Nanna owned a factory in inner-Melbourne’s Richmond that made greeting card stands for companies like Hallmark. We’d go there on our way to a footy match at the MCG. Eventually she had to close the factory because she couldn’t compete with products made offshore. It was stressful, but she was ready to retire.
Nanna was from an era when emotions were kept close but she always had an eye out for you, especially when my brothers [Thomas, now 37, and Nicholas, 27] brought girlfriends home. She always had an opinion as to who was a keeper and who wasn’t.
I am very close to my mother. She’s the only female in our household and devoted her life to being a mum. She’s loud and outgoing and made sure we had plenty to do; she didn’t hesitate to explore the reserve next to our house or kick the footy. I rarely got sick as a child and got jealous of other kids who had days at home, so Mum would allow me to pull a sickie just so we could spend a day together.
I don’t remember a first kiss, but when I was around eight, me and my friends at St Thomas More Primary in Mount Eliza would talk about our older brothers kissing girls. I knew it was harmless fun and was something I’d do one day but was a bit nervous.
I was totally shy around girls at school. I found the best way to feel comfortable was to be funny and have a laugh with them. Humour would get me out of awkward situations. I always had a lot of female friends and took an interest in girls when I started doing musical theatre at high school – it was a great way to meet them.
My drama teacher during my final year, Louise, was very supportive. She encouraged me to think of entertainment as a career, and pushed me to take lead roles in the school plays even when I was scared to do so.
I went to the same high school as my wife, Tori, but we didn’t know each other there – I am three years older. We met in 2008 while working at the same pub. It was a year before I got the job on the ABC children’s TV show Giggle and Hoot.
I started dating Tori in 2009, we moved in together and then we moved to Sydney for my job. She
was studying to be a primary school teacher at the time and switched to an online course. That’s when I knew the relationship was getting really serious.
I hadn’t had any serious, life-changing relationships until I met Tori. Right after high school I took
off to England for a year with a friend and travelled through Europe. I always liked to have a girlfriend, but if a life event came along, like the opportunity to travel abroad, and my girlfriend was staying behind, then it just made sense to end it based on circumstances. I was a good boyfriend but would make a decision on a whim and that didn’t suit everyone.
Tori and I married in 2013. We had a son, Lenny, in 2015, and twins Mack and Vinny last year. We started IVF in 2018 and Tori had two miscarriages that were harrowing and difficult.
I’ve learnt so much being with Tori; she’s helped me change for the better. I am now more open with my emotions. She is selfless and always thinking of others.
I always wanted to get married and have kids; I knew it would happen one day. No doubt it stemmed from seeing Mum and Dad in a loving and strong relationship.
This article appears in Sunday Life magazine within the Sun-Herald and the Sunday Age on sale June 14.
Jane Rocca is a regular contributor to Sunday Life Magazine, Executive Style, The Age EG, columnist and features writer at Domain Review, Domain Living’s Personal Space page. She is a published author of four books.