Known best for her honest, warts and all outlook on life, Em Rusciano is a woman who wears many hats and being a mother is one of them. She’s recently announced she’s pregnant with her third child and spoke to Stonnington Boroondara reporter Melissa Meehan about her daughter Marchella who is doing her VCE.
Em Rusciano, you have many feathers to your cap, mum, wife, interstate radio host, singer, entertainer, comedian – to name a few. How do you do it?
I don’t! I’m sorry if I’ve ever given the impression to any human that I ‘do it’, that I balance my life; because let me tell you, I don’t. As I speak to you right now, I’m wearing my pyjama parts even though it’s only 1pm, and I’m banging a hook into a wall with a rolling pin because I couldn’t locate the hammer. We’ve just moved house and instead of unpacking the food and utensils and boring useful things, I’m hanging pictures and arranging flowers.
I guess… I think the way to feel less overwhelmed with ‘life balance’ is to focus on the task that you’re doing, without feeling guilty about the things that you’re not. So if you are with your kids, forget all the other crap you should be doing, and focus on that. There is no imaginary evil overlord judging you if the washing has to go through for a third time because it went mouldy. No one cares. Do you.
You could be described as one of the original mummy bloggers, your honest and open posts really seem to resonate with your fans then and now. With all the “perfect” mums out there do you think people craved something real? And why did you choose to be that person?
I never considered myself a mummy blogger – the fact that I’m a mother is the least interesting thing about myself. I’m a writer who happens to have spawned. I feel like I’m selling myself short by saying ‘mummy blogger’ – not that there’s anything wrong with that term, but it just doesn’t cover everything I’m about. I feel like I didn’t consciously choose to be the real, unedited, honest person online – I just am that person. People will gravitate towards what speaks to them, and I guess my way speaks to some people.
You have two daughters. Can you tell us about them? Any tips on raising strong, fearless and independent women?
We have a ‘no d***head’ policy in our house! No selfish behaviour, no deliberately hurtful behaviour, and one in, all in. My girls also have a lot of privilege, which I make sure they aware of, so they are conscious and kind towards those less privileged in our community. We have an open door policy that no one is judged – my girls would never look at anyone of a different race, religion, sexuality, and feel that they are any different. Most importantly, we teach our girls to trust their gut, their first voice, because that’s the best thing for a strong woman.
Your daughter Marchella is currently doing her VCE. How is that going?
Marchella is a straight-A student; we are very lucky that she is extremely academically driven. It’s a relief, because I stopped being able to help her with Maths in year 8. She’s very well-organised (which she definitely didn’t get from me). I think she’s doing well also because as long as she loves learning and doesn’t feel the pressure of an ATAR score, then she’ll do her best – which so far is working.
You’ve described her as having a brilliant mind, artistic flair and sporting prowess in the past, but is it still important not to put too much pressure on her and ensure that she also enjoys her final years as a high school student?
Exactly. She’s also about to be the lead in her school musical, so you can imagine how beside myself I am. I’ve learned all her lines, just in case she should need an understudy on the night…
How do you find a balance between pushing them to be their best and not pushing too hard?
We encourage our girls to go after what they love, and everything else takes care of itself. The traditional subjects are of less importance to us. I mean, I’m still yet to use Pythagoras’s Theorem at all in life… so as long as they are happy with what they are studying, and they learning how to take charge of their own education, we are happy.
I’m not very good at these mirror selfies, but I thought I’d best take one as the bump popped a bit this week. I’m…
Do you have any tips for helping VCE students manage their time, energy and stress? What about tips for parents with children working through their VCE?
Chella has a schedule that helps her keep track of when things are due and where she needs to be – a whiteboard on the back of her door, showing progress and deadlines. She’s so organised. We always try to encourage the girls to work steadily, but not beat themselves up with stress when things aren’t going to plan. Occasionally we step in when Chella feels like she’s taken on too much, and see if she might need to drop anything co-curricular, but we always just want to make her feel supported with her own decisions. She’s got high expectations of herself, so that helps us. She wants herself to succeed as much as we want her to – so I guess that’s half the job done for us!
The school formal is an important part of Year 11. With your flair for sequins and feathers – were you able to enjoy the preparations with Marchella?
Chella is very different to me, she’s actually not one for sequins. I enjoyed helping her (passionately and desperately!) but I have to always respect that her taste is different to mine, and that she doesn’t want to turn up looking like a drag queen. She has great taste of her own, she looked amazing… and I had to remind myself to stay calm.
What are some other highlights that you’ve been able to share with her during the VCE?
Getting cast in the lead of the school musical, getting selected into the Monash Scholars’ program, being named as Media leader, watching her film at the Eltham short film festival, watching her take ownership and responsibility over her own education… she’s an impressive kid!
It would be remiss of me not to mention your exciting news. You are pregnant, and will welcome a son to the world later this year. Congratulations. Has the pregnancy been different this time around?
Thank you! Yes, it’s been hell. My body is angry with me for impregnating it at such an old age. I’m officially classified as a ‘geriatric pregnancy’. I don’t know if it’s what has made the difference or not, but it’s a boy, and my morning sickness has been much worse!
On your radio show, you mentioned how in awe you are of women who have been through multiple miscarriages or failed IVF attempts and still continue to try for a baby. You have openly discussed your own miscarriage. Do you think it was important to talk about it, given it’s often something not spoken about publicly?
Of course. The women who have gone back several times are incredible, and they deserved to be told that. I felt really alone when I went through my miscarriage. I remember lying awake at 2am, feeling completely isolated, and stumbling across various online communities of women desperately searching for answers, so I wanted to talk openly about my experience so other women would feel less alone than I did. My Evil Queen show earlier this year was an incredible experience for me, feeling the support and energy of the women in the room who had been through the same thing. One in four pregnancies end in miscarriage, yet it’s not talked about nearly enough.