I have been the editor of the Music section for Lippy Magazine since I started at University of Leeds last September, but I had not had a go at writing for them until now. When the theme of the second print edition was revealed to be 'Strength,' the idea came to my mind almost instantly. Having paired up with the lovely Beatrice, we wrote The Strength Our Parents Gave Us, each recounting our separate stories of how our parents have shaped the people we are now.
Since today is Mother's Day, and earlier this week would have been my mother's 51st birthday, I am happy to share this piece with you.
My section of the article goes a little like this...
"Last week, I received a call from my father requesting help with creating a CV, so that he could apply for a new job. I complied with delight, of course, and as I sat down to describe his thirteen years in the position of Homemaker, I felt a new-found wealth of compassion and admiration for my father.
I am the youngest of four siblings, two of whom I share the same mother, and two of whom I share the same father. My parents each had previous marriages before their own, but encountered a kind of love one expects to find only once in a lifetime, or sometimes only on screen. We were quite the conventional family from there on. So when the news came that my mother, at the young age of 32, had been diagnosed with breast cancer, the path became distorted for my seemingly picture-perfect family.
When she passed away four years later, my father was left with an eldest son fighting a drug addiction, an infant granddaughter lacking proper care from her teenage parents, an adolescent daughter (with whom he does not share blood) about to start her first period, an imaginative son who is caught up in the confusion, and myself, a youngest daughter, about to start her first year at big school, wondering where mummy is. Having spent the previous ten years building and managing a car sales company, my dad went from the absorbed businessman providing for his family, to the single father ironing mountains of school uniform and preparing four packed lunches per day.
On top of tackling the grief, he had to become a parent who fulfilled both roles, teaching me everything I know about strength and self belief.So when I reached the age where it became second nature for girls to experiment with makeup, fashion style, and false tan, I joined in because it was fun, and I enjoyed playing around with my identity and femininity, not because I felt pressured to fit in. Yet, in a world where our competence is determined by the number of likes our Instagram posts receive, it is difficult not to feel pressured into looking aesthetic. Throughout my teenage years, I never felt completely happy with my looks - because I’m not superhuman - but I equally never felt particularly self-conscious, inadequate or obsessed with controlling my appearance, like many now do.
As I now grow more into my own person, move away from home, and travel the continent, I am meeting more and more people yet learning more and more about myself. I am a determined person, and I will try hard to achieve the things I desire. I am optimistic and I tend not to worry. I am open, honest and I tend to offer true opinions to those who ask for them - but I'm not perfect, and I don't beat myself up about that.
My mother’s battle with a terminal illness, her eventual tragic passing, and my father’s consequent ability to maintain a positive attitude in the home I grew up in, are all factors that helped me to understand that throughout anything, what matters most is our happiness. Mostly, I have been brought up to believe that anything is possible, and I thank my father for that."
I'm very happy to have had this story published and recognised, and I look forward to writing many more. Pick up a copy from Leeds University Union, and please check out the other amazing content here.