New Year, Old life

I like the idea of fresh starts. The new year, my birthday, a fresh season, heck, even a new month, these are all occasions that trigger expectations of new beginnings, renewed efforts, opportunities… but not this year. This year I don’t want to start out with resolutions, with hopeful plans of a new and improved me. This year I’ve decided to start out with more acceptance of the old me, the flawed, familiar me. I have a whole list of things I’d like to do, I’d like to finally completely eliminate processed foods and artificial products from my life, I’d like to exercise more, I want to get back in a dance studio, I want to be more patient, more fun, a better more engaging mother. I want to be a nicer wife, I want to have more sex, I want to lose lots and lots of weight, I want to be healthy, and less tired and less irritable… I could go on for pages…. But that’s exactly what I don’t want to do this year. I don’t want to start the year with a series of HAVE TOs.

In fact, I’m going to try to not make plans for “this year” at all. All I want is to be happy. Happy, right now, today. I don’t even want to worry about being happy tomorrow, or next month, or when spring arrives, I don’t want to worry at all, in fact.

I realize I’m not going to be able to eliminate worry from my life completely, I’m always going to worry about certain things, I just want to let go of some of the completely useless weight I’ve been carrying on my shoulders forever. I want my life to be lighter, both in weight and in intensity, I want it to be light as air, light as a bright sunny day, light as when you’re floating in the sea in the summer.

I’m a control freak, but I want to let go of some of the control. I’m tired of fighting to control the things I have no actual control over. I’m not saying I’m planning on becoming a completely laid back person. I’m not, I couldn’t, there’s not enough weed in the world for that… I’m always going to fight to get dinner on the table at 7 no matter what the circumstances are, but there are some fights I’m just not willing to fight anymore.

Being happy, happy with me, happy with life… it seems so simple and yet so daunting. So that’s my plan, that’s my goal, for right this minute and hopefully the next one and the next, but I’m not going to worry about them, I’m only thinking about right now for now.

 

So, friends, Happy New Year, may 2014 be whatever you want it to be, and may you always love yourself and be good to yourself… because, well, you’re with yourself a lot, aren’t you now…

Sometimes a little French Onion Soup is enough

This October was one of the craziest months I’ve had all year, and, honest to God, I have no idea of the why or the how of it. All the kids’ activities kicked in at once, as well as my own, my mom was supposed to arrive, then didn’t, then reset the date, and then changed her plans again, then finally arrived, which kept me in stand-by mode for two weeks, not being able to make any plans as she was arriving “any minute now” and then kept me busy for the two weeks she was actually here. In fact, now that I think about it, it all makes sense, October was taken over by the tornado that represents my mother’s visits.

A visit, which incidentally, was much better than expected, in part because I kept my expectations way low and in part because I sent the kids off to their other grandma for three days. My mom has a low tolerance for children and I always had unrealistic expectations as to her magically (and inexplicably) becoming a kid person as a grandmother. She does really well the first few days, then she usually overloads, but this time we got to spend some quality mother/daughter time for a few days and then the kids came back. Though I felt bad sending them away since they only get to see her once or twice a year, I’m perfectly aware that it’s all in my head. They didn’t care, their other grandma was ecstatic, my mom got to decompress, and I got to go shopping all day, cook with my mom, and go out to dinner with absolutely no organizing required and no guilt at leaving the kids home with the babysitter. Definitely the way to go for all her visits, until the kids start into the tween/teen years, at which point I will be able to just leave her to it and go enjoy myself in total independence.

The Husband’s health saga continues, he’s not terribly ill, he’s just not terribly healthy either, and quite frankly, it’s starting to get annoying for all concerned (directly, or indirectly). He’s actually starting on a path of self-discovery of sorts, which hopefully will bring him some positive results and, even more hopefully, won’t drive a wedge between us, as these things often do. Things between us, they have been tense lately, so we’re all hoping that some good will come of this, and I’ll leave it at that, for now.

We went out for lunch today, a rare occurrence on a week day, which, in this case, mostly involved taking the cars to get the tires changed for winter… oh so romantic, I know. As chance would have it though, we decided to go to a friend’s restaurant that we always enjoy greatly and is usually too far to drive to in the rare evenings we manage to dine out sans kids what with the babysitter waiting at home impatiently counting the minutes till she can leave and go out with her own boyfriend.

This restaurant, The Baluardo, is fantastic, the chef Marc Lanteri is French and his wife, my friend Amy, is American and their diversity really shines through, with the Italian wholesome ingredients, the American boldness and French sophistication. If you’re ever in the area it’s definitely an obligatory stop, especially if you’re into Michelin Guide starred restaurants.

Anyway…

They had French Onion Soup on the menu today. I’ve been hankering after a good, authentic, French onion soup, which is strangely a much harder dish to find than one would think. Also, I’m extraordinarily picky when it comes to French Onion Soup. Mostly I only like the one I make, which is truly delicious, and for which I can take none of the merit other than being able to follow a recipe. If you want to try your hand at it I got the recipe from Deb of The Smitten Kitchen, since finding it I’ve tweaked it enough to make it my own, but the original is the best place to start experimenting. After eating it today, I wrote on facebook that French Onion Soup makes me happy. And it really, truly, does. It’s so simple, just a handful of ingredients, but it’s so comforting when done right, so light yet tasty, it has so much depth of taste and texture. I needed it today, I needed something simple to make me happy, I needed to be reminded that life doesn’t always have to be about the complicated dishes, that sometimes the simple things, if prepared with great care and attention – because that’s the only way to get a French Onion Soup to taste right – can be just the thing to set your world back right-side up. If only for a few minutes.

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Tick Tock says the Clock, Thirty-eight says the Date.

Tomorrow’s my birthday. Every year the approach to my birthday is a little bit different. Last year I was down in the dumps, this year, I’m neither here nor there, I’m pretty even keeled. It feels almost like it’s too early for it to be my birthday already, I haven’t wrapped my head around the fact that summer’s over, much less that I’m a year older tomorrow.

Looking back on the year that’s been, not an awful lot has changed yet I feel like I’ve changed a great deal. Physically, I’m stronger than I was, exercise has become a part of my life again, yet I haven’t lost any weight, which was an obsession last year, and more of just passing note this year. I thought I’d be in the new house by now, I’m not, yet I care much less than I probably should. I’m healthier, yet I’m also much more forgiving when I find myself hand wrapped round the chocolate bar right before bedtime. I’m more patient with the kids, yet, bizarrely, I’m stricter with them. I’m busier yet more organized. It’s all really quite surprising. And the guilt, well it’s not gone completely because that would, of course, be unrealistic, but it rears it’s ugly head less regularly.

My mom was supposed to be coming in this week, she didn’t because she was having some health issues so she had to postpone her trip by a few days. A lot of my ambivalence towards her seems to be gone, or dormant at least. I’m trying not to worry about what she thinks, how she’s going to behave, how she’ll react, how or if she’ll judge me, I’ve realized I have no control over these things anyway. I decided to give myself a break and hire some extra help while she’s here, and I’m thankful that I can do that.  It’s not going to be the perfect visit, I’m just going to try and not let the disagreements and the disappointments get to me. She is who she is, and I am who I am, so I’m just going to try and enjoy her visit and leave all the baggage at the door.

The Husband, he got me the most awesomest present in the world. (Hyperbole). I already know what it is, because I’ve been talking about it for weeks hoping he’d get the hint. And he did. It arrived the other day and as soon as it’s set up I’ll photograph it and share. Tomorrow evening we’re going to go out to dinner with the kids, to a mid-level fancy-ish restaurant that I love and where they’ll behave (with they’re ipods), I didn’t feel like organizing anything too complicated, involving babysitters and whatnot, and I wanted the whole family together (and I don’t feel like cooking). On Friday I’m going to a Spa with The Girls in the morning and lunch, I’ve got a great group of friends and I’m so happy to be spending time with them. It all feels very simple, I’m not stressing over anything, I’m not organizing anything complicated and I have no expectations that someone else will. And it feels good. So, tomorrow’s my birthday, and I’m surprisingly relaxed, a little older, and hopefully just a smidge wiser, can’t really ask for more than that now, can I?

One week down, how many more to go?

Week one of school is finished, and I survived. Unbelievable. Because, let’s be honest here, getting the kids back on a school schedule after the summer is much harder work for Mom than for anyone else in the family. I’m not a morning person, and quite probably neither are my kids, whether it’s survival instinct (who knows what I would have done with one of those children who wakes up every morning at 6.30 all chirpy and talkative?) or their natural inclination I have no idea, either way, I tried to bring their wake up time up (and consequently all the related sleep times up) for the two weeks prior to this and I clearly failed, if the amount of tantrums, hysterical, over-tired crying fits, middle of the night wake up calls, and generalized grumpiness are any indication. I’m hoping this week will be better.

Although, as I started planning their weekly activities I already wanted to pull out all my hair… I don’t know how mothers with more than two kids do it (and I quite envy mothers of singletons right now, for organizational purposes, at least). The Boy wants to play soccer this year, they start them at 6 here, but as he’s tall they’ll take him anyway, the Girls wants to do a dance class, and I would like them to do a swimming course before the start of the skiing season. It shouldn’t be that complicated, I thought, I don’t want to over book them, but an activity each and a joint one shouldn’t overextend us. I am so naïve.

Oh, and I need to keep one afternoon for their American babysitter because I’ve realized that when they have someone (other than me) who speaks English to them they’re more prone to speak it in general. Easy peasy. Right.

So, this is what I found out after a round of calls and a couple of hours of scheduling: soccer is Tuesday and Friday, because apparently 5-6 year olds who aren’t allowed to play in the tournaments and who are basically going to chase a ball around a field for an hour and a half need to “train” at least twice a week. Every single dance school but one in this god forsaken town, in an evil conspiracy to drive mom’s insane (I presume), decided that Tuesday was the only logical day for the 3-4 year old dance class, and the one that went against the mold already has a waiting list. Oh, and by the way, our lovely American babysitter only has one afternoon off from her primary job. Guess which day. Tuesday. And after a half hour of route planning and head banging (not the heavy metal kind) I resigned myself to the fact that without the aid of cloning or a teleporter there is no way I can get them both to their activities on Tuesday. Seriously, how does everyone else do it?

Anyway, before letting myself get sucked into the insanity of a new school year, I’d like to wrap up our summer. We got back from our extremely long vacation to a garden that looked like this:

my tomato plants

my tomato plants

 

cherry tomatoes

cherry tomatoes

Eggplants! I have 3 plants just like this...

Eggplants! I have 3 plants just like this…

Peppers, I have eight plants of lovely green, yellow, and red peppers. Not as pretty as the supermarket ones, but yummy all the same.

Peppers, I have eight plants of lovely green, yellow, and red peppers. Not as pretty as the supermarket ones, but yummy all the same.

So we had a LOT of this:

Caprese salad - the tomatoes and basil are from the garden, as is the basil in the pesto.

Caprese salad – the tomatoes and basil are from the garden, as is the basil in the pesto.

Tuna salad bruschetta

Tuna salad bruschetta

And since this was overflowing:

large lavender plant

large lavender plant

so I made sachets for my closet and drawers… but when that wasn’t enough I figured I could use it to experiment…

Sausage risotto with rosemary, lavender and saffron.

Sausage risotto with rosemary, lavender and saffron.

so creamy makes me hungry again...

so creamy makes me hungry again…

Have I made you hungry yet?

I’m slowly getting my act together again with the start of a new school year. I’ve got several posts I think you’ll like in the works, and I’m pretty confident I’ll even manage to finish them and post them, so yay for school, despite the scheduling headaches.

Two cutie pies on their first day of school. Sweet brother carrying his sister's backpack. A little southern gentleman in the making.

Two cutie pies on their first day of school. Sweet brother carrying his sister’s backpack. A little southern gentleman in the making.

Life Lesson #1: Chillax, dude

Living life, as one does day in and day out till one no longer does, we learn things, life teaches us things, but oftentimes we forget these small, seemingly unimportant lessons. I figured I’d try and remember at least a few of them when they hit me upside the head.

The other day I made the unfortunate mistake of making a comment on one of my sisters’ facebook statuses (stati?), but let me give you some background. This sister of mine, (half-sister, to be precise, different mothers) she has always had a ginormous chip on her shoulder, I dare say, this chip, it is the size of Texas, and just as loud, and occasionally obnoxious (I’m allowed, I’m from there). This chip, which manifests itself mainly on many maudlin and/or pissed of rants as to how utterly unfairly life treats her, along with very grave, justified-or-not, abandonment issues have led her to a lifelong search of “spiritual improvement” or “personal betterment” and other sundry related paths. So, what this means, for our purposes, is that if you enter into any sort of serious discussion with her about life, and the meaning thereof, death, and it’s ramifications, life changes and such, you do so at your own peril because, you see, she is always right, as she has “done a lot of work on herself” and you, clearly, have not. Unless you’re just like her, in which case good for you (!) and I suggest you stop reading right this instant cause you can only get more offended as you go on.

Unfortunately for me, though, I forget these things, in the general business of living my life in a manner as far removed as possible from unnecessary mental masturbatory, pseudo-psychological, life exploratory type of behavior. In any case, I was being distracted as I am wont to do, and read one of her statuses that went something along the lines of Do you really know who you are? I’m not sure I know who I am any longer… is that good… or bad? Or something very similar to this. To which I responded something along the lines of dude, lay off the wine before the existential mind fuck… (just more, you know, politely).

And, wow do I wish I had laid off the wine before commenting! I was kidding, maybe she and all her friends didn’t get it… then I apologized, but she was on a roll, so I re-apologized and stated I hadn’t meant to intrude on a serious conversation and boy were her friends on a roll! So I shut up and ignored the rest of the very serious, very self-righteous, discussion.

But honestly, all I really wanted to say was god, guys, relax, live and let live, peace and love and all that. I mean really, maybe lay back on the wine, have some fun and stop being so freaking serious, because life, it is hard enough, painful enough, and just plain unpredictable enough that we shouldn’t be getting so involved in and up in arms about the stuff we write on facebook of all places.

Mostly though, what this little episode did for me was remind me that a certain measure of laid backedness, of that chillin’ feelin’ is very important in life, as is a proper grasp of irony, and humor – misguided though it may be. It also reminded me that my Dad always used to say that the women in his family had no sense of humor… that may have been generalizing just a smidge, but in this case, I kinda see his point so… sorry Dad for all the times I over-reacted, I’m glad I’ve mostly chillaxed enough now not to care whether everyone’s opinion is exactly on board with mine.

Seagulls, idleness, and the meaning of life

It’s the end of our first full week at the beach. The Husband was supposed to be joining us today for a week vacation, but he’s developed a temperature and is home sleeping it off. The kids and I have settled into a routine, we go to the beach in the morning, we have lunch, they nap, we go to the playground in the afternoon, then dinner, some tv or a show in the town square, and bedtime. It’s simple and quite sweet. I thought I’d be ready to strangle them by now, but I’m not, I’m actually getting used to spending all this time with them.

Of course all this leisure time has its consequences, mostly in that I have lots of time to think and observe the world around me and be amazed by all the things I normally don’t notice. For example, I always knew, but had never really realized how terrified of the weather Italians are. For example, kids here always wear undershirts, all year, so they “don’t get a chill”, despite widespread modern conveniences like, for example, indoor heating. Italians bundle up, they’re always wearing a couple more layers of clothing than I or my children are, in fact, my mother in law constantly tells me I’m irresponsible as she follows me around with a hat. I thought this behavior was mostly autumn, winter, and spring related, in reality it’s just ingrained in the culture. As I sit on the beach surrounded by children with their mothers, fathers, or grandparents all I hear around me are repeated admonishments not to go in the water, it’s too cold, get out of the water and warm up in the sun, stay out of the sun, it’s too hot, not to roll around in the sand, it’s too abrasive, not to get their hair wet (it’s too wet?), it’s annoying, and headache inducing.

Granted, the weather this year has not been fab. It’s colder than normal for the end of June, and the rain and chilly wind are plentiful, but we’re not in Siberia nor are we swimming in the English Channel (the British do this, and they seem to be in excellent health). I spend my days wishing I could just tell everyone around me to chill out a minute, relax, and enjoy the fact that it’s summer, and hey, we’re at the beach. A few days ago it was cloudy, this town is tiny and I didn’t really know what to do, so we went to the beach anyway thinking that if it was too cold to go swimming we could at least built a sandcastle. The beach was pretty empty. After a while it started raining, the beach emptied completely. I was under the relative dryness of the beach umbrella and my kids stripped into just their suits and started running like two crazies on the beach and in the surf. They reminded me of two dogs chasing each other on the sand running in the water, running away from the waves faces held high and tongues out to catch the rain. Of course they were frozen by the time an hour had past, the rain intensified, and they calmed down enough to actually leave, but they had probably never had so much fun at the beach. I mean, seriously, when else would I just let them run around half naked in the rain? We were the only ones on the entire beach, I’m sure grandmothers were looking out their windows at us and tsk, tsking at my irresponsibility.

Another thing I’ve just recently realized, is how completely and utterly weird being at the beach actually is. Think about it, everyone around you is someone you could run into on the street, in the grocery store, your doctor, your dentist, the delivery guy, the electrician, the teacher, the business man, people you see, you say good morning to in line for coffee, people we talk to, cross, run into, all day, every day, of our daily lives, but they are all, for all intents and purposes, naked.

Seriously, is it not weird?

You have a conversation with the mom standing watch next to you, but she’s in a bikini, which is not all that different from a bra and panties. And so are you. All year we hide our imperfections, camouflage our bellies, or our saddle bags, or our droopy behinds, or our flabby arms…. And then summer rolls around and we’re all there walking around, chasing our kids, playing catch on the beach, essentially naked. How is this normal? I ran into one of the check out girls at the grocery store the other day, she was laying there talking to a friend, she’s skinny but has really bad cellulite on her thighs, her stomach isn’t as flat as it seems in her clothes and I’m pretty sure she’s had a boob job. I’m not judging her, she’s flawed like all the rest of us, but don’t you think, suddenly, I have way too much information on the check out girl I see several times a week at the grocery store?

This is what being at the beach does to me, makes me think strange things, makes me notice stuff that I’m usually too busy and self involved to notice, completely useless things. For example, I’ve also noticed how insanely loud seagulls are. Have you ever stopped to think about it? Seagulls. They’re always cawing at each other (do seagulls caw, or is that just crows?). And there are so many of them, like cuter, whiter, sea vultures, just flying in circles overhead, cawing, and pooping on bewildered passers by, landing on light posts and looking down on us all tilted head and evil eyed. I’m not sure I’m a big fan of seagulls, though they’ve never done anything to me directly.  Although, quite possibly, all this attention to seagulls and their behavioral patterns is a clear indication that I’ve got way too much time on my hands.

So summer is officially here, it’s started, whether the weather agrees with me or not, so for now, for the next few weeks, I’ll be pondering completely useless things, as I stroll half naked on the beach, and who knows maybe I’ll alight on some hidden truth on life, or the universe, or human behavior, something meaningful to take back with me or at the very least to keep me occupied in this season of idleness.

It’s not that I want to go, it’s my wifely duty after all

These past two weeks have been pretty decent. The Husband was away for a few days two weekends ago for a trade fair, and again this week he was gone Monday and Tuesday giving speeches somewhere (I’m not very involved in his work life…), so I had plenty of relaxed bonding time with the kids. Is it weird, I wonder, that my life is so much easier when I’m alone with the children? I don’t mean long term, long term, I’m sure, would be a gigantic hassle, but just a few days here and there, if I’m the only adult around we can decide to have breakfast for dinner (something my Italian husband just doesn’t comprehend), or just snack in front of the tv, or spend the afternoon in bed reading books rather than being productive. Even the morning routines are more relaxed when he’s not around, of course, we’re always late, when it’s just me, mostly because I’m a much better procrastinator than my two preschoolers but occasionally a break from all the discipline and order is refreshing. As long, of course, as it doesn’t last too long, we need him to get us back on track, or our lives would be total chaos!

So anyway, he came back from the trade fair ten days ago and announced he needed to go to NYC and would I go with him. Our ten-year wedding anniversary is next month, so we had already decided to leave the kids at their Nonni’s house for a long weekend and go off somewhere alone. Initially, my reaction to going to NY was, absolutely not, remember what happened last time we were in the US?? But then rationality set back in and it’s not like his getting sick is related to our geographic position, right? Plus, I’m an awesome wife, I can sacrifice a few days of tedious routine, to accompany my husband to the city that never sleeps, where he has to work and I will have nothing to do but shop, eat out, and sleep in. With no kids. It’s my duty as a stay at home mom to set aside my engagements to stand by my husband. Right? Am I convincing you with this whole virtuous act??

Anyway. So we’re going next week. I’m taking the kids to Milan on Sunday, getting them settled with my MIL, who, incidentally, is over the moon at the idea of having her grandkids to herself for almost a week and The Husband is joining us there on Monday as our flight is on Tuesday (one of the major things that sucks about living where we live is that the closest big airport is in Milan, which makes travelling anywhere into a big two day production). And the cherry on top of this particular cake is that my Mom is joining us there for a couple of days. So to recap: the kids are spending a week in a place the thought of which gets them more excited than Disney Land, The Husband and I get to fly to New York in business class (company paying, and did I mention, no kids?), we get to stay in a nice hotel, I get to go shopping with no one breathing down my neck and asking me if I really need one more pair of shoes, in fact, I get to go shopping with my mom who likely will be all like, you really need another pair of shoes to go with that dress you just bought, and other than possibly a couple of work related dinner engagements we get to do all the stuff we didn’t get to do in Houston this past winter. I’m feeling pretty good about my life today. Of course, I have a whole host of insane worries that I’ll share with you soon enough. But for now, well, the sun is shining, the weather is finally a little warmer, and I refuse to think about the bad stuff, today is all about the blessings. Of which there are many.

p.s. this blog turned one year old this month, and my last post was the 100th post. So lots and lots of bloggy milestones!

R.I.P party girl

Hi! It’s been awhile… We’ve had a few holidays here, April 25th (freedom from fascism day) then May 1st (labor day) which basically means long weekends, short weeks, and lots of time off from school… basically no blogging time for mom. Plus the weather has been positively dismal, rainy and gross.

Aren’t I a big round ball of sunshine? Glad I haven’t been bringing you down on this blog with my optimism?

 

 

Anyhoo… we’re just back from a weekend in Milan now, where we had our newest niece’s christening (I am so over packing and unpacking every other day, btw).  And since we had the entire weekend at our disposal, along with free babysitting by grandma, we took this chance to see some of our old friends from our younger, party heydays. We all met at my in-laws’ house Saturday afternoon with kids to celebrate the first rain free Saturday in two months by letting the kids romp around the soggy grass (incidentally, my MIL is a saint, she had 40 people at her house for the baptism on Sunday and yet she let four sets – each composed of two adults and 2 kids under 6 – of our friends come take over her yard), the kids played really well, even though they hadn’t seen each other since last summer. The in-laws have a gigantic property (for Italy), so they got to run around and get muddy and we got some chatting and catching up done and the weather was just perfectly perfect and then that night various and sundry grandparents / babysitters allowed us to go out and enjoy a drinks laden dinner in absolute child-free peace and quiet.

 

Whilst in the middle of the very complicated problem of decided where to spend our first night in the big city in what seems like forever, I got to thinking about when, way back when, we left Milan for the rural haven (or hell, depending on my mood) in which we now reside. I was barely 30, skinny, no children, with lots of money to spend on entertainment and shoes and nary a care in the world (or rather, none of the earth-shattering, life-changing variety) and now I’m about 15 pounds heavier, more wrinkled and most of my money somehow gets sucked into the black hole that is child rearing (I need to stop blaming the children, all of my money is being sucked into the death star of a black hole that is the house renovation). I’m not complaining about this, I’m perfectly happy with where my life is right now (barring the added weight of course), but what got me thinking was that when I go back to Milan, in my head, I’m still that girl that left the city eight years ago.

I was thinking about what to do, of our old clubs and favorite bars, and suddenly I realized that I probably would no longer be let in. I’m too old, I no longer project the right image, I’ve got the mommy aura about me… (and honestly, I no longer own the right mixture of slutty and classy clothes and impossibly high heels, I would probably fall off of now). And that is all fine, I don’t really need or want to be that girl anymore, but when I left here I didn’t realize I was leaving her behind.

So basically, what I’m saying is, we need to be more present, in my opinion, more present in the present (if you’ll allow me the awkward phrasing) because we lose it without even realizing it. But that disconnect between what goes on in my brain and the actual reality is always a bit disconcerting, like my brain still thinks I’m 25 and skinny, but my clothes, unfortunately, wholeheartedly disagree with me, so it’s always a bit of a surprise when I look in the mirror. Or the fact that I’m often shocked at having to make adult decisions, like, shouldn’t someone more grown up than me be here to tell me what to do? And then I realize that someone more grown up than me is geriatric and, quite likely, enjoying the freedom of their retirement, and doesn’t give a crap what I do anymore. How and when did adulthood sneak up on me? And where did the party girl go? Cause she was undeniably stupider than me, yet infinitely more fun. (Also, much, much, better dressed).

You say potato, I say…well… mind your own damn business!

It turns out that, according to some, I’m a bit of an army general whereas according to others, I’m a bit of a pansy ass. It baffles the mind.

My in-laws were here for a few days at Easter and they kept remarking on how “good” the children were and how they do things that “other children don’t have to do” and I’m such a “good mother”, the subtext of which was clearly how the children are poor, over-burdened, little soldiers, and I’m a slave driver. (And when I say subtext I mean my father-in-law literally saying the words under his breath). All this because my kids help “set the table” (I put that in quotes because while the five-year old kind of knows where the utensils and stuff go on the table the three-year old dumps everything in the middle and just spreads stuff around randomly), and unset the table (what’s the opposite of “set the table”? we used to jokingly say dress and undress the table when we were kids, which regularly prompted my brother’s catch phrase “but mom we haven’t been properly introduced” to which much hilarity ensued… or not, anyway…),  and vacuum under the table with the dust-buster, and clear up their toys, and change their own clothes, and generally try to help out around the house. All stuff we did when growing up (despite the fact that my mom generally had between one and three maids in the house at any given time). I don’t feel like a slave driver, it’s just stuff they should learn how to do (also, if they don’t do it, I have to). I realize I’m the opposite of the typical Italian mother, who still irons her kids clothes when their twenty-five and in graduate school and living away from home, but I think that if though they may not consider these things normal they should at the very least be proud of their grandkids for being able and willing to do this stuff. Whereas, I’m sure, there are conversations going on in Milan between my MIL and her friends that go somewhere along the lines of “can you believe she makes her children set the table? What kind of lazy ass mother is she?!” Ah, the joys of cultural differences.

Speaking of cultural differences, on the other side of the Atlantic, in the sweltering heat of Houston, my Mother thinks I have forgotten the meaning of the word discipline, because my kids want my attention right now even when I’m speaking to another adult, because they jump on the couch, because I, *gasp*, allow them to take all the living room throw pillows and blankets, dump them on the floor, and then keep score to see who can jump farther from the couch to the pillow pile. My children whine and complain when I send them to brush their teeth, they dare protest when it’s time for bed, they have (occasionally) thrown a tantrum in a public place… Her favorite refrain is “your children’s behavior is a reflection of you as a mother, you have to take pride in them”, like I should only be proud of them when they’re well-behaved, or rather, I should take pride in myself when they’re well-behaved. Or something along those lines.

I try to walk the middle of the road… I do that a lot, lately. We had plenty of help around the house, but my mom made sure we learned how to do everything for ourselves, we learned to cook, and clean the house, and do laundry, and iron, and sew buttons… but our house wasn’t a lot of fun, there was a lot of tip-toeing around and not bothering the adults. Whereas my in-laws, as well as most Italians, like to complain (or pride themselves on) how many sacrifices they make for their children, how they’re still at home when they’re thirty-five, how no one wants to get married, because, let’s be honest, why should they? They live rent free in their parents house, with a free maid (their mother) and all the freedom in the world. How today’s youth is so entitled… but who made them that way?

And how on earth did I become the bad guy in this in the eyes of two completely opposing camps?? Walking the middle ground is hard, neither camp is happy, and I get a lot of crap from both of them. But I’m sticking to my guns, because I strongly believe in discipline, but I also very much believe in fun, and the two aren’t mutually exclusive. My kids need to learn how to do practical things, it’s part of my job to teach them, they need to be well-mannered, and learn patience (gradually), they need to be respectful, and independent, and responsible, but they also need to have fun and make messes, and do stupid things, because how else will they learn? I didn’t have a bad childhood by any stretch of the imagination, but I also didn’t have a lot of fun, or rather, there was always a limit to the fun we could have, we couldn’t make too much noise, too much mess, and when we did scoldings and guilt would ensue. There was lots of guilt and a fair amount of fear and I don’t think fear equals respect. I want my kids to respect me, to know when and where there are limits but also when and where it’s ok to cut loose, and I absolutely, positively, don’t want them to fear me or my reactions. So to some I am too strict, and to others I am too lenient, I just hope I manage to straddle the “just right” position at least half the time.
Do you have family members judging/questioning your parenting, and if so, how do you deal??

Joining Shell today for Pour your heart out.

If wishes were horses…

It’s a beautiful day today, the sun is shining, the birds are chirping, the breeze is still cool but there’s hope of warmer weather in the air. And I’ve been totally jacked up since yesterday, my trainer even asked me if I was on amphetamines yesterday morning since he’d never seen me so chipper so early (or ever, in fact). The answer is no, in case you’re wondering, I wasn’t, I was probably just high on the unexpected, unseasonable, sunshine.

But of course, as life has taught me repeatedly lately, to every high there is a low… something about keeping balance in the universe… although, if you ask me, there’s altogether too much low in the universe and definitely not enough high.

Anyway… the Husband is ill again. Nothing serious. He’s just got a relatively high temperature and is nauseous, which could be nothing or it could be plenty, but that’s not my point. I’m just so monumentally sick and tired of him getting sick. Of course he’s not capital S sick, but still, every few weeks, or months when we’re really lucky, he gets sick again. He lies in bed all day, he doesn’t eat, he needs to be taken care of, and sometimes he gets better on his own and other times he spends 10 days in the hospital like we did in Houston, racking up a bill that would have bought us a new house (thank god we still have insurance). He’s not big on complaining, mind you, and we’re married so there’s the whole in sickness/health thing, also I love him, but still, I would like to go back to a life where we could travel and not worry about whether there was a decent hospital nearby.

Ever since I moved to this site from Moomser I promised myself it wouldn’t be about the leukemia and all the crap that ensued, I didn’t want to rehash all that, but trying to keep that part of my life from this blog has resulted in my not having an awful lot to post about. I’m so tired of living with the consequences of his illness, but I’m going to have to make peace with it, because this is what our lives are about, still, three years in. Three years isn’t all that long, but believe me, it feels like a lifetime, a lifetime of worry, and fear, and misery, and meds, and hospitals, lots and lots of hospitals.

I know it’ll get better, at the depressingly slow, slower than a snail’s pace we’ve been moving in, I just wish I had something to take my mind off it, something light, and fun, and easy, to distract me. Then again, if wishes were horses, beggars would ride…