The Yes Woman: My unassuming mother saved my brother and me

My mother is remarkable. Which isn’t to say that we always get on

On mothers: ‘This woman has wiped your bottom. Of course she feels conflicted about your competence.’ Photograph: Thinkstock

On mothers: ‘This woman has wiped your bottom. Of course she feels conflicted about your competence.’ Photograph: Thinkstock

I’ve always been pretty close to my mother. She’s one of those quietly inspiring people who might not stand out on the street. At my mother’s age, women tend to be somewhat dismissed. They become increasingly invisible, and it’s easy to forget that these women possess beneath their skin the same mass of feeling and experience as everyone else; perhaps more. Each one has lived a varied life, even if only internally.

My mother is a remarkable woman. I didn’t realise this fully until I was in my teens. To this day, she will speak pejoratively of her choices and her life, but she saved us, you see, my brother and me. Although she was raised to have very little self-belief, and she suffocated inside her marriage to my father, she managed to take us away. When I was just seven, despite the fact that she was terrified and had nothing, she took us away from him. She walked away and into a completely uncertain future without any support.

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