Summer

Summer is over, the temperature dropped (but today is a glorious sunny day!) and school started last week, which means we now have a routine again, hurray!

After the week in Crete, we got the results of LittleOne’s allergy testing, and it was all negative, so the dietitian told us to eliminate dairy from his diet. He felt much better straight away, only his skin was still a bit dry in some areas and we eliminated soya as well. Now he’s on an oat drink, and other dairy and soya free foods, like rice cakes, oat biscuits etc. It was a bit challenging at first to find suitable snacks, as most biscuits, rice cakes etc. contain milk or soya or just traces due to manufacturing. He took very well to the change, and eats everything with the usual enthusiasm! His skin is always sensitive, but he’s fine.

He’s 18 month old and he’s learning lots of new words all the time, and he’s more and more interactive and understands everything. And he’s very very sweet. He’s also quite decisive, especially when he needs to be heard by Pallino… he needs to be stronger to deal with his brother! He like to eat on his own and to take his time. His favourite thing is cars and taxis and buses: you can show him a beautiful garden, talk about the flowers and butterflies… and he looks at the cars parked on the street nearby and his face lights up! He’s also learning about Batman and other superheroes, because that is Pallino’s thing, and he likes Peppa Pig and George (they are just like Pallino and LittleOne!), and a cartoon called Brum, who is a little car that goes around and helps people. Yes, this summer he’s watched quite a lot of TV episodes. Now that school started, they don’t watch TV during school days (not on my watch, at least).

Pallino is happy to go to school, his teacher is sweet and his classmates are nice (so far). He’s having some problems with reading, but it’s early days, so I’m waiting to see how it goes before saying anything more. This summer he spent a week on his own in Italy with his grandparents, and it went very well. I rested a bit, he had a good time and they were happy (tired, at the end, but they loved it). He’s so grown up now… He’s started to dress himself in the morning, although he does need reminding and not always is happy to do it, while we still have trouble getting him to brush his teeth. He’s been camping with G, they went to a makers festival and he loved it! He wants to be an inventor and that place was full of inventors like him! My little geek 🙂

I’d like to write more about them, or I’ll forget, but I have to work now.

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Trouble in paradise

Last week it was a school holiday, and we spent it in a holiday resort in Crete. Fantastic place, perfect scenery, excellent service. But. There is always a but when you’re a grown-up. LittleOne had an allergic reaction, started before we left home. It was a itching, and later developed into a rush on his shoulders and chest. Part of the good service of the resort was  a doctor who came in every lunch time. It was not a paediatrician but got a taxi for us and an immediate appointment with a paediatrician in the nearby town (private, the next public hospital was 20 Km away). The doctor said it could be an allergic reaction and gave us antihistamines and a diet free of common allergens (from milk to strawberries, nuts, seafood etc.). And obviously LittleOne couldn’t go the pools with a rush – even if it wasn’t contagious, the other parents wouldn’t approve of it.

And so it was that we arrived on Sunday and I went swimming for the first time on Wednesday and only for a few minutes while he slept in the buggy. Luckily the choice in the restaurants was excellent and I could always find something to eat for LittleOne. It was stressful, but it was also the best place to be in that condition…

LittleOne gradually improved, and the last day we were able to go to the pool with him. It was such a joy to see his face when he played with the water! We had taken him to the sea a couple of times as well, but it was too cold and he couldn’t stay more than a couple of minutes in the water. He had a good time overall, I think. He was with me all the time, he could run around (he started walking in the last month or so and can’t be stopped now), and loved the food.

Pallino had the best holiday. He could go to the pools, to the miniclub and had entertainment after dinner. It was the paradise of 5 year old children. For them there is no but, just fun.

For me? Well, I loved the place. I didn’t have most of the responsibilities and things to do at home, and LittleOne’s diet was easily managed without having to cook and buy food, so it was certainly a holiday from that point of view. But there were so many things I would have liked to do and couldn’t do. And I worried for LittleOne most of the time.

We still don’t know what he’s allergic to. He had a blood test more than two weeks ago (so before the holiday), and we haven’t had the results yet. It is likely to be a food allergy: we consulted a paediatric gastroenterologist and he prescribed the blood test for caeliac and various allergies, and said that if his constipation continued, we had to try a milk free diet – we started when the rush appeared and it seems to be working. It is such a bad feeling, to think that something I’m feeding my child is hurting him. Now we’ve removed most common allergens from his diet, so probably we’re not doing it anymore, but right now his diet is not nutritionally balanced, although that’s the lesser evil for the time being. He used to love his milk so much… I’m checking my emails for the results of the blood test like a teenager waiting for a text from someone she fancies.

Contradiction

Contradiction. The signature of motherhood is contradiction. I’m 38, I have two boys, 4 and 1 year old, and a husband, I’m an engineer. This morning I woke up at 6, I prepared to leave, I gave a cuddle to my children, and I ran to catch the 7.36 train to London Bridge. I missed the train and got onto the next one to London, and now I’m on the train, writing and reflecting on motherhood. Have I changed since having children? No, I don’t think so. Do the children define me? I don’t think so. But they put additional constraints on whatever I do. Every day there are super sweet and funny moments, and really bad times when I just want to be somewhere else and I plan an escape route for a weekend, I look up flight tickets.

Yesterday I spend half an hour coding with my oldest. We had a few Lego blocks and a mini figure, and he had to write the code to make the figure pass through a door. I would then “execute” the code, by moving the figure following his instructions. We had so much fun! Then he went to bed and woke up in the middle of the night screaming and wet and I had to change him and wash him while he was still screaming, and it was horrible. I could tell you a great moment and a bad moment for every day. The smile of my little one when he first sees me at the nursery in the afternoon, how his face relaxes when he’s tired and I take him in my arms and he’s finally and completely peaceful. How amazing is to be so utterly peaceful? When is the last time one feels like that? Every phase of their development leaves me in awe. At exactly the same time, I, as an individual, feel I have to press the snooze button once again in my life. Like when I was at uni and I had to wait until I got a job. Like when I was still living with my parents and waiting until I had my own place. We spend so much of our life in the waiting place. One day maybe I’ll be able to go out with my friends without planning it three months in advance. I will travel at the weekend, I will visit new places every month. I will be an accomplished professional. My spirit yearns for freedom beyond my reach, while my body needs to enjoy the present moment. This is true even without children, but being a parent makes the walls thicker, puts physical boundaries around us (time, money, energy). Contradiction is the signature of life.

 

School holidays

The schools here have a 2-week break for Easter, and L and I decided to split our time with Pallino: this week I’m working and L is with him, and next week I’ll take holidays and stay home. To make things a bit more interesting, though, we went to visit some friends for the long Easter weekend, then L and the children went to visit the grandparents, while I returned home. It makes perfect sense, but I didn’t expect it would be so hard for me to leave them! LittleOne had a high fever over Easter. It turns out it was nothing bad, maybe his teeth, maybe the vaccination he had a couple of weeks ago, but we’ve been worried, especially as we were away from home and L had to travel with both of them by himself. It’s going well, LittleOne is recovering well, and I can work as planned. The house is so silent. And I miss my cuddles before going to bed. Well, I can watch a movie/play the piano/read/write/make a phone call in the evening. And sleep until the alarm clock actually comes off. Tomorrow I’ll work AND go shopping. And before they return, I promise I’ll go to a yoga class. Promise.

P.S.: by the way, if you ever have to travel without your kids, DO NOT watch the movie Manchester by the sea on the plane. Just don’t.

Enjoyment

I’ve been thinking about enjoyment lately. When do we actually enjoy our time? Most of the time I’m tired, stressed out, nervous, and I’d like to be somewhere else. Even if I love my family and my life is the result of my own choices which I would do again if I had the chance. I spent a few days with my family, my parents and my sisters. It hadn’t happened since maybe ten years ago, and it was great to be together. But. But it was a long journey to get there. But L had to come back home for work, and I was on my own in a hotel with the kids at night and early morning, and my parents help a little but not much really. Most of the time I was actively trying to suppress a feeling of bitterness, trying not to judge them for what they did or didn’t do. Asking myself why I couldn’t just enjoy the time there with my family, with all their quirks. I do love them, and I’m happy I didn’t cancel the journey because it was complicated. I’m not that kind of person. But it is complicated.

This “holiday” is only a recent example, there are many other days when I’m not at peace. Then there are minutes of happiness, when I talk with Pallino before bedtime, when LittleOne wakes up from his nap and hugs me tenderly and kisses me clumsily. When I manage to have a conversation with L in the evening and we disagree but then each brings something to the table and eventually we reach a better solution together. When I read a book and I like it. When I play my lovely new keyboard and the music makes sense (I can only play simple pieces, but it’s relaxing). When I sing in my little choir with the elderly ladies.

So why my days are almost always “meh”?