Thursday, October 25, 2012


A friend sent this to me today. I think its a treasure. I am putting it here because I want to save it. I want to keep it somewhere safe. Somewhere where I can stumble across it when my daughter is 13-ish, so that I can play it to her in the hope that maybe one day she will get it.

Tuesday, October 23, 2012


So my day started out like this.  (This post comes with a foul language warning. If offended by the 'f' word please don't read on.) 

At about 4.30am, Sophie was in our bed. That is not unusual.  But this time her chesty-coughing drove me out of the marital bed and into her flower-clad, second hand from the op-shop single mattress that supports her little frame a lot better than mine. Two thoughts passed through my head as I stumbled passed the clock. The first was "Good, still a couple of hours before I have to get up" and the second was a hopeful question sent out into the ether "Soph will be alright for school tomorrow, won't she?"

Out of bed at 7ish and the getting-ready-for school shenanigans went fairly smoothly. Except when the Luthier pulled Sacha's lunchbox out of his bag and realised that, once again, he hadn't eaten any of it. A fairly ugly scene of frustration and denial ensued.   Threats were made and notes written in diaries to bring the issue to the teacher's attention. Bloody kids.

Right. Breakfast had and boys dressed, but where's Sophie? Dad went in to persuade her out of bed. A pale and coughing small person appeared. "Mum, I don't wanna go to school."

"She'll be alright, won't she?" I whisper to the ether again. And continue in internal monologue, "I wonder if I have any leave left? Jesus, work already thinks I'm a dodgy option from all the time I've had off with illness, the kids and my own. And Phil can't lose any more work time. His jobs are piling up and we are going to go broke if he doesn't get some work finished soon. But the poor little mite, she's only just five and she shouldn't have to go to school when she's sick.  I hate it when other parents send their kids to school coughing and snotty. She looks ok. She's just tired."

Sophie:"Mummy, I have a sore tummy."

Luthier: "No, you haven't."

Me, using the approach my father always used with me and I always loathed:"You'll be right once you get to school."

We are all in the car. Dressed in uniform. Bags packed with lunches and homework. I've remembered to put makeup and lipstick on and make my lunch. Yay!

We arrive. Fuck.
It's Grandparents day, I forgot to organise that with Mum and I bet she wanted to go.
Shit. Fuck. Shit.

Oh, well.
Me:"Out you get you lot, have a good day."
To myself, "She'll be fine."

Sophie in tears: "Mum, my tummy is really sore."

Shit. Alright then, she'll have to go and sit at the shop with Phil.  I drop her off and head to work.

I walk into work, feeling pleased that I had made it and hating it for making me compromise my family at the same time.

The phone rings and its the Junior School,
"Hey George, Josh has split his pants and is mortified. Its Grandparents' Day. What's Phil's mobile? We'll call him to come and sort him out."
 "Oh bugger." I say, keeping myself nice. "No, I'll have to come because I have the car and Phil has the motorbike and he has Sophie at the shop with him and she's sick. I'll be there in 15 minutes."

Shit. Shit. Shit.

My apologies are made at work and off I rush. Its always chaos in the morning, my job. Morning is my busiest time and they hate having to cover it when I am not there. What else can I do? Push that thought to one side and head to the Junior School. Pick up J, take him home for a quick pants change and back to school.

J: "Sorry, Mum. Sorry you had to leave work. Thanks Mum, you are the best Mum ever!"
Me: "That's alright, J. It's my job."

As I get back in the car I get a phone call from a friend, a mother, who is in tears as she has been offered full-time work and has little ones and doesn't know what to do. I want to scream into the phone "Don't fucking do it. Working any more than a couple of days a week in a very flexible job when you have small kids has big fat hairy knobs on it."  But I refrain.  I try and be reasonable. I hope I was reasonable.

Call from Phil. Sophie has toilet issues.

As said by Hugh Grant in the first line of one of my favourite movies, 'Four Weddings and A Funeral'

"Fuck. Fuck. Fuckity-Fuck."

I give up. I send the text to work that I won't be in after all, to which I get a very kind response but suspect I will pay for later. I really don't think I have any leave left.


I collect my daughter from her father who has a tiny shop full of 5 people and is trying to juggle the questions and the sick offspring.

"Come on Soph. " I say and hug her, bring her home and give her a bath.

Now that she is set up in front of ABC Kids, I am desperately racking my brains to magic up a more flexible way of earning money that does not involve sending sick smalls to school and being such an unreliable employee.  All offers or ideas will be most gratefully received.

And I am one of the lucky ones. I get most of the school holidays off work.

Work/life balance, my arse.

Tuesday, October 02, 2012


I am the youngest of seven children. Seven little Australians we were, our childhoods spanning the 60's and 70's, we lived in a small city on an island at the end of the Earth. We were Catholic by religion and culture. (Not now of course, now we range from atheist to mildly interested.) My father, Dane, having converted at 19, was devout. He was a surgeon and general practitioner working in a huge practice, healing and birthing the Catholic community of Launceston for 40 years. Family myth has it that at one stage it was the biggest single doctor practice in the southern hemisphere. This is one of many family myths whose truth remains untested, in favour of maintaining a good story. Every now and then the family stories come back to me, so I've decided to write them down here, for posterity and the kids' amusement.

In our family of 9 there are 5 sisters and two brothers. The first 4 offspring arrived in an orderly row, each a year apart from 1959 to 1962. Us remaning three arrived sporadically into the 70's.  . We careered through childhood in those decades of freedom and no seat belts. TV was black and white and we only had 2 channels. The ABC was the only parentally sanctioned option and only then until after Dr Who.  It was an era when 2 bucks worth of fish and chips from Basil's (our local chippy) would more than feed all 9 of us, the only coffee was instant, you could still call cigarette lollies 'Fags' and the rolls were Chiko.

Dane, is said to have bought the first combi van on the island. Dane is like that. An ideas man. He bought crazy cars - a mustard jag in the 70s, a Daihatsu van in the 80's, even a Bentley once and people would wave to us on the road (us grotty kids mucking up the grey leather interior) because they thought we were the governor. He was a Liberal-voting Catholic doctor who hobby farmed, got into organic gardening and taught himself acupuncture. He was interested in things, our Dane. After a medical conference once, some guy in the domestic lounge imparted to him the skill of transcendental meditation while they waited for their plane. When we were small, Dane decided that the perfect opportunity to 'transcend' should be taken every day after work, behind the closed door of his study. You know the time, it is exactly at the witching hour, when he left Mum to the work of wrangling 7 unruly kids, homework, dirty boots and fights over the Milo tin, while cooking 20-odd lamb shanks with mashed potato mountains and smoking Alpine menthols, or so the story goes.

Like many good Catholics, my folks didn't mind a tipple. As we grew older and his urge to meditate abated, cocktail hour began when Dane would return from "saving lives" as he would have it. We'd sit around the kitchen table, Dane drinking his scotch and soda and Granny her gin, discussing the days events, solving the problems of the world. 

After a couple of scotches, Dane would generously impart tidbits of wisdom to his offspring.

Once, I think I was in my mid-teens and my elder sister was in her early twenties, the kitchen table topic turned to 'boys and how to 'catch one'' so to speak.  Dane decided to bestow on his daughters a glorious pearl of advice. He looked at us over his highball glass and said, in all seriousness,

"What you need to do to get a man, girls, is show them a bit of what they can have and then tell them, they can't have it."

A loud "Pah!" involuntarily burst from my sister, she threw her head onto her hands crying out

"But I want them to have it!!!!"

Superb. Spoken like a true good Catholic girl.