If you do what you love…

by Veronica Foale on November 5, 2011

in Children, Family, Me

I had a baby at seventeen, which contrary to popular belief did not ruin my life, or destroy my future. You’d be surprised at how many people will console you on a pregnancy if they feel that you are younger than the “perfect” age to be a mother. You would also be surprised at the treatment that young mothers receive from people in positions of authority, but I digress.

I could list all of my reasons for falling pregnant, but I’ve written them down so many times before that they sound trite. Needless to say, it was the right decision for me and my family and here we are, six years later.

When I was pregnant, and then a new mother, no one asked me what I “did”. Which suited me, because I didn’t know at that point. I was a mother, but my daughter was too screamy for me to think about what else I could do. My entire life was wrapped up in keeping the baby happy, feeding the baby, stopping the baby biting my nipple. While my friends were heading off to Uni, I was changing nappies and discovering just how in love you can fall with something you’ve created.

Two years after my daughter was born, I was pregnant again, with my son. When you’re pregnant, no one asks you what you “do”. You’re just a gestating vessel, the means to an end, a giant egg waiting to crack. Men avoid your eye (is pregnancy catching?) and women ask strange questions about your internal organs. Pregnancy is the only time it is deemed socially acceptable to ask a woman about her cervix.

As is the usual course of events when everything goes well, my son was born, cried some, grew some and eventually got to the age where I could leave him with his Daddy to go and DO things – which is when the inevitable questions start.

I was at an exhibition opening and someone asked me “what do you do?” and instead of saying “I’m a mother” I found myself saying the (only slightly practised in front of a mirror) line: “I am a writer.”

Which then leads to the inevitable questions about what do you write and where and so on. It took a few more months in front of the mirror to get those coming out smoothly.

You see, no one really cares what you DO, it’s just a way to start conversation.

I write things and I publish them on the Internet and 90% of society thinks that I’m a bit weird because of it – but I can ignore them. Anyone can be a writer, that is the beauty of it. Just like anyone can be an artist, or a musician, or a sculptor.

No one cares what you do to earn money – they care about what you DO because you love it. People aren’t interested in how you pay the bills (unless you might be helpful to them), they are interested in passion.

This is what I do. I am a writer and when people ask what I write, I tell them: I write a blog. It’s quite popular now and I really enjoy it.

Try it. The next time someone asks what you do, tell them what you love to do, rather than where you work. They might surprise you.

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The time my father tried to stab me in the eye with a nail

by Veronica Foale on November 4, 2011

in Family

When my daughter was a baby and I was eighteen, I was visiting my parents.

My daughter was a screamy baby, prone to jagged fits of wailing that sometimes lasted hours, but we had discovered on a previous visit that she loved the baby swing. Yellow and plastic, my parents had picked it up second hand and hung it with some rope from the veranda. No electronic swinging baby devices here, this swing had a piece of rope tied to the back, so that I could sit back comfortably and still swing the baby.

That day, it was too cold to sit outside and eventually my mother and I convinced Dad that he should put some nails in the roof beams in his shed, so that we could move the swing inside and I could actually put the baby down.

Grumbling slightly (he grumbles about everything – I suspect it’s so that my mother and I don’t get complacent and take him and his amazing building and making skills for granted), he went to get the six inch nails and his hammer.

As he started to hammer, I moved to the other side of the eight ball table, jiggling and rocking Amy as I went.

Suddenly, Dad hit the nail wrong and it jumped out of the beam, flew across the room and hit me just above the eye.

All of this happened so fast, that my father was still looking around to see where the nail had fallen, and no one else was quite sure what they’d seen.

To my credit, while I was shocked, I didn’t drop the baby, or burst into tears, choosing instead to yell “YOU JUST HIT ME IN THE HEAD WITH A NAIL!”

Luckily (and I do mean luckily – because if you’ve just been hit in the head with a nail, you have to look for some positives) it flew end over end and hit me with the head of the nail, rather than the sharp end.

Dad was suitably apologetic, Mum produced an ice-pack, while Nathan jiggled Amy and I prodded at my eyebrow to make sure it was still there.

I developed a pretty bruise just above my eyebrow and a hefty worry about standing near someone hammering nails into wood. Nails are unpredictable.

And that is how my father tried to take out my eye with a nail.

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Well, crap. That snuck up on me.

by Veronica Foale on November 1, 2011

in Children, Family, Life

There is silence in the house and I am still bleary eyed, but I have made the effort to get out of bed 40 minutes early so that I can start writing here. It’s got nothing to do with the fact that I am so busy today that I won’t have time later. Hello November. You’ve sort of snuck up there, haven’t you?


There is a psych appointment scheduled today. It’s been cathartic to go along each fortnight and just talk. Like every other mother however, last week I found myself dicussing my children. My fears and my stresses and the frustration I feel when I walk into the bedroom to find my daughter perched on top of my closet, eating my chocolate. She’s the perfect candidate for “owling” except for the screaming when she realises that she can’t get down.

Real owls have wings daughter, if you’re going to climb up, you have to learn how to get down. Just don’t break anything.

I spent an hour talking about my children last time, before the therapist gently mentioned that maybe we ought to talk more about me?

Silly girl. She’s not worked with many (any?) mothers, I would put money on it. The children are me and I am them. The fears for their future are not things I can separate from my personal anxiety and the frustration I feel at untriggered meltdowns is just as real as frustration with other adults. Tempered with a lot more love, of course.

I shouldn’t call her silly, in fact she is lovely – even if it is a bit disconcerting to be discussing the tangled web inside my brain with someone my own age.

But that is okay.

The main question is: Do you think she will help me work out how to get a cat into the roof, to eat the baby starlings that have hatched right above my desk? Because it’s hard enough to write a blog post half asleep, without adding shouting babies to the mix.

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Living in the moment

by Veronica Foale on May 12, 2011

in Family

Writing requires that I lose myself inside my own head. I need to sink into the spaces between the thoughts and drift there for a while.

Mothering requires that I remain in the moment, that I watch and listen and respond, immediately. A litany of cascading thoughts; we need butter, do we have any bread, baby needs a bottle, laundry needs hanging, what’s for dinner? My brain shoots ahead of me and I’m wiping benches, bums and noses in equal measure and not writing a thing.

This too shall pass. They’re only little, they’ll only be little for a short amount of time. One day I’ll be begging for them to snuggle me and tell me about the flowers.

I remind myself these things, as I keep myself busy and don’t think about the words sitting inside my soul, bubbling away from behind the dam in there.

One day, one day I will write and it will flow and I won’t feel like I’m being torn in half every time I drag myself back to reality.

One day, I won’t feel guilty for spending long moments inside my own mind, tasting the words and playing with them.


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Finding my balance

by Veronica Foale on March 27, 2011

in Family, Life, On Blogging

It’s a balancing act, knowing what to write about on the internet. An intricate dance of stories and perspectives, making sure you don’t put words in someone’s mouth and side-stepping the issue of privacy invasion. Knowing when to speak and when to hold your tongue, when to write and when to walk away.

It’s about more than not wanting to damage your own brand with drama.

It’s about knowing that truth can be fluid sometimes and not wanting it to be; wanting truth to be truth and lies to remain unspoken.

It’s a fine line.


My son is sad and his warm mass draped on my lap and snuggled to my chest brings to the fore all my maternal feelings. It doesn’t matter than he is dribbling in my cleavage or that I am not able to move, he is warm and sad and I am his mother and I can fix this, this time. When he is older and I cannot surround him with my arms, then he will be sad and my heart will break at how useless magic kisses have become.

I put him to bed with a warm bottle, knowing that he is tired and listen to him cry anyway. This is hard. This breaks my heart. This is probably best for all of us, that he sleeps now.


I send my daughter outside, to play fortheloveofgod go and play. She lies on the trampoline for an hour, not moving and I watch her as I wander around the house. She is tired and miserable and sad and bendy. She comes back inside and we lay together on the couch and I feel the heat of her. A temperature rising, her joints aching. I thank everything that I have panadol handy and I dose her up and lay her in bed. She is limp and miserable and I lay with her for a time.

Motherhood is hard.

Motherhood is beautiful.


The truth is hard.

The truth is beautiful.

With all this talk of authenticity, I can only be myself and this is how I am in real life too. I might not talk about all of it, but I’m honest at the core.

There are things happening and things brewing and at this point, I’m not sure I’m content to sit back and say nothing, but the drama and the angst, I don’t want it.

So I’m saying: Watch and listen and see what happens. Sit here alongside me and we’ll eat popcorn and wait for the fallout. Because it’s coming and it’s not going to be pretty.

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