Saturday, May 15, 2010

Week O'Mama's: Sally

At my house, we're celebrating Mother's Day tomorrow. There is something hidden under Ivy's bed and a Choice report coming with breakfast, I've been told, which outlines the pros and cons of the various makes of my present- I don't know what it is. (You know you've married a scientist when...)

I'm very excited.

In the spirit of dragging this holiday out as long as possible, there are a few Mama's left in our gestation journey. Today we travel to Switzerland; land of cheese and clocks and porn and snow, but hopefully not all at once.

I have many happy memories about going to Uni with today's Mama Sally. Once we drank a few spoonfuls of gin and recorded her answering machine message while channeling the spirits of beatnik poets. Ornette Coleman wailed wild jazz saxophone as Sally and I intoned 'I saw the best minds of my generation destroyed by madness, starving hysterical naked... ' We also once wrote and performed as two seamy female detective characters we named Hot Dog and Bourbon.

Good times.

Sal went on to travel the globe inspecting toileys and writing books for Lonely Planet and now lives in Lausanne, where she writes at swissing around and recently gave birth to a beautiful boy named Basile. Sal is smart, well read, well-traveled and funnier than a box of penis pasta in 1994.

Here's Sally:

When did you start blogging, what do you use your blog for, and who's the little person on your boob?

I started blogging just under a year ago, mostly as a way to just keep up the practice of writing (I was doing a lot more editing work back then) and to try something different (albeit five years after everyone else!). I’m a freelancer and you don’t always find a client for the things you want to write about at any given time, so blogging was the easiest way to write about what interested me -- the differences I noticed between life here in Switzerland and life in Australia. The little person on my boob (literally, right now) is Basile. He’s just reached three months.

What's life as an expat parent in Switzerland like?

Not too shabby really – the standard of medical care is very high and I had some really great support in those first few days at the hospital and back at home, thanks to various nurses and midwives. There’s a big expat community in Lausanne (and especially in Geneva and Z├╝rich), so it’s pretty easy to find English-speaking mothers’ groups if that’s what you’re after. Motherhood and parenting in general are taken pretty seriously here, so the maternity leave laws are civilised when compared with what we’ve had in Australia – as a freelance writer/editor I was entitled to four months’ paid maternity leave at 80% of my usual earnings. Fathers seem to make a lot of effort to pitch in too, without it being a big deal. As for the location itself, it’s quite brilliant – we live on a beautiful lake (where we swim in Summer) and there are plenty of nearby mountains for skiing in Winter. You know how people wax lyrical about what childhoods used to be like in Oz (walking to school, staying out all day to play and only coming home when you were hungry/exhausted/it got dark etc)? Well that seems to be still in effect here.

Has blogging had an impact on your parenting?

Not too much to be honest – I try not to read too many blogs, as they can really take up a lot of time, and as for writing, I try to get a post done each week, but only if I feel I have something I want to share. I’m still not sure about how much I want to write about my son unless it links directly with some aspect of Swiss or Australian life (eg, my recent application for him to be an Australian citizen by descent). Blog-wise, I really like the ones with an arts/craft element – I just love the pictures so much, and the inspiration they give. A blog certainly doesn’t have to be written by a mum for me to love it, just someone who’s doing things I’m intrigued by.***

Favourite mum-bloggers?

You (Mogantosh), there should be a sign, chunkychooky. Mamamia and The Rachel Papers.

A tale about your own Mum?

When I was six (1977) I was going through a pretty rough patch – my parents had broken up, my grandmother had died the year before, I was shuttling between two homes and having an awful time at school with my teacher. My mum, who was earning just about enough to feed us and pay the rent in a share house, managed to scrape up enough money to buy Abba tickets. She kept it a secret until the afternoon of the concert, when she picked me up from school and asked me to guess what we were doing that night. I’ll never forget that moment or what it must have taken for her to make it happen.


  1. I officially now want to move to Switzerland and live by a lake. Sounds perfect.

  2. Happy Mothers Day Mama Mogantosh!


Thanks for talking to me. I don't got cooties. Oh, except for when I got cooties.