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We had our Mother’s Day in the UK back in March, but I’ve been looking for an opportunity to share a piece I wrote during a visit to a local writing group, and my mother certainly deserves to be celebrated again.

This morning we ran a craft stall together, my illustrated poetry and detailed needlecraft, mum’s knitting, baking and sewing. People found such joy in our work, and I missed no opportunity to acknowledge and affirm my mother’s talent, not least the shawl I was wearing, which so many people commented on. It was a fantastic morning where we celebrated both our similarities (we’re both very creative and motivated) and our varied talents (I can’t knit for toffee, though I can crochet at a push).

Before I digress, this is what I wrote for a free writing exercise when asked what I had learned from my mother on what it is…to be a woman.

What my mother taught me about being a woman could probably be summed up as, ‘Don’t let any conventional ideas of what a woman is supposed to be, limit you.’ Mum was sent to finishing school to ‘become a lady,’ acquiring an impressive ability to cook great choux pastry, but losing none of the fearless non-conformity she’d gone in with. That said, she’s certainly not taught me to be unconventional for the sake of it, only to be true to myself, and whatever being a woman means to me.

Mum embodies the nurturing , caring, compassionate qualities I associate with femininity, but she’s also full of the kind of fearless strength I would more traditionally associate with men. She can go into any situation of chaos and crisis, face it head on, and find a solution.

My mother has taught me that truly embodying woman is far more powerful and raw and challenging than our modern media would beg us believe. Wearing skirts and having long perfectly styled hair is nothing to do with it. Sure, use them if they work for you, but don’t let them define or confine you.

In her life before I was born Mum, was a nurse with the flying doctors in Africa. Some of the stories she’s told me of her time there, including helping to deliver babies in dangerous and upsetting conditions, certainly wouldn’t be considered appropriate dinner table conversation, but they are as woman as woman gets.

Brave, loud, raw, vital, earthy, powerful woman, doing all she can, often at the risk of her own suffering, in order to nurture and protect life. That’s love. Not pink, fluffy, pretty love. Real love. And that’s my Mum.