photo boysAs of now, we’re empty nesters ….again. Behind the bulges of the ever versatile black plastic rubbish bag, old and new suitcases, a million computer cords, ties lying lose on the back seat and all the other stuff stuffed into his car, I’ve just waved goodbye to the youngest unmarried. This is a good thing. Luckily for us, he’s only moving 20 minutes down the road, and this time I have a feeling he won’t be coming back to live. He’s done that before.

Our boys are all brought up! And I can only but hope – well!

How come the same ancestor gene pool, same mother, same father, same environment, same spaghetti bolognaise, same schools, same university and now living in the same city equals such different people? How nature versus nurture has worked itself out in the Buck brothers I have no clue. Same, same but very different. But – both beautiful, capable, feeling, caring and eternal human beings. Grateful and Gracious. Survivors.

I’m allowed to say that, I’m their mother. We’re expected to root for our kids like no one else can and very few others care to.

Have we succeeded as parents? Have we done our best with and for these precious people so graciously given to us by God nearly thirty years ago when we signed into the world’s toughest job without a single notion of how to do anything and everything parenting…and while we’re about it, to do it well? Not perfectly – just well.

Some siblings pretend to like each other because it’s kind of expected of them. “Yes, he’s my brother” is said with about as much warmth as a frozen lemon. Rory and Damon have a healthy respect and admiration for each other’s talents, achievements, lives, comings and goings. But ….can they piss each other off? At times, hugely! Yet underlying the grrrrrr! the adoration is evident.

Perhaps it’s because we were liberal with Percy when they were growing up. Percy appeared for moral violations and became a foreboding character in their early years training. Percy (a wooden spoon with a sad face) lived on top of the boy’s bedroom door and wielded a great amount of power. Just breath the word “Percy” and all disrespect, sass, and downright refusal to do early morning Poo Patrol (not much fun when you have three dogs with a Greatdane/ Ridgeback in the mix) turned into sheer delight at being able to serve!

Ok that’s a bit of an exaggeration, but you get the drift.

Percy was prominent when the inevitable sibling squabbles surfaced….and no matter who started, said or did what, both got a good wallop on their derrières. One for intolerance and the other for being an irritation. They soon learned to work it out amongst themselves. Sore bums do that for little people.

Success? Tick.

Sport – of every kind featured favourably in our growing up years. It still does and for that I’m most grateful. Rory could swim before he could walk. Simply out of the will to keep him alive. The home he was born into came in the shape of a U, with a swimming pool conveniently placed in the middle. Every door led to water so the logical precaution, as soon as he became mobile was to do the drown proofing thing. And thankfully, drown proofed he’s been for the countless times he’s been led to water ever since. I recall with wonderful warm and fuzzies, the hundreds of hours we’ve spent on baseball and soccer fields. Oh, the pride and the pain. The millions of moments watching the relentless thud of a squash ball against four walls and broken strings on how many tennis racquets? The whites of cricket and the highs and lows of volleyball with the fun in the sun when we had our very own court. Damon with his extra long legs clearing a few feet and some in high jump and both boys coming home with days-long evidence of a rugby game well played. Perhaps the best times were the 5 am starts for swimming training. I couldn’t beat them, so I joined them and trained with the squad (slowly, in the last lane). Afterwards we tailgated breakfast out the back of my bakkie before the school day began. Cold eggs and dry muesli. Fun times. I loved every minute.

They (and we) learned endurance, tenacity, sportsmanship, leadership, how to loose and win graciously, teamwork, friendship and so much more through the joy, the blood, the sweat and tears.

Success? Tick

The family dinner table. Sacred. The discussions – some deep and some light and peppered with humour, some sublime and ridiculous, others intelligent and academic and mostly the words ended up in the gutter. With far too much mirth accredited. They still do. With far too much mirth accredited. Enough said!

Success? I think. Maybe a big tick!

Camping and climbing – some of the best holidays and times we’ve spent were camping and climbing. It is said that the family that camps together stays together and I can RAH RAH that with big pompoms. There was something about those very early morning starts in the Toyota Raider, trailer packed to perfection, heavily filled supplies including fresh water and a spade to dig a latrine, needed for 10 days on the wild Mozambique coast. Or the many trips through Zambian and Zimbabwe game parks where elephants came so close they stood on our tent. In the middle of the night. With us in it. No big deal, we survived to tell the tale. The carefree climbs up Mount Mulanje and water skiing on the still surface of Malawi’s beautiful lake. Memories of love and laughter, friends that became family, sunburn and sore shins were made from this.

Success? Tick

Kindness and caring – the special moments when I’ve been down and out and Damon has held my hand, crying with me, reassuring me that this too will pass and that God is Bigger and Better , Willing and Able. When he tells me he’s praying for me, for us, for the world. And when Rory, ever faithful, ever true, and ever focussed kicks my butt, tells me the choice is mine and just to “Get on with it, Maa”!

Success? Tick

Leaving a legacy by choosing well – Drowning out their complaints during this-is-how-you-load-the-washing-machine and this-is-how-you-vacuum-the-floor instructional times was my even louder, because-I’m-your-mother-voice : “learn well boys, because one day your wives will love you and ME for this” I trust this is proven true (although this training was derailed and put on hold when we had houseboy help on call for ten years in Malawi….but that’s another story.)

How do we love our daughter-in-law Carla? With every fibre of our being. Like she’s our own, because she is. Are we proud of the person she is? More than necessary. Are we honoured that our precious grandchildren will, one day, come from her pipes? Enormously. Will we do and feel the same for our-other daughter-in-law, whoever Damon chooses to spend the rest of his life with. Of course.

Success? Tick

Success is subjective. And relative. I borrow the words of Mother Teresa when she said: “We are not called to be successful, but faithful.” Can I add to that…faithful and hopeful that where we failed miserably God would make up the deficit, despite us. Therefore success is His business and we can only thank Him for a job, by His grace, well done.