For my Mum

Tuesday morning we said goodbye to my mum and Lucy’s grandma. As far as I’m concerned the day came too quick. While I’m grieving for the mother and grandmother that we have lost, I’m also grateful for the time we were able to spend together.

One of the clearest childhood memories I have was laying on my Mum’s bed and laughing for hours. It was beyond the point that anything was funny, we were just having fun. There were also times when I was quite young, that I rode around on the back of her bike in one of those children’s bike seats. At the time I thought it was an exciting adventure. But now I suspect it was because they couldn’t afford to have the old brown car fixed.

I have no doubt that my mum loved me and was proud of me. Last year I graduated from university, Mum was there to cheer me on and take a thousand and one photos. That night at the celebratory BBQ she barely ate anything because she was too busy talking to everyone letting them know she was the mother of the graduate. She also spent a good amount of time interrogating everyone there. Who were they, how did they know me and if they were male, were they possibly single?

When I fell pregnant with Lucy Mum was so excited. Although she couldn’t be there with me, after every appointment there was a phone call. My brother’s wife was pregnant at the same time as me. Mum considered herself a bit of a soothsayer. She insisted that I was having a girl with curly hair and my brother was having a boy with ginger hair. So far we’re three out of four. Just waiting on the curly hair.

Speaking of curly hair, until I was in mid primary school I thought Mum’s hair was naturally curly. Getting old enough to learn about perms was a bit of a shock. As an adult she would ring me all excited about the new way which the hairdressers had done her hair. I could never tell the difference from one perm to the next so I just agreed until I could escape the conversation.

Mum was a very conservative, straight laced Christian lady. Growing up this meant dressing up for Sunday church, no drinking, swearing and no gambling. Until my friend Mia came along. IT was my older brother’s birthday last year. Handing out $1 coins Mia suggested it’d be a lot of fun if we all went and played the pokies. Mum’s reflex was to say no. Mia worked her magic and soon my little Christian mother was learning how to play the pokies. It was the first and only time mum played pokies. She was so chuffed to win ten dollars. Mum even insisted on paying Mia back her dollar. She was an honest woman after all.

Even though mum has been taken from us too soon, she left behind a strong legacy. Currently I’m sorting through a mountain of quilts, unfinished projects and a seemingly endless stash of material. We will never be cold. I also learnt to speak my mind, even if I look like a crazy lady.

He Consented to Sex, not to parenthood

Once I heard about a girl who on leaving prison, decided the best way to turn her life around was to find a man and have a child. It became a running joke with my friend. Then I had a baby and turned my life around.

By the time I swiped on the match that changed my life, I had been on and off tinder for several years. While looking for potential mates I ended up with some genuine friendships. I had some lovely dates and some not so lovely dates. This guy seemed normal enough. He was younger than me, a tradie into classic cars and loved that I did retro pin-up. The conversation was interesting enough. Weeks of messaging led to drinks, above average sex and the agreement that we’d do it again.

Then things got weird. Plans were cancelled, changed or discarded without explanation. I was often left hanging and unsatisfied. A quick check on Facebook confirmed my suspicions. Tinderboy had a girlfriend. No wonder he would only communicate on snapchat. Feeling disgusted I ended it.   

Shortly after, I got the news that Mum had been diagnosed with cancer. I was devastated. Three years before Dad had died also from cancer. At 33 life was not what I had hoped for. Completely lost, I reached out to tinderboy. He asked if I minded if he had a girlfriend. As far as I was concerned that was his issue to work out. In my mind it was every man for themselves. I just wanted a distraction from the emotional pain I felt. Two months later I was pregnant.

I took the test one afternoon after work. It was hard to concentrate, I kept rereading the instructions certain I made a mistake. I was 33, single and pregnant to a guy who had a girlfriend. This was not how it was supposed to happen. I was so numb, there wasn’t sadness, joy or any other emotions. Just the knowledge that I had to do something. I sent a message to my friends, a photo of the positive test. I called my doctor friend to ask advice. Sitting on the floor I began weighing up my options.

Even though it takes two to tango this was a decision I needed to make on my own. I was on the pill and knew the failure statistics, not once thinking I would be one of the ones that fell outside the norm. I was in shock.

It took three days for me to tell Tinderboy via snapchat. That’s what our ‘relationship’ had been reduced to. I captioned the positive pregnancy test with ‘let me know when you can talk’. The messages flooded my phone.

‘We can’t do this’

‘we need to terminate’

‘are you sure?’

All I wanted was to meet up to talk. I didn’t feel comfortable discussing such a huge matter over a social media app. He kept pushing the ‘we’, tried to tell me what ‘we’ should do. I didn’t see a ‘we’, I saw two independent adults who had consented to sex but not to parenthood. Disregarding my request to meet up, tinderboy continued to relentlessly push for a termination.  I already felt alone in the situation, his unwillingness to regard my feelings reinforced the isolation.

The previous year I had given up on the idea of being a mum. Abortion didn’t feel like something I could do. Especially since I had always wanted to be a mother. The next conversation I initiated was asking whether he wanted to be involved. Either be on the birth certificate or disappear. Sadly but not surprisingly he disappeared. I didn’t chase him. Tinderboy had consented to having sex with me, not to being a parent. Just because I had decided to become a mother, I wasn’t forcing fatherhood on him.

I gave birth in July 2017 to a beautiful girl. I chose a name that means ‘light’. When I told a friend’s mother that I was pregnant, her response was that it was wonderful because it meant that I now had a future. As old fashioned as that is, it’s also very true for me. Some people find purpose in life without children. For me, before I had my girl I was clutching at straws. Afterwards, I finally graduated at uni. I enrolled in my masters. I’m budgeting, meal planning and abstaining from alcohol. I no longer believe that it’s every man from themselves. We’re all in this together. My aim is to be kinder, a better all-round human with the hope that the world will be a better place for my girl.

As for the girl at the start, she had a baby. She’s on the straight and narrow with her new partner and their rowdy little toddler. Nothing transform your life like having a child.