The Way Things Could Be….

May 31, 2012 § Leave a comment

We spent the weekend on an impromptu visit to family. All our family live a good 4.5hr drive away, 250 miles or so.

It was wonderful. Apart from all the lovely time we spent together, it made me think that this is kind of the way life should be. Living with extended family. Honestly, I’m not sure that the Me that I was eleven and a half years ago could have done it, living with the in-laws, but the Me that I was back then was a lot prouder than I am these days. I feel like I’ve come a long way since then, grown up a lot, learnt to accept help, had a lot of sharp edges chipped and ground off!

But Gran did all the cooking, she washed all Messy Baby’s nappies and bibs and muslins without asking, looked after us all. Grandad entertained Messy Boy LOTS, I’m sure he could sleep all week after that if they weren’t so busy this week! Messy Dad was able to relax, we even got to spend some wonderful time together wandering aimlessly around a market, just chatting.

The thing is, because I wasn’t having to think about washing or shopping or cooking or cleaning I could look after Baby. Which as a mum to a not-quite-six-month-old is what I should be doing!

I can’t help thinking, as I write this in between getting all my timings wrong juggling making a pie (buying pies is out of the question at the moment with finances stretched), cooking potatoes and pasta, making a cheese sauce, and checking on Baby every few minutes because he wants a Mama cuddle even though he’s playing with Daddy and Boy, that I’m stretching myself too thin sometimes. Boy should be learning to Cook alongside his Grandparents. Dad should be released to Play with his Boy, and be teaching him about Making and Fixing.

I’m no supermum.

If I’m trying to be Cook, Cleaner, Mender, Carer, Teacher to Boy, and Forager, all at the same time, my being Mama and Provider of Cuddles and Milk and Closeness to Baby is going to suffer.

I guess that’s partly why my house is in such a state – notwithstanding the constant building work as we renovate, it rarely gets vacuumed or dusted. I keep on top of the dishes and laundry out of necessity! And I guess that’s why the poem “Song for a Fifth Child” resonates so much with me.

I was meant to post this a week ago and have had one of the busiest weeks in ages and barely had any time to sit and write let alone do any housework so blogging was put on the back burner – but yesterday, at one of the regular toddler groups we go to, this whole idea of extended family living, or village living, just caught me again. There are a lot of mums there with young babies and older children, and it’s lovely to see the staff at the group – older mums whose children are grown up, generally – being grandmothers to the children, while the mums are occupied with the babies. It was just a moment of hope, of seeing how things could be.

I guess I’m going to be praying a lot more for reconciliation in families and communities. For the older generation to be able, allowed, and freed to teach the younger; for a respect that goes both ways, for a hunger to understand, to learn, to grow. For wisdom to be shared, and accepted; and for the courage to ask questions and not blindly accept!

Life could be better. We mustn’t just assume that we “deserve” better without contributing ourselves, but with investment into relationships and becoming teachable we can start preparing the groundwork for a better future.


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