; women who advocate for other women; women who nurture and empower others; women who are pioneers and who trailblaze a different way of being, a different way of leading.

Thank you to all of the phenomenal women I know, you inspire me, you empower me, you challenge me and you nurture me. This poem by my favourite writer is for you all:

Phenomenal Woman

Pretty women wonder where my secret lies.
I’m not cute or built to suit a fashion model’s size
But when I start to tell them,
They think I’m telling lies.
I say,
It’s in the reach of my arms
The span of my hips,
The stride of my step,
The curl of my lips.
I’m a woman
Phenomenally.
Phenomenal woman,
That’s me.

I walk into a room
Just as cool as you please,
And to a man,
The fellows stand or
Fall down on their knees.
Then they swarm around me,
A hive of honey bees.
I say,
It’s the fire in my eyes,
And the flash of my teeth,
The swing in my waist,
And the joy in my feet.
I’m a woman
Phenomenally.
Phenomenal woman,
That’s me.

Men themselves have wondered
What they see in me.
They try so much
But they can’t touch
My inner mystery.
When I try to show them
They say they still can’t see.
I say,
It’s in the arch of my back,
The sun of my smile,
The ride of my breasts,
The grace of my style.
I’m a woman

Phenomenally.
Phenomenal woman,
That’s me.

Now you understand
Just why my head’s not bowed.
I don’t shout or jump about
Or have to talk real loud.
When you see me passing
It ought to make you proud.
I say,
It’s in the click of my heels,
The bend of my hair,
the palm of my hand,
The need of my care,
‘Cause I’m a woman
Phenomenally.
Phenomenal woman,
That’s me.

Maya Angelou

 

 

 

 

Published by Ethical Leader

Leadership Development Consultant, Facilitator, Coach, Speaker and Writer. Experience of teaching schools, initial teacher education, mentoring & coaching, diversity and equality. Passionate about integrity, ethics and values.

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