My mother had one of my brothers when I was just 10 years old, and from that point on, I just knew. By 12, when my other brother was born, I was a mini-mama. I would feed my baby brother before school, rock him to sleep in the afternoons before homework, and could change nappies like a pro. I taught them both their ABCs and I felt strange if I was sitting on the couch without one of them hanging off me.
I moved out of home fairly young, but I never lost the urge to have my own kids. I was distracted in my 20s by partying and studying, fitting in all the things I wanted to do before settling down and raising my own. Many of the people around me had children young, and always implored me to wait, to go and see what the world had to offer before I made such a momentous decision. And so I did.
I used to put little things away for my future babies after I got married, under the pretence that I just really liked this kind of stuff. I found this 1966 game of Memory at an op shop well before I was ever pregnant and squirrelled it away for “someday”. It was exactly the same kind as the one I played with at my nana’s house when I was little, and I really wanted my own children to play with it too. Hopefully loving it as much as I did. After six or so years sitting in the cupboard (with my giant stash of board games, oh my god I’m obsessed) it finally came out to play.
I have rarely made a decision since I was 10 that didn’t have me wondering what kind of impact it would have on my future family. Lots of the choices I chose had that end result in mind – I wanted to have a job where I could stop and stay home with babies, and then return around their needs and schedule. I wanted to be flexible and I wanted to make it to every sports day, every school assembly, every canteen duty.
When I worked in newspapers, I realised journalism was a game for the young and hungry. It was not a game for a mum who wanted to do sport on the weekends and be home to make dinner by a reasonable hour. So for at least four months before I fell pregnant, I would spend my morning’s walk trying to figure out what I wanted to do and where I wanted to be so by the time kids came, I’d be in a position to live how I wanted. I considered everything a journalism degree would get me, what kinds of work I could do around baby nap times, how and where I could make money on my own terms and be able to put my family first for as long as I wanted or needed.
Before I started my degree, I finished a certificate in education support and worked for five years as a teacher aide and after-school care facilitator. When I had kids I was going to be the first mum to volunteer to help at reading time, and I was going to be a PTA superstar. You need a school fete stall manned? I’m your… man. I bought art supplies and craft items for future collage needs, kept pencils and crayons in a little box, knowing that one day soon they would be used by chubby hands drawing me endless pictures of technicolour elephants.