Mother Fluker

A Migrant Mother's Musings

Monday, October 24, 2005

Strange planetary configurations.

Okay, there must indeed be a strange planetary configuration at the moment, or at least one which affects my life if nobody else's. It's always this way with me - life bumbles along in a series of logjamming arse-scratching wait-a-thons while absolutely no progress is made on any front at all. Then suddenly, deaths, births, and a whole pile of generally meaningful life events happen bang bang bang one after the other in the space of a fortnight.

And so it has been this last couple of weeks. Permanent residency (after being on tenterhooks since last November), Pregnancy (kind of ditto), followed by Purchase of Dream House!

Yes, despite my morose depression at our lack of house buying luck to date - we've been looking around for months - suddenly it has all happened. Saw dream house on Tuesday morning at 8.30am. Offer made, Tues night. Negotiating back and forward, Weds lunchtime. Signed and sealed, by Weds evening. How mad is that? Rest of week was a manic round of builder's reports, deposit cheques and form filling. In the meantime our Glasgow tenants have also given notice, so we have to get that flat on the market as soon as we can.

There will now be a hiatus until we move at the end of February, to allow our psyches to catch up with this insanity. I am feeling sick as a dog, but have no idea whether it's due to pregnancy or adrenaline overload.

Monday, October 17, 2005


I have just discovered that I am pregnant again.

There, it looks even more shocking in print.

Bizarrely, I have the same due date in June as I did with the H. There will be exactly two years between them.

But thinking about it, there's no way the H and his sibling will share an actual birthday. Going overdue ain't something I am going to do again, so this one's coming out early, no arguments. Plus a house where four birthdays are within the same week would be stupid, right?

Early days though. It's all a secret for now.

Sunday, October 16, 2005

Resorting to the Opium of the Masses

A sad fact of having a small child in a new and far flung place is that with no family nearby to call on for babysitting, one's evening social life is a little curtailed. It's not that we don't ever go out, but nights out together are much fewer than they were in Glasgow, and tend to require some advance planning. Spur of the moment stuff is definitely much harder. I had breezily thought that I would organise a babysitting circle among the new mothers I got to know, but this plan backfired a bit because almost everybody here does have that established family network, and their nearest and dearest are only to happy to help them out. Babysitting circles work on the principle of reciprocal need, so I need to meet more people in my situation, which as yet I haven't.

I feel jealous of people with close local family ties, and not just because I am missing night-time sorties, but for the impromptu ad hoc help that just oils the wheels of life in general. I spoke to another mother yesterday who confessed that she has never taken her son to the supermarket, because her parents and in-laws are desperate to spend time with him and all live locally. Having just returned from the military-style advanced planning operation that taking a toddler to Coles involves, there was more than a little muttering after she had left. Ditto the mother who palms her offspring away to her parents from Friday to Sunday every week, enabling actual partying until the early hours followed by LIE-INS.

It's not that I am averse to leaving the H with other people, but that person really has to be somebody he knows extremely well if it's in the daytime, plus I can't afford to pay babysitters $20 an hour to sit in the house while he sleeps at night. So while friends help us out from time to time, the net result of the situation is that we spend a lot more time at home in the evenings than we used to.

The knock-on effect of this is that we have started to watch a lot more TV. Yeah, we should probably use the time more creatively, but after an average day's toddler-wrangling, TV is an alluring option. As Australian terrestrial tv is mostly rubbish and riddled with advertising every ten minutes, we splashed out on Foxtel. Foxtel is also mostly rubbish, but a bigger selection of rubbish, from which occasional gems can be salvaged. The stuff is so old, though. The Bill repeats are several years old, and as for the Parkinson re-runs - one day we'll tune in to find that he's interviewing Disraeli or William Shakespeare. Foxtel is currently showing repeats of Stars in Their Eyes from 1996.

DVDs are the alternative amusement, and a kind person has recently introduced me to the delights of 24. Somehow we completely missed out on 24 fever when it swept the UK. I suspect it must have happened when we were away travelling for a year, and thus missed out on chunks of popular culture, current affairs and in-jokes. But having had someone mention it again, I borrowed series 1 on DVD and have been horribly engrossed since. Kiefer Sutherland. Object of desire. Indeed.

Monday, October 10, 2005

Am I missing something?

Okay, last night we found two new properties listed on the internet. We've been intensively monitoring the papers and the websites, plus have registered what we're after with numerous agents.

This morning I ring the two agents who are selling the listed properties.

Each one tells me that their property is Under Offer (which is the equivalent of Sold Subject to Contract in the UK, and which here means that you can't view the property or submit another offer).

How come places are being snapped up so quickly? Do you have to bribe the agents in advance even to find out what's about to come onto the market? And why are people happy to accept an offer even before they have held a home-open? The only reason I can think of is that people are receiving offers which are so surprisingly good from their point of view that they snap them up straight away thinking that they've struck lucky. And as most of the agents are bone idle anyway, they are probably being encouraged to do so.

2 more properties to view before Saturday, that is, if someone doesn't snap them up before we get to see them.

Househunting....I wouldn't wish it on my worst enemy.

After the elation of securing our permanent residency visas comes the depression of househunting. I can't understand why anyone would ever do this for fun. Still less amusing is having to do it in a climate where prices are spiralling in some kind of stupid East Coast catch-up. Oh, and having to do it with a teething toddler in tow is an added delight. The supply is abysmal, there is really almost nothing on the market, and of course as a result people feel free to ask ludicrous prices for miserable little hovels. Prices here seem to have leapt about 25% in the last few months alone. It's frustrating to spend one's whole weekend trailing around what turn out to be smelly, grotty places with huge price tags while the agent smugly witters on about the number of phone calls he took this morning for the home-open booking. It has always been D's and my luck to be selling in a flat market and buying in a buoyant one, and here we go again. Anyone who is wondering when the Perth property boom will end, wonder no more. I can confidently predict that this will occur within weeks of D and me saddling ourselves with the Mortgage From Hell.

I am having to get back into the habit of translating that most optimistic of languages, Agentese.

"Luxury bathroom" = "The suite is a cracked atrocity from 1978, the grouting is black and the toilet is suitable only for a gnome with an advanced diploma in yoga"

"Very stylish decor" = "Some misguided idiot thinks that putting diagonal stripes of yellow tiles on every second wall is the last word in interior chic"

"Nothing to spend on this one" = "...except for the Guide Dog's kennel"

"Your very own slice of heritage" = "Your very own slice of termite-infested polystyrene-ceilinged slum".

Etc, etc. At least in Glasgow the schedules actually include a layout and room dimensions, so that you can rule out things which are glorified dolls' houses in advance. Here, the real estate agents don't bother, and why should they, when there is a queue of desperate punters clawing at the gate anyway.

Sigh, sigh. More, undoubtedly, very soon.

Wednesday, October 05, 2005

Deep Joy

As of this week, we have been granted permanent residency in Australia. So we are two years away from citizenship, and thus being able to give the H a second passport and all the options that come with that. In my mind this has got to be one of the best things a parent can do in the modern world.

It also means that we can, if we want to, work in New Zealand. It means that we don't have to go back to the UK unless we want to. It means we can buy a house here in Western Australia. But more than the practical considerations, I feel relief that the psychological hurdle is over. The application had been in since last November, and visas in Oz are much harder to obtain than they used to be. Although we did not doubt that they would be approved eventually, the whole thing had been hanging over us for what seemed like an age. At times I have felt spiritually in limbo between the two countries. Now we can look to the future and get on with our lives. Thank you for having us, Australia.