Dear Big Liam and Big Hannah
So we’re in our new house. You guys love it and whenever people come and visit you pull them eagerly to your rooms to show off your space. I call your rooms the milkshake rooms; Liam your room looks like a blue bubblegum milkshake threw up all over it and Hannah, your room looks like a pink milkshake went through a blender without the lid on it. I don’t care that your rooms are one big fat cliché…blue for boys, and pink for girls, because ever since I dreamt of having a family and having a house, I knew I wanted a pink and blue room. And well, here we are!
The reason for my love letter today, is to remind you of our journey to getting this house, so that we do not become complacent and too comfortable with our blessing. Yes I want you to enjoy this house, to make it a home with dad and I, but I want you to always remember that nothing (almost nothing) worthwhile ever comes easy. When Dad and I got married, we lived in a tiny first floor apartment. Your father always used to say that our bedroom was next to the oven, because it was that cramped. But it was big enough for the two of us. I used to run down the stairs early on a Saturday morning to be the first person to hang our laundry out, and then I’d have to stay at home all day to keep an eye on it! Ha! We stayed above a man who used to have a party at least four times a week, and his guests would park us in and they’d all be drunk and out of order and the parties would go on for days, not hours, DAYS! But with all the problems with that tiny place, we had some good times there. Our families used to visit from Durban, how we all fitted I have no idea. We even had a “tenant” for a few weeks when my cousin’s boyfriend at the time needed a place to stay. Liam, you were conceived there and your pending birth was probably the catalyst to us buying our first place. We bought a two bedroom duplex in a quiet area in Florida Hills. It was an old complex with big rooms and the space was generous as compared to newer units which were popping up all over Joburg. But the kitchen was tiny. It was so narrow that two people could hardly stand shoulder to shoulder in it. You had to stand in a line in that kitchen! But it had this beautiful bathroom which was in the middle of the two rooms and could be accessed from either room. It had this big freestanding claw bath which Liam just loved to splash in! The parking was a real schlep and visitors had to park on the road which used to freak the Joburgers out, the Durbanites didn’t mind this too much but the poor Joburgers with their alarms, high fences, tracking systems and the like would NEVER leave their car parked on the road, didn’t we know the hijacking statistics? Our duplex was on a hill and it had the most stunning views of the Westrand, we used to dine on the little patio often. There was a scary staircase which Liam tumbled down a few times and one of those olden days stoves that still had a warmer drawer that Liam would climb into and play in. It was our intention to keep this starter home and rent it out when our family and finances grew and we were able to buy a bigger place. It was great for a young couple with one child. The complex was full of old ladies who tended the gardens lovingly and the body corporate meetings were tea parties where the old folk would get together and discuss how we could make our surroundings better. We were happy there.
Then quite unexpectedly we learned that Hannah was on her way. We were in no way financially ready to buy another property, let alone have another kid. We needed our helper to live in and there wasn’t space in our duplex for that. We needed to move and fast. Sadly we decided that our dream had to change and we had to sell up to accommodate our growing family. We found a place even further from work. But the selling point was that it had servants quarters (politically incorrect phrase, but that’s what its called!). It had a decent sized yard for you guys and you each got your own room. AND we were desperate. We moved two days before I was scheduled to give birth to you, Hannah. But it was far, far away. We spent 3 hours in traffic – sometimes more – everyday. That’s almost half way to Durban in a day. Hannah, you were born, Zoleka moved in and we agreed that this was temporary, until we could find a house to buy. Over the next TWO years, we looked at hundreds of potential houses. In that time, I grew more and more annoyed at the distance we lived from where we actually did life. Work, church and school were on the opposite side of Joburg. We would leave when it was dark in the mornings and come home when it was dark – even in Summer! I was so angry that I spent such a little time with you Hannah because I was always at work or in traffic. I was angry that poor Liam had to get up at the crack of dawn and go to school half asleep and then he’d have to endure that traffic with us – that’s a lot of time spent in a small car for a little boy. I barely had time to cook in the evenings and thankfully Zoleka would cover for me, but our evenings were a mad rush of getting home, finishing dinner, getting you guys bathed and sorted and ready for bed, it was very hard and not the life I had pictured for us. We had no intention of staying there for long, but one year turned into two. After the first year, when the 10% increase in our rent was due, we refused to negotiate another year’s contract because we were adamant we would NOT be there for another year. But God had other plans for us. Liam had his second birthday in that house, Hannah had her first birthday there, AND her second birthday. We spent our weekends viewing houses, which is a horrible thing to do with two small children; in the car, out the car, kids are miserable, kids are tired, kids are touching other people’s stuff, dad is frustrated, mom wants to cry. We spent the week trawling sites, dealing with agents who promised that THIS house was the one, but they never delivered. Dad changed jobs, I started blogging, you kids grew. While renting is ideal because you do not have to worry about rates and taxes and geysers bursting and the stove not working – because the landlord will sort all this out for you, it’s not YOURS. For fear of our dear deposit, I never drilled holes in the walls, which meant I hardly put anything up; no photos, no homely touches, nothing. I caved and let Liam stick all his school work on the walls in his room using Prestick but even that gave me the heeby geebies because I was so afraid to damage anything. I couldn’t wait to get out of there. I know it was a roof over our heads, I know we had many happy times there, and I wasn’t ungrateful, I just wanted MORE. My own house, close to the places we needed to be, within our price range and with potential to grow there.. not in number, but in capacity – spiritually, mentally and emotionally. I felt stifled by our present living conditions.
So when we found THIS house, it was more than just finding a property on a street. It was five years worth of looking, waiting, hoping and praying. We had come full circle and our time of testing was finally over. Not forever, because we know the tests do come, all the time, but it was a beautiful respite, it was the answer to many, many prayers, not only from us but from many people who were praying with us for a house! It stands as a symbol of God’s faithfulness and of how he rewards those who wait on Him. When I look back, I can see how we were not ready for this house right up until now. Our circumstances turned just in time, the place we were renting was put up for sale and we were told we would have to be out literally a week after we had intended to be out anyway. My relationship with Dad had matured during this season of testing and I know now, that we were not ready for this responsibility before this. I have no doubt in my mind that all this has a touch of God on it, and this is why I want you to thankful for this roof over your head every day.
I know that you will love it here, and as you read this as Big Liam and Big Hannah, I hope you will reminisce on the good times that I KNOW we will have in this house of ours. I said earlier that we shouldn’t become complacent or comfortable with our blessing, because the point of a blessing, is to bless someone else with or from it.. that’s where the phrase “blessed to be a blessing” comes from! Let’s make our house a home where people will come in, and leave changed! For the better. Let us always help those who do not have a roof over their heads, those who are homeless, hungry and without hope. Let’s be beacons of light, because we KNOW firsthand of the glory of God. We are blessed to be a blessing, don’t ever forget that.
Love you madly