Tag Archives: grandparents

Growing a bean. And my mother.

Two weeks ago Liam came home with a bean wrapped in some damp cotton, in a polystyrene cup which said “return by 6 May, don’t forget your bean needs water and sunlight.”

I knew this class project well. I had done it myself back when I was in Standard One all those years ago. He was initially quite thrilled with the whole idea, but after day 3 and no signs of life, his enthusiasm started to wane. The cotton wool started to turn mouldy, even though we were dutifully watering and keeping it in the sunlight. On a group Whatsapp chat my mother and sister were horrified at our indifference towards our non growing bean. My mother declared that she would come with a few new beans and she and Liam would tend them together, because I clearly was mucking around. My sister couldn’t believe my competitiveness in the classroom did not extend to the growing of this wretched bean…

Anyway, my mother and father arrived last week from Durban… and guess what came along… 4 new beans, laying in their damp cotton wool, all the way from Durban, on a Mango flight. Have I told you how my mother is the best granny in the world? Firstly, she was not impressed with the polystyrene cup received from the school. She was convinced that our current bean was not getting enough sunlight. Secondly, she and Liam took to monitoring these beans like they were going to grow into beanstalks and make us rich. They were moved from windowsill to windowsill during the day, following the sunlight. They were probably prayed over, if I know my mother.

And within a day or two, they began to sprout. This made everyone VERY happy. Even cynical little me who was not interested in this project to begin with. So this morning we proudly took our beans to school. And let me tell you… ours were THE best! I did have to tell Teacher the whole story about how these beans were actually sacred, they had taken a plane ride from Durban and how Granny and Liam were actually the caretakers of the beans and I had very little to do with the whole thing. She thought the whole story was hilarious.


Anyway, this post is more about my mother, than it is about the beans. I won’t lie, I was happy to see my son proud as punch with his bean this morning, and he probably would have had a dead bean along with the majority of his class, had my mother not insisted on doing this properly. And that’s just how she is. She doesn’t want to see us disappointed EVER. You know what else she did this weekend? She made me walk two malls flat because she had promised the kids that she would get them an egg timer to monitor their teeth brushing. They were so excited by this idea, even though I’m SURE the excitement over this timer will last 0.3 minutes. Anyway, my mother didn’t want just any timer.. she wanted an hour glass timer. You know the one where the sand filters through the glass? Do you know how difficult it is to find one of these old fashioned timers? There were plenty of timers in all the shops we went into, but she wanted the hour glass… yesterday we eventually found one, literally in the last shop we walked into. And that’s just how she is. She is selfless. And it’s such a unique quality in people these days. Selflessness. Most people do just enough. I know for myself, I don’t like to be inconvenienced and I do my bit and I feel good about doing my bit and then that’s it. I don’t like to feel streeeeeetched when helping others, and my excuse is usually TIME. I don’t have TIME to do this and that, so let me give some money. Or let me make some excuse to my kids because I don’t have TIME to walk through 100 shops looking for this thing they wanted. Or let me donate all my old clothes, and give to my church and feel good about having helped. And don’t get me wrong, there’s nothing wrong with that. But isn’t it lovely when you realise just how much effort and thought and love and kindness went into something that someone did for you? My mother still posts birthday cards to all of us. Even her children and grandchildren in Australia. Handwritten birthday cards. She bakes our favourite treats when we go home, even though she isn’t able to stand for very long periods because of her back and other aches and pains. She spends hours and hours with her grandchildren, accommodating their every whim and desire. Spoiling them with TIME and attention. She will make up our beds when she is visiting OUR house. Even when Zoleka is at work! Oh and she sends my helper air time, who does that? She brings toys and treats for our dog! She sews stuff and mends stuff around the house. Like she travels alllll the way from Durban with her sewing machine to mend stuff that I just don’t have TIME to mend.  She is selfless. I can’t tell you the things she has done for us, there isn’t enough room in all of cyberspace. And not things that necessarily cost her financially (although don’t get me started on the stuff she uses her meager pension on – again, for OTHERS) but things that she knows would make our lives easier, or make us happy. And it’s not restricted to people she loves. She is like this with complete strangers too. Did I tell you she got bitten by a dog the other month on one of her missions to visit someone in need? But do you think that stopped her? No.

She is selfless. If she can help you, she will. Whether you think you need help or not. She is a modern day saint and when I think of the Apostles of old, I think she would have been like one of them. Preaching the Gospel wherever she went, but more so, showing the true Christ through her selflessness. If you met her, I promise you would love her. You just would.

mum and kids

Empty Nest

So we went down to the South Coast for the long weekend, Uvongo to be exact, and we had such a good time with my parents and my sister, bro-in-law and their two boys. Those of you who read often will know the high value I place on family. We love to be together and we visit Durban as often as we can because my husband knows I need to see my family as often as possible. I also want to continue the legacy which my parents and grandparents have instilled in us – one of strong family ties, times of togetherness, and building into our relationships so that our children grow up knowing and loving their extended family of aunts, uncles and cousins. All the things I want my children to learn start first within the confines of family, don’t they? Love, kindness, generosity, genuine concern for the next person – it’s easy to teach and to learn when it’s with people you love. My hope is that this then spills over into the rest of their world – having learned to love within their family first. Of course, it isn’t so with every person you meet, family member or not, you may find that you just don’t click with some people, but generally I find my pie in the sky theory works, and I’m sticking to it. I think we all want to raise our children to be kind, loving and generous in spirit, right? Right.

So yes the weekend together was wonderful, the only negative being that it went too quickly. Then we left, and the kids stayed with their grandparents. It’s been two days and I miss them way more than I anticipated. Make no mistake, I do not miss the administrative duties that come with having small children. I do not miss bathing, changing, feeding, playing the referee, repeating myself ten times, reading the same story 20 times, being summoned 30 times after bedtime to make sure that the prince and princess are indeed sure that everything is suited perfectly to induce sleep. Boy, I am so grateful for being relieved of those duties, I ASSURE you! But in between those duties, there are laughs and tears, there are jokes and questions, there are hugs and kisses, there are long explanations of how things work and why digging your nose and constantly holding your pe.nis is not appropriate behaviour, there is the white noise of tiny feet running up and down the passage – and THIS is what I miss, I guess. Weirdly, I miss baby girl the most. I guess this is because I know she needs me more. Liam is our suave-smooth-talking-man-about-town, he is at an age where as long as his physical needs are met and there’s someone for him to chinwag into a coma, he is pretty much happy. Also, I KNOW Liam is doing ok because he couldn’t get rid of us fast enough. Over the weekend, he kept insisting that it was time for us to go back to Joburg and leave him alone! But Hannah still needs me, so I think, perhaps I am wrong. Hannah still seeks me out in a crowd and still looks back to see that I am there, the apron strings we share are still much shorter than the apron strings which bind Liam to me. She is my baby and I miss her!

But they are having a good time! And I know the time they spend with their grandparents is building into their lives and fortifying the foundations which we have tried to and continue to lay. And more than that, I know that when they are older, they will cherish the time they spent at Granny and Pa and Nana’s houses. I know even as an adult, I cherish the time I got to spend with my grandparents when they were still alive.

So what are WE doing without the kids, you ask? Well that’s a post for another day! I will say that it’s weird, it’s eerily quiet, and having to pee alone without any interruptions is oddly disconcerting. Who would have thought?

Another day, another milestone..

How do you know when your child is old enough to sleep out? Old enough in the sense that they make the decision for themselves, understanding that it means they won’t see mom and dad for the WHOLE night, until the sun shines the next day? My kids have only spent the night away from me, at my parents home. I know that they feel as safe and secure with my mom, as they do with me. In fact, Liam spent 10 days with my parents in Durban when he was about 18 months old, this gave me time to bond with Hannah, who was only three months old at the time and it also gave him a chance to be the one and only favourite again and he basked in the attention. Moreover, it gave me the much needed reprieve from my toddler who was not yet used to having a little sister who also demanded my attention ALL the time, and his transition to big brother was taking its toll on the whole family. But other than with my parents, Liam hadn’t slept out before. So when he announced that he wanted to sleep by Nana’s house (his other granny), I was taken aback, and a little amused because I didn’t think he’d go through with it.

The husband and I agreed that there was no harm in letting him spend the night out, he loves his Nana to bits, and we were close enough to make the midnight drive, if we received a distressed phone call from Nana. And because they don’t get to see their grandparents that often, I know that both the kids and the grandparents really treasure their time together. So I dutifully packed his overnight bag, I kept explaining that I’d only see him the next day, when the sun came up and that he’d sleep in Nana’s bed and that the rest of us wouldn’t be there; he seemed un-phased and blissfully happy at the thought of leaving us behind. We dropped him off, and I had to physically restrain myself from giving Nana a lecture on how to care for my baby. Nana had raised three children quite capably and I married one of them, so she kinda knows what she’s doing.

Once home, I sat with my phone in my lap, almost willing it to ring. Eventually I messaged Nana to ask how Liam was doing, she replied that he was “gone to the world.” Wow, she was good, he had said good night and went to sleep without a fuss, Nana reported. Whereas we had to sing, dance and put on an entire theatrical performance before Liam would go to bed. I put my phone on vibrate and placed it under my pillow, but we received no late night distressed calls.

He called me the next morning, and I felt hot tears welling up behind my eyes when I heard his voice (silly I know, but I missed him!!). He was fine, he told me he had picked flowers for me in Nana’s garden and that he was eating his porridge and that he would see me later and then he put the phone down in my ear. Nice. No I LOVE YOU, no I MISS YOU. Nothing!

Eventually I begged the husband to go and fetch him because I missed him so much. I didn’t want to go; I didn’t want my mother in law to see me cry like a sissy when I huggled (cross between a hug and a cuddle) my boy. When he arrived home, it was evident that he wasn’t too thrilled to be back. He gave me his cheek, side glanced at his sister who had CLEARLY missed him, as she tried to claw at him for a huggle and he asked where his bike was. Undoubtedly, he didn’t miss us, like we had missed him.

So the answer is simple, your child is ready to sleep out, when he says he is! I underestimate my kids; they do something new every day, they far outrun my expectations, so much so, that I actually feel guilty for not giving them more credit. So another bittersweet moment as we tick off another milestone reached for my big boy!

Good job Liam!