Earlier this week I was reading the blog Her Canberra (www.hercanberra.com.au) which I love. I can relate to so many of the blog posts it’s scary and when I came across a post about playgrounds in Canberra I wanted to comment.
You can check out the article here www.hercanberra.com.au/index.php/2012/02/07/playground-picks
I did wonder whether I should enter the debate about good playgrounds in Canberra when apart from my role as a children’s playground aficionado I am also the Minister responsible for playgrounds and the Chief Minister.
Anyway, I threw caution to the wind and lashed out with my own mother views. It felt great posting a comment as a mother and not as Chief Minister! The next night I saw a post from Her Canberra commenting “does any pollie do ‘normal’ better than her’’ (meaning me). Now I decided to take this comment as a compliment but it did get me thinking why don’t politicians come across as “normal” people, after all we are, aren’t we?
I for one consider myself very normal (my partner may beg to differ at this point). Despite what some may think of the glamorous life I lead I’m going to let you in on a few secrets/confessions about the reality of my life which you don’t get to see on the TV, read in the paper or hear on the radio.
I do my shopping at Coles/Woolworths/IGA (whatever is most convenient) and while I hate doing it, I see it as a necessity if family are to eat.
I do 1000 (I love to exaggerate over domestic responsibilities) loads of washing every weekend. It is a never ending rotation of loading, drying, folding, and putting-away.
I make three lunch boxes every day (well my partner does as well but I maintain editorial control) for various levels of nut-free, seed-free, fussy-eater, no-plastic-wrap arrangements. I used to love Friday and Saturday nights for different reasons but now I love them for the simple pleasure that I don’t need to make lunch boxes for the next day.
I try to pull off healthy meals semi-regularly, which sometimes works – but I cover my mother guilt with a good quality kid’s multi-vitamin.
I own two mad dogs which bark like crazy when we get home from work – usually in sync with Miss 4′s and Master 6′s simultaneous post-school briefings (which are usually competitive in nature and content).
I have a teenager who is like an island resort with a hurricane warning, beautiful one day, not so great the next.
I share the school run each week which can involve three different drop-offs with three children in various states of emotional well-being and is such a finely tuned logistical exercise that it would rival anything the Australian Defence Forces could pull off. It’s often stressful though and apart from my very supportive colleagues there is no official debrief post these missions.
For safety and sanity reasons we don’t go out much, so that really limits us to family restaurants and wide outdoor spaces (hence my extensive knowledge of playgrounds).
I am sometimes spotted at the shops in a tracksuit much to Miss 14′s horror. Very comfy but not at all stylish (I can promise never to run into you in ugg boots though, as I have learned the hard way that they really are only appropriate for home use).
So why don’t we pollies let people see our normal person side? Is it because we are trained to subscribe to the old male stereotype of a politician who does nothing but work, work, work in a grey suit? Is it because we can only be seen as an effective leader if we commit to the job so much so that our families are kept in the background and only bought out for photo opportunities?
As community leaders do we have to present as super-human and in-control both at work and at home, or else we open ourselves up to criticism and attack from our opponents? Are we only allowed to show the perfect side to everything we do?
Well I don’t subscribe to that at all. I think I am a better Chief Minister because I am living the life that so many others are in Canberra. I deal with the everyday pressures of raising a family, juggling a career and hoping that the whole thing comes together in time for everyone to go to bed at night. My life is chaotic at times, ridiculously busy, often hilarious, and full of good down to earth love.
And when everyone’s lights are out in the house, I collapse into bed and don’t move again until my mobile phone or a mobile child wakes me up several hours later and the cycle starts again.
I hope by reading this you still think I am “normalish”.