:: last day of summer ::

that unexpected mix of relief and a bit of regret

Today is the last day before school starts again. It has been a long, hot and busy summer. A special one too, our last one with the three of us. (Although I must say our daughter made sure we didn’t forget about her presence already).

I’m convinced that those mixed feelings of relief and regret are well known to all parents who had to entertain their children during eight weeks. Eight weeks is long. I wouldn’t want it to be shorter, as it gives me the chance to reload, to dive into my creative mind and gather new ideas as a teacher, but for those little ones… rather long. I have been doubting if I would bring my boy to some great summer activities organized by the town we live in. There was a really amazing and affordable summer program – with one week-long themed camps or afternoon activities. I had indicated a few on the calendar, and then never used them. Next year I might probably do so.

But I’ve had help. A lot of help. First of all: my husband took up a n awful lot of days off. And on those days, he didn’t only work in the garden or the house, he made sure to get our son involved. I must say, those two had a real bonding thing going on the last two months and it just makes my heart jump when I see them working together pulling out weeds and then my husband asking our son to come along to the container park… the look on that face: glowing of pride and responsability. Just lovely. To me it seems our little kid has grown a lot during this holiday and I’m convinced his dad has a lot to do with that.

And then their was Auntie. Auntie (as I will call her here) is the youngest aunt of my husband – the youngest sister of his deceased mother. While it feels strange that his mother isn’t around anymore, there is also a kind of mental rest that came with it. For her, days that revolved around her grandson were the only days that really mattered, but physically she couldn’t really cope well anymore with those. So it was a constant exercise in allowing her to spend time with him and being on the lookout to not let dangerous situations happen. That had been hard, and it was mentally exhausting, for everyone involved. The day she was buried though, was one of the first times our son saw Auntie. And it clicked. Right away. Auntie doesn’t have children. Her mother told me that the moment “children” became a possibility, she was already 35, and she and the doctors didn’t think it was wise to start at that age.

Auntie spent most of her life with a man about whom I cannot say much (I don’t know him really), but it was a relation in which he took the absolute lead. In many ways he isolated her from her family. I remember that we had to come over to invite them to our wedding, otherwise he wouldn’t have come (and not allowed for her to come either). When her sister was ill and in the end died, he first gave in a bit more, but after a week or two he began commenting again about how much time she spent with her family. And then, for her, something snapped. She made plans to leave him and the moment she found an appartment she could afford, she did. For him, that came as a total shock. They are still on speaking terms, trying to handle it as friends, but I don’t think he fully realizes that for her this is definitive.

She immediately offered help though. As there was a clear connexion between her and our boy right from the start, she told us we could call her anytime needed. If he was sick, she came babysitting, which was just great as my own family lives quite far from here and is certainly not a last minute option. This summer, she came by about two afternoons a week to give me some time to do my own stuff or to rest. And since she installed a car seat, she already twice picked him up for a special day full of fun. They are both tired to the bone after such days, but it’s great to see how they enjoy each other’s company. I’m thankful that out of all the sadness and tears something beautiful like this came up. She really helps us out a lot and that has totally made my summer.

sea_soh

There were days at the beach, where father and son enjoyed themselves thoroughly. I love the sea, but I’ve never been a beach-kid, so my husband is very happy to pass on this tradition he knows from very early age. Looking for shells, splashing in the water, catching crabs, building fortresses and digging holes… all the classics were there. Auntie came over a few days too, so I really had my rest.

There was also a week spent in France, with my parents and siblings. A lot of special attention, a lovely garden to explore, walks around the house and a huge trampoline. There was a little plastic pool as it was hot hot hot and luckily the home was cool and cosy. I think it’s a bit of a pity we didn’t explore the surroundings more but I really suffered from the heat so couldn’t do much.

france_soh

I think we had a good summer. Lots of play and fun times, and help when needed. I boy who seems to grow before your very eyes, erasing the last toddler traits and changing them for big-boy smiles and expressions. He owns my heart and he knows it. Can’t wait to see what the future holds for him, for us all.

Threads of wool and love

My grandmother will soon be 85 years old and is still as creative as I have always known her. When I was a kid, I once stayed with her for a week, and I have very fond memories of those days in the appartment. She instilled in me the love of making cards, cutting and gluing things, seeing the possibilities for every scrap of paper. And she learned me to appreciate onions.

The last few years, with a growing herd of great-grandchildren, she took up knitting again. Every now and then, she calls me to ask how much our Little Boy has grown, and what colors he likes lately. And then she knits her heart out.

wool_love_SoH

The very idea of it warms my heart. It feels like she puts herself in a long tradition of knitting grandmothers. It’s not how I knew her as a child. She was a bit of a special type in my eyes. She couldn’t cook (she always tried, but it didn’t taste good actually), she was not into wool, she smoked like a chimney (still does) and she has the most contagious laugh ever. I don’t even especially like what she knits.

But the love and attention that go into her work, feeling how my Little Boy is part of the family (we didn’t see that side of the family very often, due to the distance – which is nothing in comparison with distances most families in bigger countries have to face, but still – in our country it counts as far away), feeling how we are all connected through threads of wool and love.

Reflections on Sunday #10

Belgian coast
Necesito del mar porque me enseña… – Pablo Neruda

This week I have no interesting reads for you, not even a collection of pictures. We were on holiday and we enjoyed every minute of it. Most of the pictures I took show my family and for that reason won’t be shown here.

But I can tell you: it was a gorgeous week. The start was a little rough – this week at the Belgian coast is not my family tradition, it’s my husband’s and it’s one of the parts I find difficult to connect with. Not because I don’t like the sea, but because my husband always relives his childhood and wishes that everything is exactly the same. We argued often about that, but those memories are so dear to him, I can see why he will get here every year, no matter the cost.

There were some changes though. This was the first year his family wasn’t around on a daily basis. And to me, all the difference was there. They came visit us for two days and it was fun, but for the first time ever it was a week of our own, especially in the end. I’m finally starting to believe it can become a cherished family tradition of our own.

Next week I’ll buckle up and prepare that giant step my beloved Little Boy will make September 1st. My baby boy is going to school.  And while I’m looking forward to it and I’m absolutely convinced he will love school, he’s totally ready for it, I’m not sure I am…

Some quiet time and some radio

There is something about the quiet in those very few days where ‘nothing has to’. No pressure, mainly. We could go out for some grocery shopping or we could decide not to (Little Boy and I went for the first option). I could do some school work or not (still not sure on that one). Taking a bath for as long as we like, having a slow breakfast, preparing lunch at the same time, no meat today.

bathtime_project365_0201_songsofhome
project 2/365 – bath time in yellow

Big things are great to blog about but I often feel like I should make the little things pop more. There are more of them and mostly… they are as worth it. Now, for example. The sunshine is falling in, Little Boy is taking his nap and the radio is on. That last one hit me, it really did. It’s an old and simple cd-player, quite an ugly affair, that was bought to let my grandmother enjoy the audiobooks I downloaded for her. She passed away almost two years ago now, and I still miss her every. single. day. We took the radio with us because the little one likes songs, but then it just sat there on the little desk in the corner of the living room. Never used, unless for some occasional cd. Until it moved to the kitchen counter, taking up valuable space and being gloriously ugly, but … used! I put it on in the morning, and because everything is an open space here, we can hear it play from wherever we are in the room. And I love it. It’s exactly how I remember my Sundays at home as a kid. Peaceful. Being together doing or own things. As a family.

It’s in the little things, folks. Even if they’re big and ugly.

2015 morning walk and family philosophy – 1/365

The New Year has come with a bit of a head ache – auch! But the weather was so beautiful – freezing cold and sunny. I think that’s called crisp – and in my opinion it’s just the perfect word for it. Anyway, a morning walk as a family. Does not happen so often, so we all enjoyed it.

project 1/365 - frozen fields
project 1/365 – frozen fields

Going outside more often is one of my uncountable goals for the year to come and I start to think that’s on the list of my husband too. He has spent many days at home during the last two weeks and it felt good to be together, watch him play with his son, hearing the boy ask for his daddy. People around me are getting pregnant like mad and it’s not the first time we are asked if and when there will be a second child. I think it’s a stupid question, but I answer it all the time anyway. If there would be another child to welcome, certainly not now. We feel like we are just finding some rhythm as a family of three, I like how the bounding between all of us has finally set in and I prefer to enjoy that time a little longer before wrapping my mind around the seemingly inevitable question about possible siblings.

project 1/365 - frozen flower
project 1/365 – frozen flower

All about my mother

I didn’t see my Mother on Mother’s Day.  In general, I don’t see my mother as often as I would sometimes wish to. She’s a great woman. She’s a great example. She’s a great mother.

I ressemble my mother a lot. On many, many levels. Sometimes, that’s not easy. Sure there are things that, as a kid, I promised myself to do very differently if I would become a mother. And the greatest thing of all is that, now I am, I feel that I actually can. And that my mother really lets me be the mother I want to be to my son. That doesn’t make only for a great mother, but also a great grandmother.

She was a great daughter to her mother too. That I have had the chance to really connect to my gran, is really because of my mother. When I asked her if I could volunteer to help out in a nursing home, she said sure, but that maybe I could just start to accompany her more often to my gran and keeping her company while mother did some things in their house. I saw the logic in that and in the ten years that followed that moment, I could build a great relationship with my gran. I was devastated when she passed away, but ever so grateful to my mom.

My mother is a smart woman. Passionate about her job (basically teaching future teachers), very up to date, but most of all: even if I wish she hadn’t, she has been almost always right about whatever was going on in my life. Although she warmed up to my ex quite slowly, in the end she was right about him being a decent guy, but not the right one for me. She knew I was madly in love with my husband earlier than I dared to recognize and I’m sure he was nothing like she would have hoped for me. But then again: she saw me happy and confident and I know that it was all that mattered.

I love my mother with all my heart and while I know she has some sides that are not easy-going, there’s absolutely no person in the world that’s allowed to say that – except me and my siblings. Maybe. Mother of one I just can’t wrap my head around the fact that she raised four of us, and raised us well. She and my father make a good team and a wonderful couple, but still. If I only think about the eternities she must not have slept because she had to do all her preparation work for school when we were asleep. I have been up a lot at night (small bladder or just even the thought of maybe having to pee) and there almost always was a line of light under the door of her work room. Lately I have been so tired, and I even manage to do most of my prep and correction work as a teacher at school,… I even don’t want to imagine how completely worn out she must have felt.

And I know it’s a publicity spot, but I still was touched by this and I think it is spot on…