The most vital job in the world
IT is not something she likes to dwell on but that simple fact is Warwick mum Melinda Gale has been pregnant since 1993.
No, this isn’t some quirky attempt to land the engaging local a place in the record books; it’s a matter of multiples.
Mrs Gale and her husband Andrew have six children and are just weeks away from being parents to seven.
“We met when we were 18 and 19 and from the start we wanted a big family,” she admitted.
“We started out thinking four or six and then somehow it became seven.”
But back to 17 years of maternity wear.
The couple’s first son Sam, 16, was born in 1994, then there were two heartbreaking miscarriages before the arrival of Dan, 13.
Then came their only daughter Amy, 10, followed by Angus, 8, then another two testing miscarriages before Ben, 5.
A little further down the family tree is two-year-old Josh, who is awaiting the imminent arrival of a new playmate.
“We are fairly certain the next babe is another boy, much to the disappointment of our daughter,” Mrs Gale laughed.
“Amy is a 10-year-old with the dramatic capabilities of a 1930s actress.
“She has taken to asking us ‘I can’t cope with five brothers, what am I going to do if there is six?”
But back to their start: In the mid 1990s when the young newlyweds started their family, it was amidst the financial pressure of life in a capital city.
Mrs Gale went back to work juggling three young children and clerk commitments for a family-orientated engineering firm.
“Andrew was in the police force, we needed two incomes to make ends meet in Brisbane,” she said.
“Very quickly we realised juggling it all wasn’t what we wanted so Andrew accepted a transfer to the north west.”
The move meant this maternally orientated woman could finally stay home with her precious children.
“Motherhood was the way I wanted to make a difference in the world,” Mrs Gale said.
“I think as a society we seriously undervalue stay home parents.
“It is, in many ways, the most important job in the world: You are raising the next generation.”
She fears for those parents forced by financial commitments or consumer-orientated pressure to work while their children are young.
“Parents need to believe if they choose to stay home and love and nurture young children, they are doing something truly worthwhile,” Mrs Gale said.
“You don’t want to go through life feeling you were robbed of time with your kids.”
As for children raised in a large family, she firmly believes they are better off for the experience.
“Our children have everything they need, but not necessarily everything they want, and I think that is a good thing,” she said.
“They understand the importance of looking after each other, helping out at home and that there are monetary limits.
“My older sons change the baby’s nappy and I say to them ‘one day your wives will thank me and you will have a happy life’.”
Meanwhile her message to the countless other mums out there juggling the organised chaos of family life was: Don’t be too hard on yourself.
“I do six loads of washing and there is always still four to go,” she laughed.
“But you have to plan ahead if you want a big family and we did that.
“We have a 10-seater car, we are in our own business, we have a home.
“Yet we always knew having a big family would give us more personally than it would ever cost.”