The Little Girl in Me; the Woman I am

As many of you know, I am planning a wedding. Due to commitments that I have in my professional life, and to allow me plenty of time to save, this event will not be taking place until the spring of 2015. It is rare that I get much time to think about the necessaries that Julian and I will need to take into account in planning our big day, and when we first got engaged we were convinced that we would be unlike most other couples who go through this process. I would be totally cool; never would the name ‘Nicole’ and the word ‘bridezilla’ be used in the same sentence, and Julian would be totally involved, rebuffing the stereotypes of men who sit back while their partners go gaga over table plans and flower arrangements. Most of that stuff is a long way off for us yet, and we have a team (or maybe it should better be described as an ‘army’) of fabulous people – friends and family – who will help us bring it all together, but I think that, by and large, we’ve done pretty well. On a couple of occasions, however, an insane and monstrous bridal version of myself has taken possession of me, and I have emerged from the experience thinking, ‘what on earth just happened?’ When I was very little, one of my favourite things to do was to watch my mum and dad’s wedding video. Repeatedly. I think that as I grew older, and in the eleven years that Julian and I spent growing to be more a part of each other, I forgot that this little girl ever existed. And in those moments of monstrosity, Julian has got to know her. ‘I’m sorry that I’m a stupid little girl,’ I’ve said, ‘but it’s just part of me that I can’t erase.’

As we’re now entering feminism’s ‘fourth wave’, I wonder if my (speculative) daughters will grow up differently. There was nothing particularly ‘girlish’ about my own upbringing, however, and, when I cast my mind back, I realise that my mum had nothing really to do with my obsession for weddings. My mum bought me pretty party dresses, but she also bought me leggings and trainers and inspired me to become the strong, independent woman that I am today. I think that, ultimately, it comes down to the experiences that have framed my life; I remember going to a spate of weddings in my early childhood – friends of my parents, and uncles, and the like – and I was mesmerised by everything that they had to offer. I have also been a bridesmaid on six occasions (not quite ‘27 Dresses’ but I am evidently hot bridesmaid property). Some of the best memories I have made, in my later life, come from the weddings I have been to. I will never forget the ‘Danza Kuduro’ car shimmy on our road trip up to Northumberland for Ben and Ellen’s wedding, or the ice swan at my aunt and uncle’s Hindu wedding, or the fantastic Soul and Motown band at Helena and Jeff’s wedding.

Earlier this week, I went to visit Mary Wollstonecraft’s tomb at Old Church in St Pancras. Wollstonecraft wrote A Vindication of the Rights of Woman. She was one of the earliest British feminists and one of the most prominent political writers of the late eighteenth century. She had a child with a man named Gilbert Imlay who abandoned her, and later found love with William Godwin with whom she had a passionate affair. In the course of their relationship, she fell pregnant with her daughter, Mary, who would later make her own literary mark with the novel, Frankenstein. Wishing that their child should be legitimate, they decided to marry, and were married at the same church at which they are both now laid to rest. I doubt that Mary Wollstonecraft ever went through any of the crazy thought processes that I have been through, but I know that she did some crazy things for love. Throughout the course of that day, I had sparked up a twitter conversation with another fan of Wollstonecraft and met her when I visited Old Church. We spoke about her life, or, rather, she spoke and I listened. She gave me a postcard and told me about some of the other interesting tomb-dwellers in the churchyard. And at this point, I realised that being a rational, freethinking woman is not in any way affected by my reversions to girlhood, and that our brilliance, as women, comes from all of our component parts. I am a woman, but I am also a girl, and I don’t apologise for either of those parts of me.

Wollstonecraft’s Tomb, Old Church, St Pancras

Before Julian proposed, he went to let my dad know his intentions; we were all heading to New York to surprise my mum for her 50th birthday, so it was crucial that she couldn’t know any of the details (he would’ve told her otherwise.) My dad was ecstatic, but offered him some words of warning: ‘You know that it’s just going to be weddings and dresses all the time now, don’t you?’ ‘Nah, Nicole’s not like that,’ Julian retorted. I do talk to Julian about the wedding, and I’ve shown him my Evernote folders and Pinterest boards, but we also talk about world affairs, work, hobbies, and all of the wonderful adventures that we hope to have in life. Let there not be one ‘big day’, I say, but many.

 

 

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