With check in at 1pm and the event beginning at 4pm, I had 3 glorious hours to relax, get ready and walk 400 metres to the venue. Arranging airbnb accommodation on the night of Constance Hall’s book launch in Wollongong – in other words, a room all to myself – was up there with my best decisions of 2016.
Does it sound like I’m bragging? I guess I kind of am. Man it was good.
Pepe’s on the Beach, the venue Con used, is perfectly located across the road from clear blue ocean waves rolling onto the fine, bright sand of the Sydney coastline. Between the smell of fresh salt air and the taste of a chilled Marlborough Sauv Blanc, I was in heaven. And then came the swarms of woman; and it struck me just how many different woman there were. Woman in smart, formal work wear, confidently atop legendary high heels. Woman in free flowing, bright, intricately patterned, bohemian dresses, with flowers in their hair and jandals (sorry, thongs) on their feet. Woman with elaboratly, gorgeous makeup, accompanying woman with nothing but the smile they were born with on their face. So many woman. I’m not sure I’ve ever been in a bar with that man:woman ratio.
I heard a questioning, uncertain voice say to the table behind me: “Are you guys here to see Constance? Do you mind if I join you? I’m on my own” And just like that an unlikely trio of woman began chatting. I joined them.
As the event unfolded I realised even more just how many different woman were there. Pregnant bellies, new babies in carriers and prams, toddlers on hips or racing around with 100 watchful eyes on them. When woman spoke up during the Q&A we learnt there were grandmothers, mums of teens, mums of angels and woman who were not mother’s at all, some by choice and some by circumstance. With no topic off limits, Con spoke candidly about how to get your sexual mo-jo back, feel less mummy-guilt and have beamingly positive self body image. She admitted to not being there yet on all accounts, and refreshingly, I think, denied being a parenting expert! Constance encouraged the audience, and even hubby Bill, to help her answer questions when she was uncertain of a suitable response, modelling perfectly the fact that collectively we are better able to support one another.
I asked my question into the microphone that was being passed around: “I’ve self-published a parenting book too, and I’m interested to know your response to a question I’ve been asked. How did you find the process of writing your book, knowing that you were sharing such vulnerable, emotional and personal experiences?” She spoke about writing with tears streaming down her face at times, and about how she would remind herself why she was doing it. “It wasn’t always easy” she said. I agreed, and can relate. And we both agreed that it was worth it.
Just as I passed the microphone on, Con added “Lana, what’s the title of your book? I’d be keen to read it.” And so I had the opportunity to deliver the white paper bag I had been cautiously carrying around with me directly into her hands. Inside it, the two bottles of hubby’s homebrew I had been so careful with, clinked together. “There’s some homebrew for you and Bill, and some kiwi chocolates for the kids in there” I quickly explained.
“You bought us homebrew?” She asked, laughing into her mic. “What a fucking legend!”
Amongst laughter, tears, sweary outbursts and the sharing of many hilarious, touching and powerful stories (both from Con and the crowd), the afternoon turned to evening. I had my copy of ‘Like a Queen’ signed by the husband/wife duo, then, curled up on a couch under dimmed bar lights with my cheese sliders and a fresh glass of bubbles, I began reading. Slowly the crowd dissipated, and eventually I wandered back to my room for the night. I was sound asleep by 10pm with the curtains open and the cool breeze floating through my room, and did not stir until 8 the next morning.
If you read this, Con – thank you for giving me the perfect reason, and the motivation, to treat myself like a queen for a solid 24 hours. I love that it’s OK for me to not agree with everything you talk about, just as it’s unlikely you would agree with every opinion of mine. But that’s kind of the point, isn’t it? What you are doing to unite mums and dads to back each other, regardless of their parenting beliefs and practises, is phenomenal. And I love and appreciate the example you set to see both the worth in all woman, and to seek out the extraordinary in what can at times feel like a pretty ordinary life. Please keep doing, what you are doing.
Lastly, thank you to you and Bill for bringing together a room full of wonderful, courageous woman who contributed to creating an awesome event.
Love Lans x