I have taken my foot off the accelerator this past week. With the summer break approaching the amount of pressure we have been under these past couple of months has not allowed for more than a few hours of sleep each night, leave alone time for me.
We are familiar with these phases, especially since becoming parents. Not sure what works for you and gets you through, for me the only lesson I have learnt so far and can share is to push through, keeping the arrival date in mind. Prioritising (ahah). Securing downtime immediately after, like after a marathon. Knowing that these patches don't last for long, focusing on one day at a time and watching the light at the end of the tunnel grow bigger every day, helps.
Work has been very interesting but hectic, some projects have had us busy past midnight most nights, we are refurbishing the new place we will soon move to (another house move, this time with two kids: fun ahead!), kids have been sick almost all the time these past two months with all sorts of viruses from nursery school. Resulting in even less sleep, worry and childcare related stress. Tough. That in a nutshell has been the status quo from May through to July 21st.
July 28th. I type this on my phone while enjoying two hours off duty at the hairdresser. I have now been slowing down for a week, on semi- holiday, real time off will start soon.
I have enjoyed the kids and family as priority one. I have stepped back in time. And I have laughed a lot.
'Mum!!! You are driving a race car!! Please please go faaaast!!'
The 'race car' my son is referring to is a 20+ years old Ford Escort Cabrio, bright red. The car we keep at the seaside for the holidays.
He has never had a ride with it because we assume it might be just a bit unsafe to place children car seats on a 20 years old coupe', so he watches with very interested little eyes how his mother drives it. Instead he goes with my dad's own car, that every summer since the kids are here he lovingly drives from Milan together with kids' car seats and various extra items I leave with him. Grandparents love.
I have for long now pressed a button to start engines and not used my left foot because of automatic gears. Today it was a very different story.
'Dad, I can't start the engine, it doesn't work?' I ask my own father.
'Pull the air!' (Laughs)
'Pull? The air? What air?' (Dad laughs some more. Ahah)
Once I find and pull the air handle the engine roars.
Great I can drive this no problem. Ha!
Except, I can hardly turn the steering wheel? And I thought I had fairly strong arms because of all the carrying around of the kids but manoeuvring this car backwards and out of the parking lot?? Ah ah.
And yet, I learned driving in 1999 with these very same steering wheels! Although no I had not pulled air handles before...
I had completely forgotten how real driving feels like. It's actually funny once I get the hang of it again. It's a sauna, it's a work-out, it's perfect!
In summer, at the seaside, people have time. Time to just be. Hang around, chat, pop by for coffee or wine (or both!) and chat some more. Share stories and memories. For my over scheduled, highly organised, prioritised often exhausting life, this is a refreshing change.
I have had time to sit and speak with my beloved 89 year old grandpa, give a massage to his sore shoulders, enjoy in silence my grandma moving around her kitchen. Moves I have seen since I have memory. She cooks her delicious meals that I know I will never learn well. She is a keen student at 80, types on her smart phone and tablet, sends and receives pictures. They are wise, they have been through so much.
I have time to be grateful. My children enjoy and witness what I have enjoyed for over 30 years. Family history and History. They watch my grandparents' hands and listen to their stories of when evenings were spent around the fireplace, chatting, embroidering and making fun of those who fell asleep. Of the great great grandpa who came back deaf from the First and then the Second World War because of the loud airplanes he was flying. Times have changed but some things never change. I want them to taste the somehow unchanged past.
Kids have time to get bored. So they get to dig holes in the garden with their wheelbarrows, to eat very organic, real bio fruit from the trees. To learn the names of fruits and veggies while standing in the garden, not in front of a book or a screen. To find pears lying under the trees and run super excited to you asking if they can eat them?
Fruit and veggies and obviously gelati are also delivered at your door with an Ape car. No booking and no phones needed. The guy drives around and whistles. You just shout back if you want him to stop by. So much for 'fresh' graze boxes delivered in the office. I love this.
Kids walk around the house, find an old typewriter and ask 'what is this??' And next, 'can I use it please?'
'Look mum look!! I have TYPED these letters on the paper!!'
It's a treasure hunt. They find toys left last year in their room and their little faces brighten up. 'Looook!!!'
They make phone calls from a phone they will never really use and that soon will be shown in museums.
They watch smoke coming out of the volcano and ask why, they look at the castle above their heads and ask about the King and the Princess, to find out that the guy who built that castle was Frederick Barbarossa (https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Frederick_I,_Holy_Roman_Emperor).
German like their dad, from the same hometown, who lived a thousand years before us. 'Is it like a Nonno Mum?'. Well, maybe...God knows we might even be related?!
They are living in the very moment and observing, not rushed from A to B as we do on school and work weeks. Downtime is great for them too.
They learn and I learn again what we have almost forgotten . We have time to just be. Nothing else is needed.