Monthly Archives: January 2014

For my next birthday? I’ll have what Michelle Obama is having …

Looks can be deceiving.

Take First Lady of the United States Michelle Obama. At first glance, it would appear that the First Lady of Awesome and I have not much in common. She’s a lawyer. I struggle to comprehend the fine print on speeding tickets.

She is routinely listed in the Top 10 Best Dressed Women In the World. I dubbed 2013 “The Year of the Elasticised Waist Band”.  She is the First Lady of the United States. And yesterday I forgot to have a  shower. So yeah. Whatever.

At least that’s what I was thinking yesterday. Yesterday when  I was yet to realise that Michelle Obama is my spirit animal.

You see,  just like me – for her upcoming birthday – MO wants to get the hell away from her family.

I’m joking. Yeah, okay, not really.

On 17th January, FLOTUS of Awesome turns 50.  FIFTY!  And you know what she’s doing? Strike that. Let me tell you what she’s not doing. She’s not arguing with Barack over whether to watch  a rom-com or Something Something Something Guns Armageddon Amnesia Explosion Mistaken Identity Sexy Double Agent Who Takes A lot of Sexy Showers Bad Russian Accent Matt Damon. Or conversely being made to sit through some B-grade 1970s horror movie where the monster is really just a Labrador dressed up in a wig.

She’s not spending her evening making Moroccan Chicken only to have her kids say “I hate chicken” or “I hate Morocco” (You hate Morocco? What the f?)

She’s not sitting through a puppet show or proofing a high school assignment on the secret life of ants or walking around the school netball courts searching for Malia’s school tracksuit jacket or trying to read a chapter of Goldfinch only to be interrupted 27 TIMES by every member of her family. She’s not looking at someone’s bottom because “It’s itchy, mama”.  She’s not going to the toilet with AN AUDIENCE.

Nope FLOTUS is having a holiday in Hawaii with Oprah and her girlfriends. AND NOT HER HUSBAND AND CHILDREN.

I’m so delighted by that I want to high-5 my computer screen.

Here’s what ABC News had to say about Mrs Obama’s Thelma and Louise style escape:

President Obama and daughters Sasha and Malia returned to the White House Sunday after a two-week vacation in Hawaii, but Michelle Obama stayed behind in the Aloha State as a bit of an early birthday gift from the president.
“This was her decision to remain at, actually, the president’s suggestion in Hawaii, to spend time with friends ahead of her upcoming very big birthday,” White House Press Secretary Jay Carney said Monday.  “If you have kids, you know that telling your spouse that they can go spend a week away from home is actually a big present.”
She’ll be 50 Jan. 17.
rebecca sparrow Bec: High 5 to Michelle Obama for running away from her children.

“I had a beautiful morning with my family and then with a song in my heart I hit the road and checked into a hotel for 24 hours of NOT BEING A SHERPA.”

Which just goes to show, it doesn’t matter how wealthy you are. It doesn’t matter whether you’re a working outside the home mum or  working from home mum or a stay at home mum or even the First Lady of the United States …. kids are annoying and at some point you would rather stick your head in the oven than sit through yet another flute recital.

Of course we love our kids.  But if my kids weren’t my kids, their behaviour would technically be classed as “stalking”. Just putting that out there.

Last year for my birthday, you know what I did? (That’s rhetorical, it would actually be a bit creepy if you knew what I did since we most likely have no met).

I went and stayed in a hotel BY MYSELF.

Oh yeah. I so did. I had a beautiful morning with my family and then with a song in my heart I hit the road and checked into a hotel for 24 hours of NOT BEING A SHERPA.

And it was front-row-tickets-to-Beyonce-kind-of-awesome.

I slept in (okay, I didn’t because I’ve been getting up to children since 13BC but I could have slept in if I’d wanted to and that was the whole point).

I watched my Pride and Prejudice DVD box set (BBC verson obvs).

I read more than one paragraph of a novel!

I ordered room service and took a bath and swanned around in a robe and didn’t speak because I am so sick of the sound of my own voice.

I love my kids. But I am never alone. NEVER. ALONE.  And sometimes, you just need to recharge, to get away and be YOU for 24 hours. Sometimes you just need to run away from home, in order to remember all the reasons why you want to run straight back.

And I did. After 24 hours away from Ava and Fin and Brad, I took my heavily pregnant self back to our house feeling rejuvenated.

So Michelle Obama, I love you more now than ever before.  Enjoy your birthday celebrations in Hawaii where you get to spend time not being Barack’s wife or Sasha and Malia’s mum or even FLOTUS but just Michelle who loves Tina Turner and pepperoni pizza and a mean apple martini (okay I made all that stuff up but stay with me …). On 17th January I’ll raise a half-drunk mug of cold tea to you and hope you enjoy every moment of your break. Go you good thing.

This post first appeared on Mamamia.

The four beliefs I binned on New Year’s Eve

I’m one of those people who always feels like a new year is a fresh start. A clean slate with no mistakes on it (okay, suddenly I’ve turned into Anne of Green Gables).



Sometimes better than making knee-jerk resolutions (I will never again eat chocolate freckles for breakfast … c’mon now, that’s just crazy talk) is the decision to bin certain beliefs or ideas that have maybe been holding you back.


I’ve got four. Four beliefs I’ve long held as truisms that I’ve decided are, well, stupid. So it’s sayonara to these old ways of seeing the world …


1. Keep your friends close and your enemies closer.


What am I? A ninja?  It’s taken me 41 years but I’ve finally learned that life is too short to have negative, toxic people in your world. TOO. SHORT.  In 2014 I’m spending less time with the smiling assassins and more time with those people who want what’s best for me. The friends who call forth my best, who challenge me, inspire me and delight me. 2014 is all about boundaries.  And hanging with my tribe.


2. The louder you yell, the more likely you are to change someone’s mind.


Yeah, it’s taken me a while to get this one into my thick head.  What I finally realised this year is no matter how many facts you have, no matter how passionate you are – you really aren’t going to change someone’s mind when their mind is already made up.  You just aren’t.  They believe what they believe. And – who’s to say that they’re wrong? (Well, other than the police …).


You know what else?  Shaming people – making them feel stupid or pathetic or shit – for what they have done or believe also isn’t helping. Twitter thugs are you listening?  I learnt that this year too. Few people changed their minds about something because they were shamed into it. All that does is back people in a corner and make them more defensive.  So from now on, I’m aiming for a more balanced approach … present the facts, try to understand the opposing viewpoint (or at least why they would think the way they do) and in the end – agree to disagree. And then try and bribe the person with Mint Slice biscuits.


3. Women over 40 shouldn’t have long hair


long hair Rebecca Sparrow: The four beliefs Im binning before New Years Eve.

I am 41 and I look BETTER with long hair


I’m 41 and I look better with long hair. The end.


4. Facebook is great for maintaining friendships


This is a crock. It is.  Look Facebook is good for many things: wasting time on Wednesday afternoons when your boss is in that long meeting and you really need to see photos of your cousin’s new hairstyle that sounds suspiciously reminiscent of the Flock of Seagulls lead singer. I’m with you. I TOTALLY AM.


Facebook is also tops for keeping up and staying connected with friends who are overseas or interstate.  And sure, you’re in a feisty mood and feel like starting a debate about the superiority of Arnott’s Kingston Biscuits over Ginger Snaps.  Awesome. Gold Star. Love your work.


But as for your average, garden-variety friendships … I’m not convinced Facebook is helping. ‘Liking’ someone’s photo of their eggs Benedict is not the same as picking up a phone or seeing someone in person.  Few things are ever as good as ye olde fashioned face-to-face friendship.  Or even hearing the sound of someone’s voice and being able to detect nuance.  Facebook is great in conjunction with time IRL (in real life, y’all). But I think friendships with people in your own town that eventually only ever unfold on Facebook — not so great.


So in 2014, I’m going to do less LIKE LIKE LIKE and a bit more “Let’s have coffee”.  Or at least even up the playing field a bit.


In 2014 I’m going to stop lying on Facebook

Out of all the worthy resolutions floating around in my head, there’s only one I really plan to stick to.

In 2014 I’m going to stop lying on Facebook.

Don’t get me wrong. I haven’t navigated my way through 2013 fabricating events for the sake of social media. I haven’t, oh I don’t know, say, pretended to know sign language and made shit up during the funeral of one of the greatest men that ever lived.  What. The. What?

But what I have done plenty of times – in fact more often than not – is lied by omission. I’ve habitually curated my life on social media so that it played more like a Greatest Hits album, a highlights reel chock full of ponies and rainbows and Brady Bunch moments.

So my status updates have been like this:

Look at us out to dinner!

Here I am with my children baking!

Here’s a great review of my book!

Here I am with my children baking!

Martini, anyone?

Best husband in the world!

Baking! With children!  Still super happy!

Happy!  Happy!  Happy!

And while all those moments were bonafide, they don’t tell the full story.  Because like you and every other SINGLE PERSON ON THIS PLANET (except maybe Beyonce) I’ve also had down days. I’ve stuffed up. Screwed up. Been fed up. I’ve had disappointments and blah moments and had things blow up in my face big time.

But you wouldn’t know it.

Because here I am baking!!!  Ahem…

1343922338057 3682088 Resolution: In 2014 I’m going to stop lying on Facebook.

Because we all know that ain’t the case.

So the Facebook status updates you never saw this year should have included:

My work colleagues are in Melbourne shooting a video and I’m at home feeling envious, picking spaghetti off the dog’s head and watching my toddler have a meltdown because I offered him a second slice of apple.

Went out to dinner with Brad. Had enormous argument about “Who is the most tired?” Didn’t speak a word for the rest of the evening except to ask for the WORLD’S LARGEST GIN.

I just found and ate chocolate freckles for breakfast. #fail

Four-year-old just said: “You never spend time with me.”  Part of me wants to cry. The other part wants to go to my union with photographic evidence of 1000 hours spent playing HAIR SALON.

I’m having one of those days when I don’t know what the hell I’m doing with my life.

But who wants to mention that real stuff? I mean, it’s boring and depressing, right? RIGHT?

Better to treat Facebook like a never-ending sales conference where the job is to convince everyone else we’re dizzy with happiness and success.

At least that’s clearly what I was telling myself until TWO dear friends of mine separately opened up to me about the year they’ve had.

Each admitted they were struggling with bouts of depression and had been in a black hole.  To say I was shocked is an understatement.

“But you seemed so happy on Facebook!”  I said to each of them.

And you know what they both said?

instagram facebook Resolution: In 2014 I’m going to stop lying on Facebook.

Why do we treat social media as an enormous PR campaign for our lives?

They each looked at me as though I had rocks in my head and said, “Oh come on, you can’t believe what’s on Facebook”.

How did we get to this point, people?  When did we all think we needed to treat Facebook like an enormous PR campaign for our lives?

You see that’s the thing with social media … by curating our lives like a resume – by editing out the dud moments, the stuff ups, the pear-shaped days – we’re creating a two-fold problem:

1. By pretending our lives are PERFECT we paint ourselves into a corner.  It becomes harder and harder to admit that the version of our lives we’re ‘promoting’ is not the one we’re living and it can stop us from reaching out for help – to our friends, family or even to take the steps we need for professional help. So we just feel like big ol’ frauds but feel like we can’t reach out to anyone and say our lives are total crappola at the moment.

2. The other problem of course is that if so many of us are just continually fake smiling our way through Facebook, it can lead other people to thinking they are alone – alone in having a bad parenting day (or month, or, er, year). Alone in sometimes hating their job, or feeling blah about what they’re studying or being single or married or whatever.

Telling the truth is scary, I get that. But it’s liberating too … and it’s often when we admit to a screw up or a bad day that deeper connections are made with our family and friends.

So this year I intend to tell the truth on Facebook. To remind everyone who knows me that I’m not superwoman, that I don’t live a perfect life or get things right all the time. After all, a highlights reel is always so much better when the bloopers are thrown in.

So in 2014, I’m keepin’ it real. Who’s with me?