Well we survived the return journey home from Lampedusa, but to say the least I was exhausted!! Happy, so happy to have had the experience but the constant child wrangling took it’s toll on my psychologically…L
Luckily for me when I returned to Lucca, I was met at the train station by a very dear Aussie friend, Emma. Emma and I became close friends about 3 years ago after discovering that we had both suffered the tragic and untimely/unfair loss of our husbands….It is not common to find such young widows and even less likely to have so much in common….or more specifically mutual understanding of some ridiculously outrageous / irrational thoughts!! Enough said…she is a fantastic friend who turned up at the perfect time, as she has done before!
After a month of moving around and discovering new things, I realized that I was leaning to heavily on bribery to coerce the children, rather than getting them to do things “because I said so”. The first few days after our return from Lampedusa I was swamped with “mum if I tidy these toys can I have a euro”, “when is pay day mum?”, “can we have a gelato mum”, “I want, I want , I want!!!!!”…….ENOUGH!!!!! It was literally driving me crazy … The negotiation is over!!! I will say what goes – end of story!!! Money is not only confiscated – it is banned from conversation!! After some lengthy conversations with Emma and my Italian friend Giovanni, I felt that something had to change ….drastically….. One of these being that I need to feel more free to raise my voice at the children….. For so long I have tried to compose myself with poise and dignity, in a sense to prove to “whoever” that I am ok….we are ok….we are coping……well as it turns out, pretending I am ok doesn’t mean that I am “ok”. So, over the last few days I have been putting my lungs into practice at yelling at the children…..and enforcing my newly found “authority”…. It’s early day’s, too early for judgment…but the lines that have been drawn, have been drawn clearly, loudly, boldly with no room for misinterpretation… Without doubt the battles will continue but I see clearly now that what these children need more than anything is a mother that can provide limitation’s and boundaries. A mother who can offer them strength by simply saying “no” or “no more”! Lord knows I have given them strength in love, patience and kindness, and this will continue… but I see now that this is alone is exhaustive, boundaries are required and the time is now for this family to find them….draw them….and build on these….
Ok, I need to leave you on a positive note…..the week has not been completely terrible – don’t let your hearts bleed for me – I am in Italy after all J
Some of you may remember that it was this time last year that I was in Positano with my friend Emma….it was then that I was thinking, geez it would be great to bring the kids to Italy for a holiday….. and so here we are again…. 12 months on, in Italy again with Emma….with the kids!!!
So I wanted to show Emma some local attractions and surrounds… We have cycled around the walls, climbed the two main towers, eaten and drunk bucket loads of good food and grog, visited the villa for a swim….but two highlights (for me at least) were:
1) Visiting the “Grotta del Vento” in the Garfagnana region, unfortunately we were unable to take our cameras inside the grotto to capture the crystal-like formations on the inside of these mystical caves that offered me a plethora of inspiration for my newly found “storytelling/bullshit spinning” with the children. After our cave exploring came the highlight for me when opened up my packed picnic (which is consistently packed full of local delights of olives, salame, artichokes, and various chopped veggies). After polishing off the picnic the children roamed free in the surrounding mountainous bush ranges and rocks… they love the feeling of freedom to explore and after carrying a scared Malachy through the caves for 1 hour, I was happy to have the space…. Rest assured, there was JUST enough space, I could still hear and occaisionally see the children to know they were ok. They were happy as pigs in mud!!
2) Cinque Terra: I first visited le cinque terra in 2003 with Nicko, after a tip off from my big sister as a must do in Italia. When Nick and I visited we loved it, even though it was winter and swimming just was not a possibility. We did the walk with relative ease and absolute delight. We both mentioned that it would be a great place to visit in summer (not really thinking the possibility would ever eventuate) ….. Well, this time around the opposite occurred, in the height of summer, any temptation to walk was immediately quashed on our arrival and the intense desire to get into that ocean was impossible to ignore….As soon as our train pulled into Monterosso we headed straight to the beach – paid the ridiculous 30 euro for an umbrella – ripped off our clothes (into undies for the kids – travelling lightly is my priority at the moment) ….an ahhhhhhhhh submerged into the Ligurian ocean!!!!!! I felt jubilant once again – after our drive to LaSpezia – finding a car park – literally running across train tracks – sweltering on the unairconditioned train – we were in Italian heaven once again. The extremes are so broad, the efforts seem greater – but the rewards so much sweeter – which is something Nicko used to say regularly, it’s so true. It was a beautiful time in Monterosso, the kids collected rocks for about 2 hours and I was chief rock classifaction….. the kids found “rock eggs from dinosaurs to snuffleuffigus’ to gruffallo to platapus’”….. this was topped off with a granite di fragola for the kids and a lemon daiquiri for the adulti!!! The happy travellers felt confident to try out the next town along and caught the train one stop back to Vernazza… it was about 2pm by this stage, the day was sweltering, and the village was packed full….. within 5 mins of our arrival, I lost Malachy completely!!!! F#@K!!!!! How could this happen?!?! I walked up and down the hill yelling out his name ----NOWHERE!!! People around me could feel the intensity of my desperation and helpers quickly came to my aide…. Only a total of 5 mins had past and finally I saw my white haired baby walked back up the hill …..sad faced…saying “why did you lose me mum?”!!!! I immediately broke down in tears, telling him to never do this to me again…. Once we regained strength after our scare we decided it was time to make tracks home again…..
We have decided to stick to Lucca in the recent days and with my newly found disciplining structure/dictatorship; I think this has been a good decision… One evening we spent a pleasant time at one of the bar’s on the city walls. I managed to captivate the children with a story about trolls and fairy’s in one of the local duomo’s whilst I delighted in yet another daiquiri in the perfect Italian dusk…. I guess on of the recipes to our ongoing success of being here is the compromises… there is no way the kids are going to tolerate traditional tours (that I would love to indulge in) but the structures and architecture are inspiring regardless of your age – and evoking my inner storyteller……. Sure they are full of fiction but… the best stories always are!!!
Again much love to all and don’t be concerned… I will continue to give the children lots of cuddles and love regardless of my newly found autocracy!!