Being the woman behind the man


(It’s great being married to a photographer…. if you hate having your photo taken. I actually like having my photo taken, weirdly I feel it’s a bit like having a massage. Someone is paying attention you, and I loved being paid attention to. There I’ve admitted it. But it’s OK. I’ve heard no-one reads the internet. So this photo was taken by my girl.)

Right now, I am a woman, behind a man. I am being so totally old fashioned in my life. My feminist 18 year old self would FREAK the shit out if she knew that my 38 year old self was spending most of her time building a business out of a her husband’s passion – photography.

She would feel anger lashing out of her tongue. She would think of poor Henri Cartier Bresson’s second wife, Martine Franck, who gave up her own promising photography career to help him with his already crazy successful career. History is littered with the wasted talents of millions of other women who have been the support, force, drive or help behind their husbands careers, to the detriment of their own.

Disgusting, I would say!

Regressive, I would scream!

Pathetic, I would mutter.

I will never never never never be like that. Says my 18 year old self. And yet here I am – and I’ve never been so goddam happy. What the….?

Here is why I love being the woman behind the man:

The love I have for being a mother totally slapped me in the face – I was so surprised by it. OK so it didn’t arrive straight away, and at the beginning I was often desperate to get away at times. Like when I went to Paris for the weekend when my son was 3 months old. But you know, I settled into it. And wow I now really super love being a mum. So I don’t want to have a job that demands that I put it first. I want to be able to take the day off to tend to a sick child. Or take them out to a cafe for breakfast on a Monday morning and talk to them about how the brain works. But of course I want good money to do the work I do. And I want it to be crazy interesting. And really the best kind of money I knew I could get with this kind of crazy fun and total flexibility was to help my husband make more money.

PS – it’s so wildly against my nature to be this pragmatic about work. It feels totally exciting that me and pragmatism can do things together at last.

The more cool stuff I create for our business and for my husband to do, the happier he is and the more awesome things he does for the family. I help him be happy, he spreads all that love and joy around all of us. He is a super hands on dad so I win by having an even more involved dad. And we all win from that.

Life is long (hopefully) and childhood is short. My kids won’t be living at home forever. So even if I wanted to breakout on my own and have a different kind of career to what I am doing now – I still have tonnes of time to do whatever I want when they are older/leave home. Now I know lots of people will shout at me and say – being 50 in a job market is impossible! Well to that I say – I shall not give a fuck for these kinds of worries. Determination and bloody mindedness will get you everywhere. Look at the amazing comedian Leslie Jones, who became at 48 the oldest comedian that Saturday Night Live had ever hired (great New Yorker article on her). Or the 68 year old woman who became a DJ or sculptor Louise Bourgeois who made her greatest work after the age of 80.

I am not going to let age get in the way of anything. Because I am only getting older, and quite frankly I am getting much better as each year passes. I won’t let the world miss out on the awesomeness that will be me at 50 just because I’m, well, 50.

And you know what – here is the honest truth – what I secretly believe, deep down, is that someone is going to love my blog so much one day they’ll pay me to write a book. Ha ha, got you feminism! This whole working with my husband is just a ploy to become more successful than him!

I shall have my cake and eat it too.