30 Days of Embracing Your Backstory

Tracy and I at Christina’s wedding

Name: Tracy VanderZalm

Occupation: Super mum of four!

Blog: www.mrs35.blogspot.com.au/

How we met: Technically Tracy and I used to work together but I really know her is as the beautiful big sister of my equally beautiful friend Christina. She is also mother to four of the most stunning kids you’ve ever seen, including a daughter who had this to say recently after cutting her own hair:

Tracy: “Did you cut your hair?”
Her daughter: “No.”
Tracy: “I can see that you have.”
Her daughter: “How? I hid all of the hair in my cupboard.”

So cute. 

Meet the affable Tracy:

Not only is a Protractor a tool for measuring angles, but it was my nickname throughout my schooling life.  I accept I may have been a novelty to some.  Especially to those who couldn’t quite grasp the idea of how I could have a surname like Prochazka yet speak in Aussie slang just like everyone else.

My parents are Czech and I was always quick to inform my peers that Prochazka (although it sounded like Protractor) actually meant Walker in English.  “So, really, I’m Tracy Walker,” I would say in my best ‘please accept me’ voice.

Tracy’s heritage is steeped in culture

It was hard to fit in with a typical European mum who often weeded the garden in her underwear, our multi-coloured curtains left little to the imagination and having friends over for dinner meant eating meals that often looked like a mountain of icing sugar.

In a last ditch effort to make friends, I shared the story of my Polish grandma and how she was taken from her bed in the middle of the night.  She was 15.  How she worked in a concentration camp before a Czech soldier helped her escape.  How she hid in his cupboard for years and how the Communists’ refusal to allow her to visit her dying mother haunted her everyday of her life.

Granted, it lacked a comical flavour.  In fact, I think it scared my friends half to death.  I was dubbed a liar.  From then, I resented my Czech heritage and all of the cork lino and artificial flowers that came with it.

With age came a logical sense of maturity, acceptance and, dare I say, a new group of friends.  But it was during a 30 day pilgrimage to Poland and the Czech Republic last year where I found my true self.

Tracy (right) with her husband Gene (left) and her father in front of his holiday house as a child. Tracy says this property in Czech is her dad’s favourite place in the whole world.

With husband in tow and the assurance that our four children would still be here when we returned, we accompanied my parents and took the leap of faith.

It was the first time in my 35 years that I saw my dad’s eyes relax.  He was home and I loved him for it.

I met my aunty who looks just like my dad, who smiles just like my sister.  My cousin’s daughter is the female version of my second son.  My grandma’s sister is as strong and as beautiful as I imagined.

And me, well I know why I’m stubborn, why my cheeks strain my eyes when I laugh, why I dip raw carrots in icing sugar and why I secretly always loved those multi-coloured curtains.

The next step is to take our brood…  Then maybe my eldest son will understand why his mum likes to mow the lawns in her bikini.

Tracy and her dad looking out over Karlovy Vary – his hometown.


  1. Sweens says:

    Loved this! Great work Tracy.

  2. Verity says:

    So cute!! I’m off to eat carrots dipped in icing sugar….

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