Hi, my name’s Carla, and I’m a Canberran mum who wants to be your friend.
That might sound strange, and honestly, it’s pretty weird to write someone a public letter asking them to be your mate. But hear me out. I’m on your side.
I’m not talking about the relationship scandal that will never go away. You’re a part of Australian political history now, and nothing will change that.
But as a fellow mum, I’m on your side.
The other day, I was thinking about my mothers’ group back in my hometown of Sydney, and you were on my mind, too.
I mean, how could I avoid thinking about you? Your photo was splashed across every newspaper and website. And I got to thinking: what would it be like if Vikki Campion was in my mothers’ group?
What the hell is going on with Barnaby Joyce? Post continues.
You’re notorious. You’re infamous. And you’re also about to give birth to a baby. Oh man, morning tea catch-ups would be so fascinating with you around.
And then I realised that, as much as that fanfic idea amused me, a baby and mothers’ group and the whole damn thing was about to become your reality, and suddenly it wasn’t funny to me anymore.
What if you did show up to a local community health centre for a parents’ group, only to have the other mothers judge you? What if someone called you a “bad person”, like radio host Kate Langbroek did?
What if whispers of “homewrecker” fly around the hospital? What if all you need is help breastfeeding, or a caesarean dressing changed, or advice on how to ice your vagina after a vaginal birth, and no-one wants to talk to you?
Or, even worse, what if you’re so worried about being ignored and shamed and judged, that you isolate yourself?
New motherhood is one of those times when you really, truly need a friend. Never before had I hustled so obviously for friends than when I gave birth to my daughter, and then my son two and a half years later. Being a new mum was wonderful, but it also made me feel lonely and crazy.
And I suspect that your life is already lonely and crazy already. I worry that your partner, Barnaby Joyce, isn’t as ride-or-die as he should be. It bummed me out to hear that you were present when he told Fairfax Media that the identity of your baby’s father was a “grey area”.
If Barnaby isn’t properly there for you, and your parents are out of the picture, and former colleagues like Joe Hildebrand refer to your friendship in the past tense (“Vikki was a dear colleague of mine…she was the sort of friend I like,” he wrote for News.com.au) and add that the journalists you used to work with are “turning on” you, then I hope you have someone who will be your friend. Someone who will listen to everything about your new baby, and also someone who is good for a chat about anything that isn’t your baby.
If you don’t have that person in your life, it can be me.
It’s possible that one day, with Barnaby still a backbencher in Parliament, that you and I will live in the same city. And so, my offer stands. If you ever need a mum friend to cruise around the beauty floor of Canberra Centre with, or even someone to meet up with for a quick park playdate, I’m around. Or if you want a mum’s night out, let’s do it.
When we’re hanging out, it won’t be about Barnaby or his ex-wife, or anything to do with your past. (Unless you want it to be, of course.)
When you become a mother for the first time, it’s like a “reset” button has been pressed. When I had my first child, I felt like my identity and life had changed, even though I wanted things to stay the same. Sure, I told my mothers’ group that for my last job, I was a high school art teacher, and that I also dabbled in acting. But when we met up, it wasn’t about who we used to be, but who we were in that moment – new mums struggling with it all, loving it and sometimes feeling overwhelmed, women who felt both triumphant and bamboozled by the new babies in our lives. Our bodies were different, our minds were different, and we ourselves were reborn.
When your son is born, he won’t know you by all the names that you are called in the media. He will know you as mum. And that’s the person I want to know.
And apart from that, I have seen every episode of Sex and the City, I can bake a mean brownie and love gin and tonics. I regularly make people laugh, even if it’s because I didn’t realise my whole bra was showing that time at the local café. I’m a good listener, and I think I’m a pretty cool friend. I have a feeling that you could be, too.
Carla Gee is a Canberra-based writer whose work has been published on multiple Australian websites, as well as in the upcoming book “The Motherhood”, edited by Jamila Rizvi and available in April 2018.