I am due to give birth to our third friend in 5 short days, which really just means I’m TOTALLY OVER IT AND WANT THE BABY TO COME TODAY. It has been a long 40 weeks.
Being pregnant when you already own two friends is a slightly different experience to being pregnant with one when you have none, and people offer to carry things for you, hold doors and lift things.
This time round I’m running after the near 6 year old on her bike, pushing the pram with one hand and the 3 year old on her scooter with the other, while 39 weeks pregnant. This is an activity I never want to repeat in my life. Ever.
I’m also happy not to repeat hearing opinions and intimate information – completely unprompted mind you – from total strangers.
While I was collecting the mail one day, one of the neighbours gave me her labour story and told me how her plug fell out in the middle of a dinner party and she had to leave. If you don’t know what ‘the plug’ is, don’t google it. I haven’t. I don’t reckon anyone (medical professionals excluded) needs to know a stranger that well.
The lady in the shoe shop told me to be careful I didn’t haemorrhage to death because red-heads don’t clot as well and are in danger of excessive bleeding. Why would this be something you’d consider saying to a woman clearly about to go through labour?
I got a pedicure two days ago, (which will incidentally be the last one I get because they cut my nail too low, made my toe bleed and used dodgy smudgy nail polish) and the woman opposite me told me how her sister ripped from her vagina to her anus during her labour and had to have restorative surgery to put her back together.
Bloody hell. I went in there expecting a bit of a foot rub and a few quiet moments in the massage chair and instead came out with a sore, bleeding toe and a horrific image of a total stranger’s private parts.
By now I’m used to the stranger touching my belly thing, women telling me about their 73 day labours, girls that were meant to be boys, babies born in elevators and endless discussions about the public versus private health experience. (My money – or lack there of – is on the public by the way. I could be an evangelist for the birth centre at RPA). What I haven’t gotten used to, is conversations like the following. They generally occur between me and a white middle-aged man, who could do with walking to his high-powered finance job in the city every now and again, and they really get my goat.
Man: When are you due?
Me: Oh, not soon enough, but next week actually.
Man 1: Is it your first?
Me: No, our third.
Man 1: Oh very nice. What are your first two?
Me: We have 2 girls.
Man 1: Oh your poor husband. I bet he’s hoping for a boy this time round.
Punch me in the face. Yes, my ‘poor husband’ regularly bemoans how terrible his two daughters are and how he’ll really only be content if this third one is a boy.
This is where it starts people. With a complete stranger assuming Q’s and Edie’s dad would somehow be happier if they were boys instead of the delightful, challenging, unique, interesting, wonderful, HEALTHY girls that they are.
I’m sure if the man was reading this, he’d be rolling his eyes saying he was only joking, that he didn’t mean anything by it.
But it’s unnecessary isn’t it? In a climate where women as a whole are still fighting for an even footing in the workforce, still missing out on top jobs, top pay (often getting dud pay actually, as many mothers get shafted when they return to work after GROWING, BIRTHING AND RAISING THE NEXT GENERATION), top opportunities, while still simultaneously being the major force behind running the home front, seeing to the life admin and keeping the family alive, do we need to begin the gender-imbalance from such a young age?
It’s wearying, inflammatory and farking irritating. (although in my state, I’m rather prone to being weary, irritated and inflaming at any moment).
It also wasn’t an isolated incident in my 39 weeks of carrying this human. This white, middle-aged man was not the only one of his kind to offer exactly the same opinion.
I walked away from the man, annoyed at him for saying something, but more annoyed at myself for not saying anything at all. And then I consoled myself with thoughts of all the extraordinary women I know in hospitality, many of whom share their time, energies and love with my girls also.
Here are some of our faves…
Bec Lines – Bar H and most recently Banksii at Barangaroo
Smart, savvy, very witty, courageous with a fabulous sense of style. If I didn’t have my own businesses, I’d be hitting her up for a job at one of hers.
Sarah Doyle – Porteno, Bodega, Bodega 1904, LP’s etc…
Well, she’d never hire me because I hate wearing anything on my waist and I never do my hair, but this lady is unendingly hard-working, meticulous, thorough and kind. Incidentally she is also one of 6 girls, and if you asked her dad, I know he’d tell you he’s just fine with that.
Alex Herbert – chef, former restaurateur, restaurant consultant
Turns out we’re neighbours and I’m reasonably sure she’s seen me in my pj’s chasing Edie up the street when she’s let herself out and done a runner. Aside from witnessing that, she is a talented, hugely respected, successful and long-termer in the industry. Her wealth of knowledge and experience is impressive. So is her goodness and sense of humour.
Lee Tran Lam – writer for Good Food
Lee Tran started her food writing career with her very respected blog, The Unbearable Lightness of Being Hungry and now she writes for the SMH Good Food and Good Living. Ethical, clever, determined and generous, here is a woman who created the path for her own career.
Maddison Howes – Former Manager of Hartsyard, soon to be small business owner
Maddy started out on the Hartsyard floor just after we opened 4.5 years ago, became our co-manager, then manager and has just left us as she and her partner – Andrew Bowden – are opening their own venture. A delightful, quick study who is cool under fire, did I mention she’s just turned 26?
Claire Van Vuuren – Bloodwood chef and co-owner
Claire is such an understated, talented, hardworking and community focused woman. Last year she willingly took the reigns as Fearless Leader of the Newtown Locals (a bunch of Newtown restaurants and cafes who all band together for Newtown Festival to run a combined stall) to charge us towards making our over $10 000 donation to the Newtown Neighbourhood Centre.
Jane Morrow – Cookbook publisher with Murdoch Books
She is also a stellar wife and mother of 3. Jane imparts her wisdom with quiet words and in her actions. It looks like she’s doing a brilliant job of balancing the working-parenting-wifeing debacle and even when I know she thinks she isn’t, she still keeps her priorities in order. A case study I’m very grateful to have.
Joanna Savill – food journo, industry stalwart
Maybe it’s the red hair, but I’ve always been a fan. Genuine, professional, always smiling and highly skilled, she’s a mainstay in the industry whom everyone respects.
Alex Elliot-Howery – Cornersmith Marrickville and Annandale
Kooky, creative, visionary and big risk-taker. Gregory and I feel a real affinity with her and husband Jimmy, and one day we’re all going to go on a beautiful holiday together…
Nikki Waples – Head Chef at Hartsyard
Precise, good humoured, diligent and an excellent mentor for the other women in our team, the Hartsyard kitchen has never been more organised or disciplined as it is under her leadership. Gregory and I are pretty certain that our opening goal of equality between Front and Back of house and men and women is well and truly realised with Nikki at the helm.
Some of these women are also in relationships, might also be mothers, or are hoping for one, both or neither in their futures. All are innovators, creators, and forged their own career paths – except that the forging is probably more like bush-bashing through uncleared land.
Parenting is a lot easier when you’ve got brilliant minds and decent people like these in your children’s lives, offering perspectives, insights and role models for them to observe and emulate.
If I did see that man (or any of the others) again, I’d say to him; ‘no, my husband is not hoping for a boy. He’s hoping for a healthy and safe arrival for both his babe and its mother. He’s pretty happy with the girls he’s got and if they turn out like any of these women in our lives, well, he’d be a proud dad indeed’.
Besides, our girls name is a cracker and it would be wasted on a dog.
The mani-pedi Gregory gave Edie the other day. Clearly a man who struggles with having daughters instead of sons.