When Atterley Road got in touch to tell me about their #ARWoman campaign, I knew immediately I wanted to be involved. The campaign is about recognising and celebrating the many women who inspire us – and I love the idea of being part of the conversation which does this.
It wasn’t hard for me to choose my #ARWOMAN. While I’m constantly inspired by the success of my mother, the togetherness of my sister, and the sheer wonderfulness of some close friends, my #ARWOMAN is a person who I’ve not seen for years.
I met Tessa Prebble at journalism school in New Zealand in 2006. I thought she was smart, clever, funny, trendy, and going to go places. She was one of those students who you knew was going to be brilliant at everything she tried. She was lovely with it. Friendly, fun, and an incredibly talented writer.
We never became close friends, but we saw each other a fair bit in that year of our studies and social media has meant we’ve kept up with each other’s lives from afar since then.
But Tessa’s career or friendship isn’t the reason she is my #ARWOMAN.
Tessa became a mother last April. Since then, I have come to know a different side to the bright young journalism student I met in Wellington nearly a decade ago. In fact, I now feel honoured to have been let into the life of someone so brave, so strong, and so inspiring.
You can read about Tessa and her life with her beautiful daughter Eva on her blog, The One In A Million Baby. Eva is blind and deaf. She has been diagnosed with CHARGE syndrome, a complex genetic pattern of birth defects which occurs in about one in every 9-10,000 births worldwide.
On her blog, Tessa explains more:
“She has a missing corpus callosum which may or may not seriously affect her development, and wider than normal sylvian fissures in her brain; she has a large atrial septal defect in her heart and a small PSD; she has trouble feeding and is almost exclusively fed through an NG tube, soon to be G-tube; she has low muscle tone.”
I’ve never met Eva, and I’ve not seen Tessa for years. But since Eva’s birth, I’ve thought about them so much.
Tessa has reached out online to a community of other parents with special needs children. I’m not a member of that community, but her writing has had such an impact on me. It is not a life I can relate to – other than that I too am a mother.
In Tessa, I see a mother who has immeasurable strength, bravery and resilience – and it has all grown out of her love for her daughter. Tessa has been unwaveringly honest about her motherhood journey, and she has written with a grace and courage that frequently brings me to tears. It hasn’t, of course, been a straightforward road. It is a road which I can’t imagine doing anything other than shouting out against in anger. It is a road which will continue to be strewn with difficulties, with no clear path ahead at times.
It is hard, of course, to imagine other people’s lives. It is hard, of course, to know how you might feel in their position. I don’t try and do this. My life is a world apart from Tessa and Eva’s. But, when I read Tessa’s words, I am struck, every time, by the beauty of a mother’s unconditional love.
Tessa doesn’t know this, but she inspires me every day to try and be a bit better at life. I know that if you read her incredibly powerful writing, you’ll feel the same.
Who inspires you? Share their picture on Instagram and let me know @kiranchug, using the hashtag #ARWOMAN. Tag in your friends. Let’s start celebrating inspiring women. You can read more about the campaign at Atterley Road and see their picks for inspiring women here and here.