Posted in At Home, Blog

The Boy Next Door

Safari Boots is not used to sharing his big brother at all, much less with a boy who holds the glamour of nine whole years of life experience, and a remote control car.
But he has had to make the adjustment. There is a little boy next door, two years older than Encyclopedia Boots. And suddenly, everything is about Felix. Felix is my best friend after my brother. Felix says I am his best friend, too. I can see Felix out the window. Can Felix come over to play in the backyard? Felix has a remote control car. Felix, Felix, Felix.Cragg & Hudson, best buds

I had a talk with Encyclopedia about how his brother is the most important friend he has, since he will be in his life forever. If I find that he and Felix aren’t getting along nicely with Safari, Felix will have to go home, while Encyclopedia learns to appreciate his brother. And Encyclopedia seems to be doing a pretty good job of including Safari.

This is a whole new world for me. Encyclopedia has had friends before, but they were mostly playdates arranged because I was friends with the child’s mother. This is the first friend who hasn’t been handpicked, and although Felix seems like a nice boy, he represents something of a loss of control on my part — a letting go of sorts.

Today, I ushered the children outside. “I don’t want you playing in the basement until I’m unpacked,” I told them. “Everybody into the backyard.” I saw Encyclopedia looking from me to Felix to see how my stance was being interpreted by his friend. It was like he was seeing me through the eyes of his friend, looking at me for the first time with a certain impartiality of gaze.

What would Felix think of Mama? Would he be offended by being thus ushered out of the house? Encyclopedia felt the need to explain me  to his friend:  “It’s just because we’re not unpacked yet. Mama doesn’t want a big mess when she’s still unpacking boxes and doesn’t know where everything goes.” His friend shrugged agreeably, and they headed outside.Hudson is getting so tall, but he is still very much a little boy.

It was a nothing-moment, one I could have so easily missed, had I not seen that look in Encyclopedia’s face. And yet it was so significant. Up to now, Farmer Boots and I have had almost 100% control over his impressions of us and the world. Today marked a shift. We’re down to 90%. His peer relationships can have some impact on his impressions of the world — and on his impressions of me.

Somebody, I can’t remember who, said that parenting is about learning to let go. I guess my little boy is leaving the baby stage and entering into the next stage of childhood — one which I have reduced power to shape for him.

God grant me wisdom in learning how to let go, and how much, and when and how to hold on. God grant me wisdom and peace in guiding this precious little soul, and indeed, all of the precious little souls in my care.

Posted in At Home, Blog

Pregnancy Update: Week 35

I have become very short of breath. I am always more short of breath than the average pregnant woman, but it is becoming ridiculous. Any activity at all is now leaving me panting for air. I am okay sitting up (as long as I don’t talk too much — ha! it’s no easy task for me to keep quiet), but I am having a hard time sleeping. I wake up feeling as if someone has had their hand over my mouth and nose. I am gasping for air, and struggling to sit up (it’s hard to sit up with a big belly) so that I can get a good breath.

Continue reading “Pregnancy Update: Week 35”

Posted in At Home, Blog

My Nana

My grandmother passed away on Monday night. She was 89 years old.

She has not been doing well the last several months, so it was not entirely unexpected — and yet, it was a great shock. This is how I think of her, around the time when I lived with them at their farm:

Nana & Papa, in the 90s
Nana & Papa, in the mid-to-late 90s

Nana and Papa (Papa passed away 14 years ago) had 7 children (6 girls and 1 boy). I am the fifth-born of their 28 grandchildren, and now there are 49 (soon to be 50) great-grandchildren.

Nana with Hudson
Nana holding my first-born

When I was a toddler, my parents spent a few months living in a trailer on my grandparents’ farm. I would wake up in the morning, get myself out of bed, toddle across the backyard and open the backdoor of the house. In I would trot, and sit myself up at the table to wait for my breakfast. “The little girl wants her breakfast,” my Papa would say. “Better get her some ‘proidge.'” And Nana would give me my bowl of porridge, which I would eat alongside my Papa.

In later years, many of the grandchildren (myself included) have spent a time living with them at their farm. Nana and Papa took in many of us (one at a time) as teenagers who were clashing with our parents, but could get along just fine with our grandparents. After Papa died, Nana had her house renovated so that her bedroom and bath could be on the main floor. She had a kitchen put in on the upper floor, and the next wave of grandchildren began taking their turn. Many young just-married grandchildren spent a year or two in Nana’s upper apartment. In the past few years, as Nana’s health has failed, she’s been afraid to be alone, and so the third wave of grandchildren have been there to help her — young people staying upstairs to help “keep an eye” on Nana, so that she has someone with her in the house.

I was at the farm yesterday, and it was so painful to realize that Nana and Papa are both gone now. I will never again see her sitting in her chair by the window, knitting or reading an Agatha Christie novel. She was the matriarch of a huge clan. Her death signals the end of an era for our family — my parents have officially become “the old people,” and my 27 cousins and I are no longer “the grandchildren” of anybody.

It’s a strange mix of feelings as I get together with family, tell my own children stories of my childhood memories of the farm, and let it sink in that those days have really ended, in some new way, now that Nana is gone.

Goodbye Nana. I’ll miss you.