It’s not who you know – it’s what you know

I’ve been copping a lot of  flack lately from people saying that I have been lax in updating my blog, not to mention some not too subtle nudges from my Bondi physio friend Larry Cohen – so Lar – this post is dedicated to you and all the other “lazy” moms out there who never get round to doing all things they know they need to do and really want to do but never get round to doing.  By the way Larry, if you’re reading this, the Assistant to Sunnymommy position is still vacant and you can submit your application for the role anytime you’re not busy cracking the spinal cords of the Sydney rich and famous and cashing in on the inside information you obtain on the job!

Back in my halcyon days, before kids, my life was all about “”who” I knew not what I knew.  Sure, I had to study the law for quite a few years, but the unwritten law of getting to know the right people held me in far greater stead.  I realised very early on, in my university days, that aligning yourself with the right kind of people at university would be way more beneficial than hitting the books harder than necessary.  SO yes, I admit I was friends with the Clark Kent look-a-like identical twin nerds in the front row of all my lectures, and yes, I pretended to be super-interested in the 110 year old Head Tax Professor’s opinion of the taxing of the British middle class society in 1666.  At first, my intentions were purely innocent, and I was just making new friends (with some benefits), but then when I understood that connecting with the right people might just land you the best typed up set of Contract Law notes available on campus, plus a guided tour through distinction quality assistance on tutorial questions, and that final grades on tests can be negotiated from 72% to 75% carrying you from a credit to a distinction, then it became increasingly obvious to me that I was on the right track and that accumulating a list of the right people could ease your passage through the difficult times in life, and even make things more fun.  This train of thought also helped me in the workplace.  In fact I had even seen some girls take my exact theory to the next level.  How else could you explain a general associate acquiring a junior partner’s corner window office within just 6 months of joining a top-tier firm!! Anyway, it didn’t matter to me much, because, as  I’ve said before, I’m not the jealous type. The thing that mattered is that my connections made me happy and I thought I knew all the right people.  At the height of my success riding this theory, I could get into any of the top-secret nightclubs in Sydney with just one SMS to the owner of the nightclub – and I never, ever stood in queues or paid for my drinks (no – Lance wasn’t with me to pay!).  Every four weeks I paid a visit the best eyebrow specialist in Sydney , eyebrow guru to the likes of Sandra Sully, Jessica Rowe and anyone else who wouldn’t be seen dead reading the 7 o’clock news with un-manicured eyebrows – and for just $75 a visit (I think he raised his prices to $80 thereafter and now you can’t even get an appointment with his apprentice so I have subsequently broken up with him!).  I went to the best hair dresser in Sydney for a colour, cut and blow-dry that you felt shameful to wash out later given that normal people have to wait two seasons for your appointment.   I shopped on Martin Place and Castlereagh Street once a week on my lunch break and sometimes took more than two hours to get back and would arrive with bags and bags of new clothes and bags and shoes (I think that was the last time I shopped!)  Essentially, during the golden years of time as a full-time Sydney corporate lawyer who keenly frequented the best nightlife hotspots in Sydney from time to time, I was quite proud of the list of VIPs I had cultivated on my “Who to know list”.  I was well aware that to succeed not only in the legal eagle jungle but also in the social playground it was crucial to know the right people, associate with people who knew the right people and to get to know the right people who you didn’t know without wasting time.

And then I had kids.  And with that my infamous list of corporate and social contacts that was once the most important ticket to life became rendered null and void in my new life that I had to forge with little knowledge and even less contacts for that matter.

I know they say that babies don’t come with manuals.  That’s true,  So that’s why instinctively maternal girls are much more well- equipped than I was to have kids because I guess it comes more naturally to them than it did to me.  Of course it was love at first sight when I gazed into my firstborn’s eyes when they plopped the little gooey gurgling 3.365kg bundle onto me for our first cuddle.  But as to what happened next I had absolutely no clue what to do and what’s worse, no SMS to the head doorman at the Establishment was going to get me anywhere that night!  It was me on my own, with a tiny, helpless, unrelenting newborn, with only Google and Kosher Kiddish wine to help me through the disaster each night from 4pm to 7pm filled with screaming, colic and reflux.  It became apparent to me really early that I had to build up my “what you know” list, and this sort of happened automatically and with a fair amount of independent researching late at night on-line and yes, Mom, I read some books too (although you think it’s absolute rubbish that “my” generation of mothers likes to read about the problem and research it in a text-book or on the internet) !  I wanted to educate myself as I grew my “what you know” list and reflecting on it now, a lot of the substance on my “what you know” list is there purely from boosting more self-confidence, which I achieved as my firstborn grew older and then, by the time 18 months had passed on my second baby was born, I was a self-declared baby expert.

But don’t get me wrong, as much as it’s about what you know, the old parable still holds true and as a mom, it’s always still going to be a bit about “who you know”.  So upon reflection, and with a tear in my eye, and a bit of a smile, here’s how my “who you know list” has evolved since I became a mom:

  1. As a very new mom with a newborn, you need to start getting up to speed really early.  If you don’t get your baby an appointment with the best GP and pediatrician in town and you can’t get your baby to the top of the waiting list, you’re nobody.  I’ve learned that it pays to make friends early on with the receptionist and her colleagues (if applicable), she’s the door bitch of the practice and if you can get through her, its plain sailing from there.
  2. If you have a boy and he needs to be brissed you need to book the best Mohel in the country as soon as you know you’re carrying a boy, after all, your son’s entire future rests on his first cosmetic procedure.  On this one, spare no expense on retaining the most efficient expert in the field, half the fee goes to charity anyway – remember!
  3. Ensure that you put your baby’s name on the list for all the best schools now, become friends with the Heads of Enrollment and maintain close relationships with them from the time your baby is born until school forms are due in to avoid disappointment and cover all your bases.  They won’t have a clue that you’re also doing the same thing with all the other Enrollment Administrators at the other private schools.  After all,  it’s a jungle out there and your precious angel must attend the best school your money can buy, whichever that is in ten years’ time.
  4. As I’ve mentioned in my “BabyCinno Rort” post, it wouldn’t kill you to get to know your coffee guy/barista well and never cheat on him or cross him. Trust me. You need these people more than they need you.   They fuel your day with caffeine and those friendly chats make the start to any day that little bit more pleasant,  but get on their wrong side and they can just as easily turn on you, and that skim milk coffee you ordered could so easily be exchanged for a luke warm, full fat latte with four sugars, so watch out.
  5. The check-out person at the supermarket is always worthwhile befriending a little more than most.  If you find the right one, and he or she is feeling generous enough then he or she might help you skip the queue and come straight to the front of the “VIP” line, help you pack and place your parcels into the trolley while your children wrestle each other for a torn open 500 gram bag of pretzels which then disseminates all over the store while your mop your brow and gaze away in horror and embarrassment.  He or she might also call for “special assistance, pleeeez” on the store loudspeaker so that some poor sod can come help you navigate your trolley laden with a week’s supplies through the potholed car-park and a sweltering day while the baby rips out the last remaining bits of hair left in your pony tail and the toddler opens the 2L milk carton in trolley and pours it out all over the groceries. It’s at this point that you might also want to get to know the parking attendant so that when you show the remains of the milk-soaked parking ticket you won’t have to pay in the end.

How things have changed.  Quite pathetic really.  Now I can’t even get into Hugo’s on a Sunday night without being asked to pay at the door!  Don’t these people know who I am anymore!  Not even showing them pictures of my babies on my iPhone can get me in for free … Maybe I should just tell them “what”I know instead!

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