My gun or yours?

I love the US. I grew up there. It’s my home. I love Texas. It’s the best state in the union. (or so we think.) Up to a few years ago I would’ve given anything to be able to move back. And then I had kids, and though I would love nothing more than to have them grow up there, because there are many, many wonderful things about the United States of America, I simply cannot imagine taking them voluntarily to a place where 27 people in an elementary school can be randomly gunned down by an idiot. (And also, healthcare is unacceptable, but that’s another post).

I live in Italy, there are hunters here too, people have guns in Italy too, one in six families, in fact, keep a firearm in the home. But to get a gun you have to jump through a thousand and one hoops, you are not allowed to walk around with a gun, you are not allowed to carry a concealed weapon, you are not allowed to walk into a public space with a gun, and, you are certainly not allowed to shoot a gun. Yes, you read that right. No shooting. Unless you’re in a shooting range, or aiming at ducks. You’re not even allowed to shoot someone invading your home unless they’ve shot a gun at you (although I personally don’t agree with this exaggerated interpretation of proportional force). What all this means is that Italians don’t take the use of guns in the same excessively cavalier, I done gone and shot him dead, way that Americans do.

Because guns here are scary, they’re seen as frightening, which frankly is the way it should be, because guns actually do shoot one dead. And sure, you can kill someone with a knife, or with a rope, or with your bare hands, in fact, but all these other ways of killing people take a certain degree of skill, whereas you barely need basic motor skills to kill someone with a gun. Guns are too damn easy to use, which is why they need to be regulated. I absolutely believe in the right to bear arms, but every right should be accompanied by obligations, by responsibilities and by limitations. Because it is absolutely unacceptable, in an evolved society, that small children be gunned down in the middle of the school day. We are not barbarians, we need to stop behaving that way. Guns have to be regulated, because we simply cannot count on every person toting a gun to be responsible, and the alternative is too horrifying to be left up to chance, we’ve had proof enough of that.

I’m guest posting over at my friend Bridget’s wonderful blog Twinisms later today, as she’s off enjoying a much deserved Hawaiian vacation. Please stop by and visit me there too!

One line good, two lines less good…

I had a bit of a scare today. One of those “holy hell I need to take a pregnancy” test kind of scare, and mostly, it’s the iPhone’s fault. You see, now I use an app to keep track of my period, whereas before Apple took over my life I used to just make little red cross marks on my day planner (remember those?). My day planner never once sent me urgent messages rife with exclamation points to tell me my period was one day, two days, three days late. In fact, when I got pregnant with the Girl it took me a week with what I thought was the never-ending stomach flu to realize I was maybe just a little late.

So, I’m only a week late but I had to go get the pregnancy test, despite the fact that we are insanely diligent now about protection and the Husband’s swimmers are 98% no longer working (chemo, radiation therapy and the meds he’s taking now, in case you’re wondering why) because the stupid phone kept obsessing about it. This little exercise in futility, made me sit and mull over a couple of things: first off, even though I’m not sure I’m ready to be done with babies, I’m absolutely, positively, not ready to deal with all the issues that would inevitably come up if I actually got pregnant “accidentally”. Because the likelihood that a baby conceived at this point of the husband’s recovery is healthy enough to get to term is pretty slim, and who wants to knowingly put themselves through that? I’m not ready to deal with the fact that I may have to terminate a pregnancy, or raise a child with severe health issues. Also, I’m not sure I’m ready to start over right now, I mean, I do want more children, but right this minute I need to enjoy at least a few months of uninterrupted sleep at night, and I need to get some of this “first two babies” weight off, because if I put a third baby’s weight on top of it I may never recover (from having to throw out all my lovely clothes!). That’s why we’re obsessive about contraception, and that’s also why a week of the stupid phone’s constant reminders that by God my period wasn’t coming kind of freaked me out. Hence the pregnancy test. So clearly, you all agree that my day was stressful and it’s all Apple’s fault, right? Maybe I should sue for damages…


Oh, and p.s., in case you’re wondering, the test was negative. Now I just have to figure out why I’m late!

Set in my ways, like a cranky old codger

As I’ve mentioned I’m at the beach with the kids, and this time away from home has helped me realize a few things about myself and my life. Our day-to-day here is much simpler, we get up, we have breakfast, we get ready and we go to the beach (with a couple of fights, a crying fit or two, the beds getting made, and me yelling a bit in between). We spend a few hour at the beach, we have lunch, we come home, bathe and nap. I clean and look at blogs, we go out, to the greengrocer, the baker, the butcher, and the candlestick maker. (I’m actually kidding about that last one.) Then we have dinner, go back down to the square for the dancing or kiddie show or whatever entertainment is on offer that night and then we go to bed, get up the next morning and wash, rinse, repeat. If friends come to stay our routine remains pretty much the same, even whilst the chaos level rises exponentially, but it’s all good.

When the husband or the nanny come though… well, I’ve noticed I start getting a little tense, a little more upset, a little… completely pissed off all the time. Why? Because the truth is I’m 36 going on 89. I’m set in my ways, I like things just so, when I settle into a routine I don’t like to have it disrupted. Well, more like I positively despise having it disrupted. The nanny, she puts the dishes away wrong, she puts too much detergent in the washer, she sneaks bleach in the house when I’m trying to green my cleaning products… at home I don’t mind, I’ve got too much to do, and as long as the house is clean I don’t really care how it gets that way. But here, I’m in control of my life, the house is small enough to be manageable and it’s new, everything is where I want it, it’s mine, more than the house we live in every day is. And I want things just so.

The husband, he comes and he wants to go to the beach earlier, or later, he wants to have breakfast at the cafè, he wants to go swimming, or he doesn’t, he hogs the shade, he talks on the phone with the office or his colleagues or his mother. He invites his mother over without asking me, when he isn’t here. He wants to eat dinner out, or in, he wants pizza or sushi or pasta. All legitimate requests, but annoying nonetheless cause he screws with my routine. I can’t just decide and do, when he’s here, I have to suggest, listen, negotiate. Many of these are the same reasons why I wanted to separate a few months back, because life on my own is just easier most of the time. I’ve come to terms with it in my regular life, I realize that with every negotiation I don’t have to face, with every concession I don’t have to make I’m paying the price in sole responsibility, snow shoveling, and spider elimination. So you compromise, in marriage. But I’m on vacation and when he’s around I’m not on vacation anymore. Sure, I’m on an extended version of the mother vacation which means I still cook and clean and run after children, referee fights and all that, but my mind’s on vacation and then he shows up and effectively rains on my parade.

The truth is though, that I should just be thankful that I have a nanny who takes the kids off my hands so I can get some work done, or cleans the house, or irons our clothes, I should be happy to see the Husband on the weekends, to talk to another adult, to go out to eat or have an extra ice cream or a cocktail. I’m just a cranky, old lady, despite my relatively young age. And all I can think of is God help us all when I actually reach my old age cause I’m going to be completely intractable, like a codgery old fool.

This time I was sleeping and….

The witching hour. That’s when the baby would wake up every night. Every night for what felt like eons but was actually only a couple of years. The witching hour in this case was 5.30am. He’d wake, have milk and a diaper change and go back to sleep till 8. So lucky, people would say, you get to sleep till eight with a baby! I didn’t feel all that lucky, never sleeping more than five hours in a row, interrupted, night after night after night. But that day, I think, I got really lucky.

The baby cried and I woke up, I stumbled down the hall to his room in the dark. I heard a noise and thought it was the cat. Damn cat.

I fed the baby, and changed him, and made my sleepy way back to bed. At seven a.m. the housekeeper burst into my room: I think someone was in the house, she said. I don’t remember how, but in the next instant I was standing in front of the baby’s room, not yet having really processed the information just given. I had my hand on the door and couldn’t go in, my husband, behind me, stepped in front and went in. The baby was fine, sleeping peacefully in his crib, and I regained the ability to breathe. Someone had, indeed been in the house; they’d come in for the car. Stupid car. They searched the house for the keys, they came upstairs and went through the husband’s pockets. Thankfully he left his clothes outside our room, they most likely heard the baby crying and went downstairs. That was the noise I heard. They took the spare, opened the gate, and left with the car and a watch that was just lying around. The police told us they were probably specialized thieves, they had targeted that car, the husband’s car had signaled a flat a few days earlier and that apparently is another method they use to take cars, create a slow flat, or the appearance of one, wait for the car to pull over and then they jack it. That didn’t work so they came looking at home.

I was lucky that day, because they chose to come searching at the witching hour. I’m a very light sleeper, had they come at any other time I would have heard them and woken up, I would have gone downstairs to kick the cat out for waking me and I would have run into the two guys searching for the keys instead. The police had an idea who they were, and they’re not known for being very nice. Efficient, yes, but not nice. I pretty much stopped complaining about the baby waking me every night after that. And we installed an alarm system.

Linking up with MamaKat’s pretty much world-famous writer’s workshop today, with the prompt “this time I was sleeping and…”

Mama’s Losin’ It