Born in New Zealand, Margie moved to Sydney in the 80s for a consultancy role, before moving into a marketing role at a merchant bank. She was introduced to Tony Abbott by mutual friends when he was working as a journalist and as she says, ‘the rest is history’.
Margie, who has been married to the Opposition leader for 24 years, is the proud mother of three girls, Louise, Bridget and Frances, and works in childcare in North Sydney.
Like many mums with young adult children, she is looking back in amazement at how quickly the years that have passed and is organising family dinners to suit the busy schedules of her children.
“This was the first year we went away for our annual ‘family’ beach holiday without our girls. I was looking around at all the young families on the beach having fun and felt sorry ours are over. It just goes so fast and I just love having our children about,” says Margie from her Forestville home.
“For me, motherhood is the ‘ultimate experience’. I love being with the kids and being a mum.”
She describes her children as grounded, but says they’re not perfect.
“They’re typical young adults doing the best they can and we’ve done our best to prepare them for a journey ahead.”
Margie decided to stay at home and not work until her kids were at primary school. She describes the decision on whether to stay home with your children and/or return to work as ‘a very personal one’.
“I enjoyed being a mum at home, getting involved in the tuck shop and being a volunteer. Financially it wasn’t easy, but it was what I wanted to do.”
“It was the right choice for us, but may not be the right one for others. Having a husband in public life, I felt it was important that I was home with the children. I was everything for the girls. When Tony was about, he was great but for a large part I was it.”
“To be the very best mother you can be, you have to be true to yourself.”
“Not everyone is going to be their best selves at home. Dads can equally do a good job. Nobody should be judged on what they decide. It’s a personal choice.”
Margie says motherhood can be a challenging role, which she sees daily in her job as a childcare director.
“I’m dealing with young mothers everyday and I see what a huge juggling act it is for them with many tough decisions about kids, work and family.”
Despite having a husband who was away from home a lot and family back in New Zealand, Margie says she never felt like she was on her own.
“I was very much involved in the community and schools. I think loneliness can be a danger for others, perhaps those who try to be all things and can’t connect because they’re trying to do everything.”
“For me, I had the support of our wonderful friend Col who I met through the Girl Guides movement. She’s a part of our family and I couldn’t have done it without her. Having her support was priceless.”
Margie says, she made a conscious decision in bringing up her children to keep them out of the spotlight until they were old enough to make their own decisions.
“We’ve supported Tony. But it wasn’t until the last election, when the girls as young adults wanted to make public appearances. They enjoyed it.”
“Politics can be a lonely experience and they wanted to support their father.”
And how does Margie cope with the media spotlight and criticism of her husband?
“Funnily enough, I turn off to it when it’s on. For me to function and stay happy and calm – I have to keep it as arms length.”
“When Tony walks through the door politics is forgotten and he is ‘Tony the dad’”
Margie’s learnings from bringing up her three daughters.....
- Setting priorities and being organised is important.
- Kids need to realise that you are an individual and you have a life a part from them, so have some ‘me’ time away from the kids by reading a book or doing some exercise without feeling guilty.