For to be free is not to merely cast off one's chains,
but to live in a way that respects and enhances the freedom of others.
- Nelson Mandela -

Tuesday, January 22, 2008

Full House

Since the moment we moved into this house it has been full with people.
Of course my Mum, my clan-children and their partners came over to stay, but apart from them there have been guests practically every night.
I can remember thinking, after we first had a look inside this house, ah well, it's not as if we still have loads and loads of people staying over all the time, like in the 'old times'. We did get ourselves a caravan, just in case we had people coming over in summer. And we thought we'd manage with just the three bedrooms, because AL had made it quite clear that she definitely didn't want to move back in with us.
And here we are, not even two months after moving in. Not only have both Owen and Myrna had friends sleeping over constantly, but AL has decided she doesn't want to find a place of her own yet, so she is moving back in with us when the contract on the temporary house runs out.
Which is fine, of course. Well, in a way. I am very much aware of how her present lifestyle has kind of moved away from our family way of living. So it'll take a bit of adapting on both sides. But mostly on hers, I'm afraid.
I can vividly remember coming back to live in the parental home after having moved out when I was sixteen (and went to live in Spain). It wasn't easy and it must have been hell on my parents, because I wasn't trying to make it easy either. I guess it's pay back time, then ;).
The other thing is that our family seems to have expanded in a more or less organic way. It happens in this household, every now and then. Not only has a third cat - a lovely big ginger named Mr. Mushu - joined our ranks, but there's this young boy, 12 years of age, - let's call him Remi - who has crossed our path and conquered a place in our hearts and home. His is a bit of a complicated story, but let's just say that he was very much in need of some mothering energy and a homely environment, and we have an abundance of that. So he came here with his little rucksack a couple of weeks ago and now lives in the conservatory. Every once in a while he goes back home for one or two nights, but then he phones to ask if he can come back to us.
The challenge is that we'd planned to put AL up in the conservatory. She panicked slightly when she found Remi had taken that space. But I reassured her that there would be a place for both of them. How, I don't know yet. As usual, I'm relying on CSC for the right solution at the right time and meanwhile I'm doing some serious thinking.
Weird, isn't it, that the moment we think it's not a problem to live in a smaller house because surely we're past the stage where we need a huge house with many rooms, these things happen. I wonder what lesson is in it. It's obviously got to do with choice. But then, everything in life is about choosing.
The point is that I am truly truly enjoying this Full House here. I love to be able to give Remi a feeling of being appreciated, wanted, loved and I also love the fact that my children's teenager friends feel at home here. Including the not so teenager anymore friends of AL.
A few years ago one of my clan-children nicknamed me MOM, which is an abbreviation for Mother Of Many. I consider it an honorary title and am very, very proud of it. And in spite of all the mess and noise, in spite of regularly cooking for eight to twelve people, in spite of not being able to find the time - let alone the space - to do my work, in spite of feeling very old and tired at the end of one of those hectic days, in spite of all that I still feel so incredibly happy being a MOM.
I suppose it just suits me down to the ground.

Wednesday, January 02, 2008

Onwards... forwards...

We didn't do Christmas or New Year cards this year. Not only the money, but also the time and energy I usually spend on cards went to the most important charity I can think of: my home and my family.
Nevertheless it feels a bit strange not having sent good wishes to friends and family, so Myrna and I are busy thinking up a worthwhile alternative. One we can work on without the pressure of the annual madness that seems to surround Christmas and New Year.
The fact that we've all been ill made for a reasonably quiet and low key Midwinter Time. For myself, this time is all about celebrating the birth of Light and respecting the stillness in Nature. I like to surround myself with candles and to stay at home as much as possible.
There was a time when the children were happy just staying at home, playing games, lighting a fire and candles, and those kind of things. But nowadays they want a bit more action, more socializing.
Living on her own, AL just makes her own plans nowadays. She was out most nights and only joined us for diner on Christmas Day and New Year's Eve.
Owen is happy staying at home, as long as he can watch some films and set off his fireworks at the New Year.
Myrna was extremely bored this year. We did some games with her and we watched a film together - Vin Diesel in The Pacifier, wow! - but it just wasn't enough for her. Next year we'll have to organise something she really enjoys.

My clan-daughter came over from Holland with her new boyfriend. They arrived the day after Christmas and left on Monday morning to spend New Year's Eve in London. It was absolutely lovely to see them and we had a great time. The boyfriend is really, really nice and it was so good to see her happy.
Although there is no blood relationship, it is amazing to see how much she and my birth-daughters look alike. And it's even more amazing how much she and Myrna are alike, despite the 18 year difference in age. Not only in looks, but in every other way, too. They are both perfectionists, outgoing, gregarious, stubborn, self-confident, etcetera. But they're even alike in their way of walking and in little gestures. For instance, both of them when they're reading and have to stop, they put a bookmark in (never fold a page!), close the book and hold it up in front of them to see how far in the book they are. They even have similar handwritings.

On Friday another one of my clan-children arrives from Holland, with his girlfriend. To have my clan-children with me in this holiday time means more than all the nice food and fireworks in the whole world. Even though they're all grown up and lead their own lives, leaving them 'behind' in Holland was one of the hardest things about moving countries. Of course we keep in touch, through MSN, email and telephone. But there is no replacing the physical contact, the hugs, the looking each other in the eyes and being able to communicate without the words. As an observer I always get just as much - or with some of them even more! - information out of watching my children as I do from talking with them.

My clan-daughter has been with her new boyfriend for a while now and she'd told me lots about him. I'd seen pictures of him and even of his work (he's an artist). So I had quite a bit of information. But now that I've seen him and I've seen them together, now that I've actually felt their energy together, I feel my impression is more accurate, more complete.
She comes to England as often as she can, and obviously when I go to Holland I go and see her. Up to now, every goodbye has been really difficult for me. I was always left with this heart tearing feeling for a few days. But this time it was different. I still cried after she'd left, because I'm going to miss her. And I know that she is going to miss us. But to know that now she's got someone she's really happy with and who loves and respects her for who she is, that makes a huge difference.

There was a lot of synchronicity in her search for a new relationship and our search for a new home. The process we went through, the lessons we've learned. The choices we made, the pains we suffered, the gratitude we felt.
I share that very special feeling of interconnectedness with her, with my sister and with my best friends. It makes distances disappear and time irrelevant.
It makes life magical.