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ISSUE 1 MAY 2002


An occasional newsletter for mothers who do it all and then some more




Introduction:  Attila's Here


Article:  I am Woman, Hear Me Snore


Check it out: How Picture Books Are Made


Review:  The Smart Woman's Guide to Staying At Home





Welcome to the first issue of ATTILA!


This newsletter is published by a deeply frustrated housewife who neglected her laundry for creativity's sake. Does that fact win your sympathy? If it does, you may be one of the zillions of mothers, at home or otherwise, who feel the urge to do more than juggle nappies, home and work.


That's why I designed a website. Here's the address:


Mum At Work is for mums like me, who do it all, and then want even more. I guess I called it Mum At Work because I got fed up with people asking me, "Do you work?" 


Work is not just about jobs. We mums work bloody hard 24/7, in or out of offices. And with the time left over, some of us have managed to vent our creative urges. And if you haven't, you should. You're already tired anyway. Mum At Work hopes to provide some inspiration, and Attila will keep you posted on developments at the website. 


 I drew cartoons during one pregnancy. A friend of mine who is a mother of three boys has gone from zero to grade three in piano. Another friend has not let two pregnancies and breastfeeding get in the way of running an educational programme involving hundreds of students from overseas.


If you are a Mum At Work, I would love to hear your story. If you are not a mum, well, read on, you might enjoy the read, learn something new, or win a freebie.


Till next time,


Candy Gourlay


P.S. If you enjoy the newsletter, you might want to forward it to friends who you think will enjoy it as well. If you don't want to receive the newsletter, let me down gently by replying to this email and typing "no thank you" on the subject line. no hard feelings.





The problem with being at the pinnacle of motherhood is its way of demolishing intimacy. Which is a bummer. 


Letís face it, after fulfilling the material, physical, emotional and spiritual needs of three offspring, plus of course, all the creative work and cleaning that every  mum at work does on the side, whoís got the energy to Ö well, spend time with oneís partner?


Whatís the point of having perfectly brought up children if bringing them up pulls your relationship down? It niggles that after a day of painting with my daughter, playing football with my sons, and writing a short story on the side, I have no energy for anything more than small talk with my husband.


It may be normal to have divided loyalties when responsible for so many human beings. But the father of my children achieved love-of-my-life status when the children were mere hopes and dreams. He got there first. He doesn't deserve to end up at the end of the queue for my energy and attention.


Here's an experiment we are going to try: since I am too tired at the end of a day being a perfect mother, we have to find another time to make space for each other.


Like lunch.


My partner and I have decided to do lunch so that we can get some intimacy back into our relationship. This doesn't have to be purely gastronomic. We can spend time together by going to exhibitions or simply talking over a cup of coffee. Making time to be just us two. Time is of the essence when retrieving lost intimacy. It could lead to wonderful things. And if the kids are at school, you donít even need to pay a babysitter.


Have you got any strategies for creating space for each other while continuing to be a perfect mother?


Reply by email to





Mums like me who want to write picture books for children will enjoy the following website by illustrator John Clapp. I found this link on Write4Kids, the website for people learning to write for children. See how a children's picture book comes together on <>. For mums who use their non-spare time dreaming about writing children's picture books,  John's FAQs give a realistic assessment of what that market holds for wannabe children's book writers/illustrators.




Melissa Hill's book is as smart as the title and practical too with bits on the stuff that make working mums cringe -  such as walking away from much needed cash to be with your expensive offspring. Melissa begins by running through all your other options first: job-shares, telecommuting, special arrangements at work. But she makes it clear from the outset that spending time with your kids at home is a winner - IF you are smart enough to sustain the independence and identity that you get from working.  And here lies the crux of her argument. Staying at home is a smart move - if you can get on top of the business of mothering.


The part about mothering is the easy part. What Melissa has observed (acutely) is that it is not so much the nitty gritty of mothering (ie. nappies, finances, housewifery) that gets you down, it's your new status - or your new status as perceived by others. That's why she's got a chapter titled "Building a Positive Foundation for Life" which encourages the mums who have started nurturing a low self-esteem to shake off this self-destructive state and seek inspiration. This may involve editing out friends who are cynical and put you down, being discriminating about the media you read, making time for creativity, and giving up TV. Good advice - though, confirmed couch potato that I am, I would have preferred a less definitive take on TV watching.


What I question is the emphasis on being smart throughout. The message is that smart women too can stay at home. Because normally smart women wouldn't. Which is disturbing because it unintentionally implies that intelligent women have a low regard for staying at home. It also implies that successful motherhood  is dependent on one's IQ. Sure, the brain may have a role to play in successful motherhood. But staying in love with the little brats will ensure their (and your) survival. And most important of all, you 've got to have stamina.


You will enjoy Melissa's website which features anecdotes and stories from women who have opted to stay at home.


read reader reviews and order the book from the following URL:




(c) 2002, Candy Gourlay. All rights reserved.

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