I graduated last week. I received my MA months ago, but the graduation has only just happened due to covid.
For some, the whole performance of putting on the hat and cape and having your name called out is just that… a performance. Something you just do when you graduate.
But its more than that.
It’s more than getting on a robe and sitting nervously in line as you wait for your turn. It’s more than the pictures.
Well….it is to me anyway.
On paper, I should never have been in Canterbury cathedral to receive an MA in Advanced child protection. The same cathedral I watched my son graduate from.
I should not be there….according to so many
A good friend of mine gets upset when I refer to myself as a hood rat. But I am not ashamed of who I am. Neither is my friend….its just that she feels I am better than that. I wish more people like her had existed when I was growing up.
Just like many before me, I never counted. My voice never counted. And just like the children and young people who are failed 247 by society, I believed that was all I was worth. Nothing.
I believed I was worth nothing. Just another kid in the middle of central London trying to make it through each day.
On paper, I should never be here…collecting my MA
Born into DV, single mum, poverty-driven children, violence, sexual violence, drugs, crime…..WVAG was not only not recognised as I grew up….it was accepted.
I saw my mum cry for me many times. Cry for the pain I caused her…the pain I caused myself. But mostly she cried because she said I deserved better. And she was right.
But you know what
So did she
People are so quick to blame the parents when things go wrong for a child. Issues at school, in the community, crime…it must be the parents…what’s the mum doing
Well, I would like to ask a question to every person who ever blamed my mum for what I was….What did you ever do for her? What support did you offer other than the support you gave that was weaved with blame?
I may have been failed by many….but so was she
And I tell you this…as I lay on a bathroom floor, giving birth to my son at 16 years of age only one single person stood by me. My mum. No friends…no professionals. None but my mum. And when I fell pregnant again 18 months later there, she was there again. No questions asked. Just love and support.
I have said it a million times I know…but the day my oldest son was born, as we lay there on the bathroom floor of the ground floor 2 bedroom flat in the middle of Clapham waiting for the ambulance to arrive, I cuddled my son and promised him things would be better for him.
You know what …sometimes they were and sometimes they were not. But I tried every single day to make us better.
My mum died when she was 59. I was 28. 28 …2 kids…pregnant…life was rock bottom.
She left the earth whilst I was still a work in progress. She could see the change for sure. But she never got to see the outcome.
Which is a shame
Because it is for her that I have been fighting so hard.
I promised my sons they would get an education….make moves…..and they are.
I promised my daughter that I will walk beside her until I have no breath in my body no matter what….and yep…still on that
And I promised my mum I would make her proud.
Not just by getting a degree…and then a MA. I would make her proud by having a voice. By speaking up for those who cant. I would make a change in whatever little way I could
In her name
My MA in Advanced child protection is dedicated to my mother, Helen Houseman. You can’t see it in the pictures but on my shoes, I had two metal bars that said her name so she could walk with me to collect my MA.
Because she always walked with me, no matter where my life led her.
I should not be here…not on paper…. but I am. And my mother had a part to play in that.
Well done mum.