Everyone had advised them against moving to a new home just when they were about to have another baby. Wait, people said. Let things settle down first.
They had been right, of course. They should have waited but the offer came and Rutger had to give his reply in just a few short days and Petra had spent most of her nights online surfing for financial advice – and then later for interior decoration tips and how to make the most of the space you have when you have four kids that need to share it.
They don’t regret the move, not for a second.
The area it lovely, a vast improvement from their previous home in the slightly rougher parts of Barchester. This street is within walking distance from the hospital and hospital staff make up a main portion of their neighbors now. Petra loves it, in fact Rutger teases her about loving the street more than she loves him because she raves about it almost every day. It’s just so clean and tidy and everyone around them seem so nice.
She has earned nice.
This time around, they both have to work in order to keep the bills paid and the kids fed and Petra can definitely regret that, regret not having enough money to stay at home for at least a little while with them. It seems to go against her very nature to leave home and go to work even if she works only part-time and during hours when the kids are mostly asleep anyway.
Rutger has listened to the advice from some of his colleagues and hired a professional nanny for the days when not even two irregular schedules at the hospital can quite cover the needs of their children. Her name is Bea and she’s a retired teacher, which is somewhat comforting.
Though not as comforting as if one of them had the possibility to stay at home, of course.
But it will be okay. Petra knows that.
Antonia is becoming quite the little person now, learning new skills at a fast pace and developing a personality of her own. She’s a little sister but the gap between her and Novak is big enough for her to seem like an older sibling in many aspects, even if she’s also very much spoiled rotten by the rest of the family. She’s headstrong and stubborn, and charming enough to get away with a lot of things.
While their home is going to be a work in progress for a long while yet, Petra feels very happy with it at the moment, and with their family life in general.
Levi is a calm baby, easy to please and likely mellowed out by being the youngest. It reminds her of how Novak would instantly stop crying whenever Amara was around – only difference this time is that Levi has an even bigger crowd of people to support him through life.
They had always hoped Antonia would be a big sister some day but never dared to count on it, so they’re truly overjoyed that they have managed to have as many children as they desired. Rutger in particular feels incredibly blessed, having postponed the family life for so long he had given up entirely on the idea until Petra came along.
One of the downsides of the house is that the kids can’t have their own bedrooms. It won’t be an issue later, she imagines, but it is somewhat messy right now when Levi wakes up at random times and cries until everyone else is also wide awake. For most part of the night, Petra keeps him in the family bed instead.
One day, perhaps, they will accumulate enough money to be able to live in a house with many bedrooms but for now, this will have to do.
The kids still have summer holidays but Petra insists on them keeping up with reading so they visit both bookshops and libraries regularly. To be fair, they goof around a good deal of the time spent there but she figures she’s still done what she can.
At least Amara likes to read and is always on the lookout for new titles. She then talks about the books over dinner, boring her younger brother who, according to himself, thinks letters “are dull”.
Other than that, they do get along pretty well these days, a lot of it thanks to Amara’s patience with her siblings. She’ll play along and overlook a lot of things when it comes to her brother – except when he blatantly cheats at Scrabble, she’ll never forgive that.
With the summer coming to an end, the family try to catch up on as much rest and relaxation as they possibly can. Ideal days Rutger gets up early to make extra nice breakfast for the kids and then he sends Petra off to get some alone time, preferably on the beach.
Petra adores swimming and sunbathing and it’s a perfect form of exercise now after two pregnancies – not too demanding, but demanding enough.
Afterwards, she enjoys a lunch at the small noodle shop at the beach – perfect location, the owners claim, at least until bathing seasons ends – and some chit-chat with her neighbors. Barchester is a fairly large town but not large enough for her to see strangers everywhere.
But most of all they hang out as a family – a large one, at that. Since Ben hasn’t been interested in having Amara and Novak more than on weekends, Petra considers them her children more than she considers them theirs. It’s not something she would say out loud, precisely, but it’s how it feels.
And since the kids both seem to be perfectly happy in this constellation, Petra has also decided to stop worrying about them for the time being.
They focus on enjoying the rest of the summer, and the warm nights of early autumn instead.
And each other.