I am in a conflict about what it means to be a woman because since I have become a mother there are so many things I see differently in terms of gender roles.
I am thinking about what is the right feminism and what I was wrong about in the past. I always saw myself as a feminist and now see that there are things I disagree with that I used to agree with. It sounds really negative to say but I think that to be a woman is to do so much unnoticed work. That doesn’t just mean in the house or with a child—it is everywhere in the community. I feel like we just do not get the credit for the things we do, even though, we don’t do it for credit. Regardless of your personal politics, or if you also do paid work, or any of that stuff, I think that it is still seen to be the women’s role in society. I definitely didn’t even think about that stuff before. I was delightfully selfish before I had my daughter.
I am from Sydney. My husband, who is also from Sydney, got a job here. We had just gotten married and wanted to get away from everyone and go it on our own a little bit. We are very close to our families—co-dependent—then we had our daughter here. We wouldn’t have been able to have a child if we lived in Sydney. We could not have afforded a big enough place or all the medical stuff. We would have had a very different life if we had stayed in Sydney. We came here for space and to have a family.
I think it is great to be a woman in Canberra. I don’t know if I would have noticed before having my daughter, but there is so much free and good quality stuff here for women and for bubbas. Like Playgroups, which is basically free after you have paid for your membership. All of the health stuff you get for free, the mothers groups they put you in touch with, the level of care you get from the public hospital and the midwives. I thought it was amazing. It was like private care. I never realised you got so much attention. I feel like, for so many people, it is harder to get that attention. My sister-in-law had a baby two years before me and there was like three other people in her room when she was labouring. I didn’t have to do that. There were four other people giving birth in the hospital at that time; we all had a big double bed and it was very different. I think Canberra is good for the mother-side of things.
I think that it is easy to maintain your health in Canberra except for a couple of qualms I have about bulk billing; it is not available for adults at all. I am really glad it is available for my daughter. When I was pregnant I didn’t know anyone. I didn’t know what I would need. I didn’t know how to be pregnant. I had no idea about any of it. I didn’t have a doctor here because I had never been sick. I went to a medical centre and they didn’t care. They said talk to your doctor, and I said you are my doctor. Once I found a family GP, they were great. I think I chose the wrong place to start with, which makes me think that if you can’t afford to go to a private GP then it is probably not a very good experience in this city. I would worry for people who can’t access that. Even if you are on a pension and can be bulked billed, you are waiting like three and four hours! Also, there is no food or water for free—I found that really atrocious. I was a bit disappointed by that, but I loved the hospital. I think the Canberra Hospital is great. I’ve had very good care there.
In general, the hardest thing about being a woman is trying to be everything. Even if I can say you can’t be everything—and no one expects you to be and no one cares if you are or you are not—I still want to be. I still have that thing that I want to make from scratch. I want to be the one who does everything for my daughter, as well as the one who works, and be the fun wife all at once. I think that is really hard. Canberra is much better than Sydney for a lot of reasons but, it is still a very expensive place to live. It is a place where it is normal for both parents to work, so that pushes the price of everything up. Everyone has more money. If you choose to not be a part of that—it is not as easy. If you are not in certain types of cliques it is hard to push through. Of course the positive thing is that it is a fairly transient city so there are always other people like you who didn’t grow up here and aren’t in the cool club sort of thing.
I feel like I am a mother at this point in time because that is all I have done for the past 12 months. I don’t know what else is going on. It is almost like because my daughter just turned one that we are at a turning point. I guess I am at a turning point. I’m starting to have time for myself again, I am starting to feel like myself.
My favourite day would be where my husband would have the day off and it would be either Spring or Autumn because it is either too hot in Summer or too cold in Winter. We would go for brunch in Lyons, then we would go to the lake, my daughter would play and we would talk. And that is pretty much all I want. I would like life to slow down a little bit these days.
My daughter, TV and food are my favourite three things in life.
Image created by Liz Thompson