my mum used to work in admin for a social welfare body, for years and years. a lot of the social workers were very rude to her, especially young female recent graduates. she didn’t get paid as much as them. the union for that sector was pretty unhelpful the one time she actually turned to them for help.
My mum comes from a middle-class family, but she was one of the youngest children of that family, and her father died when she was very young, so she grew up poor, unlike her older siblings. Later she got into a law degree at an elite university, in a brief window of Australian history when university was free. She fell in love with my father shortly afterwards, he didn’t finish high school and neither did his father. She had a baby, my sister. She came very close to finishing her degree but ultimately dropped out, because of the lack of support for students who were also parents. My dad was in the picture but it still wasn’t enough, and because they weren’t married there was a lot of stigma. Thinking about my mum’s relationship to education and class and men and motherhood has been really essential to my feminism.
when I was little I really liked the TV show Super Ted. my mum doesn’t really like to sew but she made a Super Ted outfit for one of my teddy bears. It’s incredibly cool.
I saw the movie Pocahontas with my auntie when I was seven and my mum asked me what I thought about it. I told her I LOVED IT and she asked me if I wanted to know the story of the real Pocahontas. she told me all about how the real John Smith was much older than Pocahontas, how Pocahonatas was only a few years older than me, how she was kidnapped and died young, far from everything she knew. Did I think she would have been happy? Did I think that was romantic? She conferred with my dad and they gave me a 500-page biography of Pocahontas to read. I didn’t make it very far. (sometimes when I was little my parents would forget how little I was, I think because my siblings were already older teenagers. Sometimes my mum says things that I think are racist and we argue about it. I wouldn’t want to give the impression that she’s post-racial or anything.)
when my mum was unemployed she spent a lot of time arguing over discrepancies in bills. she told me it was her new philosophy called “sweat the small stuff”. she got a lot of discounts. she’s really good at arguing her way into getting faulty goods exchanged and stuff. one time my best friend’s mum locked her keys in her (rented) house. the real estate didn’t have a spare set of keys so I channeled my mum and told them they had to keep them on hand. they said they didn’t know where I’d heard that but I kept acting really self-assured and eventually they made the landlords drive four hours down to town to unlock the front door.
my mum is not terrible at baking but she thinks she is. she knows how to make two cakes, has for twenty years, but she always drags out the recipe book anyway. she is really good at making pilaf. I’m good at cakes and bad at pilaf.
I love my mum a lot. She knows a lot about literature, history, beating bureaucracy, and how to be welcoming and friendly to people. These are some of the things I care the most about. It makes me uncomfortable when people are super vicious about their mums having bad politics or whatever — men especially. I’m not impressed by it. A lot of my friends would say “yeah but your mum is awesome” but you think she’s awesome mainly because I’m always telling you about cool things that she says and does and I know about them because I listen. I used to be very condescending to my mum. Now I know that she knows a lot that I don’t so I should chill with that attitude. Sometimes she is wrong, I think, but we learn from each other. Mums know a lot, usually. I’ve gotten a lot smarter since I started paying more attention to what she says, that’s for 100% definite.
I badly want kids, mostly because I like kids, but also because I’m more and more committed to, you know, mothers, babies, the future. I’m scared of being tied to the father or sending myself broke with artificial insemination, though. I’d like to co-parent with my best friend, but I don’t think that’s more radical than raising children with a partner, I just think it would be more right for me. Sometimes I feel ready to have a child right now, sometimes I feel like I’ll never be able to deal with how hard it will be. It’s not the right time but no time is ever going to be the right time, probably. I know it will cut me off from a lot of stuff, but at the same time, I’m increasingly ready to let go of scenes and movements that don’t have time for mothers and children. This all seems pretty remote at this point, pretty hypothetical. I might not ever be able to have kids.
Child still detained after father died on Christmas Island -
This couldn’t happen in Australia, could it?
You’re 9 years old. Your dad’s just died from a heart attack on the 1st day you were both taken to Christmas Island Detention Centre. No mum to comfort you. 10 days have passed & you’re still in detention.
This is happening right now.
Last night the 9 yr old boy was finally moved from Xmas Island after 10 days only to be put in detention in Perth. Despite 2 uncles in Australia wanting to take him in.