I am extremely close to my mum and dad, and always have been. As a child, I struggled with terrible homesickness on school camps and at sleepovers as I missed them and the warm and loving environment they had created for my sister and I. We talk several times a week, and their house is less than an hour from mine.
Yet they won't meet their first grandchild, my baby son, until he is at least 4 months old.
You see, my mum and dad are more than just loving and devoted parents. They are adventurers. Lisa and I were brought up to love being outdoors and enjoying bushwalking, abseiling, camping and kayaking.
Dad, me, Mum and my sister on an overnight bushwalk last year.
Several weeks ago they left 'mainland Tasmania' in a helicopter, which deposited them on Maatsuyker Island, a small , rugged, remote island off the south coast of our island state. There they will remain, as the sole inhabitants, for six months as the volunteer caretakers. They will live on the supplies they brought with them and vegies from the carefully maintained garden, with one resupply by helicopter at the halfway mark.
They will face roaring winds and cold as they rise at 5am to send a weather report to the Bureau of Metereology. They will maintain the grounds, the gardens, the house, keep an eye on the colonies of seals and shearwaters (mutton birds) and send several weather reports a day. They will have each other for company and be able to talk to friends and family on the satellite phone and listen to the radio...no internet or television on the island.
They will miss the birth of their grandson and his first few months of life.
Why, you may ask, have they chosen to be so far away and unreachable during this time? Well, becoming a volunteer caretaker on Maat is quite a coveted position and has a rigorous application process. They spent 3 months on the island in 2010 and have always been keen to return. Long before I fell pregnant, they applied for this longer stint and were accepted just before I found out the news.
Did I cry? Did I sob in Mum's arms and beg her not to leave? Did she cry and spent days in a torment of indecision?
Yes, we did. And then Mum and Dad made their decision, and I accepted the decision and did my best to come to terms with it. I'm still coming to terms with it. But I'm also happy that they are following their dreams and having this amazing adventure together. I know that they will be the most loving, committed, fun grandparents for the rest of my little boy's life, and this first four month is such a small part of that. I asked Mum the other day if she wanted me to call her as soon as I go into labour, or if she would prefer to wait and hear the news once the baby is born. I had visions of her and Dad pacing the island in an agony of tension. However, she assured me that she wants to know as soon as I even think I am in labour. I know it wasn't an easy decision for either of them. It's hard on me too. I am lucky, though, to have the support around me that I do and in the meantime, all I can do is wish them well on their adventure and look forwards to their return and their next adventure as Nanna and Pop.