It is a column my mother clipped from the paper and pinned to her notice board. Over three years later it remains there, but this week, for the first time in a long time, it caught my eye. For one very important reason, as I read it it caught a lot more than that. Here it is...
As a bloke, it’s not for me to talk about what things are like for women or how these things have changed through history.
I’ll never know the world from a woman’s point of view, nor truly be able to understand many of the issues that women face every day, because – quite simply – I’m not one.
My world, however, is full of inspirational women, and in the spirit of International Women’s Day, I’d like to talk a bit about them.
We’ll start at the top. I’m lucky enough to have two grandmothers, who each recently turned 89 and 93 respectively. Both have lived through nearly a century of change and uncertainty and done so with gusto, grit and determination.
Each has met every challenge life has thrown at them head on, and for a large part have done this without my grandfathers, who both passed many years ago.
Though I’ve never told them this, it’s something that I’m really proud of, and always will be (Incidentally, sorry Grans for putting your ages in the paper!).
My mum has worked for the same employer since she was 18 years old. She’s now 64 (I’ll definitely pay for that...). It’s unusual these days for someone to spend their entire career at one company, yet it speaks to the fact that my mum is one of the most committed people I’ve ever met, and never fails to see something important all the way through.
My boss is one of the hardest working people I know, always proving that if you set your mind to something you can do it.
And my partner, 29, is a teacher, and one with a seemingly infinite capacity to put the needs of others first.
Though it might be the one thing that all of these people have in common, the fact that they are women isn’t what makes them inspirational. It’s the fact that every single one of them just gets on with it, and never fails to make the best of any situation.
If I’m ever lucky enough to have a daughter, she’ll have a lot of great female role models to look up to, and I’ll be proud if she turns out exactly like any of them...
That was in February 2019, and three years later the moment has finally arrived. That's right ladies and gentlemen – I'm proud to announce that not only is my first child on the way, but that 'she' is indeed a little girl! I am more excited than I have ever been in my life – even more so than back in '99 when the first Lego Star Wars kits hit the shelves (for an 11-year-old lad with a lightsaber , this was as big as it got, let me tell you).
Reading the words of that column back, it feels like they were penned a lifetime ago. Yet I'm proud to stand behind every single one of them.
A few things have changed of course – most obviously, the ages of my rogues' gallery of inspirational women. But sadly, far more is now different.
As some regular readers may know, my mother passed away in August last year after a battle with cancer. I never imagined I'd be bringing a sweet little lady into the world without her guidance, and to tell you the truth, it still hasn't sunk in now.
But, perhaps that's because I won't be – not really. You see, my mum was such a force of war that a little thing like death will never get in the way of her helping me when I need her the most. Through love, laughter and decades' worth of tellings off, she'd been preparing me for this for over 30 years. I can hear her now, I know what she'd say, and I know what she'd want me to do; quite simply, the best I can.
So that's the promise I'm going to make to both her and to my little daughter (who, the scan photo has incidentally revealed, seems to enjoy relaxing in exactly the same position as Daddy after eight pints and a kebab. That's my girl, folks!).
Mum – I promise that I'll do everything I can to help her and guide her, just like you did me. Baby – I promise that I'll see that promise through to the very end. Because if I don't, your grandma's going to find a way to smite me. I'll love you, lift you and make you laugh until the day I'm dust – and for every year you ever need me to after that. I had a great teacher, and I'm going to do my best to do both you and her proud.
Thanks for always keeping me on my toes, Mum. And Baby – thanks for picking up where she left off. Something tells me the party's only just getting started...