In my far happier mid-twenties, I found good love, married, and settled into further gender-traditional roles. My husband Matt went to work, and I stayed home with our baby daughter Zoe, yet I never imagined how I’d struggle in the new role of mother. I’d pictured sleepless nights, the crazy disorder of early motherhood, but I never imagined the disorder would stem from me. Because once past the fluffy pink fairytale, my thoughts were quickly consumed with how I could forever protect my daughter from the utter state of the world. I was terrified.
Those feelings of despair and vulnerability tainted a time that should’ve been magical, but they also came from a very valid place. It wasn’t until my second pregnancy of twin girls that I began challenging my thought process. I was right about the dangers of the world, but I didn’t need to raise my children in the same scared of my own shadow way that I’d been raised. I didn’t want to grow women who needed rescuing or protection. And I didn’t want them weighted with the same expectations and limitations that I’d lived beneath myself. Yet something wasn’t ringing true.
How could my girls ever really be at ease, when they’d a mother that hadn’t quite made peace with herself? It was another roaring kick in the guts to be reminded of how hostile my birthplace was, and how at odds I still was over my sense of belonging, in the aftermath of the 2016 EU referendum. Again, racism raised its ugly head in my life, but instead of my usual shapeshifting, I now had a small audience watching. I was their example, and if I let other people’s ignorance continue to shape my identity, how devastated would I be to watch them grow doing the very same? It was another clarifying moment. One, that no matter how hard, I’ve faced head on ever since, confronted and explored through my love of writing too, which became like therapy for me.
Be it race, gender, sexuality, disability, there’s no end to the many ways society labels, excludes and separates, infecting our perceptions of ourselves. Which is why representation truly matters. My girls are bold, funny, ambitious too; happy in themselves – and free from those old, ingrained influences clouding their esteem, because they’ve a mum that’s shown them anything’s possible. Even writing a book that’ll be published on the other side of the world. Making peace with the person I was. Embracing my own future like I have my natural hair.