By SENATOR LARISSA WATERS
There are some text messages that strike fear into the hearts of parents, especially when they’ve been typed from hundreds of kilometres away.
When the words “Lana has high temp taking her to doc update u at 2” flashed across my Blackberry while I was in the middle of a hectic Parliamentary sitting week in Canberra, I instantly feared the worst.
And then I felt a familiar flood of guilt wash over me.
Lana, my four-year-old daughter, was at home with her dad in Brisbane and I was a million miles away, trapped by a job that I love.
Lana had been with me in Canberra just the day before, happily showing me the “treasures” (leaves) she’d collected at the park.
But now she was sick and needed a cuddle, which I just couldn’t give her from other end of the country.
Sometimes I think I’m failing at motherhood. Since becoming a mother and a Senator my life has become infinitely more rewarding and also a hell of a lot more complicated.
I feel like I’m performing a constant juggling act and with my hand-eye coordination I’m bound to drop a ball from time to time.
When one does come crashing down, I’m so grateful to have little Lana there to remind me how special she is and to make me realise that I must be doing something right.
She has come a long way from frowning, shaking her blonde pigtails and declaring, “Don’t like Parly!”
Now she loves running up and down the halls of the Senate cheerfully asking complete strangers how old they are. I love to see the smiles she gets in return in a world full of grown-up worries and pressing deadlines.
Lana’s developing into a happy, independent, caring and feisty child.
She’s credit to all of the wonderful people that help me – her doting father, the wonderful carers at the not-for-profit childcare centre up the road, and all of her relatives, who indulge her with relish.
And then there is my mum.
My mum showers Lana with love, care, attention, guidance, gentle discipline and unrivalled steadfastness.
She looks after Lana on average about 20 hours a week and brings her to Canberra to visit me while I’m working from Parliament House, which works out to be about a quarter of the year in total.