‘Achieving gender equality requires the engagement of women and men, girls and boys. It’s everyone’s responsibility’ – Ban Ki-moon
Back in March I remember celebrating International Woman’s day in Bridlington North Yorkshire with Ang, Steph and Helena, well, I say celebrated, we sat drinking tea and coffee and eating cake in our pyjamas watching Step Up 2; no gender stereotyping there of course! I remember twitter being a wash with questions as to when International Men’s Day was and whether it was true gender equality if women had their own day and men didn’t. And they were right. To me gender equality, or equality of any kind isn’t anyone being better than anyone else, it’s being treated the same. Being treated equal if you will (clues in the name really!)
International Men’s Day focuses on improving gender relations and highlighting the importance of bringing up good male role models from all backgrounds and ages. It looks at addressing problems like parenting, families and good health choices.
So today, the men have their day, 19 November is International Men’s Day so here I’m going to celebrate all things man. But instead of going through and listing all the men I think worthy of a mention; Albert Einstein, Martin Luther King, Ghandi, Nick Carter. I’m going to talk about the men in my life that I think deserve a bit of a big up, because I’m not entirely sure what I’d do without them.
My Husband Dave
They say that the majority of couples are polar opposites and I don’t think that could be more true in mine and Dave’s case. He’s a deep thinker, quiet, sensible, rational, head strong and determined. I’m flighty, loud, daft, indecisive and soft. Yet somehow it just works. He calms me down when I get too ahead of myself and I lighten him up when he gets down. Despite our differences though I think fundamentally our core values are the same. We both love to travel, share the same sense of adventure and are very close with our families. In fact, since getting married both families have become very close with his parents and mine becoming good friends. We both take pride in our jobs and work hard to build a comfortable and fun life together.
Dave is, and has always been a man of great principle, intelligence, humour and strength (both physical and mental). Not to mention the fact he has gorgeous blue eyes and a babyface that would make him a shoe in for any boyband! I complained at the time that it took him 7 years to propose to me, but looking back, I think all that time together has made us a better couple and if any knows Dave the way I do, they’ll know that he has to do things in his own time, if you give him an ultimatum or back him into a corner, he’ll tell you exactly what you don’t want to hear. Since getting married we’ve never been stronger, I support him in everything he does whether it’s going for a promotion at work or getting into a training regime and he’s the same with me. He lets me bounce blog post ideas off him, let’s me talk about him and our life together publicly and calms me down when I think my varicose veins are a sign of a blood clot!
I can’t really think of one thing I love about Dave, because I love everything, but one thing I’ve always been incredibly proud of, is how tenacious he is. Once he sets his mind to something he does it. He planned and undertook and epic motorbike trip around the world in 2009 which saw him get into to some pretty hairy scrapes. And more recently he’s ventured into the world of ultrarunning, which takes years (literally years) of training and preparation. When he’s focused on something and has a purpose, his passion and enthusiasm is infectious and he’s an absolute joy to be around.
Most importantly of all though, he loves me, and he takes care of me and he makes me smile on days I feel I don’t have much to smile about. He puts up with my crazy brain which means he has the patience of a saint, not to mention his incredibly dry sense of funny which keeps me laughing on a daily basis.
Anyone who knows me will tell you that I’m the epitome of a daddy’s girl. My mum, dad, brother and I are exceptionally close, but in terms of similarities, Gary has always taken more after my mum, and me of my dad. Mum and Gary are very careful with their money, whereas my dad and I can’t keep it long enough to even count it! To quote a little from the speech my dad made at my wedding:
‘We share a genuine love of music and songs that I think goes beyond normal enthusiasm. For every appreciative nod she gets when demonstrating her Bob Dylan knowledge, there is a quizzical raise of the eyebrows when I start on about the Backstreet Boys’
My parents have always been great role models to Gary and I. They got the balance between friend and parent perfectly right (although I probably didn’t realise it until I was much older). One thing I always thank them for, is that certainly when we got older, they never imposed any curfews on us. We had an understanding that we would tell them where we were, who we were with and at what time we would be home and if any plans changed we would call and let them know. Their trust in us encouraged us to not take the piss and other than one time I had to be rescued from Ang’s house because I couldn’t stop throwing up blue aftershock, I think we pretty much all kept our ends of the bargain.
Much like Dave and Gary (who I’ll go on to below) there are many reasons why he’s my hero. The thing that springs to mind most though is his work ethic. He joined the army at 16 and worked for them continuously until he retired this year. From a young lad from Heaton he worked his way up, and at one time was the youngest ever WOII in the entire British Army. It also meant that he provided an idyllic childhood for myself and my brother; growing up on Army bases is a unique and amazing experience, one I will always thank him for. It was evident at his retirement party this year how highly regarded he was among his work colleagues and how much he’ll be missed. I think we can all agree we were bursting with pride that night.
My Brother Gary
As I say the four of us were always very close growing up and I think that particularly goes for me and Gary, older than me by 4 years. I mean, don’t get me wrong, we fought, there were incidents of him locking me in the airing cupboard (I got bored of shouting for help to curled up and went to sleep on some towels apparently) and him needing a tetanus jab because I stabbed him in the lag with a biro (turns out shell suit bottoms don’t proved much protection from sharp implements) but on a whole we got along. We too shared a love of music (mainly Nirvana and Bon Jovi) and early 90’s Sega Megadrive games. We were a good pair, he was the brains, I was the goon who could be convinced of anything.
For a while I resented him for how clever he was, I wished I had the aptitude for education the way he did but all that silly jealousy falls away when you realise what an asset he is to your pub quiz team! When he went away to boarding school when I was about 7 or 8 I would pretend not to care but in actuality, I missed him terribly and I would get super excited when he was coming home for the odd weekend or school holidays. Possibly because it meant I had someone to torment again but I like to think that it was a fondness for my big brother that I probably wasn’t ready to admit at that age.
In many ways he’s the classic big brother and has always looked out for me, whether it be after he’s moved out checking I was ok when our parents went on holiday without me, pushing a basketball out the way when James Cumiskey threw it at my head when I wasn’t watching, or more recently, introducing me to his best mate Dave and letting me marry him! Gary gets a bit of a hard time in our family, he gets ribbed about the fact that he always went for the most expensive thing on the menu as a child and possibly left Cubs as a youngster because he was unable to get a decent cappuccino. In Dave’s wedding speech he said that Gary (along with their other good friend Brian) makes him look good just by being themselves. He always takes this with great humour though (and also, can I say, gives as good as he gets sometimes). He and his lovely wife Ruth have become (or remained in Gary & Dave’s case) good friends of ours and I think he knows deep down how loved he is by everyone.