Yesterday, I had the honour of attending an early morning event with two out of three of our daughters. Their school was hosting Mothers day early morning gathering with an exceptional guest speaker followed by cups of tea, conversation and a little something to nibble on.
Ava really struggles in the mornings so it meant a great deal to me that she made an effort to get her ‘jacksie’ out of bed to come with us.
I went to the same school that our eldest daughters attend now. You are so much more ‘hands off’ in terms of appearance at the school when your kids get older. It is not often I get to visit their school unless for a performance, parent & teacher interviews or when I receive that always welcome phone call of “Mum…….I’ve left my footy socks at home and they wont let me play without them”….always a welcome call! When I do get the opportunity to walk back through those gates, I often have a little lump in my throat. I had a really lovely experience at that school and walking in yesterday, my daughters linked their arms in mine….maybe they sense how I feel when I go back there……either way, I knew I was a ‘gone-er’ even before the guest speaker stepped up to the mic.
Some of the reflections by the school’s vice-captain yesterday were these, many of which I had heard before but very moving when your daughters are sitting by your side and it’s still dark outside and you are all moving forward into the day together :
- “Before becoming a mother I had a hundred theories on how to bring up children. Now I have seven children and only one theory: love them, especially when they least deserves to be loved.” – Kate Samperi
- “Making a decision to have a child – it’s momentous. It is to decide forever to have your heart go walking around outside your body.” – Elizabeth Stone
- “Motherhood brings as much joy as ever, but it still brings boredom, exhaustion, and sorrow too. Nothing else ever will make you as happy or as sad, as proud or as tired, for nothing is quite as hard as helping a person develop his own individuality especially while you struggle to keep your own.”- Marguerite Kelly and Elia Parsons
- “The mother-child relationship is paradoxical and, in a sense, tragic. It requires the most intense love on the mother’s side, yet this very love must help the child grow away from the mother, and to become fully independent.” – Erich Fromm
The guest speaker was then introduced. Lisa Gibbs is also a past student of Star of the Sea, who, like me, had a really positive time at school. Lisa’s story was a powerful and moving one. An incredibly high achieving professional and as I listened to her journey & her achievements, I was feeling little inward fist pumps for this remarkable woman. “Go you strong STAR woman”. Then Lisa shared her hardships and the unimaginable difficult times in her life that also led to her standing before us. I am not sure there was a dry eye in the room. Lisa’s husband was diagnosed with terminal cancer and lost his life to a tragic car accident, after having a seizure in the car and their 4 year old son, somehow escaped unharmed. Lisa had the tough battle of immense grief, raising a child on her own whilst also being diagnosed and crippled with rheumatoid arthritis. What this lady has overcome is remarkable and when she spoke of her now seventeen year old son, she beamed. I was so impressed by her strength and love. Lisa also paid credit to the very special people, blood family and non blood family who rallied behind her and supported her all the way. She referred to her studies that prove that humans need one another to thrive. Thrive is what she has done.
When we were walking out to the breakfast, Grace and I were both a little teary. Ava flung her arms around me with no words. I whispered to her that she has the opportunity and power to achieve anything she wanted to. It was a very special Mother moment. A very special moment of my day and my life.
I left our home early this week for an overnight trip. A very last minute decision. I left behind what is my usual hectic juggle at home and at work, to lock myself away and focus on writing my upcoming second book. I was feeling way too overwhelmed due to lack of time and deadlines. I was heading towards that “I am spiralling out of control” feeling and knew something had to change. I bloody hate that feeling but am learning to take charge and not go deeper down the hole. I had to focus on me for a moment and the hat I needed to wear right then. Of course, no matter where we are, we never stop being a Mother, wife, daughter, friend. Those hats are always on but I left for the night, worked solidly on the book for 15 hours, knowing my gang were all perfectly fine and wonderfully supportive of me. I found it a little amusing returning to comments like “lucky you” and “oh I wish I could do that”. From my family I got comments like “did you get a lot done?” “How did you go with the book, Mum – are you really happy with where it is at”? My youngest said “I missed you but am glad you went away to write your book. You needed to Mum and we were really fine”. Ettie is the most upbeat person I know. It was right then that I felt in my heart, “You know what Nellie Kerrison, you’ve done good lady. Look at your daughters thriving. Look at you thriving! ” It can be important for all to see you switch hats.
This is my reflection on where I sit right now heading into this Mothers day 2017 with the love and support of very special loved ones and supporters around me.
I wish all Mothers a beautiful day on Sunday. I also send so much love to the many who’s Mum’s are no longer here. I can’t imagine the emotions you must feel. I will be thinking of you with love.
Maybe a cup of tea or a glass of wine is all that is needed this Sunday but no one’s ever been told off for making a chocolate cake, I am sure. Here is my fool proof chocolate cake. It always goes down a treat and to my own family……..should you are reading this………..I will have my piece both with a cup of tea and a glass of wine, thank you.
Nellie’s best ever chocolate cake
300g plain flour
2 cups caster sugar
¾ cup unsweetened cocoa powder
2 teaspoons baking powder
1½ teaspoons baking soda
1 teaspoon salt, crushed
1 teaspoon ground coffee
½ cup canola oil
2 large eggs
2 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 cup boiling water
¾ cup pure cream
500g chopped, great quality dark chocolate
100g butter, softened
Preheat oven to 180oC.
Prepare two 22cm cake pans by spraying with baking spray or buttering and lightly flouring.
For the chocolate cake, add flour, sugar, cocoa, baking powder, baking soda, salt and coffee to a large bowl or the bowl of a stand mixer. Whisk through to combine or, using your paddle attachment, stir through flour mixture until combined well.
Add buttermilk, oil, eggs, and vanilla to flour mixture and mix together on medium speed until well combined. Reduce speed and carefully add boiling water to the cake batter until well combined. The cake batter will be very thin after adding the boiling water. This is correct and results in the most delicious and moist chocolate cake.
Distribute cake batter evenly between the two prepared cake pans. Bake for 30-35 minutes, until a toothpick or cake tester inserted in the centre of the chocolate cake comes out clean.
Remove from the oven and allow to cool for about 10 minutes, remove from the pan and cool completely.
To make ganache, place ¾ cup pure cream in a medium saucepan over a medium heat until just simmering. Remove from heat. Add 500g chopped good-quality dark chocolate (70% cocoa) and 100g chopped salted butter. Stand for 1–2 minutes. Stir until chocolate and butter melt and ganache is smooth. Cover and set aside until required.
Once cake has cooled, pour ganache carefully (& joyfully) over the cake.