A work in progress with a life of its own

17 September 2014
My family and home are everything to me. My family define who I am as a wife, mother, sister, grandmother, mother-in-law, step-mother and aunty. None of us has just one role to play and often it requires flexibility and grace to navigate these waters with any sort of confidence and direction. Having a stable home life can make for smooth sailing, but it's not a certainty. Anything can happen at any time. But I always believe that if the home is secure and warm, where all the family members feel comfortable, they know there is always a safe haven for them, not only from the harshness of the outside world but also from the judgements that seem to come uncalled in these modern times.

There is never one way to be a family. There is no one size fits all philosophy for how a family should work. Over the years there will be turbulent periods and times of peace and calm. You have to be ready for it all.

My son Shane, teaching his son Alex how to make a cake.

My way of dealing with the complexities of family life is to try to be the best role model I can be. I try to accept people as they are, and the expectations I have tend to be focused on my own behaviour rather than on those around me. I do expect my family to live according to our collective values but I also take into account the changing circumstances that sometimes don't allow that to happen.  And I'm acutely aware that as our family ages, some of the values that Hanno and I hold close will change and will be replaced by those of those coming after us. All those values are influenced by the times we live in, the influence of our extended families and by the thoughts and hopes of our younger generation. By the time we reach the lofty heights of grandparenthood, we have to let go and hope that all that has been taught is inherent, and we watch from the sidelines to see how it all plays out. Always without judgement and often with pride.

I think we are a strong family and much of that comes from our family culture of support and encouragement.  We are not perfect and not trying to be but we like and respect each other, we spend time together and you can see the ties that bind us are stable and secure.

My sister Tricia, planning her sewing at our kitchen table.

We have another family function coming up this week and there will be ten of us there. Sunny called us together this time because next week she'll start her sushi business and she wants us to get together before that happens. We also have three birthdays to celebrate - Hanno will be 74 on Friday, Sarndra's birthday is a few days after that, and Sunny's a few days after that. This will be the only time we can get together, so we'll take the opportunity to celebrate all the birthdays as well as our 35th wedding anniversary, which is on 28 September. We don't need separate occasions to celebrate, this one will do us just fine. The important thing is to be there with each other, to see each other face to face and not with a screen between us. Touching, hugging, holding the kids and talking to each other means a lot. Families rarely survive without that. 

In the grand scheme of things, our family is but one of many, a part of a wider mosaic of ordinary Australian life. We are what we are: a working family focused on today and the future while working for, and hoping for, the best. We're like a painting that we all helped create and as we added dabs of colour over the years, and stood back to critique those dabs, the painting kept evolving and becoming what it is.  We are a work in progress that now has a life of its own.  ♥︎


  1. Sounds like a healthy family to me ! :-)

  2. Lovely! This post makes me want to organise our next family get together. I love it at this time of year when we can all sit in the garden and the children play around us. Have a wonderful celebration day!

  3. Lovely post, Rhonda, and what a fab new photo of you!


  4. Rhonda, our family held a similar celebration in August. Between my own family and my DIL's family we had five birthdays within a few weeks. So we all got together for a celebration lunch. Lovely occasion.

  5. I love family gatherings and last week my sister from Perth was in town by herself (she has husband and a 22, 19 and a 16 year old). It was just her with her sisters (so there is 4 of us and we laughed and cried from laughing so much, we joke around and take photos, go for coffee and just spend time together as sisters and of course Mum had her daughters together. Our brother died when he was 17 from a hit and run drunk driver so it's just the 4 daughters/sisters left. I much prefer family gatherings at home than restaurants as it's more relaxed casual and we all make food and each bring something along. Family is so very important to me too. Your gathering to celebrate so many wonderful things will be lovely. Regards Kathy A, Brisbane

  6. Best wishes to all those celebrating in your family. How fortunate we are here in this country to be able to celebrate such milestones with our loved ones safely and without fear.

    1. Hi Barb, it was good to meet up with you at the library last week. Thanks for coming along and for introducing yourself. I hope the drive home wasn't too bad. xx

  7. What a lovely post, Rhonda and oh so true! Once we have become grandparents we can see all the hard work involved in providing a stable and loving home for our children coming to fruition as they begin their own journey of parenthood.

  8. Nice haircut, Rhonda! And I also like the little chef coat on Alex.

  9. This is such a lovely post, Rhonda! Family is and always has been very important to me, along with family gatherings and celebrations. This is the first year that my husband, our four sons, and I have lived far away from family, after moving from Florida to Montana in February of this year. I have to say that I do miss them all terribly, too. It will be a big change not celebrating the holidays with them, but I plan to focus on keeping up with old traditions, as well as making new ones for our own family, in hopes it will help keep us from not missing the family gatherings back east too terribly much.

    I hope your family gathering and celebrations are wonderful...enjoy your time together! Btw, I love your new photo. You look absolutely lovely!

  10. Have a great time at the gathering Rhonda!

    BTW I love your haircut.

  11. Thanks Rhonda. This was timely encouragement. I needed to be reminded of the importance of family culture as well as this, "I always believe that if the home is secure and warm, where all the family members feel comfortable, they know there is always a safe haven for them, not only from the harshness of the outside world but also from the judgments that seem to come uncalled in these modern times."
    Occasionally, I print your posts and add them to a collection of articles I want to re-read. This one is going in there.

  12. Lovely post Rhonda on how families transform over time and it's true. Lovely photo too.

  13. awesome post rhonda, brought tears to my eyes! strong feelings flow through your writings


    selina from kilkivan qld

  14. Love it. I've been thinking a lot about upcoming celebrations ( our family has a lot of fall birthdays, and then of course Thanksgiving and Christmas), and really looking forward to the family gatherings. We don't see our extended families much the rest of the year, so this is one of my favorite seasons, when we get to see each other, hug, hold the kids, play board games, and catch up with each other.

  15. Happy birthday to all and Happy anniversary! Wonderful post Rhonda!

  16. A great post. And even if you change the word "Australian" in the first line of the last paragraph to "family" it will still be true - one of the universals.

  17. Love the analogies....those who families such as yours, are very fortunate!

  18. I am not sure if I can put down in words, how wonderful it is to have family (and friends) to count on each and every day. As you were telling: in a moment your life can change, nothing in life is certain; unfortunately I know this is a true story. Lukely I could stand tall. Thanks to my loving family, and I am almost sure of giving my kids a brand new save place to call family and home.
    Thank you for sharing this heartwarming post and I hope you, Hanno and the rest of your family will have many, many blessed years to come.

    Love from Holland

  19. It is truly wonderful to see others valuing family as well. I couldn't agree more about having a stable home life. Love visiting your blog this evening. Many blessings to you and your family.


  20. Family is the most important thing in the world! I feel exactly how you do. Life is busy, but we try to get together as we can. You put it into words well.


  21. A timely reminder to let family (and friends) know that we love and appreciate them; thank you. Great photo of Shane and Alex...one to treasure for when Shane is the grandad!



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