(Sponsored- this post is brought to you in collaboration with Etsy. All memories are my own)
This Mother’s Day, Etsy want to celebrate special memories with Mum via a social sharing campaign. When they contacted me about the campaign I was in immediately, as it goes straight to my heart. I am very close to my mum and my boys are very close to me. I am blessed. I know from my years of work in counselling that not everyone is so lucky (when I spell checked it said tears of counselling – that may have actually been more real), but no matter whether you have a close relationship with your birth mother, or another key female in your life, having that special, nurturing relationship is very important.
Do you celebrate Mother’s Day at all? I feel that it is just another Hallmark Holiday and the consumerism approach to buy bigger diamonds and more expensive kitchen gadgets each year quite frankly makes me sick. But I usually celebrate with a bunch of flowers and a cup of tea. A campaign like this one which aims to get you sharing memorable moments you have had with either your mum or a key maternal figure – that I am behind 100%
You can join in using #EverydayMum across all social media channels.
Etsy is one of my favourite places to shop as it is all about community and handmade. This Mother’s Day they are working hard to use it as an opportunity for us all to give thanks to maternal figures who have fostered little moments that count. If you are looking for something special for your mum, you can find an amazing array of unique vintage and handmade products on Etsy that would make perfect thank you gifts come 10th May and are far more personal than a diamond studded kitchen whiz. And if you are not sure what to get, you can grab an Etsy Gift Card.
Here is my special moment with my amazing mum.
We will always have South Africa
Do you have memories of holidays with your family that stand out? I have so many. My parents were teachers and took us on many journeys, including a 3 month backpacking trek around Europe and the UK when my sister and I were just little girls. I love to take my own family on road trips now, and we have driven across much of Australia, car packed to the brim, car games to the ready and excited bodies crammed into their seats for hours on end. My gypsy grandparents must have instilled this love of travel into our genes I think, arriving in Australia as English migrants with my mum and her little sisters, with the promise of a new life. They spent the last active years of their lives, before illness took over, travelling up and back to Queensland with a caravan, experiencing every last moment they could.
My mum and I are very close and have been lucky to work together in the past 15 years, in the online diabetes counselling service and charity I founded in 2001. Mum has been an integral part of this service, as a counsellor and volunteer, spending hours raising funds and supporting thousands of people with diabetes each year. One of the benefits of our work has been the chance to travel to share our model of supporting people online, in particular using social media. In 2006 I was the winner of a number of awards and grants which led my mum and I on 2 overseas trips.
The first was a trip to Florence, to present at an International conference. It was my first trip overseas since I was a little girl. Despite Mum getting robbed of her money, cards and passport at a gala dinner, crying in the rain, a trip to the Italian police station in the middle of the night to tell the policeman on duty in his Hard Rock Café t-shirt what had happened, his feet on the table drinking a beer, our Aussie consulate being closed due to a public holiday so being unable to get a new passport, and travelling home with Mum sans passport, it was an epic, whirlwind trip.
I think the memories of being there with Mum all those years ago must have been part of me, as I had many emotional moments, in particular when seeing the Statue of David where I broke down into tears. The sheer beauty and history in Europe is overwhelming. We had dinner in castles, markets and glorious food, getting lost in all the crooked streets and listening to the sounds of the street from our hotel room.
A few months later, I got the invite to attend the International Diabetes Summit in Capetown, South Africa. We jumped for joy! A little nervous after our Florence events and the potential for danger in South Africa, we decided to make sure we experienced more this time, and booked a safari following on from the world congress. The flight to South Africa was like a movie –a horror movie! On arrival in Johannesburg, we discovered we had missed our connecting flights to Capetown. The staff assured us we would just get the next flight. However after standing in many lines and eventually being passed to the standby desk, we knew we were in for trouble! We were part of a little group of Aussies and Americans who were in the same boat, or plane, or lack of it. My type 1 diabetes was not happy after a 30 hour trek, to be standing in an airport in the middle of the night and I was not feeling well at all. Mum was exhausted. Eventually they told us we were on a plane to Capetown with Mango Air. I kid you not, the staff all wore bright orange!
They got our luggage processed and ushered us through the airport to what we thought was the waiting plane. It was actually a waiting line. A long one. It appeared that as it was a budget airline, Mango Air required a bus trip to get to the tarmac on which the plane was sitting. We stood in the line. Again. After a while we heard our names called and literally jumped for joy. The attendant took us aside and told us there was a change of plans and we were being offloaded!! And so they took us back through the airport to the departures area. One of the Americans in our group shouted at him “we are not waiting in any more lines, get me a Manager”!! And like lightening we were on the last flight out for the night, on South African Airlines, in business class, with our luggage still going on Mango Air! They assured us the luggage would be there when we arrived.
I was so exhausted I passed out on the plane and could vaguely hear Mum taking advantage of business class and grabbing some alcohol and some Ostrich Skewers! There was a lightning storm as we arrived in Capetown around 1 am local time. It was such a quiet little airport, and there was our luggage. Well everyone’s except Mum’s! So off to another line we went to report her missing baggage. They (again) assured us that the lost luggage deliveries always came in to our hotel the next day (clearly a regular occurrence!). We learned that night, to always cross pack undies and necessities from this experience as it took 24 hours for her bag to arrive. (My camera back then was also less than average so my pictures are not as great as I would like, but they hold the memories).
The next few days were a whirlwind of conference sessions, tours, meeting new people and adventure. Capetown is such a beautiful city and Nelson Mandela had a big presence there for us which was very emotional. But the best was yet to come. After the conference we took a trip out to Zululand for a safari. We had a private driver ( a very cute one!) take us through the South African countryside from Durban where we spent the night before and eaten the best lamb chops we had ever had, to our accommodation on a small wildlife park. After settling in we went for a walk on the property to find Zebras! Our screams and shouts of “it’s a f……g ZEBRA” could be heard across South Africa!!
Our first proper safari the next day started at 4 am and we could barely sleep with the excitement. In some unknown stroke of master luck we scored our own private safari truck, with our own driver called Israel, and nobody else on it! We waved to all the overflowing trucks as we passed them. He was just gorgeous and took such care of us, taking us off the beaten track as much as possible.
There were rain storms and wildebeest and warthogs and elephants. And Mum’s favourite, Giraffes. She screamed the park down when we rounded a bend to a herd of them! Our encounter with an elephant was the standout – we call him “our elephant”. We were on a backroad and Israel pointed him out, just up the hill. The elephant then ripped a tree branch off with his trunk and shook it at us. We got more and more nervous and excited as he then headed down the hill, until he was right next to Mum’s side of the car – bear in mind there are no glass windows on these trucks – she could have reached out and touched him. At this point I asked perhaps should we move on now? But Israel waited a few moments more before driving slowly off. As we looked back we could see our elephant using the track for a wee! Israel explained he probably trekked down that track every day to do that and we had been in his way. Amazing stuff.
Along the way, we had a river safari and saw lots of hippos and one where we trekked through the jungle to swim in the sea. Our quadbike safari ended short when we both freaked out and hated the first 10 minutes so turned around and went back to base! It was a week of magical, story book moments, with the best person I could ever have wanted to experience it with. Mum is brave, feisty, passionate, extraordinarily intelligent and funny. We both love to eat up every moment of life, and on a holiday, despite exhaustion, we get out and experience everything there is to offer. I also felt safe with Mum. We had our routines of boiling all of our water each morning, caring for my diabetes and each other on this unknown journey.
My mum is my best friend, my confidante and my hero. Mother’s Day is just one moment in time to celebrate her, as I celebrate her every day of my life. Every journey I have taken with her, from my first steps in the world holding onto her long brown hair, to dealing with my diagnosis of type 1 diabetes together, to becoming a mum myself, to our amazing South African adventure, has been more than I could ever ask for. We laugh so much together sometimes I feel like my stomach will burst. She walked alongside every critical moment of my life. She has given me an appreciation for this crazy thing we call life and taught me that no matter what you do, as long as you do it with passion, caring for others and what is right, an open mind and a heart full of love, you will be alright.
And no matter what happens in the rest of our lives together, we will always have South Africa.
Do you have a special memory with your mum to share?
Etsy are running a social media competition where one lucky community member will have the chance to win a $500 Etsy voucher. All that you have to do is share a photograph with your Mum along with a memorable story (25 words or less) on Instagram, Facebook or Twitter using #EverydayMum. It runs until midnight on Mother’s Day – 10 May.
You can see more here
Etsy have gifted my mum a very special present in celebration of our memory – from Drawn by Carmen – I cried when it arrived with her personal note about my story. Drawing inspiration from animals and botanical sketches, Carmen uses traditional media including graphite and coloured pencils to create whimsical and delicate works on paper. Her drawings are detailed and delicate. They are drawings made with love and is something that can be treasured forever. Her work has been featured in Peppermint Magazine, The Inner West Courier and Curvy Magazine. She has also participated in a few group and solo exhibitions along the way.