Writing the story of motherhood and the myth of progress

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Photo by Lisa Fotios from Pexels

My toddler, red-faced and grit-toothed, has determined that we must not stay here. I hoped to recapture the days of her sleepy babyhood when I could peruse an op-shop while she napped, strapped to my chest.

But not today.

She’s sitting in the pram, the disgruntled monarch, scream-crying hot tears of injustice as we pace the aisles.

The book I gave her as a distraction lies splayed on the floor like a crime scene. I feel the rising shame, colouring my neck as shoppers give me the sympathy-eye.

At least this will make a good story, I think, relishing the…


On lining the nest with books in fear of losing grey matter

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Image by Public Co from Pixabay

We line up, buzzing in anticipation, clutching our gold coin donation. People wander by murmuring; wonder what’s going on here?

It’s the annual Rotary book sale.

Only the book lover can understand the thrill of the hunt.

I eye off a guy leaving with a handful of books, did he take all the good ones? I remind myself that one of the joys of reading is the huge spectrum of genres and tastes and he’s got a dark and angsty pile of ‘Game of Thrones’ books anyway. Meh.

A woman behind me is chatting to a friend on the phone…


Travelling to Malacootta a year after the bushfires

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Image by sippakorn yamkasikorn from Pixabay

There’s a sign leading into Mallacoota; one of those government warnings dotted along the highway. I can’t tell what it’s about because half of it has been burnt away by fires that ravaged the town last year under a blood-red sky.

All that remains is ‘…could save your life’, which feels unfair not to know. Seatbelts? Getting out early at the first sign of smoke? Not drink driving?

We wend through the arterial road cutting through thick bush with blackened trees sprouting fuzzy bright-green growth, like pipe-cleaners. …


The end of life can illuminate precious truths about what it means to be human

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Image by Peter H from Pixabay

His name was Kevin. I know this because he pulled up next to me at the pool and introduced himself. Like a specimen you’ve studied in school but never seen up close (and in Speedos)

Kevin, a geriatric man with wispy white hair and thick dark age spots all over his hollowed-out, paper-thin body.

“Do you mind if I share your lane?” I asked.

“Hey?” he yelled back.

“DO YOU MIND IF I SHARE YOUR LANE?”

“Oh, yes be my guest. What’s your name?”

“Cherie.”

“Hey?”

“CHERIE.”

“Oh. I’m Kevin.”

“Hi Kevin.”

“HEY?”

“HI KEVIN!”

“Sorry I’ve got blue-tac in…


Dispatches from Australia in a crumbling Christmas

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Photo by Lynda Hinton on Unsplash

One Christmas, many years ago, I had chickenpox. I was shut off in my room, itchy and irritated, dotted with calamine lotion, while wafts of festivity tendrilled through the door; fresh-cooked turkey and garlic prawns, family chit-chat and in-jokes. It was an exquisite kind of torture.

This pinnacle on the calendar; looked forward to, talked about, planned for, I was suddenly uninvited, watching it through a frosted window like a pauper in a Dickens novel.

After returning to Victoria from Sydney this week to the news of a growing COVID outbreak on the Northern Beaches, I went to get a…


My toddler and I grapple with the new stages of development we’re both going through.

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Image by tookapic from Pixabay

We prepare to do battle, this bright-eyed baby and I. She’s in her cheap Target high-chair, the one that can be blasted by a high pressured hose at the end of a session involving smooshed bananas and projectile mince. I try to keep the tone light: Here you go darling! Yummy dinner!

I know what’s in store.

She eyes my offering which I carefully place on the tray: a plate full of veggies and mince with a small plastic fork poking out.

I want her to feel independent, like an adult! Not a little baby who hurls her food across…


Reflections on the places which shape us, for better or worse.

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Image by Anja🤗#helpinghands #solidarity#stays healthy🙏 from Pixabay

Some people grew up around the sea, others near dense rugged bushland. I grew up near a suburban Sydney shopping centre. Like the McDonald’s of nature, this artificial environment was the backdrop of my youth.

There were the sliding doors and huge glass panels showcasing travelators and shops packed liked sardines with lounge beats playing dimly overhead. The food court bursting with kebabs, burgers, sushi and curries, and tired workers constantly clearing trays off tables.

It was a well-ordered organism fuelled by the worker-bees I would one day join.

Hornsby Northgate was replaced by a Westfield in 2001, conveniently for…


Learning to cultivate house plants is so much more than being a trendy plantfluencer on Instagram

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Photo by Huy Phan from Pexels

House plants are so hot right now. Just look at the plantfluencers propagating Instagram complete with #monsteramonday (#flytrapfriday still isn’t a thing).

We’ve got this 1970’s return-to-nature vibe going on and it’s not hard to see why. Millennials renting inner-city flats you can’t swing a cat in; the terrifying deforestation of the earth leading to mass extinction (thanks to David A. for that little wake-up call).

If that’s not enough to make someone go out and buy a philodendron, I don’t know what is.

Which is exactly what I did.

I didn’t have any existential motivations, I just wanted to…


Our most fundamental desire may explain our love/hate relationship with politicians.

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Photo by Tobi Oluremi on Unsplash

It’s that time of year again when people’s huge mugs are printed on big boards and plastered on fences and front yards and busy street corners. Their name, big and bold, with a ‘1’ somewhere, striking, against bright colours.

They’re usually ‘fighting for you’ or ‘looking to your future’ as they do their best to project a friendly, trustworthy smile into the camera, causing immediate suspicion.

The local elections have rolled around bringing with them the self-promotions.

‘Trust me, I’m a politician,’ must be the most oxymoronic statement possible.

It’s no surprise that trust in politicians is at an all-time…


Where do our memories live and what happens when we throw them out?

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Image by Rudy and Peter Skitterians from Pixabay

I step inside the cavernous warehouse and breathe in a sweet, musty old-worldly smell. Like your Grandma’s cupboard times a hundred.

This place, The Mill Markets, is made up of hundreds of little shops, small corners packed with curated vintage items, people specialising in records or action figurines.

My mother-in-law took me there for the first time and said she often comes to walk around and think. I’ve started doing the same. It’s like stepping back in time, when we weren’t all plugged into our phones like bodies to the Matrix.

Stepping into other people’s lives and memories.

There’s creepy…

Cherie Gilmour

Writer. Aussie. New Mum. Tired. cherielee87@hotmail.com

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