Last night I went for supper with a collection of really successful women – the lucky kind, who can sum up their life achievements in one word: doctor, barrister, novelist etc. I spent most of the evening waiting for my ‘About A Boy’ moment where everyone finds Hugh Grant charming until he admits to doing nothing for a living. This involved a lot of Cava drinking to ensure I was fully occupied every time it looked as though the conversation was leaning towards me and, specifically, my daily time sheet.
To be fair, there were also a significant number of equally successful women around the table who, like me, would have to do a rambling Ronnie Corbett-style explanation of their professional lives. And no doubt many of the one-worders would swap at least a couple of their pencil skirts for a few more after-school pick-ups. So there we are, back to basics: there is no way of doing it easily. The hardest bit about being a woman isn’t trying to have it all, it’s about trying to work out which bits you actually want anyway.
And if it’s hard for us, here’s evidence that we’re not making it any clearer for the next generation. One of my new high-achieving friends told us over supper that her daughter had written an essay at school using the word strident, and had come home delighted that the teacher had commended her for this. She’d informed the teacher that her mum used the word a lot because her mum was a feminist – and that her best friend probably wouldn’t know the word because her mum wasn’t. When my friend tried to assure her that this other mum was surely a feminist, she was told ‘She can’t be, she’s still married’. Ouch.
So, inspired by the vastness of other people’s experience, knowledge, understanding, confusion and amusing anecdotes, I have decided to stop navel gazing alone. My brilliant and talented friend Hazel will be appearing in the first ‘Guest Wednesday’ blog, and if she’s not cleared everything up by Thursday and you’d like to join the circus, let me know. Then next time someone asks, you can say ‘Blogger’.