Motherhood Statements (revisited)

I have previously written about motherhood statements and current events in politics have made me think about this concept again.

What’s a motherhood statement? Wiktionary defines it as such: “a “feel good” platitude, usually by a politician, about a worthy concept that few people would disagree…”.

When Julia Gillard begins a speech with “My fellow Straians…” you know you’re about to hear a truck load of motherhood statements. This is stuff about education being good, importance of families, strong economy… stuff you just can’t argue with really because it’s like saying the sky is blue or we need air to breath.

The current state of politics is dire in Australia right now, in the most dull sense of the word. Not dire like in Turkey or in Syria where it’s actually a matter of life and death and basic freedoms and human rights. But dire in the sense that everyone knows that we are in a very long pregnant pause right now. The result of the September election is all but cast in stone. All public announcements by the current federal government are treated with the contempt they so richly deserve. The opposition knows full well they just need to keep quiet and not have any of their higher profile members get caught in a compromising situation with a goat and/or a member of the Greens. There is no need to announce policies or make any grand statements  or even waste too much breath pointing out the faults of those currently driving the out of control road train known as the Australian Labor Party.

This week there has been a great deal of the poor excuse which passes for political media commentary and all centered on the people instead of the policies. This is what’s doing my head in. It’s always about the people and when it’s about policy it’s always just banal motherhood statements.

Let’s get back to the people angle. Generally when the conversation turns to this election it goes like this: “I won’t be voting for Julia Gillard but I can’t bring myself to vote for Abbott, argh [usually with a grimace at this point to illustrate how utterly distasteful Tony Abbott is]”. Usually I smile and nod knowingly but what I’m thinking is “grow the fuck up”. I am sick to death of this election being about Gillard vs Abbott. It’s about the policies of the Australian Labor Party versus the policies of the Australian Liberal Party, with the policies of the assorted and varied minor parties and independents throw in for colour and movement.

I have nothing against Julia Gillard. I am sure she is incredibly smart and dynamic and passionate and has lots of wonderful personal qualities which I will never know about because I am unlikely to ever meet her and share anything resembling a personal conversation. But I have a deep loathing for the policies she has implemented on behalf of her party which I strongly disagree with; starting with the highly offensive carbon tax, moving through the pink batts fiasco, the BER fiasco, the NBN fiasco and their inability to legalise gay marriage (the one thing I was hopeful a more small “l” liberal Labor Party might have the guts to bring in).

In my middle age I have become more and more conservative when it comes to the financial management of this country. I want a government which takes a reasonable amount of tax, spends it thoughtfully on important things and stays out of things which are none of their business.

I am fed up with the “misogyny” angle and the focus on budgie smugglers and red hair and menus at stupid dinners and whether the First Hairdresser is gay or not. Let’s all be mature adults here and talk about policy. Are you happy with the policies of the Labor Party? Do you think they’ve done a good job with the financial management of this country? That’s what this election should be about; not any of the other bullshit.

What we need to be asking is where do all the promises come from? I don’t know jack shit about the Gonski reforms. All I know is that everyone wants better schools (motherhood statement), better hospitals (motherhood statement), better roads (ditto), less tax (ditto). When any party promises any of these things we need to ask “where is the money coming from?”.  If these wonderful Gonski reforms come in (and I’m not arguing about their benefits to the school system) where is the sacrifice going to be made?

It’s all swings and roundabouts, slight of hand and taking from Peter to pay Paul in politics. If we think otherwise we are seriously kidding ourselves.

I’ll put it out there right now: I will be voting for the Liberal Party at the next election (and my goodness it can not come soon enough). Not because I like Tony better than Julia but because I want conservative fiscal governance of our country. That simple. Whoever wins, the difference in my life and in the lives of those nearest and dearest to me will be minimal.  But I am hopeful, though not totally optimistic, that the booby trapped carbon tax legislation will be repealed and that we can slowly regain the strong financial grounding Australia enjoyed prior to this Labor administration.

I will leave you with this motherhood statement. Free, democratic elections are a privilege many people around the world are willing to kill and die for. We don’t have to. But I dare to suggest we need to put on our big girl (and boy) undies and man up here (sorry to mix my clichés) and stop this playground nonsense about who we like or not. We will soon have the solemn duty to vote for our next government; let’s take this job seriously.

Where the heart is

Illness has descended upon Casa DKG; an unidentified unwellness whereby the kidlets and I have various symptoms including headache, body aches, upset tummies and general crankiness. You might ask how is this any different to a normal day around these here parts. Being the mother I have years of experience in discerning where normal grumpiness and poor behaviour ends and actual sickness begins. We are officially in that zone.

I am fairly confident this is the sort of 24 hour thing which will be made all better by a day in front of the tv with plentiful cups of lemony tea and paracetamol* [*willing to promote your brand of paracetamol here, just phone the 1800 number, our trained operators are waiting to take your call]. Oh and a win by the hapless NSW Blues in tonight’s State of Origin wouldn’t hurt at all.

Being safe and snug at home prompted Miss M to consider the plight of homeless people. “It would be horrible to be homeless when you are sick,” she stated. I agreed.

“If I saw a homeless person that was sick I would ask them to come and live with us and look after them. Then, when they got their own place I would be their friend.”


Such beautiful sentiments bring about so many questions.

Who is this kind child and what has she done with my daughter?
If she feels so much empathy towards homeless people why can’t she display some towards her long suffering mother?
Would she be nicer to me if I was homeless?
Does she realise that homeless people generally smell bad?

It makes me so happy that she feels this way but also sad because I know that life is not so simple and very soon she will come to understand this.

I wanted to explain to her that people become homeless for a complex variety of reasons. I wanted to explain to her that it would be a much better world if we could all take in a homeless person into our homes and help them regain their footing in society… but that unfortunately the world just didn’t work that way.

Why doesn’t it work this way? I don’t know. Fear would be my first guess. Money. Control. Stepping outside of our comfort zones.

We start off fearless and open and slowly get filled up with fear because the more we know the more fearful we become. We start off full of possibility and naively brave about the world and soon we become risk assessment specialists, assessing every action and interaction against an ever building mental list of what ifs.

I know we can’t take a homeless person home but I know we can help our children understand that it is important to help those less fortunate in the world (as our family does) and that there are many ways of doing that. For example, it is often said that charity starts are home… so how about starting by being charitable to your parents? We may not be homeless but we deserve a little kindness and empathy too.


Faster Pasta #1: The One With The Smoked Salmon Tomato Cream Sauce

Whenever I am cooking pasta, as I was last night, I ponder why people who say they can’t cook don’t embrace pasta. I know these days it is possible to eat quite well and at reasonable cost without ever entering your kitchen. Fast, cheap food is no longer just the domain of Maccas and the Colonel; so many options are now freely available.

I suspect if I was single and kidlet free I would do little, if any, cooking. For me cooking and eating is pleasurable as a social and nurturing activity and these days it’s part of the fabric of my life and of how I view my own identity. But I can remember how the other side of the coin looks.

Getting back to last night… as I was cooking I was thinking that pasta is virtually indistructible and can be used as a base for just about anything you have lurking in your pantry and fridge. A 99 cent packet of pasta plus 3 or 4 other ingredients can make a meal; once you get your head around the basic flavour principles you are away. A family of four or five can eat for under $10 easily; or a single person make enough for four work lunches for the same cost.

The good thing is, while your pot of pasta is boiling you can gather and prepare your other ingredients, drain the pasta and throw together as quickly as your chosen ingredients will allow.

A drizzle of olive oil, some gently fried garlic, a handful of sliced mushrooms and ham or bacon. Tomatoes going soft in the fridge? Peel and chop, soften in the pot with oil, onion and garlic, some fresh or dried herbs. Finish with some crumbled feta or ricotta or a splash of cream and some parmesan. Go a little fancier with some sliced chicken thigh fillets or green prawns, some grated zucchini, a little chili and some olive oil or cream to finish off.

From the simplest bowl of freshly cooked pasta with a drizzle of olive oil and a sprinkle of parmesan (as my kids love it) to a dinner party dish of home made pasta (try it, if you have a gadget to help with the kneading it’s easier than you would think, and very satisfying) with a delicately constructed sauce… pasta is something everyone should know how to make and experiment with.

Last night’s half hour wonder was:


Pasta with Smoked Salmon Tomato Cream Sauce

500g dried pasta shapes or spaghetti
2 cloves garlic, finely sliced or crushed
1 small onion, finely sliced or chopped
olive oil
1 teaspoon vegetable stock powder (chicken would be fine)
dried herbs (as available or to taste, or use fresh parsley, thyme… whatever you have/like)
8 small or 4 large tomatoes (I used Roma tomatoes because that’s what I had), peeled, chopped chunky style
Large handful of baby spinach leaves, torn or sliced
200 ml cream
8 slices smoked salmon, chopped as you like
Salt, pepper, chili (if you like) – all optional and all to taste
2-3 Tablespoons of parmesan, grated or shaved

1) Cook pasta as instructed, drain, set aside.
2) In the same pot heat olive oil on low heat, add onion and garlic. Cook for a 3-5 minutes until starting to soften.
3) Add tomatoe pieces and a splash of water or white wine and your herbs and stock powder. Cook on low heat, stirring regularly.
4) When tomatoes are breaking down (up to you how chunky or mushy you like them) add the cream and baby spinach and stir through for one minute or so.
5) Add pasta and smoked salmon slices and seasoning (if using) and heat through while stirring. Turn off heat straight away, you want the salmon warm but not cooked and mushy.
6) Stir through parmesan or add to individual plates (I stir through).

Seriously quick and easy (and Marianna had three serves).

The important thing to remember is don’t worry too much about the recipe. Don’t like smoked salmon? Leave it out or add ham or some leftover chicken instead. Don’t have fresh tomatoes? Throw in a can of them. Add frozen peas or zucchini instead of spinach. Go hard on the chili if kidlets are not partaking. Use your imagination and let your vegie crisper dictate what goes in. The best thing about a pasta dish like this is nothing is really “wrong” – unless it tastes bloody awful of course, then it’s your own silly fault. Go back to the drawing board.