Kerryn Boogaard Kerryn Boogaard
Beverly Goldsmith Beverly Goldsmith
Zoe Bingley-Pullin Zoe Bingley-Pullin

Me, the human onion:

Each person we interact with may only see one part of us, but we all have more layers.
By Caroline McMahon
Date: August 03 2014
Editor Rating:
humanonion

It has turned cold in Perth. 

Depending on where you’re reading this, you may laugh, as Perth is well known for its heat and good weather and my home is designed for the unrelenting heat of the 8-9 months of warm weather that we enjoy. Hard floors, high ceilings, two air-conditioning systems and a pool. And not that far from the coast that welcomes the ‘Fremantle Doctor’ a cooling sea breeze on a hot afternoon.

I feel the cold greatly, and was recently called the ‘Human Onion’ by my son in reference to the many layers of clothing that I wear in my quest to keep warm. My sons and husband spend much of their year in just shorts and t- shirts - well after I have dug deep the back of my wardrobe to extract long pants, shirts and my favourite cardigans to warm me on the chilling evenings. I plead with them to put an extra layer on to make me feel warmer.


Aside from the mirth that being the called the Human Onion brings, it made me think about all the layers that make me the metaphorical onion, just like you and everyone we know.

Me


I decided to put this layer first as it is the most important and the one that is most often forgotten. I have a soul, my own ideas, joys and dislikes. I think in the years to come I will identify more with this layer, as I hope to have more time to spend in it.

Wife


I married my husband 21 years ago, and was his girlfriend for five years prior to that.

I have been with him longer than without. This layer is not smooth and round, it is thick in some places and thin in others, but ever-present and held together with love, mutual respect and a healthy dose of humour. This layer does not define me, but is one of the biggest layers of my life.

Mother


This layer is the thickest and most impenetrable. I am lucky to be mother to two amazing young men. This has been a road that has not always been easy but seeing my boys grow and emerge with their own layers is often overwhelming. I look forward to seeing our unique connections deepen and evolve.

Daughter

As the eldest of only two children, I have always had a lot of attention from my parents. I was loved and cherished and learned from them how to do that with my own children. I was given the freedom to develop in whichever direction I chose, always knowing they would support me. As their age increases and their health decreases I find that I will become the carer of my parents, but still the daughter. An ever-changing layer.

Sister


I have one brother. We are only two years apart in age but worlds apart in our ideals and lifestyles. We respect each other’s differences and live harmoniously being different.

As our parents grow old I expect we will need to spend more time planning together how best to mange. I look forward to spending more time with him.

Cousin


My mother has one brother who lives on the other side of the country. My father has four siblings who live on the other side do the world. I have never lived in the same city as my cousins for longer than a few months.

I have a deep affinity for my cousins and love spending time with them. As I live in the most isolated capital city in the world, I am not just on the way of my cousins’ travel, so we don’t get to see each other often.

As my own children are teenagers and in the next few years will be less reliant on me, I look forward to being able to travel and spend time with these dear friends to whom I happen to be related. I call their spouses my cousins too, as I feel a deep connection with them.

Friend


I have always been able to meet people and make friends easily. I thought everyone had this ability.

My friends are varied and add their own unique layers to mine. I had never expected to meet new friends in my older years. I have friends dating back to my childhood and school years and far more recent times.

If I didn’t work or volunteer I would have more time to nurture my friendships. But in doing that I would compromise two other layers that make up this Human Onion.

No layer can live independently of another. My friends are patient and realise that many things take up my time. They know that if I don’t see or call them it’s not because I don’t care or can’t be bothered; I just have to divide my time in many slices.

I should be thankful that I have so much in my life to keep me busy and I am so very thankful for the people that love me by choice, not because they have to.

Career Person

I have worked since I was 13. I had very little time off when having my children. I like the independence that being able to work brings me. I like that I can earn money to contribute to my family.

This is another dimension that makes up me. If there were 30 hours in a day it would make this easier for me to do all the things I need to get done.

Some days I can barely breathe with being so overwhelmed with trying to mix professional and family responsibilities. I curse it, I dream of a multimillion dollar lottery win to magically cure everything. Then I wake up, get dressed and do it all again. It won’t be forever and many women in other countries are fighting for what I take for granted. I need to learn to balance this layer and not let it take over.

Volunteer


I have always volunteered in some capacity, it just makes sense to me. More recently it has escalated as the need in one area that I am involved cries out for it.

People ask why I do it. After pondering this question, I realise for every pound of energy I put in, I get double the benefits back. I meet so many new and interesting people and learn new skills. I travel and see new places.

I have been on many occasions been taken aback at how poorly treated I can be in this area. This is not my job, it is unpaid and still it attracts some criticism and quite often from those that don’t volunteer.

I am never perfect, I struggle to hold my tongue with injustice which causes friction. I will not lay down and let people walk over me or those that don’t have a voice or should expect protection from harm. I will fight for the best outcome, often at my own expense.

This is a layer that I struggle with. It is pleasure and pain all mixed in together. It is this layer that highlights my differences to others the most. It leaves me wondering why I got out if bed that day. My payment for this contribution is simply a ‘thank you’. Mostly it comes freely but on other times not.

I am sure there are more layers to me, ones that I have not found yet or given them a name. I do know that while these layers all come and go from the surface, they are held together with the glue of my family, for without that glue, my layers would have no reason to exist.

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