International Women's Day 2019 - thanks to my mum

Posted on 08 March 2019

International Women's Day 2019 - thanks to my mum

International Women’s Day is something I have found myself recently trying to explain to my 7-year-old who asked why there wasn’t an International Men’s Day. (Maybe there is, but I don’t know about it!). My answer was simple, because women have fought a much harder battle to get to the same place in society as men and so we celebrate all our achievements, along with striving to forge the still somehow existent gender gap. Luckily, we are reading Rebel Stories for Girls (anyone with children over 5 I would suggest getting), it is a celebration of women from all walks of life who have accomplished something amazing, from Beyoncé to Marie Curie to Margaret Thatcher and Frida Kahlo. When reading these stories, I often find myself explaining why some accomplishments are so inspiring – mainly due to the time in which they happened; when women would not have ordinarily been able to do something considered normal nowadays such as study to be a Doctor (not an obstacle women in Western societies would be faced with today) or that less than 100 years ago many girls in the world weren’t allowed to go to school (unfortunately some still can’t) and that here in England it was only 90 years ago women were given the vote on the same terms as men. It is for all these reasons that I want my daughter to grow up to be the best she can be and to be who and what she wants to be without any restrictions put on her for being a woman. Whilst we have come a long way, there is unfortunately still some way to go before we have complete gender equality.

All this talk of women with my daughter has also made me reflect on the women in my life who I have taken inspiration from, of course there are many – friends, grandmothers, aunties, cousins to name a few, but I would like to talk a little about my mum. My mum, born in Scotland, grew up as an ex-Pat in Egypt and Singapore before returning to the UK for her teenage years and university in Edinburgh. She met my dad camping in Florence, him a Junior Doctor and her with a sprained ankle and a fabulous figure (I love hearing that story).  They became an item and ended up living in Australia for a while, soon after they were married back in the UK and then I was born. Mum decided early on to go back to work after 6 months, she could have stayed at home had she wanted, but she loved her job and she knew that she didn’t want to be a stay at home mum (She actually said it was easier going to work!). I have so much admiration for her for making that decision, as I know too well how hard it can be to leave your child and go to work but I honestly believe it made her a better parent and we have a wonderful relationship to this day. She was great at her job and she really enjoyed going to work, why should she give that up to stay at home all day with a baby? Many of my mum’s friends at the time thought she was crazy to go back to work and some judged her for it, but I am so glad she did, it meant she was happy, and I honestly believe if you are a happy parent you have a much better relationship with your children. I had nannies and au pairs as my mum would travel a lot with work but it meant when we were together or she could pick me up from school, it was all the more special. I have so many memories of playing with mum in the garden, reading together at bedtime and sitting on the end of her bed watching her get ready to go out on a Saturday night with Cilla Black and Blind Date on in the background! I speak to my mum nearly every day and have in fact ended up living less than 3 miles away, she is the first person I call with any news and I would be lost without her. She is so supportive of me as a working parent, not just with childcare but with advice and an ear to listen. When setting up Lister & Bruce, my mum (& dad) gave me their full backing and to have that has been so important, starting a new business can be daunting and there have been many challenges along the way but to have that belief from them gives me the belief in myself. Thank you mum, love you x


  • Alison Garrett: March 10, 2019

    Well, that brought tears to my eyes. I hardly recognised myself!! Thank you Helen xxx

  • Laura Haigh : March 10, 2019

    This was so so lovely to read – I adored learning how your parents met and more about your mum – and she truly is an amazing woman – even stepping in and being a surrogate mum to me at times – she well and truly deserves a thank you and you are testiment to being guided by a strong and happy woman xxx

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