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Wednesday, August 02, 2006 



People see me; glance down at the pram, then look up at me again in confusion. Inwardly I’m screaming, “Of course they aren’t mine you bloody eedjits!” but they don’t take any heed to the silent screams I’m psychically sending out, they just continue to look up and down from me, to the pram, back to me, back to the pram. Yeah, okay, you’re confused. Fine, I mean, I’m pretty sure its genetically impossible for any kids of mine to be blonde, blue eyed, and well… not stocky, but you know, normal looking. My kids are gonna be skinny, and, if not dark like me, they’ll at the lightest have brown hair and green eyes. So two Arian kids calling me, “mama” as I push them around the supermarkets is bound to be confusing.

It isn’t the confusion I’m bothered about, it’s the fact that on first glance they see me, and a pram, and they aren’t confused. They’re simply accepting. They only start to get a little baffled when they notice the completely opposing features between me and the kids. I mean, I’m bloody Chinese! Teenage mommies are accepted, that’s great. But teenage mommies of two? TWO kids. To have had two kids in such a short period of time (seventeen months between them) I’d either look like a dough ball or at least slightly more drained. I take pride in the fact that I have a completely flat stomach; I don’t have much else to take pride in. Could I have forced two kids out of me and still look reasonably healthy? Do I look that bad??

I asked Robin, “Do I look old enough to be a mama?” He looked up at me from his trike consideringly for a few seconds, and said measuredly, “yes.” I stood and stared into the mirror for about ten minutes. Searching. Searching for lines, for signs that I’d somehow become older without noticing. Searching for anything to show that I’d lost my youthful, “don’t let me into nightclubs,” “people mistake me for being younger than my sixteen year old sister” charm. And the scary thing is that I found it. And worse, I realised that it wasn’t from outside myself that I found it. My face is older than I remember it, and I’ve put on just enough weight for it to be noticeable and to make me feel a little guilty about forgetting to do my three hundred sit ups every night for the past week or so, but that isn’t the reason I’m so different.

I can tell you the difference between the attitudes of the children to me over the past month in a step by step plan of tiny victories. The day I learnt how to change a nappy, the day Robin stopped throwing his food about when I told him to rather than grinning and proceeding to throw it at me instead of the wall. I learnt how to be a mother, I learnt how to cook, I learnt how to get myself out of bed on time, and I learnt how to drink alcohol in moderation. I do housework, I change nappies in mere seconds, I multi task wiping faces, feeding kids, and talking on the phone to my dad about plane tickets. The kids’ attitude changed as they developed trust for me. But it also changed when I started to act like a figure of authority rather than just a bigger version of themselves.

I got a scare when I looked in that mirror. I haven’t actually looked at myself in… I really have no idea how long. You look in the mirror, you see the face in terms of “eyeliner goes here,” “more moisturizer there,” and “that colour really doesn’t suit my skin tone.” But I never actually look in the mirror and really look at myself. Some people do. Some people notice every line, some people genuinely care. But I’m me, I do the stuff that makes me presentable, but it’s mechanical. When I looked at myself, really looked I mean, I got the fright of my life.

In films there’s a moment. This pivotal point where everything suddenly changes, a transition point if you wish. And for me that was that point. I suddenly realised that I don’t write about being scared I’ll never grow up anymore. I don’t worry that whatever I do isn’t going to be enough, that people will be disappointed, and that I’ll forever spend my life being useless and inadequate. I don’t do that because I’ve already worked those things out, I’ve worked myself out. I’m not just a little girl who is only good for waitressing and getting passable grades in academia without too much effort. I found that I could do something hard, I could do it reasonably well and better, that when I become a parent I won’t be my mother. She couldn’t have done what I’m doing now; it would have driven her mad. She was a parent, but looking after two kids was too much, looking after three caused her to move to a different continent to escape.

My biggest fear has always been turning into her. And now I know that I can’t, I won’t, I don’t have to spend so much time freaking out that I will. I don’t have to avoid being in relationships, or any sort of adult situation where I could make the same mistakes. I am not her, and there isn’t any danger of me becoming her. I’m in no way close to mature, but I’m immature in the same way as everyone else is. I have my faults, but they’re acceptable, they’re normal. I’m not a failure because of them, and they don’t define who I am.

Coming here wasn’t a mistake. It made me grow up, and it’s taught me more than I could ever have expected. It diverted me when I needed it most, and gave me confidence that I no longer need to worry about who I am. Yes, I’ll fuck up, and yes I’ll be a complete idiot A LOT. But that’s okay, I’m not abnormal.

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  • An albatross can fly for thousands of miles without getting tired. I've always thought that love is similar to flying, therefore we should aspire to be like the albatross.

    I don't know if I can do that. So far I haven't been so lucky. But one day I'll test my wings with someone, and flying won't be so hard after all. Or so painful.
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    * In 2001 one New Zealand fishing boat killed over 300 seabirds in just one trip, while fishing for ling.
    * Each year over 300,000 seabirds are killed by longline fishing.
    * Over the past 60 years some albatross populations have declined by 90%.
    * Annually around 10,000 albatross and petrels are caught in New Zealand waters alone.
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