5 Minutes with a Northwest Arkansas Mom: Laura Catherine Hanby Hudgens
We met Laura Catherine a few years ago to discuss our mutual love of writing. She’s an absolute delight!
Enjoy this interview and links to some of LC’s recent stories:
Kids’ names and ages:
Jack 23, Mary Michael 21, Catherine 18, Chet 15. Jack is getting married, so I will also have a bonus daughter, Allison, in a few months.
Tell us about where you live and what it’s like to hang out with buffaloes:
We live on a buffalo farm in Carroll County. I love stepping outside in the morning with a cup of coffee and watching the herd graze on the hillside—especially in the spring when we have new calves. I grew up with buffalo, but I still never get tired of watching them. But we keep our distance, too. They aren’t quite as docile as cows.
So we hear the kids are all back home because of COVID-19. How’s it going?
All but the eldest. He has his own home now. We miss him and Allison, but other than that it’s going well. Right now the kids and I are all extremely busy with online school. We actually haven’t had time to get bored or restless yet. And we are enjoying the slower pace—some of us more than others. Fortunately, the kids are close, so they have a good time together. And it’s so fun having big kids around. It’s like being quarantined with a group of friends—who expect me to do most of the cooking.
Our parents also live on the property, but we don’t share the same living space.
Have you written about this yet? What have you been writing about lately?
I haven’t written about multigenerational living yet, but I do plan to. It was a wonderful way for our kids to grow up.
My latest piece was something I wrote for The Washington Post about how literature, particularly a narrative pattern known as The Hero’s Journey, can really help kids cope with the pandemic. I also had a piece on Scary Mommy recently about how having my kids at home like this is, in some ways, allowing me to relive some of the best years of my life. It’s allowed us to return to a simpler, more family-centered life. And last month I had a piece on Grown and Flown discussing what I want my daughters to know about empowerment—what is really empowering for women versus what the media sometimes tries to tell us is.
Once it’s safe to leave the house again, what’s the first thing you’ll do?
Meet some friends for dinner—a long meal that I didn’t cook with lots of laughs and great conversation.
How’s it going with your students online?
At first it was tough, but I really think we are getting the hang of it. I am trying to design lessons that are fairly self explanatory, and we have a Zoom meeting once a day where I can answer questions face to face. I was in the middle of a novel with my 8th graders when schools were closed, so it has been great to be able to keep our conversation going via Zoom.
Share a typical pandemic day with us:
I’m still getting up pretty early (most days). Since I don’t have an hour commute now, I am enjoying some extra time to just sit with my coffee and my Bible before work. I start teaching by about 8:30. Our kids get up at varying times and start in on their school work.
Late in the day, I take a walk around the farm with my dogs. It has been a beautiful spring! We usually have an early evening visit with my parents (outside and from six feet away), and then we fix dinner—usually based on the expiration date of our groceries. At night we often watch a family movie if we don’t all have more school work.
A few years ago when I was working part-time I had chickens. Now that I have the time, I am hoping to get a small flock going again. We love fresh eggs, and it will help create the whole pioneer vibe I’m trying to harness now that we are all going to be living day in and day out on the farm for a while. My daughters and I are planning to plant a garden too.
If you could vacation anywhere in the world this summer, where would you go?
Normally, I’m a beach person, but since I am going to have a lot of down time in the weeks ahead, I might want to go someplace with a little more action…no, I’d still want a trip to the beach.
If you could magically learn a new skill, what would it be?
Can I count a second (and third) language as a skill? I would love to magically be able to speak a variety of languages.
What’s something your friends might not know about you?
Right after college my husband and I worked at a camp where my primary job was horse wrangler.
How do you relax when the stress threatens to take over?
I find knitting very relaxing. Right now I am using up all the partial skeins of yarn I had left over from other projects to make a “quarantine blanket.” Again, it’s part of my pioneer vibe.
Who do you most admire? Why?
My mother has always been my role model for raising my own children. I’ve always tried to be as selfless and patient as she is. But she is also a lot of fun. Raising us, she managed to strike the right balance between parent and friend. She taught me that you can be friends with your children and still maintain your role as “the boss.”
What do you most want people to remember about you?
First and foremost I want to be thought of as a woman who loves Jesus and her family—and by extension, others in my community. Everything else is gravy.
One word to sum me up: