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I am a mother, a grandmother, and a teacher. But whatever happens in my life, I keep sewing. I have worked as a political communicator and now as a teacher in my formal life. I have also written extensively on sewing. I have been a frequent contributor and contributing editor of Threads magazine and the Australian magazine Dressmaking with Stitches. My book Sew.. the garment-making book of knowledge was published in May 2018 and is available for pre-order from Amazon


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Thursday, September 19, 2019

Family time in Nova Scotia

I have been absent from the blog for a while because lately I have had a lot of family to be present for. Both of my sons were here with their wives and girlfriends (I refuse to say partner, to me that is a title that should be reserved for some guy named Morty who does the books in the other room). My youngest granddaughter was also in from California with her parents, so I had all four grandchildren in town.

I did a lot of cooking and a lot of babysitting if you can call it that. 

Like many families important parts of ours are now operating as branch offices. But given that reality I feel we do a pretty good job of keeping it together.

I had few thoughts about families this week. 

But before I share those here is a shot of my two sons and, on the left a new girlfriend from Austin we really, really like and my daughter-in-law from California, wearing a dress I made for her. This picture was taken at a wedding, on a beach naturally:

Having everyone home and together really made me feel completely whole. Such a good start to my fall. I have had a lucky life.

As I walked that baby or rinsed off one more plate I thought about how time changes families and how it doesn't.

I used to think the years my children were all at home, and for a short time believed I knew everything and could do anything, were the best years of my life. When things have got challenging there have been so many times when I have wished I had one of those days back. 

You know the ones. Everyone safe and asleep in their beds. Any problems that come up it is always something you can fix. Well now everyone is grown up I know that isn't true any more. When I walk down my hallway at night it is past empty bedrooms.

But this past week, when I felt so complete, it occurred to me that families are like rivers. They have a current. They flow inevitably and properly in one direction, from the oldest towards the youngest. You have to understand that. 

It seems to me that riding with that force makes it all the best years of your life. It have noticed that when troubles come into families it is often because someone isn't respecting that flow- the mother who wants to still be the big cheese, the adult offspring who reaches backwards and tries to be a child. It seems to me that as long as everyone is doing the best they can to help the next youngest along it will all be fine.

It's also important to let new people join in. 

One of the great blessings of my life are the people my kids have married. I always used to say my son-in-law was nicer to me than my own children, until my kids told me to stop saying that. He truly is one of my best friends. And when I struggled in the early days with my daughter's MS diagnosis it was my daughter-in-law's wisdom that grounded me and helped me regain my footing. She saved me.

I have had my moments. 

During some hard times I sometimes wished more than anything that I could have just one of those old days back again, when it was just me in my house with my kids. But this past week I held my youngest granddaughter and walked her to sleep. She looked up at me and I saw she looked exactly, exactly like her father did at the same age. Those same eyes looked right back into mine in that dark room. I knew the universe was winking at me.

And I saw the future of my family.


Sewcat said...

That was beautiful and inspiring.

sallygardens said...


Sandra Cox said...

I'm just here to "heart" this post.

Margaret said...

What a beautiful and thoughtful post .
Thanks again Barbara

jbettyb said...

Such a thoughtful post, Barbara. We, too, had a "complete" summer this August. We saw all the immediate descendants of my late father- and mother-in law, the exception was one spouse who was visiting her extended family. We weren't all together at once, but large numbers of us were, between a wedding in Newfoundland and a gathering here in Ontario. When we stretch from Newfoundland through Ontario and out to Alberta, that's a real achievement and a lovely blessing.

Marianne said...

Yes, very beautiful. I love your imagery of the family as a river. It is so tempting to want to stop that flow, also because we sometimes fear what we can’t see ahead of us, but we are indeed happiest when we are able to “go with the flow.” Thank you for this thoughtful essay.

Margaret said...

Yes you are right, thanks for writing about it so beautifully.

Anonymous said...

Lovely and comforting, thank you. I'm going to hold on to the family as river image for a long time.


Sarah Wale said...

Thank you for sharing your thoughts with us. I can certainly relate to all you say. I come from a 'broken' family - too boring for everyone to go into detail - so had no clear guidance about how a family should be. Then I met my husband, an only child, whose parents quickly became my parents, bless them. They helped me understand family and even moved across the world to live in a strange country with us so we could all be with our daughter (also an only child)and her husband; two grandchildren followed which made our family complete. I love your analogy of a river; mine was of children being tied to mother's heart strings. It is important that the heart is tied with elastic which allows the child, and mother, to go so far in different directions, but when the distance gets too great, they rebound back to each other. If those strings are not elastic, they will snap when stretched too far. You are clearly an elastic family and not only do you produce very fine garments (and picture frames!) you also produce very fine children!

Kansas Sky said...

You bless us all. Far and near. Family or not. Thank you.

Anne Frances said...

That sense of wholeness when a harmonious family assembles is a great and wonderful thing - to be cherished. Great that you can speak about it. And great that you also recognize how we have to learn to let go. And maybe even to live with gaps and holes. This summer we had a wonderful lunch with all the family together for the first time for a few years- four grandchildren, three wonderful sons-in-law and two amazing daughters. Why only two? Because our oldest daughter died of cancer when her daughter was only 2. Two of the grandchildren never knew their Aunty, though because she is spoken of and remembered they know her place in the family. But the family had to recompose itself and we have had (with heartache) to learn to live with new kind of configuration. Families need to know how to adapt and move forward but strong foundations like yours make it all so much more possible.

Anonymous said...

Barbara, I have been following your blog for quite some time now but comment only once in a while. When I do it's usually because you write something so moving that I must let you know how much I appreciate your words. Your wisdom and sense of humor keep me coming back and I look forward to your future posts.

There is a saying in my culture that "love flows down", much like your comment about families being like rivers. It means it is only natural that the flow starts from the oldest to the youngest and you are absolutely right about troubles occurring when family members don't respect the flow.

I admire your philosophical acumen and wish the best for you and your lovely family.

~Your new fan in Cali

Gwen Van Kleef said...

I think, Barbara, that you bring out the best in people. Love this entry.

Anonymous said...

This is so beautifully said and so wise. Thank you.

I’m a parent of teens and it is beautiful watching them gain their independence, knowing we are here for them, guiding if asked and also reminding them if their own good sense and capacity to make their own decisions.

Sometimes I feel sad knowing those rooms will be empty - and so today, reading this, you gave me the gift of so much to look forward to as well.

Erika Otter said...

Love this. I have two teenage sons and I always feel like "every age is the best age" - that is, each phase of their lives has been wonderful. You are describing another way of seeing this - appreciating each age as you move forward through it, mine, theirs, the family's. Thanks! This conversation helps me look forward to what comes next.