Insanity of Motherhood

Motherhood, marriage, and midlife.


8 Comments

Adjustable

It’s been nine weeks since I arrived in Italy.  There isn’t a day that goes by when I don’t say to myself, “I can’t believe I’m here.” Nine weeks ago I was living in the United States surrounded by all the things I’ve been familiar with for the last 25 years.  Now I am surrounded by the unfamiliar.

The best way to describe what I’ve been going through is to imagine you are tailor.  You love being a tailor and are good at it.  Some one calls and asks if would consider opening a clothing store using designs you’ve created.  You’re excited.  You’ll have an opportunity to showcase your talents and do what you love on a grander scale.  The person tells you the store will open in Italy.  Even better, right?  But there’s a catch.  You’ll need to leave your family behind and live alone in Italy for three months.  For the first three months you will not be doing sewing or design creation.  Instead you’ll be locating a place for your new store, working with legal issues, purchasing equipment, hiring staff…you get the idea.  Your excitement becomes clouded with reality.

I think one the reasons most people don’t pursue dreams is because of the adjustment period.  Adjusting from the known to the unknown is scary, unsettling and at times painful.  I’ve shed many tears since my arrival.  The circumstances I’ve had to deal with have been far from ordinary.  Yesterday I was expected for an appointment to visit a local school.  Feeling confident, I decided to meet my staff at the location instead of driving with her.   Mind you I’ve only been driving in Italy for a week.  I pulled out my GPS and headed on my way to the location.  As I pulled up to the destination I realized something was wrong.  There wasn’t a school in sight.  I called for directions, but it didn’t help.  I drove around searching desperately for the school to no avail.  Finally I called to say I wouldn’t make the appointment.  I drove back home feeling defeated.

Many times I’ve felt sure of a situation only to have it not work out.  This happens to everyone, but when you are out of your element it happens a lot more.  If I had gotten lost at home I would have called my husband, but here I had to figure it out on my own.  I didn’t realize how dependent I had become on the support of my family and friends until I was no longer with them.

Although the struggles have been real it doesn’t mean I would change the decision to move here.  Each day when I overcome a difficult situation I become more confident. When I try something new or different I become braver.  Every time I accomplish a task I didn’t think I could do, I realize I’m much more capable than I thought.  It’s a good thing. It’s a crazy, amazing, ridiculous, and wonderful adventure.  I’m proving I’m adjustable to a new life.  I’m proving working for a dream can be hard, but living a dream can be worth it.

 

 

 


5 Comments

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.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 


8 Comments

Hmm…

Hmm…where to begin.  It’s been quite a while since I’ve written a blog post.  A few months ago when I was asked to renew my blog subscription, I questioned if I wanted to continue.  As I debated in my mind, I realized I did have more things to share and maybe another year of blogging would be a good thing.

Since I began my blog five years ago a lot has happened.  Creating the blog initially was an outlet for me to express my thoughts and feelings regarding midlife, motherhood and my transition from full-time home parent back to the workforce.  Well, I’m happy to say I made it through my “midlife something”, and am now fully immersed in my career.

For the last few years I have gone back to school to update my education, and have worked various jobs to update for resume and job related skills.  My plan worked, as I recently accepted a position that fully utilizes all the information I’ve learned, and has an unexpected bonus.  The job is located overseas in Italy.  It’s hard to believe, but my family and I will be moving over to Italy by the end of the year.

When I think back to where I was five years ago, I realize there were many things I needed to learn before accepting my current employment.  Originally, my blog was created as a result of not getting a job.  After not being selected, I knew I had work to do.  So I got busy. I went to school, started working, and began the process of getting up to speed in my career field.  It wasn’t easy. As a matter of fact, the last few years have been the most challenging times I have ever endured career-wise.  I’ve made many mistakes, but I’ve also taken some amazing risks. I’ve gone out of my comfort zone so many times that I no longer fear things I’ve never done before.  So much so, that I took a chance to apply for jobs that were only dreams for me.

What lies ahead for me is more challenges, but not the fear and doubt I once had.  Years ago I searched for my purpose, my meaning, my contribution to the world outside of being a wife and mother.  It took a while, but I found it.  I hope to use all my life experience to make a difference in children’s lives.

As I embark on an exciting adventure to Italy to live and work, I want to be able to share my experience.  I thought about changing the name of my blog several times to reflect the new direction of my life.  I still may do that in the future.  However, for now my three boys are home for the summer…eating, making messes, and lying around the house making me crazy.  My blog name seems the best fit my life right now.

Arrivederci, my friends.

 

 


2 Comments

I Totally Get It Rene

Last week I was scrolling through a news site on my computer when a story caught my eye.  It wasn’t news about Ebola or the bombing of ISIS in Iraq.  It was a celebrity story about actress Rene Zellweger.  Rene Zellweger is an academy award-winning actress best known for her work in the films Bridget Jones Diary and Jerry Maguire.  She has always been considered a talented actress and one of Hollywood’s beautiful leading ladies.

For the last few years Rene has not been in the spotlight or in any feature films.  No one knows for sure why, but many suspect she needed a break from the pressure of Hollywood and fame.  Recently, Rene made a rare public appearance during a social event.  At the event she looked different.  She looked so different that some speculated she had plastic surgery to alter her looks.

I came across an article featured on The Atlantic titled, “Questions for Rene Zellweger“, by Megan Garber.   In the article Ms. Garber lists several questions she has for Rene.  She wonders about Rene’s appearance and why she looks different.  The article was supposed to emphasize Ms. Garber’s concern for Rene, as she is obviously a fan of hers, however her personal questions came off intrusive and judgmental.

Years ago I was one of those people who would have judged others for having age reversal procedures done such as Botox and plastic surgery.  I told myself I would only grow old the natural way and would never resort to doing things that would alter my appearance.  However, that was when I was younger.

Aging is not an easy process to go through. We are all grateful for the gift of growing older, but it is still hard to accept how much our bodies change over time.  It must be even more difficult for people who live their lives in the public eye who are expected to look a certain way.  I don’t know Rene Zellweger , nor do I know if she has recently had some sort of plastic surgery to alter her looks, but I would totally get it if she did.

I have heavy-lidded, small almond-shaped eyes like Rene.  I have contemplated many times having surgery to remove some of the skin on my upper lids.  Having surgery would not only make me look younger, but would allow my eyes to seem more open and alert especially in photos.

The reason I will not have the surgery isn’t because I think I should age naturally, but frankly because I don’t think I could go through the public scrutiny of having surgery and dealing with other people’s judgment for doing so.  Changing the shape of my eyes would make me look very different.   Knowing people were analyzing my reasons for the surgery would be too uncomfortable.  So as a result my eyes will stay the same.

Imagine going to a social function and having your face being analyzed by millions of people instead of hearing that people are glad you’re back to making movies.  Plastic surgery has a place in our society and so do all the products designed to make us look more attractive and younger.

I know several women who have had plastic surgery everything from a brow lift, eye lid lift, breast reduction, breast enhancement, chemical peel, nose job, and full face lift.  Do I think less of them for having surgery?  No.  Each person made a decision that felt right for them.  Do I wish we lived in a society that didn’t make women feel the pressure to look different than they already do?  Yes.  Women of all ages feel the pressure to be thin, dress stylishly, and look young and frankly sometimes if would be nice not to worry about how you look all the time.

Why does it matter if Rene has had surgery to make her eyes seem more open?  Why do we care if she had Botox to smooth her forehead?  How does judging a person’s choice for how they want to look make a positive difference in my life?  The answer is simple…it doesn’t.

I must finally be a grown up because now I believe decisions made that have no impact on other people are frankly none of my business.

Leave Rene alone, folks.  Stop talking about her face.  Let her get back to work and doing what she is good at…making movies.

Rene

 


2 Comments

Crazy Sort of Brave

In celebration of my 50th birthday my oldest son and I decided to do something different. Not your ordinary kind of different. But something so unique that most of my friends and family were shocked that we did it.

We jumped out of an airplane. Not alone of course. We were tandem to an instructor and jumped from an airplane at 13,000 square feet. For one minute we were in a free fall and then the parachute sail went up and we glided for 7 minutes to the ground.

When I posted our video adventure on Facebook for friends and family to view I was surprised how everyone response was the same. They all told me how ‘brave’ I was. During the entire experience I never thouht for once how brave I was. In my mind I was crazy for doing such a thing.

Brave is a special word reserved for people who do heroic things. Jumping from an airplane wasn’t really brave. It wasn’t heroic. It was just something most people who never do and a little bit crazy.

After hearing how many people thought I was brave I started to think what the word really meant. Does being brave mean doing something other people would never do? Does it mean doing something that involves a risk? Or does mean doing something that requires courage?

I know some very brave people. They have endured far greater fears and uncertainty than jumping out of a plane.

Here are examples brave people I know.

The people who must continue to live after a child they loved has died.

The spouse who is told they are no longer loved and is being left alone to raise the children.

The person diagnosed with cancer and is told they are terminal with only a few months to live.

A child who is being bullied and has no support from the school or community they live in.

The service men and women who are stationed in hostile environments protecting the freedom of people who don’t ever know who they are.

The child who removes a parent from life support because it’s their parent’s wish, but isn’t ready to let their parent go.

The child who must go home to an abusive household never knowing what may happen on any given day.

Being brave doesn’t always mean risking your life. Often it means continuing to live even when doing so seems difficult or impossible.

Jumping wasn’t the scariest part of the event. It was the fear of the unknown on the plane ride up that made me feel most afraid. The fall itself was thrilling. It’s the thrill of doing something so unusual I will remember most, not the fear.

We are all brave. Not because we risk our lives, but because we continue to live despite its’difficulties.


4 Comments

A Year in the Life

It’s been a full year since I transitioned back to work from a full-time home parent to a working parent.  Many things have changed in the last year, including blogging taking a back seat to new demands.

My life has changed dramatically over the course of the last 12 months.  Some things for the better, some for the worse, and some things are still the same.

I loved being a full-time home parent.  As a matter of fact, I am not working right now because I work for a school and we are out for summer break.  I am extremely happy.  The boys and I have planned things for this summer, but our schedule is determined by what we would like to do rather than what we have to do.  Being a full-time home parent is kind of like being self-employed.  You can turn down jobs you don’t want and choose the one you do.

My transition to a working parent wasn’t easy.  It’s hard to know if the transition was hard because I had been out of work for so long or because the job I transitioned with was so challenging.  I think it was a little of both.  Being a perfectionist by nature I found the ‘learning curve’ for the new job very hard.  As much as I prepared I was never really ready for how stressful it would be.  Because my job is management, I had to quickly come up to speed skills used over 15 years ago.  Many skills were rusty and some forgotten.  Managing a program and other people while trying to play catch up wasn’t fun.  I felt overwhelmed all the time.

My family seemed to adjust quicker than I.  My oldest son enjoyed his role as driver to pick up his two brothers from school each day.  My husband planned and cooked meals, helped with homework, and managed to pick up the house a bit.  It was painful to come home stressed out each day from work and find the family happy and functioning without me.  I had always prided my work as a home parent and was surprised how quickly I was replaced.

For the first few months at work I made mistakes.  My expectations for myself and others were often too high.  I didn’t have a coping system for all the new emotions I was experiencing.  I did a lot of yelling, crying and complaining.  Most of which was done at home with my family.  My husband and kids had to endure a woman was wasn’t at home as often and when home she was an emotional mess.  I doubted my decision every single day and longed for my former life being home.

However, like most new experiences I became more familiar and things got better.  I started to experience success.  People made comments how I was making a positive difference.  My staff responded well to my direction.  I found I was more capable than I thought I was.  I developed friendships related to me and to my work, not things related to my kids.  I began becoming a separate person away from being a mother and wife. I could relate to why so many women wanted to return to work, so they could have accomplishments that were solely their own.

A year in the life of a working mom I have survived.  It hasn’t been all good, but there has been good in it.  The boys proved they were capable to doing more to care for themselves.  My husband proved he is able to be as nurturing as I am.  But most of all, I proved to myself that  I can work, being a wife, be a mom, not perfectly, but in a way that makes me and my family happy.

I made it through the first year.  That makes me pretty darn proud.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 


5 Comments

Happy Anniversary

Today is the third anniversary of my blog.  I had no idea until I happened to check my email and WordPress congratulated me on the big event.  Interestingly, I am also celebrating my 20 year anniversary of marriage with my husband this month too.  Anniversaries are a good thing to celebrate because they show a commitment.

To celebrate my blog anniversary I am writing today’s blog.  To celebrate my 20 year wedding anniversary my family and I have just returned from a two-week trip to Ireland/England for our spring break vacation.  It was an amazing trip.  What seems more amazing is how I have been married for 20 years.  It seems yesterday when my husband and I took our vows as husband and wife.

We took our boys with us on our anniversary celebration overseas.  People asked why my husband and I brought the boys along if we were celebrating our life as a married couple.  The reasons we brought the boys are simple.  First, we wanted to visit both countries and didn’t have anyone to care for the boys if we went away. Second, the boys are part of our marriage.  They are a result of my husband and I being married, so it seemed appropriate to bring them along.  Third,  we wanted to give the boys the gift of travel.  Overseas travel is something my husband and I enjoy and we haven’t done so since we got married 20 years ago.  With college starting soon for Old Boy and then for Tall Boy soon after, now was the best time to show the boys that a world exists outside of the United States.  Our hope is to inspire the boys to make their own plans for travel when they are older.  This may have been our only overseas trip with all five of us, so we wanted to make sure if was a trip to remember.

Taking three kids on a two-week, two countries trip was no easy feat.  Planning took months.  Years ago when my husband and I traveled we did some pre-planning, but most of the fun was taking a drive and seeing where you ended up.  If we wanted to stay at a place longer we would.  This is wasn’t an option for us traveling with the boys.  We planned each place, with the boys in mind, to reduce the amount of stress it would place on us and them.  Our planning worked.  With minimal stress we were able to see and do all the things we wanted to do.  Every hour I spend researching details of our stay was worth it.

The anniversary trip to England/Ireland had an impact on me.  It made me realize how much my husband and I have in common.  We enjoy seeing and experiencing different cultures and learning new things.  We don’t often do much out of the ordinary in our home, daily lives and yet were more than willing to do and try everything while traveling.  Some folks have no interest in staying in endless lines at the airport for the sake of traveling, but my husband and I are.  I wish I could say our boys shared their parents’ enthusiasm for travel, but at times they longed for the comforts of the familiar more than the spirit of a great adventure.

My husband felt discouraged because our boys weren’t more expressive with gratitude about allowing them to join us on our anniversary trip.  I was less concerned.  My boys are nice guys, but aren’t mature enough yet to realize the sacrifices we made to take them on the trip.  I don’t expect them gush how wonderful their parents are because we gave them a gift.  We willingly chose to take them with us.  The boys didn’t ask to come.  I know ( or hope) they will understand the size of our gift to them some day.  The next overseas trip my husband and I will be alone though.  As much as we enjoyed having the boys with us, my husband and I realized we would enjoy the next trip much more without constantly catering other people’s needs.

To be honest, I’m not happy to be home.  I know I will be in a few days, but our vacation was good at taking away stress.  The moment I walked through my front door I could feel the weight of life responsibilities push down on me.  There are bills to pay, emails to read, laundry to wash, food to shop for, and thank you notes to write.  The joy of living for only in the moment has passed.  As much as I would like to continue in the mindset of my vacation I know the daily grind of life will not allow me to feel as free.

The anniversary vacation reminded me of how fortunate I am, especially for my marriage.  My marriage is the single greatest gift I’ve been given.  I hope my husband and I have many more celebrations in the future.

Happy anniversary to my husband of 20 years and happy anniversary to another year of blogging.