One of the MOMs whose words of encouragement and love remain strongest in my memory would be a particular high school teacher from my Taranaki hometown. I have memories of her that date back to primary school, when my little sister and I would finish school and wander off to the next door college. There , Dad would be trying to quell a restless classroom while we drew smiley faces on the whiteboard. Later in the staffroom we stuffed our mouths with chips while Dad stuffed his satchel with paperwork and teachers smiled at us over their Arcoroc glass coffee cups. Memories from those days are precious. Dad died when I was 11 years old. My parents had separated when I was nine and old social connections were lost. So at college I was thrilled to be back in Dad’s domain.
Looking back now, I can see this friend of his had , and very much still has, a heart of gold. She never appeared to tire of this shy third-former hanging back after class to chat. Her listening ear and kind words made a door to a chapter of my life I thought had closed.
It was many years later before I adopted another MOM. Sure, there were inspirational journo tutors, lady bosses, friends’ mums, aunties and in-laws, but there wasn’t so much to set those relationships apart from others I had with their male counterparts. That was until I became a mum myself.
Three years ago, when looking for a midwife, I had considered friends’ recommendations along with experience, track record and a similar ethos to mine. It didn’t cross my mind to consider the potential for friendship.
The appointments with my chosen midwife started out the same as any other medical check. Half an hour of sitting with sweaty palms and held breath as my blood pressure, weight and foetal heartbeat (exciting!) were measured. I scrolled through my phone making notes and reading out a series of questions I’d worried myself over between appointments. “Is it safe to wear tight pants? Can I still drink coffee? What if the cord’s around the baby’s neck? What happens if I bleed?”
As the due date drew nearer, I found myself leaning on her more heavily – not in the physical sense , but the emotional, the mental. I was approaching the biggest day of my life and was trusting that this new acquaintance would be there with me. Monitoring heartbeats, administering pain relief, keeping track of the labour, coaching my breathing, allaying my fears, urging me on, catching my baby. This tall, stoic mother hen with the hint of a South African accent offered wisdom, compassion and strength where I felt clueless, nervous and weak. She was gentle and schoolmarm in manner, seeking both to settle and scold me if ever self-doubt threatened to take over.
Earlier this year I said goodbye in a “Don’t want to make a big deal of it, but you’re basically my hero” kind of way. When she came for her final postnatal visit for my soon-to-be second child, my older, now two-year-old boy danced around proclaiming “ Midlife Sharon’s here!”, making excited jibber jabber, crawling under her legs and telling her every detail of his day. It’s basically how I felt I behaved whenever ‘midlife’ came to call. My younger son had just turned six weeks old and it would be my last such visit. After 20 years as a lead maternity carer (LMC), my ‘midlife’ was retiring.
There was nothing special about what I wanted in a birth : water, medical intervention at minimal to none , and oh, I didn’t want to birth in a hospital, please. Too many sterile white walls, uniforms and machines. “Have you considered a home birth?” Midlife asked. “Not really,” I replied, a little shocked. Was she mistaking this 27-year -old mum for a 40-something hippie mother of four? What I wanted was simply a birthing centre experience , but there was no such thing where I lived. Not wanting to let her call my bluff, I started prepping for my home birth.
Last January, I am proud to say, I home birthed like a pro. I was 10 days over when my waters finally broke. I felt like a kid at Christmas, except I was Santa and it would take a heck of a lot to get the goodies down the chimney. My younger son Kingsley, all nine and a half pounds of him, was born in my bedroom. He came after a labour of floating in a giant paddling pool that my husband had blown up in the lounge, and lying in bed with a survival kit of TENS, Panadol, scented oils and Rescue Remedy. I listened to my older boy playing cars in the other room and I nibbled banana bread and sipped rose and vanilla tea between contractions. Perhaps , most remarkably, our Airbnb guest was oblivious that upstairs a child was being born. This relaxed setting was not the labour I had envisaged before meeting my LMC. I know this scenario isn’t always achievable, as I learned when birthing my older boy. But each birth, though different, was a surprisingly positive experience which I will treasure as the making of me as a mother.
The journey has only begun. There is so much to value in being a mother. The job of protecting, encouraging and shaping my sons’ lives is both daunting and a ginormous privilege. I have a lot to learn and , no doubt, a lot of stuff-ups to make on this journey of being a mum. But I hope along the road someone also finds me worthy of being, MOM. ¢ Michelle Robinson is a freelance journalist and blogger
My Son, My Hopes, My Fears
Our image of South Africa is all too often skewed by the desperate actions of a few. The portrait is overshadowed by darkness, her grand beauty all but forgotten. A wavering economy and outpouring of skilled migrants, South Africa has struggled to find its feet. But if you know the right places to go, the rainbow nation can be a traveller's paradise as you make the most of the low rand*, friendly locals, and generous sights to behold, as Michelle Robinson discovered. LOCATION, LOCATION, LOCATION A rhino crosses the road at Schotia Private Game Reserve. To me, South Africa has always been about the Cape. The colourful history and exquisite beauty under the watchful eye of Table Mountain. My father's family reluctantly fled its shores to escape Apartheid, 45 years ago. This year I took my Kiwi mother, husband, and 18-month-old to explore the places we had only heard about. Situated on the western side of the southern coast, Cape Town is hom
Rose Matafeo knows she can't play the cute young thing forever. "I know I can't . . . I'm tall and I have wide shoulders, that's not very cute." The two-time nominated Billy T Award comedian has come a long way from the frizzy haired, nervous ball of energy who cut her teeth in the Auckland standup scene at just 15. Previous stories on the Grey Lynn comedian of Samoan, Dalmatian and Scottish descent have referred to her nervous habit of playing with her hands and her polite, self-effacing manner. Just a couple of years later, her growing confidence is evident but low key. Sitting in her bedroom in the weatherboard Grey Lynn flat she shares with comedians Joseph Moore and Nic Sampson, the now 22-year-old Matafeo isn't sure how she got here. "I don't know why I started out in comedy, I don't know why I'm still doing it and I don't think I'm funny." Instead, she takes her hat off to other girls pursuing comedy.
ANNALEE MUGGERIDGE ~ Clinique Sales Adviser and Beauty Vlogger (25) Before we meet, I hope Annalee isn’t wearing makeup, while at the same time hoping that she is. Her transformation from fresh faced girl-next-door to Hollywood cover girl is something to behold. But to be honest, I’m a little intimidated by what I might find. Annalee answers the door dressed in a casual chic ensemble of black leggings, denim shirt and black choker. Her blonded hair is worn straight down and she’s wearing ... a beautiful full face of makeup. I’m grateful we’re starting our session with a makeover for me, my face is as bare as the day I was born and I might be intimidated if it wasn’t for Annalee’s friendly manner. I may be the journalist, but it’s Annalee who’s asking me a bunch of questions from the first application of makeup to post-interview tea and croissants around the kitchen table. She’s only been in the country two days when we meet and already she’s had two photoshoots and now an
Two healthcare workers who forged prescriptions for three years to obtain medication to send overseas have kept their jobs. Joel Razon, 39, and Carlo Manlutac, 27, are still employed by Te Puna Hauora Primary Health Organisation on Auckland's North Shore despite being convicted of charges involving thousands of dollars worth of medication. Health Minister Tony Ryall and Waitemata District Health Board officials both said the men's employment was none of their business. Te Puna Hauora general manager Lyvia Marsden said the organisation had "put policies in place" to prevent further offending, and the Ministry of Health was satisfied. Asked why the pair were still with the organisation, she said: "Why shouldn't they? Where else are they supposed to work?" Marsden said the matter had been dealt with confidentially and she had no concerns about the way it had been handled. "We have not broken the law," she said. "All is well."
OPINION: I have to dig deep to show emotion when a friend's upset. Adult tears are mesmerising. It's not that I don't feel their sadness, oh I do. It's just that I had to cope with intense grief as a child. I was 11 and Dad was supposed to live forever. Losing a parent when you are young can make you resilient in many ways. Over time though, resilience can morph into hardness. It's taken years of watching the close bond between my husband and his dad to realise a father's role doesn't diminish at the end of childhood. That bond was what pulled my husband, and our young family with it, back from Auckland to New Plymouth last year. There were a number of reasons for this move, but most pressingly has been my husband's need to spend quality time with his father before age and ailing health rob them. Through seeing my husband snuggle up to his dad like a boy and ask him for advice, I've learned that the role of a father is one intended to guide
"Lawyers, judges, prosecutors and police have all said, 'This is not a process I would want a member of my family to go through." In an effort to resolve sexual assault cases more quickly, reduce the trauma for complainants and encourage more victims to come forward, two new specialist sexual violence courts are to be opened in New Zealand. The courts will deal exclusively with serious sexual offences such as "rape, sexual violation, incest, sexual grooming, indecent assault, possession of child pornography and intimate visual recordings made without consent", according to a government statement. Starting December this year, the two-year pilot will also see 20 judges up-skilled on how to best deal with the complexities of sexual abuse cases. Research tells us that lengthy proceedings may delay recovery. "Timeliness is clearly an issue," Chief District Court Judge Jan-Marie Doogue said. "Research tells us that lengthy proceedings may
It's been 12 years since I have heard the voice of anyone from my father's family. Now suddenly I have the cacophony of dozens of rolled 'r's and hearty, shrieking laughter in my ears. My cheeks are warm with pressed kisses, my limbs are wary from countless hugs and my soul is fulfilled with the love of a family I never knew I had missed. Four and a half decades on from when Dad left Cape Town's shores, I have returned without him, with the hope of meeting him. I was entering my awkward adolescent years when he left me behind in this world and his father, his brother, followed him out of my grasp. The freshest memories are of my oupa or Papa as I called him. It's his voice that lingers, his arms that last held me. I saw him, I heard him in my great-Aunty Alice as I embraced her tiny frame and in the sparkle in her eyes as she smiled at me. "I never thought I would meet you," she cried, clasping my hands in hers. I could tell this moment was as
It's strange to be interviewing Jono Pryor and Ben Boyce. Several times Pryor turns it around so he's interviewing me. "Do you guys always meet people here for pizza? What are you guys doing after this? Is Stuff going behind a paywall?" Pryor peppers us with questions as he chauffeurs us up the mount in his legendary black 1970s Holden Kingswood. It's back to black, having recently been painted a vibrant pink in a Boyce-ordered prank. The presenters of late-night current affairs spoof Jono and Ben at Ten are facing the challenge of capturing two types of audience. They are branching out their TV show to include the hardcore fans of drivetime rock radio. Tall, thin, buzz-cut and jeans-clad, the comic presenters take the piss as they pose for photos. "Is it too late to pull out?" Boyce asks. "They caught me at a low point." The move to replace Pryor's deep-voiced, decade-long co-host Robert Taylor with Boyce has attracted a legio
OPINION: Having quit ballet just days from opening night, I long dreamed of returning to the studio. It's been almost a year since my move to New Plymouth and I've been waiting to bump into the dance teachers of my youth as a sign it's time to return. Who am I kidding. I was making detours past the Val Deakin Dance School in an attempt to speed up the process. Ballet is one of those childhood hobbies almost every girl starts but few of us finish as prima ballerinas. Those of you who have ever had the gall to back-chat a ballet teacher will know exactly what I'm talking about. My first days of dancing were as a shy six year old with pigtails. It was adorable, we wore frilly dresses and played toy soldiers, spinning tops and teddy bears to music. My ballet teacher at the time was friendly enough to us, though she earned the nickname 'the dragon lady' among the mothers for her air of formidability. Ballet is a discipline but also an exquisite form
JAZ GARNER ~ Makeup artist, dancer + model based in Auckland (23) Jaz has been experimenting with makeup since she could reach her mother’s black lipstick at age four. Nowadays her makeup artistry is splashed across the pages of magazines and featured on our TV screens. Her bag is stocked with the likes of Yves St Laurent and Giorgio Armani and a stack load of MAC. And she doesn’t like to leave the house without a few lashings of mascara, under-eye concealer and “a nice little lip stain”. At the family home, you could probably still dig up some ‘Oompa Loompa shots’ of a teenage Jaz trying on her mum’s Thin Lizzy. “Oh gawd…” But Jaz’s diary was packed with enough clients that she managed to turn freelance at the tender age of 21. She earned her stripes at the MAC counter at Auckland Airport, having initially left her New Plymouth home for the big smoke at 17 to study dance at the Excel School of Performing Arts. The modelling came a bit later, through contacts she picked up fr