Wednesday, October 10, 2012

Circuses and Africa

In the last week of the school holidays we were accosted approached by someone who was signing up people for Karate in the local area. As we had already discussed it with Nathan about him wanting to do it again, I decided to take up the opportunity and trial period offer.

This is how my afternoon/evening went last night...

Picked up Aston from his new school, were he was full of excitement about having a "buddy" in year 6. He then declared to me that he was big enough to walk to school by himself because he was "brave". Nathan, who goes to the high school in the other direction had started the walk home, and I was meeting him to pick him up.

Nathan gets in the car, annoyed that I didn't have his new bike to take to the bike shop to get serviced. Unfortunately, I can not lift anything at the moment without it hurting both my back and my elbow. While he understands this, he is 14, and well, everything is about him. We got home, and he tried to fit his huge bike into my tiny hatchback, unsuccessfully. Cue cranky face.

My two boys are always in a constant start of starvation - because - you know, I never feed them or anything! They both proceeded to vacuum up a bowl of ice cream, all the while Aston is demanding that he go and visit his friend from school who lives only several houses away. Nat let his cranky face go, and he and Aston scooted over to said friend.

M and Laura arrive home at 4.30, as I'm about to put corned beef in the pot to cook. Then I suddenly remember Nathan has Karate tonight at 5.15, and we were told to get there 20 minutes early for the first lesson. Ring Nathan, tell him to come home. Cue Aston cranky face. "Why did we have to come home? I didn't get to play with my friend!"

Absolutely winning here aren't I?

Grab the karate folder, and the information that we were told is different to the sheet in the folder, so I ring the sensei to confirm that karate is on tonight. Drive down to the address. There is no-one there. Empty community centre. Not a sensei, or sign in sight. Call Sensei again.... "um, so where are you, because I'm standing outside the community centre and there is no one here..." "oh, you have the wrong information, we are at this community centre now." Great. Because, you know, I know this area like the back of my hand- NOT!! Sensei gives me the address, and I attempt to put it into my GPS on my phone, which decides at that precise moment not to work. (Anxiety is ramping up, and I'm thinking What the fuck did I sign up for???) Turn phone off and on, because that is the standby fix it solution for any kind of electrical equipment right? Phone decides to behave itself, and point me in the right direction, in its dulcet tones, with me telling it to fuck off every 5 seconds.

Mean while, the 20 minutes that we were supposed to get there before hand has now decreased to 5 minutes before the lesson starts. We eventually find the place, and can see the lesson has started, and attempt to get into the community centre - unsuccessfully. Nathan looks at me and says, "lets just start next week mum." I'd be lying if I wasn't tempted to get back into my car and go with it. We found an entry that wasn't locked into the community centre, and the sensei approached and directed Nat into the lesson, looking at how frazzled I was, assured me that they had only just started.

I sat down, and breathed. OK. Made it. Oh shit, didn't ask Laura to get the vegetables for dinner ready. Flick off a text to her. OK. Now I can breathe....

Lesson finishes an hour later, and Nat is keen to continue. So it hasn't been a wasted trip, or $65. We drive home, without getting lost. I pull up into the driveway, and Laura is at the car door before I have even opened it, literally jumping up and down, "Mum, can you sponsor me to go to Africa in 2014?"

"Um... hello Laura."

Walk inside, and Nathan and Aston proceed to karate chop each other up, Laura is jumping up and down excitedly showing me this website she has found, and she just has to go, and it will be fantastic, and please, please, please can you sponsor me..... M is mashing potatoes, laughing. And I'm trying to breathe again.

My house is a circus between the hours of 3pm and 8pm. I swear I run on pure adrenaline. Half the time I'm not even thinking, I'm just doing.

Now that it's a new day, and all the kids are at school I have sat down and had a look at "Laura's Please I must go to Africa Trip". And are blown away. Laura wants to do something in the field of medicine. What exactly, changes on a fairly regular basis, but the field of medicine is always constant. She is planning to have a gap year before going to uni, and this is what she found, and so desperately wants to do. Gap Medics offers students who wish to pursue a career in medicine the opportunity to gain "a genuine insight into the work of doctors and nurses in Africa, India, Thailand and the Caribbean".

Right now her chosen medical career path is in midwifery. I'm pretty sure it was reading the following that light her fire:

Placements are ideal for students aged 16 and over and are popular with undergraduate nursing or midwifery students as well as those in Year 12/13 or taking a gap year. Good supervision is crucial, and you’ll be assigned a specific midwife or nurse as your personal mentor for the duration of the placement.

Unfortunately we can’t predict exactly when and where babies are going to be born(!) but the maternity departments we work with are generally busy and you are likely to observe several deliveries in a typical week. You’ll also have a good chance of seeing Caesarean sections, as home births are common in the developing world so those that come to hospital are often do so because of complications.

When you are not attending deliveries, your time will usually be divided between shadowing staff and helping on the antenatal and postnatal wards, and or neonatal intensive care.
Most students join us for two weeks, but our placements are available from one week to a month or more. As long as we have space on the programme, you can start and finish whenever you want, 52 weeks of the year. If you’re interested in midwifery, but not yet 100% sure that’s the career for you, we’re happy to arrange a combined midwifery and nursing placement that allows you to experience other hospital departments as well.

Undertaking hospital work experience abroad not only allows you to experience the effect of local conditions (such as malaria) on maternity care, it helps you to appreciate the diversity in healthcare provision around the world and see first hand the ethical dilemmas midwives in these countries face every day. It also – of course – turns a couple of weeks’ work experience into the adventure of a lifetime!

So between now and Jan 2014 we are on a mission to find sponsorship for her to partake in the adventure of a lifetime. For me, Laura's excitement and enthusiasm is the most beautiful illustration of why I am a mum. And why between the hours of 3 and 8 pm my house is a circus!


  1. wow. I can so relate to the madhouse/circus thing. Laura surely knows the right places to surf the web to find the goods......sounds awsome and almost good enough to time travel back to 16 and the beginning of that journey!
    It is now 7.30 at our place so I can sit and breathe!

    1. And now I'm sitting and breathing... L would rather go to Africa then schoolies... How cool is that!

  2. Don't you just love living in the circus? repeated in homes the whole world over :) And we wouldn't have it any other way ...

    1. You are dead right Larissa, I wouldn't have it any other way. :)


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