The simple answer is, ‘only if we make an effort.’
I think my upbringing, being with a single parent who happened to be one of the great beauties of her age and one of the most talented poets of the century, is not going to be typical by anyone’s standards. But I think if you love your mother and you see how the world treats her, any mother at all, you will have an appreciation of what I am going to remember.
It amazed me that my mother was often judged for her looks not her mind – it also amazed her. And even the men who loved her paid little more than lip-service to her art. My sister’s father told her poetry was a phase she would grow out of. My father told her he wouldn’t spend his life walking behind her. We are so wrapped up with our ego it gets in the way of understanding another person.
Then understanding the huge historical wrongs done to women and sometimes knowing that their own desires get in the way of their intellects too because after all, we are all human beings. But I thank my mother for bringing me up ‘just knowing’ things without having to ask questions. And sharing with me the way a writer does, all her experiences of her childhood. How she grew up and learned about the world. What it meant to be a daughter and a mother and how marriage did not suit her and what bores men can be, and I know the genetic drivers that make them so.
It isn’t as if I have the best of both worlds but it is like having a mind more full of paintings than it otherwise would have been.