Having a baby doesn’t mean you also have to retire to the suburbs and become boring. Being responsible for a child doesn’t mean you also have to become responsible in all other areas of your life: going to bed early, not taking risks, and making friends with people who only come as a 2-4-1 couple deal and who have BBQs on the weekend and talk about sport. I’ll be damned if I’m going to become one of those. Sure, your life changes after having kids. But I suspect that lots of people use their kids as an excuse to morph into the boring people they always secretly were, deep inside. For the rest of us, I’ve started an Instagram account to prove what you can do with a single parent pension, a teardrop camper, a baby, and a selfie stick.
When bub was 3.5 months old I packed up our house in Sydney, bought a teardrop camper (almost as cute as my child!), and headed off on a five month road trip extravaganza. I’m documenting our trip on Instagram: @thecabbagepatchfib and using the hashtag #thisiswhereIbreastfedmybabytoday for all of my breastfeeding selfies. The reasons for this hashtag are twofold—for one, I’m making a feminist statement about public breastfeeding and the stupid facebook furore about breastfeeding photos being banned. And secondly, as previously mentioned, I want to show everyone that there’s a different way to parent. We queers do everything else differently, so why should parenting be any different?! Being a solo parent doesn’t have to restrict you. In fact, flying solo can free you up to do more amazing things.
So far we’ve (we being my baby and me) driven almost 3000 km, been to three different tropical islands, swum in waterfalls, swum in crocodile-infested waters at sunset (not my finest parenting moment), visited 45 different friends and their assorted kids, run into two friends unexpectedly in remote towns, had two people fly in to meet us in exciting locations, befriended numerous grey nomads (including a pair of well-meaning missionaries), been overseas, been caving, been bushwalking, and done countless
pit tit stops beside the road. And we’re only 1.5 months into the trip. There’ve been times when camping with a baby has been ridiculously difficult (like when we’re in a campground and I have to juggle the baby on my knee in a scuzzy toilet while gripping the walls in agony dealing with post-pregnancy anal fissures, or like the time the baby had a poo explosion all over the feather quilt so I had to handwash and dry it in the campsite, in the rain, while holding the baby). But overall it’s been amazing, and there’s still plenty to come.
PS: I’ve been thinking lots about my privilege lately, and I wanted to acknowledge a few things that make doing what I do more possible. For one, I am a white, middle class, highly educated person living in a country which has a reasonably good welfare system. For another I do not have any other dependents or extended family obligations. Living as I do would not be an option for many people in different situations to my own. To those people I hand an apology, as well as an “I am not boring; the system is boring!” card to use whenever appropriate.