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The Self Employed Housewife - A Seaman's Wife's story Ch 6
Why was she feeling that her stomach was in a tight knot, while also at the same time looking forward to giving her very first party? Deep down she knew the reasons. Would Jan be very angry at her for going ahead and paying for a car he had not yet driven himself?
“Mommy can I tell daddy?”
Sascia was helping her in the kitchen, preparing snacks for the party. Jeroen was already fast asleep.
“About what?” she asked pretended not to know, but knowing already what was burning in Sascia’s mind, wanting to tell her daddy that mommy had bought a car. Her little girl was already aware that her mommy might keep secrets from her daddy, and she wondered if she actually did?
“Mommy! “ Sascia pleaded. Her cute expression made her smile. She was truly adorable. How could she ever for one moment feel down, when all she needed to do was observe her kids. Her feelings of gratitude lifted her mood.
“About the Beetle? Let it just be a surprise.” She replied softly, hoping Jeroen would not wake up. He had fallen asleep as he lately often did, in the lounge on his mat surrounded by his toys.
“How can it be a surprise? “ Sascia whispered “It’s not here yet?”
“I did explain that remember? The lady invited us to join them on Sunday when they were having a barbeque in the garden.”
“But daddy is coming home today! It’s Friday!”
“Yes and tomorrow daddy must get to the bank to get the rest of the money, because the bank is closed on Sunday.”
The Self Employed Housewife
Her leather display on the wall
The party she had planned was also to show everybody what she had made in leather. Word of mouth advertising had worked so far, but displaying her merchandise for all to see might bring in more sales. Jeroen had woken up and was very quiet, playing with his toys. The children were already in their pajamas, she had bathed them early.
“Mommy when are you making a bag for me?”
“Oh now really. You want a leather bag, but you are only five years old.”
On one of the evenings her pattern making activities had given her an idea. For Sascia’s birthday she designed a small sling bag and a matching leather belt with toadstools and flowers as decoration. Had she read her mind?
Last week she had seen a patched leather wrap around skirt with studs at the front, a very simple design. Just a half circle. She had already made the pattern with a thin cardboard around her small body. She had purchased some soft thin scrap pieces of leather at the saddlers shop. Using the special needle for her Pfaff sewing machine she got it to work. Now she only had to add the press-stud and her leather skirt and her leather tooled handbag and her little girl would be very happy.
She had better clear out all her own stuff from the dining room table before people arrived, just in case they arrived before Jan. You never knew how long it would take for the ship to clear customs.
Last week when they were on their usual trip to Durban to buy leather, Naidoo had showed her lovely leather stamps when the children were otherwise occupied. They were rather expensive but at that moment her idea for children’s’ accessories was born. It was a shame that she could not yet make a display of several bags and matching belts. She would have to wait until Sascia’s birthday, which was next week.
She so hoped Jan would be home for her little party that she had planned with Corrie. Jan had told her that he would be home for at least two whole weeks, his first break away from ships. She was so looking forward to spending time together as a normal family.
The pressures created by time
She had one hour left to clear the lounge and lay out the snacks. She had promised Sascia that she could stay up until her daddy arrived home. She knew already that Sascia would not go to sleep and Jeroen might just wake up if she made a noise since they shared a bedroom.
When she picked her sleeping boy up from his mat, she got a shock. He was running a fever. Oh no, what now? People would arrive soon and there was still no sign of Jan. He said he would be home by six, and it was already after seven. Her friends from the neighborhood would arrive in half an hour...
“Sascia can you please go and fetch Corrie.”
“But mommy I’m in my pajamas. “
What a typical girl, worrying about her looks! Sascia saw that she was really worried and went outside. Corrie lived just three doors down and it was still light outside. It was chilly outside even in Durban’s semi tropical climate, but her nightgown would be warm enough. Winter in Durban was nothing like they were used to in Holland.
She carried Jeroen upstairs, pulled off the blanket and laid him down. He never woke up. All she thought of doing was what they did on the passenger liner on the voyage from Australia back to Holland. They sponged him down with lukewarm water. On the ship they injected him with something for the high fever, but all she had was paracetamol in tablet form. Where was Jan? Why had he not arrived yet? She knew that the tanker had already docked at lunchtime.
When friends are there for you
She heard people arriving downstairs because the front door was open. Thank goodness that everything was prepared. She truly had gone overboard to make a good impression.
“Mommy aunty Corrie is here.”
Jeroen was coming around but he was still clearly dreaming. She quickly ran to the staircase to greet the two couples below.
“Can we help? Sascia said that her brother is ill?” Corrie was already halfway up the stairs.
“Could you take over for me downstairs, while I wait to see how he is doing? He has a high temperature, but I cooled him down.”
“Make sure he drinks plenty of water” Pamela responded from downstairs. How was she going to do that when Jeroen was suddenly talking gobbledygook?
Jeroen seemed to be awake because he asked for weird things – like wanting to read his cartoons! Then he asked for milk, which he usually never drank. After a few sips he brought it up all over himself. Whatever made him so nauseous? After she cleaned him up he went back to sleep.
“Sascia can you just stay with him while mommy looks after her guests?”
“Where is daddy?”
“I’m sure he will be home soon; just keep an eye out for him.”
Her friends were admiring her seating arrangements and laughed when the one chair scooted over the floor when Dirk, Pamela’s husband, tried to sit in it. She was somewhat alarmed in case her chair would not hold his bulk. Dirk liked his beer. Jim played the host and Corrie dealt out snacks.
“Don’t worry too much Hermien. Children can have sudden high temperatures for no reason.” Pamela said.
“Really, but why?”
“Who knows, not every child goes through it, but my niece had several when she was about 3 years old and after that she grew up to be a healthy strong girl.”
Nine O’clock and still no sign of Jan
“What could be the reason for him being so late, do you know?” Jim asked. They were all waiting for her reply, when Sascia suddenly called from upstairs.
“Daddy, Daddy is here” She must have seen him from the upstairs window. At that moment her stomach was again as tight as a brick.
The front door was open so they all saw him in the hallway. His surprise at seeing other people besides her clearly threw him off guard.
Jim introduced himself and so did Dirk. Debbie had already met Jan on a fleeting visit when Gerrit was not at home. Corrie and Pamela were both charming and she knew that Jan would like that. He looked her over before he gave her a hug. She could pick up his thoughts, “damn who are all these people?” but that never surprised her. She had had that ability from childhood. Half the time she told herself that the thoughts she picked up were her own imagination. Jim handed Jan a glass of wine. She told him that Jeroen had a temperature, which gave Jan a good excuse to go upstairs.
The evening went alright and Jan did come down after a while. Jeroen was apparently sleeping and he got Sascia to bed. She was glad that he was home.
Cleaning up after the party
“What was the surprise that Sascia was not allowed to tell me?” Jan asked when they were clearing up. She told him how Corrie and Jim had helped her by driving her to Umhlanga Rocks. The fact that she had already paid the deposit was a surprise to him
“So I have no say in the matter of a car?”
“No, and please will you go and get the rest of the money tomorrow so we can take the train on Sunday and join them for a barbeque.” As she said that she walked into the kitchen to keep herself busy.
Jan never replied. After what seem like a long time Jan came to look for her. Before he could argue she asked him why he had come home so late.
She was truly shocked. That was not like him to step out of the job without anything to fall back on.
“Don’t worry, I already have a position on a coaster with the same company”
“Oh, so you did not really resign?”
“Yes, from the tanker. The captain and I could clearly not get along so I asked for a transfer the moment we arrived back in Durban. I’ve spent the rest of the day signing papers and now I will join a ship after the weekend that sails between Durban, East London, Port Elizabeth, Mossel Bay, Cape Town, Saldana Bay and back again.”
Jan seemed very pleased with himself and she was glad for him, but her feeling of disappointment made her solar plexus ache. Jan going away so soon was a real bummer. He would also miss Sascia’s sixth birthday party.
They hugged, and that lead to other activities in the bedroom. The subject of the car was never mentioned again.
- The Self Employed Housewife. (Ch 7)
The excitement of going to fetch their first car felt like the beginning of a new chapter in their lives. She would be more independent. Now she could plan her day differently.