• My daghter, Goofy and I

    Some thoughts on my daughter’s 21st birthday

    On the occasion of my daughter’s 21st birthday, I thought I’d take a moment to reflect, because if not now, when?

    Becoming a mother was my ultimate dream in life, and the journey wasn’t easy. I was at the point of sad acceptance that I wouldn’t be a mother when I discovered I was pregnant with Charlotte. After what can only be described as a rough pregnancy, I was very excited for her to arrive.

    Every day since, I’ve tried to practice an attitude of gratitude about being a parent. Lucky for me, she made it easy. She never slept, but she also rarely got cranky, so I always looked at that as a blessing. 

    This kid came into the world with a can-do attitude and she did most things pretty early (except go to bed!). She walked early, talked early, read early…you get the picture. That meant we didn’t get too long to sit in any one space and, as my mother used to say, ‘she wasn’t a baby for long’.

    For many, many years, my husband travelled extensively for work, so Charlotte and I spent many, many days and weeks and days alone. Well, together, alone, is a better description.

    We baked a million cakes, did a million paintings, and watched a zillion episodes of Dora. We played Winnie the Pooh memory until late at night and one day I played 76 games of Uno Junior with her. I treasure every moment of that. (I don’t treasure seeing The Pacifier starring Vin Diesel 25 times, but that one’s an exception.) 

    She and I would go stay with friends a lot when he travelled and I’ve always said that – I was her home. That’s not true anymore, but she’ll always be my home.

    On the other hand, she’s also always been fiercely independent. Some of that is a reflection of us and some of it is being an only child and always facing the world alone, and some of it is just her nature. 

    We’ve always placed experiences of material possessions. We’d pay for horse riding camp, but not a fancy phone. I’m sure sometimes she might have preferred the stuff, but it meant we had some amazing adventures travelling in Australia and overseas. So many memories made.

    One of the things I admire about her most is her willingness to try new things – as a kid she did soccer, netball, field hockey, Nippers, dance, art classes, scuba diving, horse riding, karate, played the clarinet, did inter-school sports and joined a regional youth council among other things. She didn’t love them all (Nippers we’re looking at you!) but she approached everything with a great attitude. 

    She has grit. When she was the only girl in her karate class and the boys didn’t want to spar with her, the instructor told them. “Don’t worry, Charlotte could take every one of you!” And she could. 

    In Year 12, she saved up enough from her part-time job to take herself on a bus tour of Europe and headed off alone for a month after her exams. She goes after what she wants.

    Her happy place is in the water. As a family, we spent so many hours at the beach or on our boat. Give this kid a book and a beach and she’s happy as a clam. (Right now she can’t get to the ocean and my greatest wish for her is she gets her feet on some sand soon – it’s a small thing but it feeds her soul.)

    Now away at college in a self catered dorm, she’s a fully independent adult cooking and shopping and cleaning for herself for the third year. She’s a Res Staff for her dorm, works part time, is active in campus life, plays soccer and is slogging her way through a double degree during COVID. She’s a hard worker and a goal setter.

    Charlotte is also kind. She does nice things for people. She paints for people; she posts random gifts; she checks in on people. But she doesn’t suffer fools. The kid has excellent boundaries which I love about her. (She could teach me a thing or two in that area).

    Looking back, I did some things I’d do differently. More moments I’d have handled better rather  than the big stuff. I’d have eased up a little here and there, expected less, not more, noticed things she made sure I missed. Overall, looking at how great she is, at the very least, it’s safe to say I didn’t screw up too badly.

    I’d give her advice, but she doesn’t need it. She’s doing just fine – and to be fair, I’ve spent 21 years overwhelming her with advice. 

    Here’s what I told her at 16 here on the blog

    So I’ll just say as I always do that I’m proud of her and I thank her for choosing me to be her mother. 


  • Musical Monday

    Musical Monday – July 20, 2020 – a little nostalgia in a crazy year

    Musical Monday

    It’s a while since I did a Musical Monday post – sorry if you’ve missed them. I’ve been on a crazy writing jag and honestly I haven’t even listened to much music lately. I tend to listen to music in my car, but due to isolation and weeks of writing at home, I haven’t been in the car much so music hasn’t been on my mind much.

    Last week, however, we drove our daughter back to university in Canberra. We’re very lucky Australia is (while not perfect by any strecth) doing better with COVID than a lot of places and the ACT (Australian Capital Territory) where her university is hasn’t had any cases for a while. Anyway, the point is we took a road trip and after 3 months of having her home our girl is back at college.

    A few songs were played…in fact she put together a playlist entitled something like
    “Songs to play in the car so mum doesn’t cry.”

    Let me tell you that was so sweet of her because she is an absolute sweetheart –  but people I cried several times.  I could cry for Australia I’m so good at it, especially if I’m feeling sentimental!

    Instead of that playlist –  because I’m feeling nostalgic – I thought I’d share some songs that remind me of my daughter.

    This song – I christened  The Serial Killer song back when it came out – because who else collects hearts in a jar? We always have a laugh when we hear it in the car.

    I love this song and I love a musical. I’m constantly disappointed people don’t break into song as they walk down the street – this is probably actually lucky for me – I can’t sing. Anyway, if there’s a musical I can go see then I’m in. I love Wicked and my girl and I have seen it together. (I have seen it without her as well because even though it’s hard to remember I did have a life before her – as she grows up and moves away I need to remind myself of that right? ).

    I think everyone changes us – particularly our families.

    Finally, this is a sweet song that gets me every time – about the dreams we have for our kids  – by Kasey Chambers and Keith Urban.  (My husband and I try to get tickets to see a concert at Taronga Zoo every summer and we were lucky enough to see Kasey Chambers there a couple of years back and it was fabulous)

    Anyway this song sums up a lot about my journey as a parent as the mother of a miracle! (That line “even doctors can’t explain – that’s me and it reminds me to be grateful every time I hear it.)

    Happy Musical Monday (I’ll be off having a litttle cry now).



  • Blog

    Weekly Blog Challenge – My Favourite Memory and why

    I’d like to call “not fair” on this topic. In a life well-lived we all have so many wonderful moments to remember and it’s almost impossible to pick one. So many moments of friendship, of lost loves and departed relatives to sift through.

    I’m very lucky to have lots of friends that have been in my life for decades. Sometimes when we get together we talk about incidents that still have us laughing until we cry. What about the years of Christmas parties when my house was overflowing with kids and adults, where people came for my ham and the paella, for the icecream sunday bar, the waterfights and the outdoor movies?

    What about the moment I got married? Or met my husband? When we bought the block of land for our house, buidling it together, moving in? What about all the travel we’ve done or the candlelit dinners.

    What about the Christmases? Or the day we surprised our daughter with a puppy? Or riding Central Park in a horse drawn carriage with my parents after seeing the Rockettes at radio City Music Hall? Or the first time I went to Disneyland?

    Yet I have to choose one. So that’s what I’ll do.

    To say the journey to having my daughter was fraught would be an understatement. She remains to this day my greatest achievement and my greatest joy. I never wanted anything more than to be a mother and I was told that it was essentially impossible. Somehow I got my miracle. I had the worst pregnancy (my green bucket and I went everywhere together and I was hospitalised I was so sick). I always wanted a girl but I told myself and everyone I was sure it was a boy. I convinced everyone so no one, especially me would be disappointed if that happened. (truthfully I’m sure I wouldn’t ahve been but this was a one-shot deal.)

    baby feet
    baby feet

    I won’t say giving birth was a great memory but later that night after my family left and my husband had given our baby her very first bath we were sitting in the hospital room. It was dark and the ward was quiet because it was after midnight.

    I was holding her and I looked at him and said. “Can you believe we have a baby?”

    He looked back at me and smiled. (He was already smiling. We smiled non stop for months even through tears and sleepless nights ( I always say I had post-natal euphoria I was on such a high)).

    Anyway, he said. “Yeah, I can believe we have a baby, but I can’t believe we actually got a girl.”

    Somedays you get everything you want. Not every day and not often but some days are perfect.

    To read all the other responses go here.


  • Blog

    Musical Monday and the theme is family


    Building Attraction - Monique McDonell - CoverMy soon to be released novel Building Attraction looks a lot at the role family plays in life for better or worse. What will people do for their family or what won’t they do? Everyone’s different in this regard.

    That’s not even dealing with the issues of crazy extended families or difficult in-laws or unresolved family issues.

    (Sidebar -Yes I know it’s late – I’ve been a bit unwell for the past few weeks and then I got a big client at work that has required me working lots of hours so something had to give. I’m sure my editor is pulling her hair out right now as am I…but we’re nearly there).

    Anyway I thought I’d choose some songs about family as a result,

    Here are a couple of songs to set your toes tapping this Monday.

    Here we have Sister Sledge with a 1970’s classic We Are Family. If there’s a person on the planet who doesn’t know this song I’d be surprised.
    I love this version of Hey Ho. I really like the original version but these girls are amazing and the fact they’re sisters, just adds another layer. (Oh yeah and if someone can find me a hairdresser that makes my hair look like Connie Britton
    Happy Monday.