Insanity of Motherhood

Motherhood, marriage, and midlife.


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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.

 

 

 


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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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Role Reversal

Last week I went home to visit/care for my father while my sister was out-of-town.  I stayed at her home, and cared for her cats, and spent my days visiting my dad.  With the move to Italy less than 8 weeks away, visiting my father was something I wanted to do before I leave.

Almost two years ago my father’s health began to decline.  He developed kidney failure. Instead of dealing with the health issue in its early stages, my father waited until his kidneys began to fail completely before seeking medical attention.  Since the onset of kidney failure, my father has slowly transformed into a different person.

My father has always been strong-willed.  He is the oldest of five children.  When he was 20 years old his father (my grandfather) passed away, leaving my dad as the patriarch of his family.  My father, being the responsible person he is, took the role seriously and helped his mother to care for his younger siblings.  Because he had so much responsibility, at such a young age, my father developed a strong sense of independence.  He has always been the kind of person who liked to do things for himself, and  his own way.

When my father’s health began to decline it was a difficult transition for him.  Kidney failure causes a variety of symptoms, but one that affected my father the most was a lack of energy and strength.  My father has always been active, and when he became ill he no longer was able to walk or stand  for any length of time.

At first my father refused to acknowledge his illness.  He was determined to maintain his independence.  I’m sure he knew how serious his illness was for quite a while before my siblings and I became aware of it.   However, by the time we did become aware, his disease had progressed too far.  There was little left to do except start dialysis to do the work his kidneys no long could.

One thing everyone can relate to is having to deal with aging parents.  Not everyone has children, but everyone has parents.  My mother passed away over 20 years ago suddenly. There was no time for lengthy goodbyes, or closure.  Her death was abrupt and painful. Yet, watching a parent slowly age is also difficult.  To see the person who once guided you with strength, no longer be able to walk or have difficulty eating is also painful.  The tasks your parents once did for you as a young child become the tasks you now do for them as an adult.  In essence, your roles become reversed.

To watch my father’s health, both physically and mentally, decline has been trans-formative for me in many ways.  Although it makes me sad at times, I am grateful to have had the opportunity to spend with him.  Over time, he has lessened his strong stance on issues, and is kind and gracious.  When I would arrive each day to visit him I would do care taking things. Sometimes I would clean his room or help his with his meals.  They were the kind of things I do for my boys.

Leaving my father at the end of my trip was hard.  Because I will be leaving soon, and moving so far away, there is a chance I won’t see him again.  I told him about my upcoming move with the family, but the next day he had forgotten all about it.  I leave my father in the hands of my loving, devoted sister, who tirelessly oversees his care.  A mix of sadness, and guilt overcomes me when I think about not seeing him again.

On the day of my final visit my father, his wife and I shared a meal in their apartment.  We had planned to go to the dining hall, but my father wasn’t feeling well after dialysis, so decided to eat at home.  During our meal, there were a couple of times his glasses slipped down his nose, and I gently pushed them back up.  I remember thinking how my father would have never allowed my to do something like push his glasses up as  child. He would have pushed my hand away claiming he could do it himself.  But, my father let me help him.  He allowed me the chance to show him love in a way he used to do for me as a child. Our role reversal was okay for him and for me…and we were both grateful.

 

 

 


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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.

 

 


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Because

This morning Little Boy asked me to pick him up and carry him in my arms.  While we were walking in the hallway of his school a parent asked, “Isn’t he too big to be carried like that?”  I looked at her and smiled, but said nothing.  I just kept walking with my eight year old boy in my arms.  Why did I carry my little son in my arms, when he is perfectly capable of walking by himself?  Because…

Because he asked me to.

Because I didn’t have anything else in my arms.

Because we weren’t late for school and had the time.

Because I am strong enough to still carry him.

Because I won’t always be strong enough to carry him.

Because one day he will stop asking me.

Because I realize how quickly children grow up, as I deal with Old Boy leaving for college soon.

Because it’s a loving gesture to hold someone close, as I deal with a father who is ill and I may not have as many times to hold him as I would like.

Because he is still a little boy and eight years old isn’t so big.

Because I don’t care if someone thinks I am enabling him.

Because I love my boy. Love that consumes me sometimes and I want to express it.

Because when I pick him up he puts his warm cheek next to mine and I remember why I love children so much.

Because it makes him happy…really happy.  He feels loved and cared for.

Because it makes me happy.

Because it makes both of us happy.

Because we can.


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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.


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How I Killed the Green Eyed Monster

Several years ago I became Facebook friends with a woman I will call Betty.  Betty was a friend of a friend and when she sent me a Facebook request I thought nothing of it.  I knew who she was and thought she was a nice enough gal.

I didn’t know Betty very well, but in my early days of Facebook I enjoyed becoming friends with people I hardly knew and learn about their life.  Betty was a Facebook regular and from I could tell from the first few posts a professional at it.  When I first starting reading Betty’s posts I realized Betty had an amazing life.  As a matter of fact, I soon became aware there was nothing ordinary about Betty at all.

Betty is an attractive lady, mother of two beautiful girls, has an amazing career, super fit, married to her husband for over 25 years and rich…very rich.  Betty is the kind of person everyone loves.  She is funny, outgoing and very generous.  Each time I read about her career advances, trips abroad, marathon accomplishments I felt something growing inside of me.  It took me a while to identify what is was exactly, but finally I realized it was a ‘green-eyed monster”.

Each day I looked at my Facebook page and checked in on Betty. I read her posts and all of her comments.  I analyzed her life and every detail of it.  I began to feel envious, even jealous of Betty’s life.  Betty seemed to have it all.  And I do mean all.  Instead glancing at her photos and thinking to myself, “Wow, good for her.”  I started to plot and plan for her demise.

When Betty would go on her amazing vacations I would wish for rain.  When her daughter applied for a prestigious college I hoped the paper work would get lost.  When she ran her second marathon in three months I willed her foot to break.  My jealously seemed to over take me at times.  I allowed someone else’s good fortune and hard work turn me into a vile creature.

One day I spoke to my husband about a recent trip Betty had been on.  I talked about Betty’s trip in such a way that my husband said to me, “You sound jealous of Betty.  Why would you be jealous of her?”  I explained to him that she was beautiful, successful, rich, and a size 2.  To me it seemed obvious why I was jealous of her.  Instead of joining in on my trashing of Betty, my husband suggested I do something else.  He told me to wish Betty well and to be happy for her.

Be happy for Betty?  The woman who had it all didn’t need me to be happy for her, she was already happy.  What I wanted was my life to be more like Betty’s.  I told my husband I wished I had Betty’s life.  He looked at me and said, “If you had Betty’s life you wouldn’t be married to me, have your three boys, your friends, or your family. Is that what you really want?”  I looked at my husband.  What would I do without all the people I loved in my life?  My husband’s wise words got me thinking.

I decided it was time to kill the green-eyed monster.  I didn’t defriend Betty, but started to put positive energy toward her.  When she purchased a new car I told her it was wonderful.  When she won a prestigious award at work I told her congratulations.  And when she shared her photo of her in a bikini in Hawaii, looking stunning, I told her she looked amazing.

Slowly my attitude toward Betty changed.  I began to feel genuinely happy for her. She was a nice lady after all and had never been mean to me.  As a matter of fact she always posted kind things to me on Facebook.  I realized Betty did have an amazing life and it was okay.  I had a great life with a wonderful family, great friends and good health.  My life was the one that suits me best.

Occasionally I glance at Betty’s Facebook postings and think, “Geez.  Another marathon?”  But, for the most part the monster in me is dead.  Killed with well wishes and positive thoughts.

Wonder if all the monsters of the world could be cured with kindness?  It’s something to think about.