Category Archives: Women

If there’s going to be Panic, Let it be Organised

Mum was good in a crisis.

She was good when dealing with shock, when handling tantrums, when something unexpected happens, or just when things go to crap.

She knew that A Plan was needed – and that at the first sign of things going to crap, you first must stop and have a plan. Even if that plan was simply to make a cup of tea – it was still a plan.

Her motto: If there’s going to be panic, let it be organised…

The best example of this was when the Newcastle Earthquake hit in 1989. We first got the call over the radio (my father was a policeman back then). Both my parents were from that area – and my grandparents, aunts and uncles were still living around Newcastle when the earthquake happened. Within minutes, the word had spread and our phone was ringing off the hook. We weren’t the only people in our local town with family in Newcastle, and everyone assumed that we must know something because Dad was the local policeman. Soon people arrived at our house to wait for news. Our house had become Command Central.

With all these people, and everyone in a panic at this disaster, things could easily have gone to crap. But now on my Mum’s watch.

Mum immediately went into Action Mode. She did this without knowing if her parents were ok – or if her sister and their family were safe. She just starting organising people.

My older sister was in charge of our private phone. One of the local off duty constables manned the radio, and the other manned the police phone. Dad was sent next door to the police station with our address book to try and contact our family. My sister and I were in charge of the growing number of small children – we had to take them to the playroom and keep them quiet.

As people arrived – Mum gave them a quick update and then gave them a job. Someone made tea. Someone handed out the cups of tea. Another set up chairs in the lounge room near the radio. Someone else was in charge of making sure everyone had a biscuit to dunk in their tea. Someone was even in charge of handing out tissues.

I remember standing in the doorway – I had delegated the child minding to my younger sister and brother – and watching Mum. She was awesome. She gave directions, she consoled, she listened, she updated – but mainly she was calm and controlled.

It was only when Dad came in and said he had reached everyone in our family and they were all accounted for and safe – that she broke down momentarily. Dad held her and she had a cry for a moment, but then just as quickly, she wiped her eyes, lit a cigarette and said: “Right, who needs a coffee? I know I do.”

She was good in a crisis, my Mum.

Paint Your Toenails Red

Every woman (and man for that matter) should paint their toenails red occasionally.

These were the words of advice from my Mum.

Especially if you’re feeling down – and need a boost. If you’re feeling a little shabby, and you hang your head – you’ll always smile if you have red toenails.

Even better – you could paint your toenails a different colour for each toe. That way, you’ll laugh when you look down.

Try it.

Becoming a Woman

When I was 9, my Mum took me on a day trip – we went for a drive and had lunch and she told me about the time when I would become a woman. I was made to feel special – and I was excited about the day arriving. She explained to me that I would be joining a long line of women before me, that everyone had their period – and that it wasn’t something to be afraid of, or to hide from, but instead, it was something that I should be proud of – something that I should look forward to even.

She taught me that to have your period is something to celebrate. Once a month, women are physically, literally, reminded that they are women. That they are blessed with a uterus – and most importantly, that they are participating in a momentous cycle of womanhood – one that has continued from the beginning of time until this very moment in our world today.

It is a shame now, that I hear stories of girls who don’t receive this simliar information – and instead are forced to learn of periods from textbooks, or worse, the media. They are made to feel isolated, and are disconnected from this ‘long line’ of women that my mother referred to.

Stories of girls who have their period for quite some time before even telling their mother or anyone else. They just go through the motions of purchasing a product from the ‘feminine hygiene’ section of the supermarket and join the queues of people who go through their lives hating having their period, and thus hating being a woman, and even worse, hating themselves.

When the day finally arrived – and I got my period – my Mum hugged me and we cried a bit, but we laughed and loved that I had become a woman. I remember begging Mum not to tell Dad – I think out of embarrasment really. But that afternoon, Dad went to the shops and came home with ice-creams. He bought my younger brother and sister a Paddle-Pop, and a Golden Gaytime for Mum, me and him. I had been bought an adult ice-cream. I felt so grown-up.  Dad kissed my forehead and said ‘congratulations’. Mum smiled and cuddled me. Eating that ice-cream with Mum and Dad, made me feel like I was a little bit more grown up than the day before.

To embrace this cycle – to embrace the female, is to be free. A free woman amidst the patriarchal and often anti-female world that we today live in. A Woman. But that is a whole other lesson from my Mum – one for another day perhaps.

When You Think You Can’t Open A Jar Yourself

You can.

Run it under the hot tap for a minute. Put a rubber band around the lid. Whack it a few times with a knife around the edge and break the seal.

But it is always a good thing to occasionally ask a man to help, as Mum would tell us.

I needed to do this the other night – I was flying home from a work trip interstate and asked for a wine from the drink trolley. I then struggled to open the damn thing. So I had to, reluctantly, ask the man next to me to open it for me. He beamed, and I think he felt a little needed at that point.

Maybe Mum is right. We really do need to occasionally ask a man to help. My experience on the plane also explains why the next line of this lesson was always: ‘it makes them feel better, love’.