A lot like giving up

Every time I open the BonnyBard file to write another entry on the blog it shocks me how long it’s been since my last one. When I wrote on Moomser I managed to write at least three times a week and read and comment on loads of blogs, now it’s a miracle if I remember to open my mac every three days to check my email. I’m not exactly sure what has changed. My time is distributed differently: I exercise more, I have a lot more to do with the new house, I have less help, but the kids are also older and in school longer, and I’m not in the hospital with the husband for hours on end anymore. Yet I can’t seem to find the time to write. And when I do, it’s because I’ve got crap to work out. I’m starting to annoy even myself! But in the spirit of letting go and trying not to control everything I’m just trying to take things as they are, observe them, take note of them and then just sort of letting them work themselves out. Not exactly sure how that’s working out for me yet.

I had a mini meltdown today. I was sitting in the kitchen with the kids and the Husband comes in, does something funny, and I crack up. For a full ten minutes. I laugh until I get tears in my eyes from laughing, I start to get over it, the mirth gets ahold of me again, over and over for what feels like forever. Initially, it feels good, liberating, but then I realize I’m not really enjoying the laughter, it’s kind of hysterical and maybe I need a good slap to shock myself out of it. And then the laughter turned to tears, not actual crying tears but just sort of crying tears. Enough so that my kids started giving me funny looks but not so bad that they didn’t believe me when I said they were tears of laughter. Even though they weren’t, not really.

This past year has been so hard. Not in any tangible sense, nothing I can really explain that would make sense to others, but it’s been hard. The Husband and I can’t seem to connect, we try, we’ve got great days, good weeks, and then just completely hopeless days and weeks. I no longer feel like my only option is divorce, I’ve seen the consequences on a friend and her children up close and personal and I would really rather not go through that. Even though, I, unlike her, am not completely dependent on my husband financially. Yet nor do I see a way out of this slump, I don’t have the hope and blinding optimism required to pick up and leave, certain that something much better awaits me. I don’t think my life would be better with another man (who?), nor do I think it would be better if I were to be alone. I just want the marriage that I’m in, with the husband that I have, to work itself out. I’ve done all I can do, I’ve tried it all. At this point I think he’s the one that needs to work stuff out, and mostly he agrees, he just hasn’t found the energy or the motivation to do it. But all this waiting around is taking its toll on me.

I’ve learned, through trial and error, that I can’t control everything, no matter how much I may want to, or how much easier it would be if I could. I cannot keep hitting my head on the wall. But letting things go, and waiting patiently to see if they improve, if someone else takes the reins… well, that’s no easier. It’s just as painful and it’s just as much hard work, though in a different direction. Hence the hysterics.

This is all I can say on the subject, I’ve put it out there, and hope it makes me feel better, or not. Who knows. This feels a lot like giving up, and it’s not a good feeling.

Like a dagger, or a whisper

Recently, something happened that touched me, pleased me, and broke my heart all at the same time. A girl wrote me… well, let’s be honest, a woman wrote me, a woman my age, which is why I wrote girl just now… when will I start perceiving myself and my contemporaries as the old fogies we are rather than the adolescent I believe myself to be? Yet that is neither here nor there.

So this woman wrote me an email, she’d been reading my old blog, moomser, and was asking if I’d moved elsewhere, so I redirected her here. I asked a bit about her and the email that followed broke my heart and made me cry. Actual, literal, tears.

Many moons ago I wrote a post titled “There, but for the grace of God” (http://moomser.blogspot.it/2011/11/there-but-for-grace-of-god.html) , take a minute to read it if you’re up to it, because nothing I’ve experienced so far has once brought me that feeling of having barely avoided tragedy so much as the email I received a few days hence. This woman who wrote me, she could have been me, or rather I could have been her; her situation was so similar, so similar and yet, as she says herself, so different. And reading her email, it made me ashamed, because for months, for years, even now, I concentrate on the consequences of The Husband’s illness, and there are still many, but at the end of the day I still have a husband, my children still have their father. And she does not.

I cannot even imagine, my brain refuses to imagine, how that feels.

I’m going to be brutally honest for a minute here, please don’t judge me too harshly…. there are days, in fact, there are entire weeks, where the Husband and I don’t get along, at all, and I have more than once entertained the thought that my life would be easier if he had died. Yes. I actually just wrote that. Out loud, as it were. I can barely bring myself to reread the words. Not my children’s lives, of course, I would never wish something like that on them, but my life, yes. At times I’ve though that had he not survived the illness then I would have mourned for him, I would have grieved, it would have been unspeakably difficult, but I would have healed and moved on, as I’ve seen countless people do. I would not be fighting to fit this new person I am married to (because the illness has inevitably changed him) into a box shaped like my old husband. The leukemia and all that came after changed him, as it changed me, but sometimes it’s hard to be married to a person so different from the person you married. So I’ve (callously) wondered “what if” in my darkest moments. And now I feel ashamed.

The email I received was in no way self-pitying, it was upbeat, engaging and she spent more time talking about the similarities between our situations than the differences, but the differences are what broke my heart. I cried for this woman I’ve never met and I cringed at all the posts I’ve written complaining about the Husband for this and that other reason. Because I still have a husband, and my children still have a father, and that is a much bigger blessing than I often realize.

Over the years I’ve been contacted by several women in my, or similar, situation, but I’ve gradually moved away from the illness and that period in my life and I’ve lost touch with most of them. Although I still wonder about each and every one of them, how they’re faring, how their stories continued… but this last woman, well she touched me in a way few people have in my life, because, well, truly, there but for the grace of God go I.

All this to say, every time I get a comment or an email from a reader, it teaches me something about life, about love, about death and sorrow and pain, but also hope, and happiness and health, it touches my heart like a dagger, or a slap, or a whisper, or a caress, but it never, ever leaves me indifferent. So thank you. Thank you for reading, thank you for writing, for reaching out, thank you for being a part of my life.

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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Sometimes you can’t see the mountain for all the horse shit coming at you.

I’m in a ranty mood today, just thought I’d put that out there as a warning of sorts. The past few months haven’t been bad, per say, but they certainly haven’t been anywhere near the spectrum of good. I’ve been fine and the kids have been good and we’ve been going about our daily lives quite well, thank you very much, but the Husband, well, he could justifiably complain for a while.

He had problems with his eyes all summer. The industrial amounts of cortisone and other drugs he’s been taking in the last three years since the transplant have, amongst all the other side effects, given him cataracts in both eyes. Cataracts aren’t a huge deal, young and old people get operated all the time with few adverse effects. But, for whatever reason, his eyesight, which had been giving him problems off and on for a while went on a permanent vacation in July. He had to hire a PA from one day to the next to read him emails and drive him around. He became, for all intents and purposes, blind overnight. He called his doctor and threw a fit to have the operation on the first eye in the middle of August (unheard of in Italy, where August is considered the “vacation month”). He saw the light, literally and figuratively, for less than a week and then started having problems again – I had a mini meltdown on his one and only week  of vacation because I was feeling sorry for myself as I was having to shoulder all the responsibilities on my own again (boohoo). His doctor finally realized that he still couldn’t see because he had developed an infection from the cataract operation because… oh, yeah, his immune system’s suppressed. Surprise, surprise.

To make a very long, boring, and occasionally sad, story short, the past few months have been challenging. But that’s ok. Challenging is fine, challenging is not catastrophic.

We’ve also been having a long list of problems with the money pit that has become the house renovation, aka, the worse financial investment we’ve ever made in our lives, which, incidentally, is why I’ve never mentioned it again on here.

Apparently, renovating a house is what Italians do to atone for all past, future, and hypothetical sins. I’m starting to think we’ll be sinning a lot in the next few years due to all the atoning we’re doing right now (our past sins can’t possibly justify the hellishness we’re going through with the fucking house). I’m hoping we get over hating the stupid house by the time we move into it, if that ever happens.

 

But what I really wanted to talk to you about today is my friend. Because, I swear to God, I have no idea how she hasn’t yet snapped and started randomly yelling incoherently at people in the street.

This friend of mine, she is getting divorced. Divorce is a gigantic pile of horse shit, we know that, but looking at her I’ve come to the conclusion that in Italy there is no point in divorce, better just to kill the effing asshole and be done with it.

But let me give you some background. Last year, she finds out that rat faced bastard (rfb from now on, he doesn’t even warrant capital letters) is cheating on her, so in a fit of anger she kicks him out of the house. He moves to France and shacks up with the other woman. A few months later my friend finds out that rfb has gone bankrupt, she finds out because she has people knocking at her door and calling her house at all hours demanding money. Money she doesn’t have because rfb is MIA. So she sucks it up, sells all her horses (she bred mini horses), which she loved and hoped to find some sort of financial agreement with him. His family is loaded, with a capital L, loaded and shrewd as he has nothing in his name. Between insulting her wifely abilities, telling her she should have just sucked it up cause all men have lovers, and spreading lies about her in town, her in laws helped her pay the bills (after her car got repossessed and all her utilities, including electricity, had been shut off because he went bankrupt and hadn’t paid anyone in a while). Did I mention she’s got two kids? Both of which, hurtful rumors aside, are rfb’s. So between one breakdown and the next my friend gets herself a lawyer (paid by the state, because she can’t afford one, and won’t take money from her friends many of whom offered) and tries to put her life back together.

Unfortunately, she finds herself with a (female) judge who is really misogynistic or (likely) has been bought off by her in laws that gives her the most ridiculously absurd settlement offer ever granted in all the lands and then tells her to buck up and get a job to support herself and her two – school age, not independent – children. In a country where the unemployment rate is the highest it’s been in the past thirty years and only expected to get worse. Meanwhile, rfb is living in the next country over, which isn’t allowed after filing for bankruptcy in Italy, has opened another company under someone else’s name and is merrily working again full-time as can be evidenced by his girlfriend’s new car, house, and expensive toys and clothes for his kids.

But no matter, my friend she plods along, has started working part-time and teaching English to make ends meet. Did I mention she’s not Italian? She’s British. But she doesn’t have the option of moving to England, closer to her family where she could have some help (and quite possibly a better chance of finding a job), because rfb has joint custody of the kids.

But why am I sharing this tedious story? Because my friend, she came over tonight to catch up on the past couple of weeks, during which time she’s had to have her eight-year old dog, who she loves dearly, operated on (again), and has had herself several visits with her own doctor, as she hadn’t been feeling well lately. Her doctor tactfully (and I’m totally being sarcastic here) informed her that her thyroid is quite enlarged and along with the other symptoms she’s having, quite likely she has throat cancer.

Fantastic. Just fanfuckingtastic. Because, really, with the year she’s had what other news could she possibly have expected?

I’m in a really raving bad mood tonight, because life, it can be wonderful, but lately it really seems like a gigantic pile of shit. And the worse of it is that my friend, she sat there and told me this laughing and joking because the truth is if she cried I don’t think she’d be able to stop. And that just breaks my heart.

Up, up, and away!

I wrote this Tuesday May 28th, but only able to publish now…

It’s a funny thing leaving your kids and flying across an ocean. Last year, right about this time, I wrote a post, much like I’m doing right now, on an airplane over the Atlantic Ocean. Last time I was going to Brazil by myself to see my ailing grandmother (who has since blown out 103 candles on yet another birthday). The Husband and the Nanny were home with the kids, and though a bit nervous and guilt wracked at leaving the kids behind, one parent was home so I was pretty fine and ready to enjoy myself on the five-day trip. This time I’m flying to New York with the Husband, and I no longer have a Nanny. My kids are with their Nonni (paternal grandparents) and right before leaving for the airport I found myself handing my mother in law an envelope containing my will, a video for the kids, and instructions on their caregiving should they find themselves orphaned.

 

My parents travelled a lot when I was a kid. They travelled both with and without us, and they went all over the world. When they flew with us we all travelled together, when they flew without us they took separate planes. It was very matter of fact. They wrote their wills early on, they nominated a guardian for us, they took care of things. It must have been hard for them, but it was very normal for me. We knew about it, and it wasn’t weird.

 

So when the Husband asked me to go to NY with him for a few days, I immediately started thinking about the things I needed to do, not just the packing and the organizing, but the taking care of things. We’d been talking about it since The Boy was born, but I’m a world-class procrastinator and he’s Italian (that’ll become relevant in a minute) so it just never got done. When one travelled the other was home, and we know exactly what the other expects of us should anything happen. This time, though, we had no excuses.

 

Writing my will wasn’t hard. It was actually quite simple and straightforward. The hard part was thinking about what we’d want to happen to our kids. Have any of you had to think about this before?

Ideally, we would have liked young guardians so we went through all our siblings first… apart from the fact that we are total opposites on the religious, political, and quite possibly moral front, my brother is unmarried and still living the simple, single, lifestyle. Also, I’m not a huge fan of his girlfriend so his taste in what would presumably be my children’s mother figure did not bode in his favor. My other half-siblings are all in their fifties and their kids are all in their twenties and leaving home. I can’t imagine they’d want to have two preschoolers fall in their laps right when their getting ready to finally start enjoying some peace, quiet, and independence again. I don’t think I’d want my ability to travel at the drop of a hat and go out to dinner somewhere with tablecloths rudely taken away from me after twenty years of deprivation right at the finish line, would you?

The Husband’s siblings are more age appropriate but his sister is the one who wants to send us her teenage daughter to raise, so that doesn’t fill me with confidence, and his brother is… well… kind of an asshole.

And friends are always a tricky option when you have families as large as ours. So we were in a bit of a bind…

We finally settled on a joint, both physical and financial, guardianship of the two grandmothers. The kids have an awesome relationship with my MIL, and even though she’s older than my mom we think she’s a better option for when they are little, with the clause that they go live with my mom when they’re teenagers (unless they strongly object to this themselves).

 

Reading all this you’d think we were on death’s door. Of course we’re not, and we have a higher chance of kicking the bucket whilst driving than flying, but I guess it was as good a time as any to start thinking about it. But let me just say that it was absolutely, bar none, the hardest thing I’ve had to do. Ever.  Having to sit down and actually think about and imagine my children’s lives without me was enough to make me want to surgically reattach them to my body and never, ever let them free.

And it made me realize just exactly how precious, how absolutely, unquantifiably, important they are to me.

 

Doing all this also made me feel a little weird. In Italy people do not talk about death. At all. I remember when the Husband got sick, I casually told his mom that he needed to let me know what he wanted in case something went wrong and she completely freaked out on me, it was strange and pretty much incomprehensible to me, because my parents had always been absolutely straight forward and matter of fact about this stuff. When my dad died we all knew exactly what he wanted without even needing to read his will, this made things easy for us and avoided much pointless arguing. Of course this time was no different, I called my mom and told her about my will and what was in it, and all she said was to write the kids a letter to read when they got older (this being the digital age, I left them a video), my MIL, visibly tensed, got tears in her eyes, and told me to stop talking. This morning before we left she took me aside, showed me a secret drawer and said I should put “those things” I mentioned in there, and then shot off like a cat on fire.

 

It’s fine, we did what we had to do, and now I hope to enjoy the four days the Husband and I have in NY together. He’ll work some, I’ll shop loads, my mom is joining us there, the kids are having fun with their Nonni, whose action packed schedule for the week rivals anything the  Disney franchise could possibly come up with for coordinated family fun. And the small, innocuous looking, white, in case I’m gone, envelope sitting in the “secret drawer” has ensured my piece of mind.

 

Now tell me, have you done this? Thought about it?

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!

No Bugs Bunny, keeps me sane

Bed time routines are a bloody nightmare, am I right???

I am not a morning person, by any stretch of the imagination. I’ve never been one. The Husband, on the other hand, loses all cognitive ability after eight p.m. This was always a problem when we were younger and childless because he would clock out when I reached my energy peak, as you can imagine, this made many things difficult, not the least of which was sex. Over the years we’ve managed to find the middle ground on most things (the ones where both of us have to be active and present at least) and we’ve divided up the things that occur at our respective “best” times of day. Basically, I’m not expected to function rationally in the morning, so he takes over the child-readying operations while I’m in charge of anything that happens in the evening. It works out great for us. He gets up early, has a nice relaxed breakfast with his newspaper and no one talking and or needing anything from him, he makes everyone juice, he comes upstairs and wakes me and the kids, and takes care of all the wrangling, washing, brushing, and feeding that is necessary to get to preschoolers out of the house. While I only have to concentrate the two neurons that are actually active and awake in my brain on getting just myself washed, dressed, and fed in the absolute peace and quiet necessary to avoid my head exploding first thing in the morning.

Of course after dinner, I’m in charge of the reading of bedtime stories, brushing of teeth, and yelling like a deranged person to get the same two preschoolers into their damn beds and staying there. I’m also in charge of the repeated serving of water to quench the torturous thirst that presents itself whenever I try to leave the room. I imagine The Husband is sitting in bed, relaxed, and laughing at me the entire time.

Hands down, I think, bedtime is worst than the morning routine. I’ve done the morning routine, while barely functional, and it just doesn’t elicit the same levels of stress and murderous rage that the bedtime routine brings on. Every night, it’s one more book, they have to pee (again), they have to tell me something “super, super, important” right as I’m walking out the door, they lose their luvvies, they need me to tuck them in again and again, and they are so thirsty, so parched, that nothing less than at the very least three separate drinks of water will satisfy them. It takes half an hour to get them to settle down (after they’ve been washed and effectively put into bed for the first time), at the end of which I mostly just want to kill them. It’s very frustrating, mainly because without their constant interruptions and requests our bedtime routine is actually quite sweet. Once they’re in bed, I do a little bad dream banishing magic, I sing them a song, and then we say “good night, I love you miles and miles, sleep tight, don’t let the bed bugs bite”, except that the Girl for some reason didn’t get the bed bugs part, so she would say something unintelligible, which later turned out to be “no bugs bunny”. I have no idea why, I mean, she likes Bugs, Loony Tunes was her favorite show for a while there, and yet every night it’s “sleep tight, no bugs bunny”. So of course, all of us started saying it that way, because, honestly, who could resist, but I feel kind of bad for Bugs, banished from our bedtime routine, for no apparent reason.

So bedtime makes me crazy, except for that moment when two little voices yell “no bugs bunny, mama” at my retreating back as I hightail it out of their room for the fifteenth, and hopefully final, time.

On death and dying

This has been a strange week, what with the Boston Marathon and West, Texas, and I know I should probably be writing about that, but something else happened and it’s what stayed at the forefront of my mind.

On Wednesday, I had to go sign some documents with The Husband for the never-ending saga that is the house reno, and since we were done early we managed to get a rare, quick, lunch together. We were chatting about his brother’s baby’s christening that’s in a few weeks, planning travel (it’s in Milan) and dinner out with our friends and whatnot, and I remarked on the fact that I thought his brother would have asked him to be the baby’s godfather, whereas they decided to ask the other uncle and our niece. And The Husband’s matter of fact answer was that they made the better choice since his life expectancy wasn’t very good, and then he went right back to eating his sandwich.

I was kind of shocked and speechless by his answer. I was also surprised to be shocked and speechless. I know his life expectancy isn’t very good. He signed dozens of documents when he was undergoing treatment that stated that he understood the risks of chemo, and radiation therapy, and the transplant and blah, blah, blah. He’s been on some heavy duty drugs for the three years now. We know. But, since he’s always seemed so removed from his illness, he always seemed to do everything the doctors told him, but without ever truly thinking about it, he seemed to ignore the illness and his recovery in a sense, I always thought he avoided thinking about all the negative implications.

It shocked me because I had never really thought about the fact that he lives his life with the uncertainty of seeing his children grow up, with the thought that at some point, some possibly not too distant point in the future, he’ll leave me a widow and our children orphaned.

It shocked me to imagine that he doesn’t think he’s going to be around very long.

How do you live like that?

The leukemia is in remission, he should be relieved, he should be looking forward and thinking about his future, instead with every handful of pills he takes every day, twice a day, he thinks that his life expectancy isn’t very good.

I realize I’m not saying anything new, we were aware of this, but I never really thought about it, about how it impacted him (ridiculous, since he’s the one it’s impacting daily). It just made me really sad for him, to think that this is how he lives his life, with Damocles’ sword overhead. So with tragedy and death all around us these days, this is what I’ve been thinking about, the uncertainty of life and the gift each day that we have really is.

Who put this hot potato in my lap??

This weekend the Husband took the kids to Milan to visit his family. The kiddos love spending time with their Nonni (grandparents) and I get a relaxing weekend at home… alone… pure bliss! Though, I do miss them lots (between cocktails and visits to the spa and hanging out with my friends with nary a child in sight…) Also, my Husband’s family gets to do whatever they want, feed them candy, take them on adventures, without my disapproving, party pooper presence. So it works out all around.

Friday night I had “the girls” over for dinner, mostly because I needed to practice my Margarita making skills – on a side note, it took me thirty minutes in front of the liquor aisle at the supermarket to locate the tequila, there were 25 different types of rum and more different grappas than I could count but only one, lonely, half-hidden, bottle of insanely expensive tequila, which I thought was pretty weird… Anyway… one of my girlfriends wanted to hone her cosmopolitan making skills as one of her 40 things to learn before 40 bucket list, so much alcohol was consumed. Surprisingly, everyone was eager to taste test our creations. We had a lovely meal, followed by drunken dancing, and then we sobered up with a hilarious movie before bidding each other good night at the ungodly hour of 2am. All this happened while wearing drawstring pants, not a stitch of make-up and with nary a high heel in sight, basically, the perfect evening!

This is the second child and Husband free weekend I’ve had this year, and I’ve got to say that every couple of months or so it really is a lifesaver (or, less dramatically, sanity saver).

 

The Husband came home Sunday night and asked me to consider having his 16 year-old niece come to live with us. I know, kind of an intense subject matter for a Sunday night post relaxing weekend.

His niece, is a really sweet, slightly troubled, girl. We had actually considered this two years ago when she started high school, but decided we couldn’t accept the responsibility of a fourteen year old (the Husband had just had the second transplant and the Girl was one and a half). And now the situation presents itself once again, and I’m unsure what to do.

Our niece, let’s call her R for simplicity’s sake, has just been suspended from school for two weeks, she’s probably going to fail the year, she got recently put in a body cast for a pretty severe scoliosis that nobody noticed, and is generally left mostly to her own devices. I’m not making any judgments on her parents and their parenting, they had an ugly divorce, and other varied and sundry family drama, and since I’ve never gone through that and don’t have teenagers I can’t say one way or the other where the blame lies (if blame can even be assigned in a situation as this one). What I do know, is that we could give her a stable family environment. What I don’t know is whether I’m capable of handling a teenager, cause if it’s your own teenager you’ve raised her year by year yourself and you sort of ease into it, we would be leaping from preschoolers to at teenager with no intermediate preparation whatsoever.

I wouldn’t want to screw up the situation more than it already is, but on the other hand, we love her and want to help her, and maybe being in a new environment, having to make new friends, away from all the drama that inevitably falls on her doorstep every day, could be beneficial.

Right now we’re trying to think of all the possible scenarios, and we’re trying to figure out if we’re up to it and how it would affect her, us, and our children, then we’re going to sit down and talk to her parents (separately, but hopefully also together) and to her. In the meantime, I wonder, does anyone have any advice?

Monday Listicle – The oh my husband is so wonderful Edition

Hello friends, happy Monday! It’s Listicle time! This week’s topic is courtesy of yours truly, thank you Stasha for picking my suggestion! I’ve been meaning to dedicate a post to the Husband for some time now, but something always gets in the way (namely my erratic posting habits), so guilt-ridden after my Valentine’s day fiasco I suggested ten ways my partner’s awesome, because, of course, he is (I picked him, didn’t I?) and I would do well to remember that! It works out ever so perfectly because tomorrow is father’s day here, in Italy it is always celebrated on St Joseph day, March 19th, which is one of the many holidays I routinely forget about as it is the “wrong” month (as far as I’m concerned!).

Anyway, repenting my many sins in the spirit of lent (even though I’m not catholic), I give you, ten ways The Husband is awesome:

1. He’s married to me, I’m awesome, ergo he is awesome by association.

2.  He gives me regular foot massages or back rubs (and not always with an ulterior motive)

3. He’s a wonderful father

4. He’s the friendliest guy I know

5. He’s also the nicest guy I know, an example: when he was in the hospital in Houston one day he was being taken to get a test done and the girl pushing his bed was training, so it was her and two other women (and me, he looked like he had some sort of weird entourage…), anyway she had probably just started because she was not very good… in fact, she kept banging him into corners and it took forever to get in and out of the elevators… standard fare for a beginner, but she was obviously getting flustered as he was obviously very uncomfortable, anyway all of a sudden he turns to her, touches her hand, and says, don’t worry, you are a good driver this has been a fun ride. In any situation when he could possibly have the option of complaining, or being an asshole, or being stern, he’ll always choose to be nice. I really hope my kids take after him.

6. He’s thoughtful.  A few months ago I had a movie night with the girls and last minute we had nowhere to do it cause all our husbands and kids were home, so he set us up in his office, he took time out of his day to organize a big screen tv and comfy chairs and everything I would need to connect my ipad so we could watch the movie. He even left us drinks… and he doesn’t have a lot of time to take out of his day.

7. He can fix or rewire anything in the house. He’ll bitch while he’s doing it, and I need to be around to hand him tools and stuff, but he does it, and he does a damn good job of it too.

8. He’s an optimist (most of the time). When I met him he was the poster boy for positive thinking, he gave my dad (the most optimistic person I had known till I met the Husband) a run for his money. Obviously, the leukemia changed this about him, not the first time around, the first time he was Mr Positivity, there was always a doctor or a nurse in his room just to have a chat, that’s how pleasant he was to be around. Of course, when the leukemia came back that changed his attitude a lot, he was a lot sicker, he was out of strength (mentally and physically), he had probably reached his limit, so he turned into a very negative, pessimistic version of himself. But you can’t fight nature, and I see some of the light coming back…

9. He likes to dance. He’s not always … er… Fred Astaire… but he’s always up for going dancing, so can’t really complain, now can I!

10. He’ll always cut the chicken or raw meat up for me to cook when it grosses me out. And he cooked it when I was pregnant and couldn’t look, smell or eat meat of any kind unless it was properly camouflaged in the form of a very loaded burger or sandwich.

11. He sends me flowers. He sends his mother flowers. He always tries to make me happy. (and it mostly works) – I added this one because #1 doesn’t really count…

12. he is a wonderful lover ;P

Well, rereading this, he is pretty awesome… and now I have something to go read when he does something that makes me want to rip his head off (which is likely to be daily).

(#12 appeared after I wrote the list and left it for him to read… though I have no evidence, I believe I have a pretty good idea as to who could possibly have added it.)