Wednesday, 28 August 2013
Last night, just before I dropped off to sleep, the strangest object came to mind. It was a pot of glue. Well, not quite a pot. A small plastic bottle with a brown slightly oval top, containing a slit through which glue would ooze out when the bottle was squeezed. It was the glue we used at home when I was growing up. Goodness knows how long that glue bottle lasted, but it's the one that I associate most strongly with projects at home. Glue - stretchy sticky binding gloop - has been on my mind since I watched my sister getting married a few weeks ago.
When I was about to get married, my Gran told me that the most important part of being a wife was to be the glue that holds family life together. Not just husband and wife, but inlaws, siblings, aunts, uncles, cousins, third cousins twice removed. Even family-friends-who-aren't-really-aunties-but-we-call-them-that-anyway. It was advice that really (ahem,my apologies in advance) stuck with me.
It came to take on even more significance once we had children. Not only did I desperately want my children to experience being part of a big noisy family (my sister and I don't have any cousins so we had to content ourselves with being a small noisy family), but also, I came to realise that my newly inherited inlaws, aunts and cousins were a truly precious additional source of support in the early baby months and beyond. When we moved out of London and had our second son, the women of our new-found Church family appeared and helped to carry us through the newborn months. They were incredible. We'd attended this particular church twice before the baby arrived, and once Mr W's two week paternity leave ended, a rota appeared. For two weeks, different women from the church would appear at 5.30pm to deliver dinner for us all. It's a rota I've had the privilege of helping on for new mums since then, and I think it's one of the nicest things about being part of our church family.
That's the thing about family - and women, in particular, I think. We stretch. We think we're already at full capacity but then someone nearby stumbles and we shift our load to the other hip and help them up. We patch up holes. We see the disagreements within families or social circles, and set about filling in the gaps. Armed usually with tea and hobnobs, we try a little emotional darning. And frequently, we bend. There have been many times when I've had to bite my tongue as someone says something patronising or dismissive that suggests they see me as 'just' a Mum, 'just' a housewife, 'just' Mrs W. My ego is desperate to whip out my academic record, my career highlights, my grade 5 flute certificate, but instead I root around for a little grace. I remind myself that I love what I'm doing, my kids are cool, and this life suits us all very well. But acknowledging all that - without resorting to brandishing woodwind certification - requires bending, nonetheless.
So as a fully paid up stretchy, patchy, bendy woman, I thought I'd take a moment to salute my fellow...erm...Gluers. To my dear friends out there, probably not reading this, far too busy being glue yourselves, you are gorgeous, sparkly, shiny people and the world is a better place for having you in it. Mwah. Stay sticky.