One of few photos I have of my old house in Alaska
I never used to like kids. They annoyed me. For several months when I was 14 to 15 and super-selfish, my parents took care of a baby for a friend of theirs who had to be away in a hospital for cancer treatment. I mostly hid in my room with music cranked on the stereo I’d bought with my own earnings, to get away from the noise.
When any kids less than a few years younger than me tried to talk to me, I’d ignore them and walk quickly away. I know, how rude, eh?
Then, when I was 23, I met some amazing children who changed my outlook. They were so down-to-earth and enjoyable. One of them, a boy who was seven, always asked me to take him for rides on a Honda 4-wheeler, on the southeast Alaskan homestead of the folks on whose land we were living. We’d ride along in silence, find a beautiful spot to park, and wander around and talk and laugh. Sometimes we’d fish for spawned-out pink salmon off the edge of a wooden bridge over a creek.
My little friend and his older brother adored their baby sister. Their mother, an OB-GYN nurse with chestnut hair that reached past her waist, with whom I loved sitting and talking while gathering information for my own eventual motherhood, was soon to have another baby sister for them.
Within the year, I got married (albeit to a man who wasn’t lifetime material — see the long story here) and had my first child. We had moved into our own place, in a little house (24′ x 32′) we built for ourselves at the back of a gravel pit. We didn’t own the government land on which the house was situated, but we were there via a permit to be the caretakers of the business. As part of the permission, the house had to be moveable, and so it was built on skids (big logs laid on the ground) to later tow away.
Our nearest neighbours were 3.5 miles down old logging roads with nothing but forest between us. The other neighbours, on whose land we had been living prior to this, were 5 miles away and across a river that had no bridge. We had no phone but a VHF marine radio, we heated the house with wood, we pumped water uphill from a well with a Honda pump, and our electricity was from a 7-kilowatt Lister diesel generator we’d run for about six hours a day – just long enough to keep the fridge items cold and the freezer items frozen.
It was lonely out there, especially when the man of the house had gone out on the tugboat to deliver gravel or to do commercial fishing for the same boss. My motto soon became, “I have no friends, and so I will just have to make my own.”
My second baby was born within 17 months of my first. Then a couple years later my third was born. These children were a lot of work, yes, but they were and continue to be my dearest friends. Four more children later, and I’m a mother of seven now.
Not only are there my own children, though, but some of their friends have also become my friends. Some refer to me as “Mom 2”. I am honoured.
Here we are in December. Holiday time allows for more of my kids to be home. The oldest four are out working in other areas, but they come home when they get extra days off, sometimes with their respective partners whom I also love. With more people in the house, it is warm and pleasant, but oh so busy! The younger kids stop their usual activities when their beloved older siblings come home, so excited are they.
There is less time for blogging with all the family around, but I am going to keep trying to squeeze in a word or two or seven hundred when able. Like right now (word count: 695!), when most are sleeping-in on a Saturday morning and one has gone across the road to play with a friend.