Happy Mothers Day

00000002I was not even half way through my 20s when I became mum to Jade. By yesterday’s standards and absolutely by today’s standards, that’s pretty young to be popping out an offspring. Although I will proudly state upfront that Jade was never “popped out”, moreso the caesarean result of a stubborn child who preferred dark warmth to fluorescent noise. I think she still does. I still can’t wake her up.

But I digress…

I was the first of my tribe to bear offspring. And at the time, her father and I had absolutely no idea what we were doing.

“Is it time for a nappy change?” he would ask me.

“How the fuck would I know?” was my standard issue response.

“Is she due for a feed?” was another of his incessant questions.

“Well we fed her three hours ago, how about you do the maths,” was another example of a standard reply.

Somehow though, we got her through to adulthood alive and alert, where she will turn 25 at winter’s end and continues to stupefy and enrich me with her fearlessness, conviction, vivid plans and flat out refusal to conformity.

That’s how I absolutely know she’s my child. She makes me feel I can validate the title of mum.

My arc of friends is wide, colourful and jagged. Single mums, married mums, gay mums, grand-mums, aunty-mums, no mums and a decent sprinkling of never-to-be mums.

My folks, Jade and me 1997

My folks, Jade and me

Yet all are mums in some form, shape or voice.

I met a lady (girl) on my first day at high school who to this day is still my close, supportive, non-judging, available, warm, joyous best friend. That was in 1978 so again I ask you to do the maths (simply because I’m getting so old now, I’m a tad afraid of calculators).

She’s literally the world’s most dedicated and enamoured aunt (or Arty) to her tribe of nieces and nephews. Which involves a set of twins so work with me here. Her wish to be a biological mum to her own kids didn’t eventuate. And that comes with its own separate menu of heartbreak, but at day’s end it never stopped her from loving and evolving with the young ‘uns her brothers and sisters managed to manufacture.

I have another incredible (and again very long term) friend who has chosen to devote her life to her mother’s care and not concerned herself with her own reproduction. And remains nonplussed with her choice.

Yet another shunned the concept of conception outright and embraces a career lecturing in the USA on sleep techniques for babies.

ps15My Brisbane neighbour, who never quite found the right bloke to make the babies with, knew that there were cartloads of abandoned puppies that the RSPCA needing help to process and home. Which eventuated in her full time care of Milo and Peaches, two adorable pups that in lesser circumstances would no longer be with us.

My other best friends M&M are apparently gay but are so fucking fabulous and warm and gorgeous and blessed that being gay is irrelevant and unconnected. Not a hesitation or a stuttered breath in helping me and wanting to take care of Jade. Black Eyed Pea and Kylie concerts spring to mind, the sort of concerts where I would prefer to swallow a battery than endure. Sitting on Dreamworld’s Giant Drop or eating at the Pancake Manor or enduring hours of boogy board surfing… And when she needed it, offering her a full time job in their company.

And my other friend, who held my daughter in her arms when she was three months old while I held her wine glass for her, then went on to give her office work 23 years later. I once spied on them having a cocktail together. They were laughing. Bless. I kept walking, albeit with a very warm heart. I may have taken a sneaky photo.

Fashion shootHere’s the thing. Don’t think for a second they’re not mothers too.

As a single mum from the time my daughter was four, I had to be flexible and open to support, ideas and constructive criticism to make it all work. I had a tribe of people around me who cheered, cleaned up and nodded, and every single one of them needs a Mothers Day accolade for the help and kindness they selflessly offered me. And for what the offered others.

OK, so I’m adopted. From birth all I knew were two people who vocalised unashamedly on their desire to be parents.

They chose me.

I think that’s cool.

And they are the kind of parents people dream to have – easy, supportive, talkative and ready with a wine bottle and a wine glass. They also sent me to Girl Guides, Sunday School, piano lessons and private school. I may have got a smack. I definitely got grounded.

Four decades later I meet the outstanding and liberating lady who not only gave birth to me, but also understood that the best option for me was adoption. How a mum makes that irreversible and devastating choice I will never experience but I absolutely know it was made from a place of love. And a place of hope. Hope for a brighter future and the peace of knowing you did the best thing possible.Jade 3

She’s my mum too. I love her so much. I’m pretty lucky to have the best of both mother worlds.

It’s the motherload. Literally.

I want the word “MUM” to mean more than what Hollywood movies depict or online news forum debate.IMG_0765

If you love unconditionally, I reckon you’re a mum. If you have ached because someone else ached, you’re a mum.

And if you look into a younger person’s eyes and see the future, you’re absolutely a mum.

Happy Mother’s Day. Much love xo

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For the mums

off to schoolIf my memory serves me correctly (because there are often times it doesn’t) it was 19 years ago that I took my daughter’s five year old hand and walked her into her Grade 1 classroom to start her schooling.

The night before had been fairly riotous. In a bid to quell her excitement, I had invited close family friends over for a barbeque. They arrived at 4pm, bearing sausages, gin and zero expectations of etiquette. How could they? There was an excited five year old bouncing off walls and the side of the pool, showing off her brand new uniform to the younger offspring of my friends.

As responsible parents, we poured ourselves large measures of Bombay Sapphire, frightened it with some tonic, and set about dissecting the pros and cons of private schooling and whether head lice was really an issue.

Eventually we cooked the sausages.

After they departed, I was unable to settle young Jade. She wanted to stay up to practice her reading (which was no more than using her own words to describe what was happening in the pictures of the book) and practice her singing (she opted for Van Morrison’s Brown Eyed Girl but sensibly changed the word brown to blue so it matched her eyes).

I think I was asleep before she was.

Jade 2Now, when morning arrived, something happened that had never happened before. Never. Let me explain. You see, my daughter can sleep for Australia. When her father and I first brought her home from hospital, we fed her and changed her, and popped her into her bassinet. It was 4.30pm. At 8.30pm, I anxiously started to do five-minute checks, worried she’d stopped breathing. But she slumbered.

At 10.30pm, I wanted to wake her but her father was militant and declared you never wake a sleeping child.

At 11.30pm, I opened the scotch bottle.

At 1.30am, I passed out, as you do when you haven’t had a drink for nine months.

At 6.30am, I woke up in my own bed, my sleeping husband on one side and the dregs of a scotch bottle on the other. I lay in bed for approximately one full minute, happy in the knowledge it was a Sunday and I could sleep in.

Until…

I remembered I had a baby. In my house. That hadn’t been fed or changed since 4.30pm the day before.

And I screamed.

I ran to her bassinet, sure in the knowledge that I would find her suffocating in her own nappy or perished from lack of food.

Not at all. She was still contentedly sleeping.

Jade 1She eventually woke at 8.00am, happy and chirpy. Had a feed, had a bath, had a cuddle, and went back to sleep. Just like babies are designed to do.

This, of course, charted a course for Jade, where she became the Queen of Sleep. When she was four months old, we had a dozen friends over for Christmas drinks. Apparently the neighbours found our music (which was only Abba for God’s sake) so loud they called the local police to hush us. I politely showed the nice constable my sleeping daughter, who was in the room next to the music and sensibly said “Officer, if she can sleep, I can’t understand now the neighbours feel the music is loud”. The nice constable didn’t have an answer.

A few years later, Christmas morning was a laugh. Whilst every child in Australia was terrifying their parents at 5am with squeals about Santa and presents, Jade slept on. In frustration, I went to her room at 9am and woke her.

“Darling, it’s Christmas morning, don’t you want to see what Santa brought you?” I begged, camera at the ready.

“Mmmm,” was her muffled reply. She lifted her head, nodded at the bulging sack at the foot of her bed, rolled over and slept for another half hour.

So when it came to her first day at school, I was fully prepared to drag her out of bed by her plaits and force-feed her Weet-bix.

Instead, she wanders into my bedroom at 5.30am, fully dressed apart from her shoe laces, holding her brush for me to plait her long hair. She’d already had an attempt at breakfast and had her backpack by the front door, ready to go.

That has never happened again.

We drove to her new school and when I took her into her classroom, I instinctively knew she was in good hands. Her capable teacher, Mrs Bird, had taught Grade 1 for a hundred years and there was nothing she couldn’t soothe with a smile and a hug.

I went back home and sat at my kitchen table with a cup of tea that I’m sure went cold. The day I had been waiting for, almost dreading really, was here. My girl was growing up and I wasn’t sure if I liked it. I was sure there was nothing I could do about it but that doesn’t mean I liked it.

Like all the other new mothers, I was at the school gate an hour before I was needed. My reward was this tiny blonde creature, long plaits flying, running through the quadrangle and into my waiting arms to tell me about the “bestest day ever Mummy”.

That night, I stroked her hair as she slept, and wondered if I’d still feel the same way when she was in high school.

Jade 3Of course, within a nanosecond, she was in high school, and I was traipsing up to All Hallows’ School to again drop her off, this time for Grade 8. The plaits were replaced by a messy bun and she slung her mobile phone into her pocket, but I was still the worried mother, carving myself up inside wondering if I’d made the right decisions and armed her with the right skills to handle high school.

And then, in another nanosecond, it’s five years later and I’m sitting in the All Hallows’ graduation ceremony and high school is done. They’re off to schoolies week and university, driving their cars and kissing their boyfriends.

And I sat there and wondered where the time had gone. I remember week after week of being a single working mum and that relentless cycle of washing, ironing, making lunches and driving to her to netball, ballet, music, choir and her father’s. Of making sure we had enough money for holidays and a laptop, and eventually private school fees. Of making sure I was a sort-of-cool mum but not an over-the-top-cool mum – nothing that would embarrass her. Of thanking my workmate for covering for me while I was at sports day or home with a sick child.

In a blink, it was over. No more lunches, no more ironing uniforms, and if she needed to go somewhere, she could drive herself.

I had all this free time and I wasn’t quite sure what to do with it.

So, to the mums out there who today started the school trek or continued it, I will tell you what a wise person told me many many years ago.

When it comes to parenting, the days are long but the years are short.

Make the little moments count.

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Due date

007If you were to ask me now if I could remember the exact date I was given, I wouldn’t be able to tell you. But when I was sitting in my doctor’s surgery, nine weeks pregnant, it was a date that was seared into my brain and invisibly tattooed on my skin.

The date my baby was due.

My own birthday is at the end of August and it seemed incomprehensible that I would be holding my own child in my arms when I next blew out candles.

Not for even a second did I pause to appreciate the benefits of youth and pregnancy. Probably because when you have youth, you don’t bother to appreciate it because you figure it will always be there.

But since Jade’s birth, I’ve watched friends and workmates struggle their way through gestation while in their late 30s and even early 40s. But at 25, when I was pregnant, I pranced about the place and couldn’t understand what all the fuss was about.

The first time she moved, I was lying on my bed reading. I felt the movement and looked at my stomach, and thought it was a scene from Alien. I think Jade was doing yoga. It was like she stuck out her foot, which created this big lump in my stomach and then it started moving from left to right, and back again.

If I hadn’t known I was pregnant, I would have been terrified. Those Maltesers ads are lame in comparison.

When I got to about seven or eight months, I noticed these reddish-purple lines on the lower part of my stomach. I didn’t worry too much at all, because I just figured they were the indent marks from the elastic in my tracksuit pants. Tracksuit pants being the only item of clothing which was comfortable.

But even when I didn’t wear the wonderful tracksuit pants for a few days, those marks were still there. No way was I going to even consider the possibility of stretch marks, until my doctor very gently and very kindly said, “oh, and you’ve got a few tiny little stretch-y marks just here but they’re nothing, they’ll be gone in no time.”

(In actual fact, the “stretch-y” marks covered my entire stomach from hip to hip. Nice work on the doc’s part though. And as for them being gone in no time? The baby turns 22 next month but I’m sure they’ll be gone soon.)

Mmmmm.

So my due date was approaching. It was a Sunday. I remember with absolute clarity going to bed on the Saturday night fully prepared to wake at 2am in gut-wrenching labour. I even slept in my tracksuit pants to make getting ready to go to the hospital quicker and easier. (It’s why I’m tired, I’m always thinking.)

Instead I woke at 7am, walked the dog, read the paper, drank tea and pulled out some weeds. Some friends popped around to “see how I was” (I think they just wanted to see if labour hurt as much as the television says it does).

I made some lunch, we all chatted, and then watched a movie. I made sure it was a movie I’d seen before because I was convinced my upcoming labour would prevent me from seeing the end.

I even had a glass of wine, figuring that the baby would be out before its affects supposedly ruined her for life. Same way you eat chocolate on the day of your high school formal because you know the pimples won’t show until the next day, so you’re in the clear.

Instead, the movie finished, and with some big hugs, our friends left. I took the dog for another walk, moved the sprinkler, and hung out a load of washing. I even had another half-glass of wine.

Nothing.

Over the next few days, I started getting agitated. Where are you? Get the bloody hell out of there, I want to meet you! Get the bloody hell out of there so you can see your frothy princess pink room that I made for you. Get the bloody hell out of there so I can start thinking about my size 12 jeans again.

And so it started. I walked for miles every day. Our gorgeous dog was in heaven. And very tired. I cooked the hottest curries on the planet. I drove through potholes. I had crazy crazy sex. And more wine.

Nothing.

In the end, nearly 10 days later, we all gave up. The doctor confirmed what I’d already guessed. She wasn’t coming. Not today, not tomorrow, and probably not next week.

They had to go in and get her.

And that’s the date I remember. August 22, 7.09pm, when they stuck a dirty great needle in my back and took Jade out via the sunroof. Finally, I got to meet my girl.

So Kate Middleton, I know your baby is born to be Queen (yes, it’s a girl) but don’t stress. One way or another she will make her way to you and you’ll wonder what you ever worried about.

And like me, you’ll wonder what you ever did without her.

xo

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Pop psychology

dadAnyone who reckons that kids say the darndest things hasn’t had a conversation with my father.

You know that saying “dad jokes”? Those irritating, repetitive comments made by fathers globally that are marked by two distinct features. They are not funny and they become less funny the more they are repeated.

Here’s an example. You give dad a bottle of wine for his birthday and he shakes it saying, “I know, I know! It’s a book!”

He looks at the roast that mum has just pulled out of the oven, casts a glance at the kids, picks the serving plate up and says, “I’m not sure what you lot are eating for dinner, but here’s mine.”

My dad is one of those dads. He indisputably believes he is funny. He has this repertoire of jokes which he has been repeating with appalling regularity since I could understand English.

Take Christmas Day lunch. My mother painstakingly bakes this plum pudding then goes about shoving all manner of imperial coinage into its centre. The task being that as we eat, we chorus over who scored a shilling and who got a sixpence (go figure).

Not so for dad. He’s eating away, aware that nobody is paying him the slightest bit of notice, when he starts this phoney coughing routine. After a few good snorts and the satisfaction of having grabbed everyone’s attention, he makes a big production of pulling money from his mouth – except it’s a $20 note not a 20 pence coin that he’s carefully hidden in his hand.

He brought new meaning to Norman Lindsay’s “The Magic Pudding”. The wrong meaning.

It is interesting to note that as higher denominations were introduced by the government, so dad introduced them to us at the Christmas table. When the $100 note hit mainstream currency, we knew we only had to wait till Christmas to see it

We’ve also been through Bankcard, Mastercard, Visa, Platinum Amex, Diners, Medicare, Qantas Club, Fly Buys and more recently, the Seniors Card, all apparently excavated from dad’s pudding. Along the way was a DJs card, Myer card, Harvey Norman card – exactly how many credit cards does my father have?

It’s not just at Christmas. Every time we go over a speed bump in the car he hollers “oh, there go my false teeth”. Every time we drive past a cemetery he comments “people are dying to get in there”.

Once we were driving down a street like quite normal people when he pulled up suddenly. “What’s the matter dad?” I foolishly asked. “There’s an ant crossing.”

Dads are biological necessities but social accidents. They’re always getting excited about something. When I moved into my first flat (yes, it was a flat, not a townhouse, not an apartment, not a unit – but I was poor) I did the right thing and had mum and dad over for dinner.

Excited or what! He rang me every morning for a week to tell me that he was bringing my favourite bottle of bubbles (tragically, at the age of 19 it was Asti Riccadonna, don’t hate me). He rang every afternoon for a week to tell me mum was making a lasagne to bring (tragically, at the age of 19, I couldn’t cook and mum had to supply the food, don’t hate me).

It’s only dinner dad, I would placate, not an audience with Oprah.

Dads are also very good at being protective of their daughters. Sons don’t bother them so much.

At the tender age of 17, my brother did not come home for two nights following a win in his soccer grand final. Now, this is 1979 in the Pre-Mobile Phone Era. Was dad worried?

Not a bit.

But when I went to my school dances, dad would unashamedly walk into the hall 15 minutes before finishing time and come looking for me. Once, I was doing something naughty like having a fag in the loo or pashing a boy under a table, and heard my dad’s voice over the speaker, “Bronwyn, this is your father, come home with me now please.”

I would rather swallow a battery.

Dads have patience. In the swimming pool, my father would stand astride about two metres from the pool edge for seemingly hours, so his three children in military order could dive in and swim between his legs.

I tried it once with my daughter when she was about six. I grew bored by the third dive even though I was holding my wine, and had to get her father to relieve me. Of course, as he was a dad, he was fittingly capable of remaining in that position all afternoon or until our young princess grew weary – whichever came first.

In my defence, I brought him a beer and the cricket score.

Dads also have a touch of Captain Obvious. One time dad rang me when I was in my doctor’s waiting room. After telling him where I was he replied “so are you waiting to see the doctor?” Or when I hand him a cup of tea he says “is that for me?”

“No dad, it’s for the guy next door. He sells vacuum cleaners for a living, listens to AM and is completely hairless but I’m attracted to him.

“Of course it’s bloody well for you! “

Save the earth. Not only is it the only planet with chocolate, it’s the only planet with dads.

Love you dad xxx

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Back in my day

So Brisbane teenager Jordan Fuller justified the brawling rabble that ensued when his party was shut down by police as “what kids do”.

At least he got the “kids” part right. Because that’s what they are – kids. Children, juveniles, adolescents, minors, youths, teenagers. Not adults.

And as such, they should bloody well do as they’re told.

Well, at least we did back in my day.

So this turd of a kid [Read more…]

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Girl, you’ll be a woman soon

Every now and then, I topple over and twist my ankle. Sometimes it’s because I’ve had too much to drink and my heels are too high and my husband is too far away for me to balance against him.

Sometimes it’s because I’m making like Elle Macpherson and jogging on the beach in a bikini and go A over T in a hole in the sand.

Sometimes I am just walking down the street minding my own business and over I go. My husband always tells me not to walk and text at the same time.

The result of this constant clumsiness is that my ankle invariably ends up tightly bandaged in this stretchy crepe material for a few days.

And on Christmas Day, at the buffet lunch at the Gold Coast casino, I found out that the same stretchy stuff is now being used for dresses.

Or so it appeared. [Read more…]

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Baby bonus? What baby bonus?

In those halcyon days of Paul Keating’s recession we had to have, I discovered I was pregnant. It was circa November 1990 and my then husband and I were eating tinned beans boiled in veal bones so we could pay our 17% interest rate mortgage.

We were so poor we would go to KFC just to lick other people’s fingers. We thought about renewing our vows for the rice. Christmas was coming up and the only thing we could afford to exchange was glances.

So sex was clearly our preferred form of entertainment.

And I got pregnant.

Then, one month before baby’s due date, husband loses his job. Two weeks after baby was born, I was retrenched.

Now back then, maternity leave, paid or otherwise, didn’t exist in my private sector job. Thankfully I had a boss with a progressive wife who insisted he let me use up all my sick leave and annual leave. But that was it. No job guarantee on a return to work. No option of part-time on said return. No support structure, understanding nods or free money in the bank.

Because there was no baby bonus.

My retrenchment payout was about seven weeks pay. I was earning $30,000 a year so you do the math. The husband’s payout was zilch. So we did what we had to do.

He reinvigorated his truck driving licence, conveniently attained during a short stint in the military, and got behind a large wheel of a large truck.

I waited for the caesarean scars to somewhat heal and got a temp receptionist job for – guess who – Kevin Rudd. Go figure… Kevin was an arsehole, the scars weren’t properly healed, my six week old baby was with a day care mum and I wanted to keep my house. And eat.

Had we had the baby bonus, would things have been different? I don’t know. I can’t know. The way I figured it, I had fallen pregnant. The government hadn’t captured me, Matrix style, and forced a foetus into my womb under threat of torture or Barry Manilow on repeat. It was my responsibility so I had to manage it. Not the government. Not the tax payers of Australia. Just me. And a little help from my mum.

Sometimes I daydream about what $5000 would have got me. A fancier pram? A groovier change table? Groceries? Petrol?

But with the baby bonus changes currently underway, is it going to affect Australia’s reproduction? Or will families just go back to what they always did, and just make do or make the best?

Because clearly we can’t be affording to have sex anymore!!

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Today she leaves

Jade 2 - CopyI think it was when she was in Year 6. I know it was just after 7.30pm. The reason I know that is because Seinfeld has just finished and this was back in the halcyon days when new episodes of Jerry and the gang started at 7pm weeknights.

We always watched Seinfeld.

My daughter and I got up from the couch. Me to head to the kitchen to stack the dishwasher, and Jade, I presumed, to clean her teeth and get ready for bed.
Instead she followed me into the kitchen, fiddled with a tea towel, rubbed her nose and asked me if I had any pictures of penguins lying around.

“Not off-hand, no darling,” I said, actually pausing for a moment to consider if I did. “But you could look through the Woman’s Day magazine I’ve got over there, or we could look on the internet?” (Dial up internet, of course, perhaps using Netscape as a browser. Ah, those were the days.)

It took a few

minutes for the penny to drop, but I finally turned to her and asked the obvious question. “Jade darling, why do you need a picture of a penguin?”

Well, it turns out that she has a school project due the next morning, which has to be all about Antarctica – the explorers, the history, and of course, the penguins.

After the usual round of “I can’t believe you left it this late” and “When I talk with you every afternoon about your homework, did you not think to mention this, like, six weeks ago?” I realised had two choices.

Either my daughter could confront the wrath of her teacher (who, as an aside, I didn’t particularly like anyway) or I could do the bloody project for her.

I ended up having a very late night that night. The teacher who I didn’t particularly like gave me a B+ for my effort.

Fast forward to Year 12. I’ve dropped my daughter and her girlfriend at a party. I knew there would be boys there. I knew there would be alcohol there. I had checked with the supervising parents and I was happy that all was in order.

The call came in around 10.45pm. Earlier than I had expected. “Mum, can you please come and pick us up? We don’t feel very well.”

About halfway home, with the girls in the back seat, they ask me if I can stop. They needed to be sick. During a break in the chundering process, I asked my daughter, “What were you girls drinking?”

Midori, was her blithe answer.

I hid my shudder at the thought of that sickly sweet syrup that reminded me waaaaay too much of Peach Cooler.

“Darling what were you mixing it with?”

She stares at my blankly. “You’re supposed to mix it?”

I’ve hung out kilometres of nappies and folded them with care. I’ve hidden bikes and trampolines outdoors and tied tinsel to her wrist, so when she woke on Christmas morning, I could watch her joy as she followed the trail to her new present. I’ve interviewed teachers and child care workers and potential boyfriends.

I’ve made lunches so yummy that she’d never want to swap them. I’ve spent rainy weekends watching The Lion King, The Aristocats, and Aladdin repeatedly. I’ve hidden behind a pole at Woolies at Indooroopilly and watched her operate a cash register when she got a part time job.

I’ve driven hundreds of kilometres with gibbering teenager girls clipped into every seat belt, who said “Oh my God” so many times I began to think the good Lord was in our midst. Sometimes I even crossed myself just to be on the safe side.

I’ve fancy-dressed her as a fairy, a princess and Joan Jett. I’ve pulled nits from her hair, painted her toe nails and wept loudly when she went overseas for the first time.

I’ve spent 20 years kissing her, 20 years holding her, and 20 years listening to her hopes, dream and fears.

And today, I kiss her for the last time in many months. She’s off on the adventure of her life, heading as many Aussies do, to the UK for a few years. London won’t know itself when Miss Jade arrives. Lucky London.

There’s no more time for advice, for cautioning, for leading by example. Whatever I’ve taught her, shown her, given her, this is it. It’s up to her now. And I’ve never been prouder.

The temperature will be minus one when she arrives. All I keep thinking is “I hope her coat is warm enough”.

Mothering never ends, does it…

Jade - Copy

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Who’s the selfish one?

So not only do we have to suffer the indignity of having a gallon of blood gush out from between our legs every month. Any woman who has suffered the horror of standing in a grocery queue or sitting in a meeting and felt that insidiously familiar feeling of a tampon overflowing will know what I mean.

Not only do we feel compelled to strip hair from places on our bodies that for centuries enjoyed relative anonymity. Any woman who has felt the hot wax ripping the hair from her groin will know what I mean.

Not only do we implode with guilt when we a) don’t spend enough time with our children b) don’t spend enough time at the gym c) don’t prepare enough home-cooked meals. Any woman who has a home-delivery company on speed dial will know what I mean.

Not only do we watch our bodies expand to indescribable proportions whilst housing a growing human being. Any woman who has wondered if her vagina will ever go back to normal after giving birth will know what I mean.

Not only are we nurses, chefs, psychologists, prostitutes, teachers, chauffers, cleaners, decorators, landscapers, ironers and project managers. Any woman who does all these tasks yet still gets called “just a mum” will know what I mean.

So – not only do we have all this on our plate, we now have to cope with being called selfish because we aren’t having our babies until our late 30s.

Or so says Dr Barry Walters, an obstetrician from Perth’s King Edward Memorial Hospital.

He says that the number of older expectant mothers coming into the hospital had become an epidemic and this led to far more pregnant women and babies with medical problems.

Fair enough, it is common knowledge that the older the mum is, the higher the risk.

But interestingly it isn’t a risk to be an older dad.

As I see it, there are men out there who glide through their 20s and 30s, meeting women but avoiding commitment (and therefore fatherhood). They hit 40, and have an epiphany that they’re suddenly ready to “settle down” and either seek out a life partner or agree to have children with their long-suffering mate.

Which means, all ages being equal, women are having babies well into their 30s. Because they sat around for so long waiting for the right man to show up, or for the man right now to commit.

A close girlfriend of mine waited 12 years for her boyfriend to marry her. That means baby number one was born just after she turned 40. Baby number two arrived at 43.

Sure, I hear you all, and I heard myself say it as well. “Leave the bastard. If he won’t commit, then leave him and find yourself someone who will.”

Easier said than done, as many women reading this will know.

I was lucky. I fell in love and was married at 20, and was a mum at 25. But it was some years later that my girlfriends and peers started having their kids. Now that I’m mid-40s, I have girlfriends who are taking their little ones to prep. They’ve got years to go.

And that’s not for being choosy or picky. That’s not for being career-obsessed. That’s not for wanting material items over family bliss.

It was simply because they didn’t have a man in their life at the time that wanted to make a family with them.

So, Dr Walters, you certainly have some valid points to raise on the potential difficulties older mums face. But don’t put a blanket label of “selfish” on them. Understand the context of their situation first.

And maybe give a few lectures to commitment-phobic men.

What would the world be like if a man’s sperm ceased to be viable after the age of 40? Think about that…

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Mission aborted

I’ve never completely understood why males train to become obstetricians and gynaecologists. Isn’t that like females giving boys instructions on how to stand up to pee?

Instructions on how to put the toilet seat down, now that I would get.

And so what I don’t quite understand is why men become involved in issues of supreme sensitivity like abortion.

For centuries, women have always been left holding the baby. And the reason we’re left holding it is because sometimes we’re the only one left to do so. I mean, someone has to hold the dear little mite.

Passion will usually have its way. We’re active sexual humans, and we are blessed with all the body parts necessary to enjoy sex, to feel sexual, to love, to feel attraction. To want to rip the clothes off him (or her) and submit to that primal animal instinct.

And it can be jolly good fun too.

Years before contraception. And by that I mean, years before indoor plumbing, antiseptic and dental floss, babies were being born all over the place. And left all over the place to perish.

That’s because there was no social structure to assist an unwed mother, or the family with far too many mouths to feed already. The father could well have been some duke or land baron. The girl may very well have been in love, but love doesn’t buy you security. Or a home for your baby.

Home abortions, with tragic and fatal consequences, were the act of desperate girls more fearful of their father’s rage or family shame than their own health and survival.

The advent of the pill, and certainly widespread acceptance and availability of contraception, has made a woman’s lot in life a fair swag easier. We can now control our bodies, control our decisions, and control our timelines.

Which means we’ve got less chance of ending up like the old woman who lived in her shoe.

But accidents happen. Surprises, if you will. Nothing is 100% foolproof. So somewhere along the way, women, even intelligent, educated, wealthy women, are going to find themselves preggers and think “Oh no!!”

In today’s civilised society — a society of options and choices, expert medical assistance and family support — if a woman makes a measured decision to not go ahead with her pregnancy, she should not have to justify or explain that decision.

Until technology takes us to a place where the men are having the babies… where they come to the realisation that they are pregnant and alone because of one moment. Or where they are simply not ready to become a mother.

Where they throw up non-stop for three months. Where they have to rush out of business meetings to hurl into the work toilets. Where their boobs ache and their stomachs stretch and their hormones make them want to stab people in the heart. Often repeatedly.

Where their vagina is put through so much trauma that they feel they’ll never pee again, let alone have sex. Where their size 10 jeans remain on the shelf for years because their bodies didn’t bounce back as the books said it would.

And where what they were doing before they got pregnant becomes no where near as significant after the pregnancy…

Then, and only then, should they become involved in decisions about abortion.

And the naysayer women, well, my only comment is this. If the woman doesn’t want the baby, then it is her body and she, and she alone, will need to live with that decision for the rest of her life.

I don’t know a single woman who, having gone through a termination, has be able to wipe it from her mind. She may very well wipe the memory of a huge credit card bill or the time she backed her car into a light pole in front of a new boyfriend. But she will never wipe the memory of her decision.

So why that poor couple in Cairns had to endure the humiliation and public shaming of a court trial for taking a very safe option to end a pregnancy is just awful.

In Queensland, we’ve been told we can’t change archaic abortion laws because it is felt that the changes wouldn’t get the full support of all MPs.

Most of who are male.

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