I read an article in one of our national newspapers listing thirty women that the reader “needs to know”. Thirty Irish women worth watching were described, all beautiful, all accomplished.
These women are going places and are worthy of the nation’s watchful eye. Powerful women, CEO’s, business women, famous women like the stunning Ruth Negga, sportswomen too were included on the list.
I’ve watched women like these. I’ve been inspired by them, I still am.
Several years ago, I became a full-time parent. Only then did I start to see something else. I started to see someone else.
I see you. The woman who is not watched by or will ever feature in a national newspaper.
I see you. The stay-at-home-Mum who “doesn’t work”. You breastfeed your baby and chase your toddler around all day and somehow still manage to put a home-made meal on the table at dinner time.
I see you. The carer of your elderly parent. You drive your Mother to all her appointments, you coordinate her treatments and medications. You run from the geriatric ward of the hospital to collect your children from school.
I see you. The Mother who works tirelessly to fund-raise for much needed resources at the local primary school. You raised the money to pay for the computers that my children use every day at school.
I see you. Your children are at school now and you have some time to yourself. You volunteer with a children’s charity. You were there to entertain my children the last time we had to wait three hours to see a doctor at the A&E department.
I see you. The Mother of the autistic child. You fight for everything your child needs, none of it comes easy. You endure months of gruelling form-filling, endless questions from experts and personal reflections. You will do what it takes to have your child properly assessed. You have a path worn up and down to the school to meet with class and resource teachers. You are tired.
I see you. Your children are now raised, they are adults. You want your daughter to have the career of her dreams, the one you never had. She has a huge mortgage and cannot afford the extortionate childcare fees. You want the best for your family and if that means taking care of your grandchildren for little or no pay, you do it.
Women of Ireland you are unsung heroes. You have endured Magdalene laundries, Mother and baby homes, forced adoptions, limited access to reproductive healthcare and contraception. Yet you are still there to care for the young and the old.
I see you. Today I celebrate you.