To be honest, we don’t really have any immediate family here in Australia. I mean, yeah. But, nah.
And so I have made the conscious decision to surround Raven with people whom she might not be related to by blood, but connected to with love. At the moment, the circle is a bit small but that’s alright. Quality versus quantity.
I know it sounds hocus pocus but ever since learning — and I mean really learning — about energy and stuff, I felt this deep responsibility to protect Raven in terms of the energy that is being fed to her by the people around her. With her being a child and having not much of a choice yet as to who she’s surrounded with, I feel like it’s up to me as a parent to be the filter. It’s a big job and my intuitions might not always come out loud and clear but as much as I can, I go for vibes now. I go for what feels right. It’s a trial and error process.
I met Azza at the park in Noble Park when Raven was, I don’t know, maybe 3 years old. I was with another mum friend, Viki, then and as coincidence would have it, they knew each other. So the three of us got to talking while our kids ran and jumped around. Right then, I loved her energy. Sure, she was chatty but there was also this sense of authenticity about her that made me grab her number with earnest plans of catching up for a play date soon, as her daughter was also Raven’s age. Perfect.
We kept postponing that plan until we sort of just lost touch. COVID happened. By the time the lockdown eased, Viki and I got together for lunch and guess who approached us? Azza. By then, having only met her once, I had already forgotten what she looked like.
She must have already forgotten about me, too, but there we were making plans to catch up again. I still had her number.
Several rescheduled dates again later, we finally followed through on that long overdue play date. We took the kids to watch Miffy at Bunjil Place’s outdoor cinema, where a surprisingly skinny Easter Bunny handed out chocolate eggs prior to the movie. I expected the bunny fat and fluffy. With all that chocolate in his basket, poor thing’s probably now diabetic.
Needless to say, the kids never really watched the movie as they ended up running around chasing Jeff. Even then, they were a bit too old for it. I didn’t even care to check the age compatibility of the movie when I purchased the tickets. I was too excited for the Easter Bunny.
Ate Lorna and her granddaughter were there, too. She’s like a mum to me and Jeff, Ate Lorna. Such a sweet lady that we’re very grateful to have in our lives.
“Did you put sunscreen on Raven?” she asked. “It’s very hot today.”
I didn’t. And I didn’t bring any.
“Here,” she offered, handing me a bottle. I go on to rub Raven’s chubby cheeks and sausage arms and legs.
“Did you bring a hat for Raven?” she added.
Again, no, I didn’t. And at this point I was seriously starting to question my credibility as a mother.
“You can use this,” she said, giving me a pink hat. “I got an umbrella in the car.”
As for the movie, I never even watched it. Azza and I ended up talking about the challenges and complexities of Australia’s socioeconomic issues and the problems afflicting refugees and minorities. As a social worker, she knows and has seen firsthand their struggles and their pitfalls.
That conversation I had with her was one of the best I had in a long time. I was mind-blown. Her stories painted a different picture from the Australia that I knew and I regretted being so ignorant about it.
On that day, thanks to Azza, my newfound depth perception of Australia made me see this country in a different light. I’m lucky to have it really good out here. The next question is, how can I be of help?
*Raven at 4 years old