Insanity of Motherhood

Motherhood, marriage, and midlife.


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A Year In the Life

A year ago I began a new life.  Actually, it’s the same life, but in a new location.  My family and I moved to Italy to live and work for three years.  The decision to live overseas had been a dream of mine for a long time.  And last year I was granted the opportunity to fulfill my dream.

I haven’t written a post in a long while, as I felt it best to adjust to my new surroundings and support my family.  To be honest, I also wanted to wait until the newness of my new environment settled so I could provide a more objective view of what life has been like for the last year.

Moving to a new location can be a challenge.  For those who are middle-aged it is can be even more of a challenge.  By middle age, you have settled into your life and location. You have had the same job and friends for years, and for the most part like it that way. But some people in middle age question themselves, “Is this all there is?” and “What do I want for my life?”  Obviously, I was part of the latter group.  Several years prior to getting my job overseas, I began thinking of what it would be like and how I could make the dream of mine happen.

The last year has been one of highs and lows.  Obviously, the high points have been to travel and experience amazing places.  Our travels this year alone have surpassed any hopes I ever had about traveling.  One of the greatest advantages of living overseas is the access to travel.  Europe is vast, interesting and less expensive to visit when you live in a European county.  Because we are only living in Italy for three years, we feel compelled to travel as much as possible.   We spend hours looking at websites, formulating trips, and planning adventures.  Each county we visit offers a new experience with food, culture, history, and people.  The best part of living in Europe is being part of an amazing culture that is vast and diverse.

However, as high as the travels are for living in Europe, there are also some low points.   Working overseas is not the same as traveling overseas.  I have a job, and most of my time is spent working, not roaming the hills of Tuscany drinking wine.  My friends and family view our photos, and convince themselves I do nothing other than eat wonderful food and see amazing sights.  Of course this isn’t true.  The work I do is stressful.  As a matter of fact, this job is most stressful job I’ve ever had.  The hours are long and packed with things to do.  The newness of job is beginning to settle, so I’m hopeful the stress will lessen for the second year.  Although we have a lovely Italian home, it’s far away from my job.  My daily commute is over 1 1/2 hours a day.  If I do take a shorter route, the traffic is stressful, comparable to LA traffic.  Those of your know LA traffic know how crazy it must be.  Often on the weekend, my husband, son and I sit around resting and recuperating from our long week.   However, we make sure to take an outing at least one day each weekend, because we know we won’t be here forever.  Time limits make us do more than we normally would do.

The lowest part of living and working overseas is to be far away from loved ones.  We miss our family and friends, especially our two older boys.  Both boys were able to visit us this summer, but when the summer ended so did their visit.  Last year my middle son lived with our friends to complete his senior year.  We were fortunate to have the support for him while we were away, but realized parenting from afar isn’t easy.  Your child isn’t in your home, and you don’t have a physical presence to ensure things are getting done or rules are being followed.   Due to our location, we weren’t able to be back in the states for the start of college for both older boys this fall.  A mixture of guilt and sadness exists for my husband and I, as we have always been involved parents and to not be there to support them both feels strange.  Several situations have happened in the last year with both boys, and we’ve only been able to provide support via phone, or chat.  This is normal for all college bound parents, however our situation is more of a challenge due to the time difference.

Another low point has been the adjustment to our new situation.  My husband and young son have been slow to adjust to living in Italy. They are both doing better now, but it hasn’t been easy.  They’ve had to adjust to a new culture to live and work in.  My son went from attending a progressive school to a traditional one.  He has had to make new friends, and adjust to a life he would have not chosen for himself.   Knowing my family wasn’t happy has made me feel sad, as I know I’m the one responsible for the choice to live overseas.

So what do I think about this new life experience so far?  Frankly,  it’s the most amazing thing I’ve ever done.  I’ve never thought of myself as being brave, but I do now.  The challenges I have faced this year have surpassed anything I’ve done previously.  I’ve realized my family and I are quite capable.  We have developed skills of resilience and patience.  We’ve learned new ways to communicate and to support each other.  We’ve all gone way outside our comfort zone and survived.  This opportunity my family and I have is a chance of a lifetime.  There isn’t a day that goes by that I don’t say that to myself, despite all of the challenges.

I am grateful for the support my family has provided each day for my work, and for reminding where my roots are.  The roots of your life are what keep you stable when the winds are strong, or the rain weaken the ground.  And let me tell you, there have been some strong winds and rain in Italy.

Hopefully, this post will get me on track again to writing for my blog.  I know many of you have asked me to start writing again.  I will do my best.  In the meanwhile, enjoy some photos of our first year living abroad.  Ciao!


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37 1/2 Questions

Recently, while searching for a new exercise video on YouTube, I stumbled upon a video series called 73 Questions.  73 Questions are videos, filmed in a single shot, of personalities (mainly celebrities), asking 73 questions about what they like, hate, and know.  They make the videos appear random, like someone happened to stop by and do an impromptu interview, and ask a few questions.  However, the videos are obviously scripted and practiced.  They are still fun to watch.  I started with Nicole Kidman (her Australian house is amazing), and ended with James Corden.  Check them out for yourself here.

I thought it would be fun for me do something similar for my blog.  However, I have no interest in doing the video portion of the interview or for 73 questions.  I decided to create a list of 37 1/2  questions I’ve been asked regarding my upcoming move to Italy.   Since announcing my decision to move with the family, I have been bombarded with tons  of questions.

Here we go.

1) How did this happen?

I’m not sure I understand the question.  How did what happen?

2) How did you decide to move to Italy?

Oh.  I accepted a job to work over there.

3) No.  I mean…how did you even think of applying for a job in Italy?

Well, 20 plus years ago I worked overseas in London, England.  It was a great experience,and I’ve always wanted to live overseas again.

4)  Did you talk about applying for the job with your family?

Of course.

5)  How did they respond?

Indifferent at first.  They knew it was my dream to live overseas, but didn’t think it wouldn’t really happen.

6) Were they surprised to hear you got the job?

Yes and no.  I’d been talking about applying for jobs for a while, but the fact I got a job offer was a surprise.

7)  How did your family react?

Mixed.  Husband was proud, excited, but nervous.  Older boys were fine, as long as they could stay at their current schools.  Little Boy cried.

8)  Was it hard to have Little Boy cry?

Yes.  Before I accepted the job, we had several family discussions.  There were a lot of questions, and emotions during those conversations.

9)  Is Little Boy still sad?

I’m sure he is, but he also is excited.  We all are.  

10)  What’s the hardest part about making decision to live overseas?

Making sure everyone needs are being met.  Years ago, when I lived overseas I was a single person. Now I am married, with three kids, own a home, and have aging parents.  Making sure we had a plan how to make it work was crucial prior to accepting the job.

11)  What work will you be doing?

I will be the Director of Child Youth programs on an US Military base.

12)  Will you live on the US base?

No.

13)  Do you speak Italian?

No.

14)  Have you been to Italy?

No.

15)  Is everyone moving to Italy with you?

No.  My husband and youngest son are coming with me, but two older boys will remain in the United States.  They want to finish high school and college in the US.

16)  Did you offer for them to come with you to Italy?

Of course.  The older boys have friends, and connections in the US.  They are also ages 18 and 20. They are old enough to decide what they want to do for the future.

17)  Are you sad to leave them?

Yes.  It’s hard to think about,  but they will visit and they will stay with us during vacations and summer.  We are a close family.  We will make sure to stay connected.

18)  How long will you live overseas?

Three years.

19)  Can you stay longer?

Possibly.  It depends on a lot of factors.

20)  Is your husband supportive?

Yes, very.

21)  Was he always supportive?

Yes and no.  At first, we didn’t have all the details worked out.  It was a complex process to see how we could support three boys, three schools, own a home, and two careers.  I’m the dreamer in the family.  He’s the practical one.  His practical side needed to be fulfilled, prior to accepting the job.

22)  What has been the response from family and friends?

Mixed.  Sad, excited, shocked, and happy.  We feel all the same emotions.

23)  What has been the most unusual response to the move?

Silence.  

23)  What will you miss the most when you move?

The people.

24)  What will you miss the least?

Nothing.  I love where I live, my family and my friends. 

25)  Why leave then?

Five years ago my husband and I talked about our future.  We both love to travel, and both want meaningful careers.  This job opportunity offers us both things.  Leaving doesn’t always mean you are unhappy.  Sometimes we leave to experience something more.

26)  What will happen to your house?

We will rent it out.

27)  What about all your belongings?

We will take most of our things with us, and store the rest.

28)  Are you scared?

No.

29)  Really?

Yes, really.  I have concerns, but scared…no.

30)  I’ve never heard of someone taking a job overseas.  Isn’t it unusual?

Not really.  Military families move overseas all the time.  This experience has given me great appreciation for US military families who move frequently and to overseas locations. The process is daunting when you have a family.  

31)  Do you like Italian food?

Is this a real question?

32)  Do you worry about crime in Italy?

Not more than I do in the US.

33)  What happens if you get homesick?

It will happen.  We will get homesick, but we will support each other.  This move is different from my previous one.  There are many more ways to stay connected.  We will also travel back to the US at least once a year.

34)  What would you say to someone considering working overseas or following a dream?

Do the research.  It was not an easy process for this to happen.  Take time to research how it can happen, and begin the process.  If you really see something in your future, you have to take the steps to make if happen.  

35)  Anything else?

Stay positive.  Many times I’ve been discouraged because things didn’t go as quickly, or as smoothly as I wanted.  Surround yourself with positive people who support you.  You will need their encouragement.

36)  Regrets?

No, not yet.

37)  Final words?

I’m grateful for this opportunity.  It’s happening because of many people who believe in and support me.  Timing and luck had a lot to do with it too.  I get to do valuable, meaningful work, see the world, and be with my family.  It doesn’t get much better than that.

371/2 )  And?

Ciao.  We’re done.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 


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Mom Says It Again

The other night at dinner Tall Boy sprung the news to my husband and I his school had an open house the next night.  My reaction wasn’t one of joy.

“Mom, open house for school is tomorrow.” – Tall Boy

“Really? I don’t remember seeing the email.  That’s too bad.” – Mother

“You always say that, Mom.” – Tall Boy

“Say what?” – Mother

“Say, that’s too bad”.  – Tall Boy

“No, I don’t”. –  Mother

“Yes you do”. – Tall Boy

“You do, Mom”. – Little Boy

“You have a bunch of things you say all the time.  You repeat the same sayings over and over.” – Old Boy

“What are you talking about?  What do I say over and over?” – Mother

For the next half hour at dinner the family proceeded tell me quotes I use on a daily basis.  Every mother has a few quotes to be remembered by, but apparently I have more than the average mom.  This morning when I woke up my husband kindly (or not so kindly) left a list of my quotes for my on the counter.  Ten quotes isn’t too many is it?

That’s too bad.

I say this one a lot.  It’s used when I’m not happy.

“Mom, Dad said to tell you the washing machine is broken.”

Stop talking.

This quote is used when my boys won’t stop talking.  It’s self explanatory.

Stay calm.

When I feel frazzled I use the quote to remind myself what I need to do.  I used this excessively teaching the teenagers to drive.

Unfortunately.

This is another quote to show my unhappiness for a situation.

“The guys will be over soon for a sleepover, Mom.”

Stop bothering those people.

This wonderful quote isn’t an original of mine.  My husband overheard a mother saying it to her annoying son while waiting in line at LEGOLAND.  I use it to remind my boys to be good in public.  Not sure who “those people” are though.

The thing is…

Here’s another stolen quote.  This one comes from my older sister.  She says this all the time to explain a situation.  I use it to explain things too.

“The thing is…money doesn’t grow on trees.  Dad and I don’t have money to hand out when you waste your money on new muscle shirts.”

Focus.

All mothers say this quote.  This one is used mainly for my little son.  I remind him to stay on task and get the job done.

Hubble up.

A morning routine saying.  This one means, “Hurry up people or we’ll be late again.”

What’s happening in the land of ___________ grade?

I like this quote.  I say it instead of the usual, “How was your day at school?”  It has a fill in the blank section that makes it easy to say for multiple children.

Don’t forget about trash and recycling.

This quote is said everyday to Old Boy.  It’s his job to take out the trash and recycling and he never remembers.  I do a daily reminder for him.  He hates this quote, but if he did his job I wouldn’t need to remind him.

I’m sorry to hear about that.

Another one of my “I’m not happy to hear that” quotes.

“Mom, we are out of toilet paper again.”

Mom’s are supposed to have famous quotes.  Years from now when I am gone they’ll have happy memories of their mother’s sayings.  At least I hope they’re happy memories.  If they don’t that’s too bad.


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Guy Talk

A conversation between a mother and a little boy.

Mother and little boy are sitting on carpet.  Little boy is putting on his shoes.

I can’t get my shoes on.  It hurts.” – Little Boy

Mother looks at shoes.

“They’re too small.  We’ll need to pick up some new ones this weekend.” – Mother

“We need to get some new underwear too.  I want to start wearing boxers.”- Little Boy

“Excuse me?  Boxers?  You mean boxer briefs?” – Mother

“Yeah.  I don’t want to wear underwear anymore.  I want to wear boxers.” – Little Boy

“Really?  Why?” – Mother

“I’m big now.  I’m the only one who lives here and still wears underwear.” – Little Boy

“I wear underwear.  I live here.” – Mother

“You’re a girl, Mom.  Girls wear underwear and men wear boxers.  I’m not a baby anymore.  It’s time.” – Little Boy

“You will always be my baby”.  – Mother

Mother kisses little boy on the head.

You mean no cartoon characters on your underwear anymore?” – Mother

“Well… maybe we can find some boxers with superheros on them.  That would still be cool, right? – Little Boy

“Yeah, it’s cool.  Maybe I could get some too?” – Mother

“Mom, don’t talk about wearing boxers.  It’s guy talk.” – Little Boy


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Leave it at That

A conversation between a mother and a teenage son.

Boy is sitting at computer.  Boy calls to mother to come near him.

Mom.  Mom, can you come here?” – Tall Boy

“I’m cooking dinner right now.  Can you wait?” – Mother

“No.  It’s important.  I want to show you something.” – Tall Boy

“How important?  If it’s one of those motorized car videos I will pass.”  – Mother

“No, it’s something else.  Come on, Mom.” – Mother

“Okay.  Jeez. ” – Mother

Mother walks over to son.  Mother looks at son.

Well?” – Mother

“Look.” – Tall Boy

Son points to computer screen.  Mother looks at computer screen.

Are those your grades?” – Mother

Yes.” – Tall Boy

“Wow. That’s amazing.  Good for you.”- Mother

“Thanks, Mom.” – Tall Boy

I want you to know your Dad and I are very proud of you.  You’ve come a long way.  Things weren’t always easy for you or for us, but now look at you.  We support you 100%.  Well, almost 100%.  I guess it’s more like 95%, because if you get arrested and go to jail we won’t support you.  We expect you to stay out of jail and be an honorable citizen. So, don’t screw up.  Stay the path you’re on now and things will be fine.  Better than fine.  They’ll be great.  Super great.  College is coming soon, so do your best.  Do you understand what I’m trying to say?” – Mother

Mother kisses son on the head.

“Um…thanks, Mom.  I think.  Next time I show you my grades could you just say well done and leave it at that?” – Tall Boy


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The Center of The Universe

A conversation between a mother and a little boy.

Mother is cleaning the kitchen.  Mother looks at the kitchen table.

“Hey, who made the big mess on the kitchen table?” – Mother

Silence.  Mother glances in living room and sees little boy.

“Did you make the mess on the table?” – Mother

“Maybe.” – Little Boy

“What do you mean maybe?” – Mother

Mother walks over to kitchen table.

“These look like your pens and markers.  Someone has been drawing.” – Mother

Mother looks a one of the drawings.

“This has your name on it.  Did you draw it?” – Mother

“Maybe.” – Little Boy

Mother looks closely at the drawing.

“What is the drawing about?” – Mother

“It’s about our family.  First there was you and then daddy.  Then came my big brothers and then came me.” – Little Boy

“Oh.” – Mother

“You are the center of the universe.  You are beginning of it all.” – Little Boy

Mother smiles.

“I’m the center of the universe?  I’ll clean up the mess on the table.” – Mother

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The Power of One Little Word

A conversation between a mother and a teenage son.

Mother and son engage in a conversation.  Mother discusses conversation held with son earlier in the day.

I’m disappointed in the way you handled my simple request this morning.  Your response was very self-centered.” – Mother

“I was in a hurry.  I didn’t have time to help you out.” – Tall Boy

“Yes, you did.  You had time.  I asked you help me with something that was important to me.  I was emotional and needed to know I could count on you.” – Mother

” I know.” – Tall Boy

“Remember to think of others as often as you think of yourself.  Your feelings are important, but so are other people’s.  Hearing how ill my dad is very hard.  I need to know you will support me when times are tough.  I need to know you will be the loving son I’ve raised you to be.” – Mother

“I’m sorry, Mom.  I know things have been hard for you lately.  I love you SO much.” – Tall Boy

Teenage son walks over to mother and gives her a hug.

“I’ve never heard you say that to me before.” – Mother

“Never say what?” – Tall Boy

“Say you love me SO much.” – Mother

“I tell you I love you all the time.” – Tall Boy

“You tell me you love me, but I’ve never heard you say you love me SO much.” – Mother

“I say it everyday I guess just not out loud.” – Tall Boy

Mother smiles.

“I love you SO much too.” – Mother

One little word can change everything.