Margie Abbott on motherhood, public life & raising children:

Like any mum with grown-up kids - Margie Abbott wonders where the years have gone - but her life is about to change.
By Kate McQuestin
Date: September 08 2013
Editor Rating:
abbottfamily

Last year, we spoke with Margie Abbott, the new Prime Minister's wife about motherhood and raising children in the context of public life.

Married for 25 years, Margie has been a 'Parliamentary widow' for all but six years of her marriage with Tony Abbott entering Parliament as the Member for Warringah (based in Sydney's lower north shore and northern beaches) at a by-election in 1994. She is a busy working mum and a private person - whose life is about to change.

Margie has already indicated that she intends using her voice in her new role as 'First Lady' (to use the American term) to champion early childhood development and especially for children at risk.

This is an edited extract from last year's interview.

* * *

Like many mums with young adult children, Margie Abbott looks back in amazement at how quickly the years have passed. She says she now spends family time shifting life around to suit the busy schedules of her husband, her two daughters at home and herself. 

Margie is the proud mum of three daughters - Louise 24, Frances 21 and Bridget 20 - and has a busy job as director of a childcare centre in North Sydney. Their eldest daughter, Louise, works for the United Nations in Geneva. 

Born in New Zealand, Margie moved to Sydney in the 1980s 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".

“For me, motherhood is the ‘ultimate experience’. I love being with the kids and being a mum.

“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.

She describes her daughters 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 did not return to 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, who isn't always available, 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 is challenging.

“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 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 also 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 2010 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 dad.”

And how does Margie cope with the media spotlight and criticism of her husband?

“I turn off when it’s on. For me to function and stay happy and calm – I have to keep it at arms length.”

“When Tony walks through the door, politics is forgotten and he is simply Tony. A husband and 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. 

 

_dsc_1757_abbottmumdaughter

The photo in last year's story.

Email To Friend Recommend Tweet This
Recent Comments
5 Total Comments
Cindy says: 2012 04 12
Rating:

Interesting. Agree kids need to realise parents are individuals and it’s important to have ‘me’ time

Liz says: 2012 04 12
Rating:

Not a Liberal voter but Margie is Tony’s greatest asset. Decent ordinary woman. But the Libs greatest asset is Turnbull.

Abigail says: 2012 04 12
Rating:

Lovely article showing the human side of family life in the political realm.

Anita says: 2012 04 12
Rating:

Quiet grace is what characterises this quiet achiever.

Francis says: 2012 04 13
Rating:

Let’s see more of the Abbott women -  they are mature and beautiful people who no longer need protection.

Post a Comment
* your email address will not appear

Please enter the word you see in the image below:


Post a Comment
* your email address will not appear

Please enter the word you see in the image below:


Your Comment has been posted
Related Articles
voting
Regardless of the outcome of the election, we should be…
Read more
mum_and_baby_playing
Psychologist and author, Lynne Jenkins, says mother's guilt is very…
Read more
superwoman-entrepreneur-flying
Don't try to be a superwoman - it's good for…
Read more
swing_voter
Sue, a swinging voter in a marginal Brisbane electorate, explains…
Read more
man-washing-dishes

Add some sparkle to a child’s life
ALDI has a new in-store initiative to help raise money for Barnardos Australia.

canteen

CanTeen delivers keys to help young people with cancer
In a world first, CanTeen has launched a new website to help young people affected by cancer.

rollershutters

Roller shutters: offering a range of benefits
A look at how roller shutters can be a perfect addition to your home.

boys-soccer

Kid sport dropouts at higher risk of mental health problems
Research from the University of Wollongong shows that children have a greater risk of mental health problems if they drop out of sport.

walk-to-school

Walk to school in October!
There's no better time than Spring to enjoy a walk to school ... every day.

medibankdinosaurpark

Family activity a victim of time
Time-poor families are missing out on being active & healthy by enjoying the great outdoors.

maya-the-bee-movie

Win 1-of-10 family passes…
Sometimes the smallest things can make the biggest difference - join Maya & Willi in their quest to just be(e).

halloween1

How to host a…
Halloween has become one of the popular events on children's calendars so Elka Whalan shares her tips for hosting a…

ngv

Kids encouraged to express…
An interactive exhibition in the new children's gallery at NGV will delight inquisitive minds.