A mother in more ways than one.


This Mother’s Day can we celebrate maternal instincts as well as mothers?  At 37 the closest I’ve got to offspring is Wednesday nights on Ten.  I don’t have kids but I have plenty of opportunities to nurture and love.

1. The Gift of a God Daughter

Seven years ago I was given the great privilege of becoming Penelope’s Godmother.  I flew to London to welcome her into the world.  When we met she was a porcelain-skinned ball of limbs and grins.  My bed was the fold-out in the lounge.  When I woke from a jetlagged snooze, her Dad placed her tiny frame on my chest.  If there’s a greater bliss, I’ve never felt it.  I loved her instantly.

In the next few days I helped bathe and change her.  Her Mum told me to hold her feet when I changed her nappy, but I figured that was pointless.  Turns out, mother really does know best.  I ended up with poo everywhere but who cares?  In my eyes Penelope could do no wrong.

Today she’s a ballet-loving, book-devouring little genius.  “Did you know Xavier starts with X not Z?”  Well no Pen, I didn’t.  We share giggles and cuddles and our favourite books.  I’ve been to her school and the teacher knows my name.   I’ve baked cupcakes for her birthday and sent her postcards and presents.  She dreams of being my flower girl when/if I get married.  Me too.

2. Puppy Love

Sam’s a big, blonde briard – a type of French sheepdog.  At six months she was desexed in what turned out to be a painful procedure.  She’s my brother’s dog but she stayed with me after the surgery.

My brother lifted her from the car and laid her on a bed I’d prepared.  My heart ached as I realised she didn’t even have the strength to lift her head.

We sat together on the floor of the laundry.  I cupped my hands and dripped water in them.  I raised my hands right to her mouth so her tongue didn’t have too far to travel.  She looked at me with gratitude and slowly sipped the water.  We stayed that way all night; me watching and waiting and propping her lips to meet my hands when she was ready.

Sam doesn’t need me so much anymore but she loves a good run and a pat.  I do a bit of doggy daycare and we have our routines.  Somehow I read her little mind when she needs to step outside to do her “business”.  It’s the simple ties that bind.


3. Mother Hen

As a producer I’ve worked with hundreds of young kids making their start in tv.  Some of them come from uni and others from film school.  To begin with they’re all enthusiastic and energetic but in tv the days are long and the demands are high.

Somehow I always fall into the Mother Hen role.  Sometimes I’ll bring in some extra lunch when I know the young guns have worked late and probably haven’t had time to prepare a meal.

I always tell the execs when a junior is exceptional.  It’s hard to get noticed when you’re one of a million assistants on a big show, especially when your shift’s from 8pm till 3am.

They know more about technology than I ever will.  Happily they sort out my Mac meltdowns.  Somewhere along the line I earned the nickname “nanna”.   I like to think it’s because I always have a spare shoulder (and a spare feed).

4. The Mother Load

Of course I can’t fully understand what it means to be a Mum.  I haven’t suffered morning sickness and I’ve never had a night’s sleep broken by hourly feeds.  I’ve never done a school drop-off or fixed a busted knee.  I haven’t been to Mothers’ group or written a Mummy blog.  But I’m banking all my little lessons in loving and giving, hoping that one day I might be a mother myself.

If that day comes there will only be one person I’ll look to for inspiration.  My own Mum is the definition of nurturing.  She loves me when I’m unlovable and cares about me in a way that no one else knows how.

We talk for hours and still she can ask, “what else is happening with you”?  How can one person give so much and be so much?  She astounds me.  Mum’s stylish, smart and fun.  Even without a baby of my own, I think that makes me the luckiest girl in the world.  Happy Mother’s Day Mum, I love you.

Tonia Zemek has worked as a tv producer for over 15 years.  Her credits include MasterChef, Good Morning Australia, Big Brother and the TV Week Logie Awards.  Tonia’s written oodles of voice-overs, most of which start with “coming up….”,  “after the break….” and “in tomorrow night’s episode…”  She’s gradually making the move from broadcast to print and is hoping to make her debut on Mamamia.



Are you a mother in some way, shape or form?

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