It’s nearly better than her cooking. It’s like dark chocolate on a stressful day. A cold, glass bottle of Coke in the blistering heat. It nearly has the same effect of a head massage or foot rub at the end of an exhausting day. It satisfies, soothes, cools, tickles, and rejuvenates all at once.
Since moving here full time 20 months ago, to my great surprise and even greater delight, my grandma has been my most consistent pen pal. Receiving her letters is not only a joy for me, but the girls love hearing me talk about my grandma and seeing her letters. ..And asking me questions because they are amazed she is my only grandparent left living. “She can still write?” “Can she walk on her own?” “She can read?” “I don’t believe you. It’s your grandmathat sends you all these pages of letters? And she writes them all herself?” They’ve come to love my grandma’s letters just as much as I do!
Reading Grandma’s letters is like hearing her talk on the phone. Her stream of consciousness is a full fledged orchestra. She tells me about each detail of her day and updates me on how every one of her children (my aunts and uncles and parents) are doing and carries on about precious moments of daily life. How rare. Who else takes the time to that? I certainly don’t, and though I get life updates from friends and family from home every once in awhile, never do I ever get such detail and attention that I find in Grandma’s letters. Somehow, it makes me feel more valued than ever before.
This is how I can learn to go through life with “no rush.” Take time to stop and write. Recounting “meaningless” detail actually means so much to me. It connects me to a life I left and makes me feel like I matter so much that she can tell me little things. I wish I did this more often. Even though I don’t always return my Grandma’s letters, she continues to write to me. And it was her last letter that made me realize something, too… Often, I don’t write home. I write letters once in a while and I post blogs monthly (or try to), but I don’t really send updates home very often. I think, why should I bother you with the little things? There’s no big stories, nothing much to tell, it’s just daily life here… but that’s just an excuse. Grandma proved that there are ALWAYS things to tell. You just have to take time and give the attention to do it.
So, thanks to Grandma Martin, here’s my letter of the little things:
Happy Leap Year! I can’t believe it’s almost March. Seriously, what? Who ran off with February? Probably Benji, who can’t keep his hands to himself and has to touch everything in sight, and, consequently, then some things disappear. But he’s been getting better lately. He’s really into cars. He has two toy cars, a police car and a regular car that he rolls around the floors and walls…and on my bed. But his favorite pastime, like Lucia, seems to be following me around the house – everywhere. Like, I can’t get a free minute. But they are so precious. “Mama Kate, can I help you?” Lucia asks as I’m doing dishes. Benji grabs a broom and pushes around all the dirt on the floor. I read in a book once not to deter young kids from helping, even when they are not actually helping. Instead of saying, “Benji! Please put the broom down, you’re making it all dirty,” I’m supposed to say, “Wow, thanks, Benji! What a great helper you are. Do you see some dirt over there that you missed? Let me show you how to sweep it all up!” It’s harder to do that than you think. It’s easier just to grab the broom or tell Lucia she’s too little to reach the sink to help me with dishes. Although they can be very stressful at times, especially with all the bickering and tattling, they give me life’s greatest medicine: laughter! Yesterday, I was asking Lucia and Benji to count to ten. Benji said, “One, two, free, Monday, five!”
I’ve been learning a lot about motherhood and parenting. All this mama wants is some time to do things I want/need to do, but all the kids want is time with mama. For instance, I get the few toys out that we have for the two of them and Benji is content entertaining himself, but Lucia wants company. “Mama Kate, can we play the puzzle again?” “Yes!” I say eagerly, hoping it will entertain her for awhile. Moments later she comes back. “Mama Kate, but I want to play it with you.” It makes me wonder if the whole toy chest mentality of raising kids is just medicine to keep the parents sane. Which I definitely see the value in, but I mean, what could be more valuable than spending time with your kids? They may not officially be my kids, but I’m helping their mama raise them along with helping her learn how to be a good mama. The plan since December when she had baby Joshua was that at 6 months, she would give him to his father’s family for them to raise. However, she’s starting to change her mind. She’s seeing the value in motherhood and loves this baby boy more than I’ve ever seen her love anyone before. A little bit of grace and a lot of prayer goes a long way.
This whole parenting thing makes me appreciate my mother like never before. How in the world did she have twins while there were three of us toddlers running around? How in the world did she stay sane as a stay at home for all those years? She was a brilliant teacher and role model, bringing us adventure, faith, fun, and Discovery Toys. Which, by the way, are awesome toys and an awesome company. My mom is working for them part time now since she needed another job, so if anyone wants to host a Discovery Toys party or look into their awesome products, I’ll get you connected to the amazing Peg Martin! It’s mean a lot to us.
Well, my eyes are starting to get heavy. It’s half past nine (that’s the way we say it over here, it’s not nine-thirty anymore), and my cup of tea is almost empty. (I drink tea like clockwork every morning and evening, even though in the States I never drank tea till Swazi!) I can hear the chorus of crickets and the hum of the fridge. I can see the dead ants I’m too lazy to clean up after having ant massacre number 18 of the past week. Eish, these ants are nocturnal and never ending. But hey, I prefer them far more to the cockroach massacres I had at the girls home. I just don’t have time for cleaning. I mean, who does, really? But I am so blessed to have girls that love me and offer to come help me when I really I need. And the last two weeks I have really needed it. From being physically sick to just physically exhausted, I was unable to see the light at the end of the tunnel and it freaked me out. But today is Monday, it’s a new week, and it’s started out well. Instead of trying to solve all of my life issues, God simply reminded me in Scripture that his grace is sufficient. Day by day. His grace is enough for one day. So I need to focus on one day at a time.
Maybe next time I will describe a day by day for you. Until then…
Love from Swazi,