VIP mum Dr Cindy Pan

Dr Cindy Pan has a long and distinguished career profile. Most of you will know her as a doctor who regularly appears on television talking on subjects such as sex, divorce, health and child-rearing.

The busy doctor is also a celebrated author, a newspaper and magazine columnist, supporter of many charities and has performed in musical theatre, plays, cabaret, television and film. But few of you would also know she is the devoted mother to her two boys, Anton, four and one-year-old Jeremy. The Sydney mum has had two books published through Harper Collins, Pandora's Box: Lifting The Lid On Life's Little Nasties and Playing Hard To Get, a light-hearted look at relationships.

The fun-loving and sometimes cheeky doctor is also a National Breast Cancer Foundation ambassador, a role particularly important during October as we shine the international spotlight on breast cancer awareness.

Cindy Pan took a little break from her hectic schedule to share her joy of motherhood with us.

What is it that you love most about being a mum?

I love the joy and wonder I see in my kids' faces, their excitement, their enthusiasm, their energy, their confidence and zest for life. I goggle at the discovery of their evolving personalities: their kindness and tenderness as well as their ferocity and fire. I am surprised and entertained daily by their funny, cute, winsome, strange and sometimes frankly bizarre ways. I love the way they think and respond, their freshness and imagination; it is very inspiring and opens my mind to new possibilities for everything. (For example, I used to think pyjama pants were just for keeping your legs warm at night; now I know much better: there are one hundred and one uses and one thousand and one different looks you can create with one pair of jersey pants.) I love the way they are so unquestioningly affectionate and gob-smackingly loving. I love their intensity and their drive and commitment to having fun. They make everyday an awesome, deeply riveting, most challenging and rewarding adventure. They put my life in perspective and add meaning...and craziness. You can't have too much of either, I reckon.

You are an author, doctor, media personality and support many charities, how well do you juggle your work/life balance?

I do what I have to do so I can do what I want to do. Fortunately most of what I do is what I want to do and I try to do what I have to do as quickly and efficiently as possible.

All mums become concerned about their child's health from time to time. Did being a doctor save you from the panic attacks when your boys got sick?

I have a great capacity for thinking and imagining the worst so I am always feeling anything from mild relief to grand euphoria when the worst does not eventuate. I have lots of good doctor friends as well as a great GP and I keep my own auriscope close at hand. I think I am mentally prepared for most medical eventualities. The kids are pretty robust so I feel fairly confident mostly. But I don't take things for granted and I try to think ahead and be prepared. Knowing all the things that can go wrong makes you that much more grateful when they don't. Health is a miracle and everything else - beauty, laughter, tenderness - is pure bonus.

There must be times you have to spend away from your boys for work, how do you manage this time away and do you think they would prefer you spent more time with them?

I am very lucky: I am mostly at home; my writing work is pretty flexible and when I do go to a TV or radio job the kids can often come with me. I think if anything the kids probably wish I didn't waste so much time doing chores at home so I could focus more on playing with the Lego, crashing the cars and launching the rockets. I tell them if they didn't make so much mess, then I wouldn't have to spend so much time cleaning up! But having said that, I realise a lot of the mess is created by natural forces of entropy...such as myself... Fortunately, anyone who has visited here can attest to the fact that I have a fairly relaxed approach to, err, domestic rectitude.

Speaking of domestic bliss, who does most of the chores at home?

Me, myself and I.

What chore do you simply despise?

Strangely, I hate re-filling the stapler with staples - fiddly and annoying. I actually have a few staplers so if I run out of staples I can keep stapling without having to replace the staples straight away. I find I also procrastinate about changing light globes, especially non-essential ones.

People often come to you for advice; do you find it easy to ask for practical support from family and friends?

I have great friends and family, very kind neighbours and I am part of two amazing mothers groups (two kids...two lots of mum-friends!) They have all given me heaps of advice, practical assistance and moral support at various times. They make it easy to ask and sometimes I don't even have to ask, cos they offer.

What has been your greatest personal sacrifice since becoming a mum?

Sleep.

How often do you take time out for yourself?

Everyday. Sometimes it's just a moment but every moment counts!

How has the experience of motherhood changed you?

I am a different person: new priorities, new direction, new motivations, new meaning. I think I learn a lot more everyday because I am challenged more, mentally, physically and emotionally.

What's your top tip?

Agree with your child. Chase the same dreams. And try to let them do anything they want, with the proviso that some things might have to be done ‘in your mind'. The imagination is such a powerful thing and children's imaginations - so gloriously wild and wonderful - should be cultivated, expanded, exercised and strongly encouraged. Recently when we were at the supermarket check-out Anton asked me ‘Can I ride on that slidey thing?' (the conveyor belt you put your purchases on), and I said ‘Yes, but you have to do it in your mind'. He did it! Hey, it doesn't always work but when it does, it's magic.

Can you tell us about the last time you had a big belly laugh with your boys?

Jeremy's antics get us all laughing. Recently, Jemmy, who is one and wears a nappy, got very antsy when I was on the toilet, making out he needed to go too. I made a space behind me and Jem lifted up his shirt and aimed his belly button at the space and then made an expression of great relief, put his shirt down and waddled backwards, then stood there looking very serious and important. Anton and I witnessed this display with some disbelief and when we burst out laughing, Jem broke up laughing too.

If you had just one wish (no matter how fanciful) to change something in Australia to better support being a 21st century parent, what would that be?

Add a few extra hours into each day for catch-up sleep. Odour eaters for rank poos. An extra pair of arms so you can carry two small folk and still have free hands to do stuff. The arms should be able to extend backwards to offer assistance in the back seat while you are driving (picking up dropped toys, helping with eating of snacks, opening and passing drinks, mopping up spills etc). Also, eyes in the back of your head and on extendable stalks so you can see round corners and catch mischief and mayhem just before it happens.

For more information on Cindy Pan visit her website at www.cindypan.com.au and for more information on the National Breast Cancer Foundation visit www.nbcf.org.au.

 
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