Five Oh

The Mothership believed in throwing you in the deep end and seeing if you’d sink or swim. Quite literally.

It was Tuesday Night Swimming Club, I was eight years old and it was the 25 metres freestyle race. By that age most Australians could swim a lap of the whole island if called upon, but I was always a slow learner. I stood at the pool edge, shivering with dread as we waited for the starter’s pistol.

I looked over to Mum. She was leaning against the pool fence with what she’d say was as an encouraging smile but I thought embodied pure sadism.

I hate you, I fumed silently. I can’t believe you’re making me do this. I will drown right here in all that kiddie pee and then you’ll be sorry!

The gun fired and the fright tumbled me into the water. I thrashed along for all of ten metres, spluttering and flailing, before some bloke had to jump in and fish me out. I felt like the eyes of the whole town were on me.

See Mum, I glowered, Told you I sucked.

But I’m sure all she said was, “Well done.”

My main complaint growing up that Mum always made me do things I didn’t want to do. Drama classes, netball, Brownies, the dishes; looking up words in the dictionary rather than her just telling me how to spell something. I wasn’t just lazy, I was scared and I hated new things. It was like she existed purely to dream up more ways to make me suffer.

It’s only when you’re old enough to figure you out for yourself, that you realise she had you pinned right from the start. That sometimes you needed to be pushed, and that you wouldn’t have turned out as interesting if she hadn’t.

It’s incredible to think that when I was that grumpy brat at the swimming pool, Mum was the same age as I am now. The Mothership steered us through all the dramas and divorces; droughts, deaths, depression, dead-end jobs. There were situations so surreal and ridiculous; there were arguments so volatile I thought we’d never recover. But when that fades, what you remember most is how you never had to doubt that she loved you. Other things filled you with fear and uncertainty, but never her.

The older I get the more I appreciate that. And the more I appreciate being thrown in the deep end. Sorta.

Happy 50th Birthday, Mothership! You rule the school.

(If you’re new round here and haven’t seen the brilliant blog fodder she’s provided over the years, here’s the Mothership archives. And if you’ve been reading about her for awhile, why not leave a wee birthday message? She’s always watching!)

About Shauna Reid

Ahoy there! I’m Shauna, an author, copywriter and content mentor. I love telling stories about life and helping others to tell theirs.

Find out more about me and how we can work together – I’m now booking for January 2022.

62 thoughts on “Five Oh

  1. Happy Birthday to you, Mrs. Shauna’s Mum, may you enjoy many more years of being kept on your toes by those adventurous girls of yours!

  2. Happy birthday to you, dear shauna’s mummy!

    You have given me lots of inspiration! Youre awesome!

    Have a fantastic day.

  3. Happy Birthday, Mothership! You sound as if you are a fantastic mum – all the best for the next year.

    My own mum turned 50 four months ago, and she has declared that she plans to age as disgracefully as possible. =)

    I, too, was a Brownie. If anything, the brown shift dress uniform with canary yellow sash was character-building. As I recall, we could earn a patch for our sash by cleaning dishes and pots. It’s a conspiracy.


  4. All hail the Mothership! And mothers everywhere!

    My mother put me in swimming lessons so I would “learn to cope”. Even though it didn’t work, she was patient and stood at the pool fence too…watching when I finally jumped in for the first time, and waiting mostly patiently when it took me 20 minutes to give in and finally do a forward roll into the pool. I stood there, in tucked position, for the last five minutes of class and held up free swim for 15. I was a peach, believe me. πŸ™‚

    But yeah, just like your mothership, mine had me pegged. She knew exactly what to say to get me to finally tuck and roll in.

    “FOR PETE’S SAKE! If you don’t roll in, your friend can’t stay for lunch!”


    It was hell at the time, but lunch was great. πŸ™‚

  5. Happy Birthday Mothership!
    I’m sure you are as proud of your offspring as we are. You did a good job!! Enjoy…

  6. Speaking on behalf of all of Canada (if I may be so bold), we wish the Mothership a very happy 50th birthday!! You sound like a great mum, and anyone who raises a Shauny would have to be. xo (p.s. Taurus women rule!!)

  7. Kudos on the 50th Anniversary of the Day of your Birth! Don’t do anything Shauna wouldn’t do πŸ˜‰

  8. Happy Birthday Mothership! My Mum never took an interest in my swim classes and I STILL can’t swim! You rock!

  9. happy birthday mothership all the way from the coldest of the north (sweden)

  10. happy birthday from NZ mothership. If my children turn out half as wonderful as your daughters I will be very pleased. thats if I don’t murder them before they have finished being teenagers.

  11. Hip hip hurrah for the mothership! Hope to kick some toddlers of my own in the pond some day!

  12. Happy Birthday, Mothership!! (from Canberra)

    Thanks for helping making Shauny as awesome as she is. You, and she, ROCK!

  13. Thank you all for your kind wishes…..I’m still celebrating the five oh…started with a gathering of twenty friends at Rimbolin for dinner last Saturday evening….great company and food! Continued on Wednesday at school with my other ‘kids’ who are ‘shoved’ into expanding their personal boundaries then told ‘well done’ (works wonders for them!!!) and will continue on Friday with birthday cake (orange poppy seed with cream cheese frosting – must remember to check teeth before RTA photo licence renewel: otherwise I will be haunted by ‘dotty’ teeth for the next five years). Am having a celebration with Cowra friends in a few weeks time and then in London late July, will celebrate again with both wonderful, talented, brave, inspiring and creatively intelligent daughters….do you detect a family pattern here?
    I’m blessed with life essentials – great family and friends!
    My daughters have taught me all the important things….love, friendship and forty-eight other items that there isn’t space for! I love them dearly.
    PS I am watching (but not lurking!)

  14. Happy Birthday, Mothership!
    You sound so much like my own mother–including the swimming lessons and making me look up words in the dictionary (I would say, looking back, that it was because she didn’t start learning English until she was 25 and moved to Canada, but actually…her spelling is almost better than my own!)
    Obviously, you are a fantastic person and a wonderful mother to have raised such lovely, talented children.
    P.s.–I too, have red (I mean, ginger) hair…and sunscreen was a very prominent part of my childhood, as we basically lived outside on the farm all seasons (even in the winter, it seemed…) I hated that white, sticky goopy stuff that stung your eyes and attracted all that dust and dirt…though now I thank my mothership for saving my super white skin from certain skin cancer!
    Anyway, congratulations on turning fifty!

  15. Many happy returns to the Mothership, from Washington, DC, USA! WNP wouldn’t be the fantastic read it is without you in it.

  16. That “when xxxx happened my Mum was the same age I am now…” thing always does my head in. It’s only then you really realise that all those authority figures in your life are just muddling through as best they can, same as you.

    Penblwydd Hapus Iawn, Mothership!

  17. happy birthday, Mothership! may you continue to be the positive influence you are in many people’s lives.:) your celebrations sound great, enjoy and cherish them as you reflect on 50 years of life!

  18. Happy Birthday Mothership! From Newport Beach, CA –
    I love the entries that focus on you and your relationship with your daughters, sounds to me like you are one wonderful mom.

  19. Happy Birthday to Shauna’s Mum! Until I had my own baby I had no idea what it was to mother. You’ve done a great job with this one. Oh, and you share a birthday with my husband, too! From the San Francisco Bay Area to you…

  20. Happy Birthday Mothership! I’m sure with shauny & riannon you look younger than your years… though slightly stressed!

    you’ve provided wnp with so many hilarious articles… I love this blog.


  21. Happy birthday, Mothership! May your collection of roosters never be far from your heart. I know I’ll never forget them!

  22. Happy 50th Shauna’s mum … I’m jumping over that particular fence in a month’s time. Rather freeing isn’t it?

    Love from Portland, Oregon, USA.

    – Terri

  23. Happy half centrury Mothership. Nice work on the daughters – few people rack up achievements like that in their life time. I suspect the pupils of those little country scholls are luck to have you.

  24. Many happy returns mothership! I’m sure you don’t look a day over 25!

  25. Happy birthday Shauna’s mum!! I’ve adored the stories over the years: the onions in the freezer, the rooster collection, visiting Edinburgh.. some of the best short stories I’ve ever come across, always conveyed in such creative and clever ways.

    Hope you have a brilliant birthday week.

    Take care.

  26. hippo birdies two ewes mothership!

    my first born baby shares your birthday, she just turned 14!

    cheers from Canada!

  27. Nothing to add except another “Happy Birthday, Mothership!”

    I guess one of the benefits of having both daughters on the other side of the world is now you have an excuse to skip the country every once in a while! Excellent birthday present!

  28. go motherships !
    (mine still makes me pay her every time I don’t show up for an extracurricular that she paid for . . . )

  29. Happy Birthday Mothership from Melbourne! You’re rightly proud of your daughters and they are proud of you too! When I read about you, you remind me so much of my own mother.
    Congratulations on reaching the big 5-0 !

  30. I’m delurking to say Happy Birthday Shauna’s mum. You sound like a fabulous, kooky, quirky mum. I hope to be like you one day.

  31. Happy Birthday Mothership, from all the way over in midwest USA. The stories Shauna spins reminds me of my own mother, and thats a good thing πŸ™‚

  32. All hail The Mothership!! Many happy returns! I’ll raise a pint to you this evening here in ol ‘Blighty!

  33. my very first post and a little late. d’oh!!
    the best wishes are still there- happy birthday from Philadelphia!

  34. I can not call you mothership,…the tempation is overpowering though.

    Happy birthday to you,and all your accomplishments.

    You have two daughetrs, only one of whom i know, and even then via the “internerd”.

    But then I have relatives who i would give less time to than your Shauna.

    Perhaps the best praise to any parent is the friends that their children have and the love they receive.

    The admiration alone is kudos enough.

    I’m an evangelical athesist, so this is the only way that we remein known after death, … in the regard and the minds of others.

    And so, Shauna is immortal.

    If for nothing other than the word


    My regards to the ACT and NSW.

    Love Pol x

  35. 50 is young! Or at least youngish. Congratulations from Edinburgh on attaining this august age and on having such interesting and funny daughters.

  36. Happy Birthday Mothership of the greatest Daughtership!

    Or as we greeks sing in such occasions (note…bad translation with no rime is following):

    May you live long Mothership and have many more years to come, may you turn old with white hair. May you always glow the light of youth, may all that meet you say here is a wise one!

    I swear Mothership, it sounds so sweet in greek!

    Here is the proof mind you:

    Na zisis Manoula
    kai xronia polla
    megali na gineis
    me aspra mallia
    Pantou na skorpizeis tis niotis to fos
    kai oli na lene na mia sofos!


  37. Happy birthday Mrs W!
    Lots of love,
    Trish, John, Ann and Em.
    ps. Enjoy your Cowra birthday celebrations- aka yummy Neila pork with the girls.

  38. NEILA PORK! you oz-dwelling bastards. i am so jealous.

    thanks for the lovely comments kids, i know the m’ship will be chuffed!

  39. Happy Birthday ‘Mothership’!!

    You know I always forget the exact date – plus I have an excuse this time – I was flying from Scotland to Australia at the time!

  40. HAPPY BIRTHDAY, MOTHERSHIP! I am so sorry that I am late – but nowhere and at no time as anyones Mum reminded me so completely of my own. And all in the best possible way! Bring on the the next 50 years of legend! XXXXXXX

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