There are two reasons why I want you to meet Nicky. First, she is funny. Always has been. What’s not funny about a girl in a tutu cracking jokes that make a grown man blush? Her status updates suggest that hasn’t changed.
But what has changed is Nicky’s foray into motherhood. My jaw hit the ground when I saw seven children listed on her Facebook profile. After trading a few messages, I got the feeling that Nicky had a story worth sharing.
Nicky’s response to my request: “Are you insane?”
I’ll let you decide…
M: What’s happened in your life over the past 20 years?
N: Wow. Had lots of kids. I got married to Evil Bastard after being together for 13 years. Married for two, divorced for six. Divorce court was a hoot. Apparently it’s inappropriate to yell "woo hoo" when the judge grants a divorce - but who knew?
M: How many kids do you have?
N: Officially four:
Kimberley 17: Our fairy princess who will have to marry rich.
Megan 15: The brain - studying Japanese Immersion and going to Japan for five weeks in September.
Rachel 12: My Type One diabetic. She has an incurable autoimmune disease and will need to inject insulin for the rest of her life (all this came to light on 23.05.05 - a date I will always remember).
Lachlan 9: The only male - a chilled child who just floats along with the rest of the circus, being dragged between gymnastics and hip-hop classes.
Unofficially I am ‘mum’ to a few more:
Mikayla 17: Has a mother who has been out of her life since she was two.
Brooke 17: My wayward no-longer-in-school child (working on that).
Oliver and Thom: Who have perfectly wonderful parents but I am still ‘mum’.
Chris 18: Father of one, also drinking WAY too much and tattoos himself regularly. Has run-ins with the police and is a struggle to keep in TAFE. But he is a great kid. You need to look past the surface and see the real kid.
Oh, and then there’s the occasional Japanese exchange students (what's a few more, right?).
M: Who lives in your house?
N: Me, four kids, a dash hound with a really bad attitude and Kitty who is constantly pissed off since we brought home Flynny the Wonder Hound. My unofficial kids only stay if they need a place to crash – it’s not uncommon to have eight kids here on a Saturday night. Better they are all here than roaming the streets.
M: How do you cope?
N: Kids just want to be heard and know that someone cares about them - it costs me nothing. You also have to mean what you say. My kids are well aware that if they get into trouble at school I will come to school and ‘krump’ in front of their friends.
M: Do you work?
N: I work for myself as a Bookkeeper. I have always worked. Life got a little harder after Rachel's diagnosis…but, you wanna eat, you gotta work. I just completed my Cert Four Financial Services (the government decided that after doing my job for 20 years I, and all other bookkeepers, should be ‘qualified’). The Customer Service Module was a struggle. I work in back office for a reason.
M: Do you get any help?
N: No partner…I can't sort my own life out without dragging some other sucker into it. On a serious side, I was in a very controlled relationship for 15 years and now enjoy freedom. The help comes from my lovely mummy, who is happy to pick kids up, drop them off, feed them chips and watch Blue Heelers with them. I would be in serious trouble without her.
M: What makes you a good mother?
N: I have no clue why you are asking me. I asked my kids what makes me a good mother and none of them could stop laughing long enough to answer. They will tell you that the dog is treated better than them and perhaps they should learn to bark. I tell them the dog doesn't answer back!
I never will understand how a mother can just walk away. I make extra lunches each day because some parents can’t be bothered. It’s this weird attitude where the kid gets to 12 and the parents bail, leaving them to roam the streets. I prefer they come here. Then I know where they all are.
M: Where will you be in 10 years time?
N: Probably still have a house full of kids. I don't really think they plan on moving out and I quite like that fact (don't tell them). I enjoy their company (again, not to be repeated). I guess I will be in relationship. Might be ready by then. Who knows?
We will still be in a constant state of fun chaos.
Like the time we went camping and I packed the roof racks (how hard could it be right?). As we drove up the highway I watched my air mattress fly off the roof in my rear vision mirror. We pulled over but no one could stop laughing long enough to rescue it.
Or when we made ‘hammer time’ and ‘in the name of love’ signs and stuck them to the stop signs in the street.
Or when Meg has friends on the trampoline and I lock the door and dance inside so she can't come in to stop me. Her friends and I think it’s hilarious…she dies of embarrassment.
M: What mistakes have you made and learned from?
N: OMG. How much time do we have? Biggest mistake was staying with a man that did not treat me well. I was teaching my children that this is how relationships are. So we left – it was a nightmare, but we made it.
So Nicky, was I insane sharing your story? I don’t think so. In fact, you inspire me – and I have a hunch that is something you don’t hear everyday. But you should.