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It is all too much

It is all too much—The Shoemaker's Daughter (A memoir of days by Rhonda Mason)
It is one month before Lewis’ birth, and it is evening.

We have had dinner, and the big boys have all had their showers.

I am sitting in Angus and Bear’s room with the laundry basket before me. I can hear Rick helping Bear to wash his hair in the bathroom, and I can hear the other boys playing superheroes (or some such) in the other bedroom.

One by one, I pick up the pieces of clothing from the basket and I sort them into their piles: kitchen linen, Rick’s clothes, Angus’ clothes, Pete’s clothes, Jamie’s clothes, and Bear’s clothes.

I am usually rather quick at this, but tonight my arms feel heavy, and the task seems irrationally overwhelming. My hips are sore, my body is exhausted, and the humidity feels like it is closing in on me.

Bear bounces in, fresh from his shower. With much excitement, he tells me how he put lots of water on his hair. He is sparkling with energy and looks absolutely gorgeous. I manage a small smile, just as Rick walks in.

He immediately spots my weariness and calls for the boys to come in and help put their clothes away.

Just as everybody clambers in to retrieve their clothes, I spy another laundry basket in the corridor filled with clothes.

Immediately, I feel the tears welling up.

It is too much. The everyday chores. The heat. The exhaustion. The sore hips. The sore pelvis. The contractions. The constant work that needs to be done.

It is all too much.

I struggle to my feet, wincing at the pain of simply getting off the floor.

I push past everybody and stumble down the corridor, just as the tears erupt.

I collapse onto the bed, sobbing, and curl myself up into a ball.

Moments later, Rick comes in, followed by Pete, then Bear.

Rick explains to them very gently why mummy is crying, and they take turns in giving me kisses.

Bear then attempts to arrange a group hug and a group kiss.

“How bout me and Petey and dadda give mama kiss and hug at same time?”

Everyone obliges.

Finally, my tears come to a halt, and I manage a tired smile.

Some time later, I drift off to sleep just as Rick starts to tell a bedtime story to the boys.

“Once, there were four brothers…”


The Shoemaker's Daughter. A memoir of days, both past and present, by Rhonda Mason.

I am tired today.

In the morning, I lose my patience with Lewis because he cries every time I walk away. In the afternoon, I take out my exhaustion on the big boys. Instead of showing them grace, I am harsh and stern with them.

At bedtime, I apologise for my grumpiness and lack of patience, and I thank them for being such wonderful boys. I tell them that it is not them, but me. During prayer time, Jamie (bless him) prays that mummy will not be so stressed.

After I put Lewis to bed, I return to the big boys. I close the door behind me and lie down on the floor with my head on Bear’s bed.

In the still of the darkness, I sing them song after song.

It is my peace offering.

My way of saying “thank you” for the way they love me unconditionally. Because even when I am harsh, these amazing boys show me nothing but grace.

As I sing my last song—You Loved Me—I think of Cameron and how we sang it at his funeral.

I think of his face—his beautiful, sleeping face—and emotion washes over me.

Love. Pain. Regret. Gratitude. Joy. Hope.

My voice becomes shaky, and tears roll down my cheek.

Afterwards, I say a short and quiet pray.

“Dear God, thank you that Cameron is with you…”

Without skipping a beat, all the boys join me in saying, “Amen.”

A moment later, Angus speaks up.

“I’m sad… I’m sad that I never got to see Cameron while he was alive…”

More tears roll down my cheek.

“I know, daring… I’m sad too… I’m sad that Cameron isn’t with us, but I’m so thankful that we have you boys…”

Yes, even in the face of such a terrible loss, God has shown us grace.

Before leaving, I give them all an extra kiss goodnight.

As I lean over Gus, I whisper ever so quietly: “I love you, Angus. Thanks for being you…”


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It is sometime after half past six on a Thursday evening.

I am sitting in the armchair in our bedroom.

Lewis is lying on a pillow on my lap, and I am feeding him. It is his bedtime bottle.

Even though the blind is pulled down, I can tell it is still bright outside by the soft grey light that fills the room.

I look down at my little boy, and I can hardly believe how big he is already.

My little baby.

My last baby.

Growing up so quickly.

Our eyes connect, and we both grin at each other.

In the next room, I can hear Rick begin a “five brothers” story.

When Lewis finishes drinking, I put down the bottle and sit him up.

I draw him close to me, and breathe him in.

I kiss the top of his head, his nose, and his cheeks. He smiles and closes his eyes when he knows I’m about to kiss him.

Our bond is strong and unwavering.

I love him with every beat of my heart, and with every cell in my body.

I stand up, letting the pillow fall to the ground.

I carry him over to the mirror, and we play a quick game of peekaboo.

“Where’s mummy? Here I am! Where’s Lewis? There you are!”

He grins and chuckles and laughs.

Oh, my heart.

I carry him over to his cot, give him a final kiss, and lay him carefully on the mattress.

I open up the window some more, and I pop his dummy into his mouth.

“Goodnight, my darling Lewis. I love you very much. Sleep well…”

He smiles up at me, and I smile back.

“Love you so much,” I whisper.

And with that, I touch his face and walk away…

Afternoons like this

The Shoemaker's Daughter. A memoir of days, both past and present, by Rhonda Mason.

It is Tuesday afternoon.

The weather is warm and the light is golden.

All five boys are in the backyard.

Angus, Pete, and Jamie are riding their bikes.

Bear is driving around on the green swing car.

Lewis is sitting in his pram, watching everyone.

We are all buzzing with excitement because Pete has literally just started to ride by himself. Rick was helping him just an hour earlier but then had to go inside to start cooking dinner. Meanwhile, Pete kept trying and trying by himself, and all of a sudden, while nobody was watching, he was off!

Jamie, of course, insists that he is next.

As I watch the boys, it dawns on me that this is a perfectly idyllic afternoon.

Surely when the boys are older, they will recall afternoons like this with a smile on their faces…

* * *

At bedtime, I decide to sit with Lewis in Jamie and Pete’s bedroom for a little while before putting him down.

Jamie comes over and starts pulling his singlet over his face, and then down again.

Lewis takes one look at him then breaks out into bursts of uncontrollable laughter.

Over and over again, Jamie performs his little stunt.

He has Lewis in absolute hysterics.

It is the most beautiful, endearing, and priceless moment of the day for me.

From me to you

The Shoemaker's Daughter. A memoir of days, both past and present, by Rhonda Mason.

Dear friends,

There is a lot of ugliness and hurt out there in the world right now, but tonight, I just want to tell you how much I cherish each and every one of you for visiting this space of mine and for reading along.

Thank you for coming back, even though I’ve been rather intermittent with my postings this year. Thank you for your continual love and support.

From the bottom of my heart, I wish you all a safe and blessed Christmas with you and your families.

Let’s keep writing together in the new year.

With much love,


One Saturday evening…

The Shoemaker's Daughter. A memoir of days, both past and present, by Rhonda Mason.

I wave goodbye to Rick and the four big boys at the garage door.

The car pulls up the driveway and then crunches down the gravel road.

Moments later, the house is quiet.

Lewis and I grin at each other.

I carry him upstairs, give him his bottle, and put him down for the night.

I take a shower in the twilight and wash my hair.

When I step back into the bedroom, Lewis is completely quiet. I pad quietly over to his cot. He is fast asleep.

I put my grey linen dress back on, and head downstairs in the dark.

I flick on the range hood light in the kitchen, and I heat up the leftovers from last night’s dinner with other women from the church.

There’s a lovely piece of chicken, some green salad, and Lynsey’s delicious potato salad with the soy sauce and honey marinade.

With great care, I arrange everything on a white plate and then splash some balsamic vinegar onto the green salad.

I also poor myself a glass of orange juice mixed with sparkling water.

I take my food, my drink, and my cutlery into the lounge room and place everything down on the coffee table.

It is now completely dark, so I turn on the two corner lamps for some ambient light.

I walk over to the window overlooking the front path and open it as wide as it can go. A beautiful breeze immediately drifts through the room, along with the dance music from the wedding party up the road.

I grab a cushion from the couch, and I kneel on it at the coffee table.

For the next twenty minutes, I eat and drink by myself.

I savour every bite of food and every sip of my drink.

The breeze gives me tingles, and the music makes me smile.

This solitude. This peace. This quiet.

It refreshes me. Soothes me. Calms me.

Despite the intensity of the week gone past, I feel invigorated.

I feel alive…

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