For the last few days I’ve had a really terrible stomachache, which I think is my second period since birth approaching, great! It feels as though my insides have been scraped out with a knife, my stomach is sore and bloated and all I want to do is slouch around and curl up into a ball and eat comfort food. As of yet my period hasn’t actually started but I’ve noticed an increase in my underwear egg whites again, which is always a treat when I have to rush to the toilet unexpectedly to change my underwear. I just feel generally drained, worn out, uncomfortable and restless, blah. It probably doesn’t help that Gabriele is still not in a suitable nighttime routine so my sleep pattern went out the window well over a year ago now!
Gabriele is dribbling a reservoir a day and more onto my shoulders, stuffing his chubby little fists into his mouth and chewing anything he can get his hands on. As of yet there are no signs of his teeth breaking through or his cheeks turning red but all of his gums are very white and I have to change his dribble bib twice a day because he gets it so wet. But despite his monstrous amounts of dribble it doesn’t put me off of giving him millions of kisses and cuddles, even when his sloppy wet cheeks brush against my face and unknowingly remove half of my makeup, I still smile like a Cheshire cat because he makes me so happy, both of the children do.
We’re still busy plotting summertime adventures and this weekend I’m looking forward to going to the zoo with Luca and the children. It’s strange because although we all live in the same house and spend evenings together, the children are already in/about to go to bed when Luca returns home from work and I’m passing out on the sofa after eight o’clock from a hectic day and night; so we actually get very little quality time together as a family during the week because it’s so disjointed and I crave when we can be out of the house, away from chores or supermarkets and not worrying about the time or rushing home. So for me, a day out to the zoo at the weekend is priceless for us as a family unit as we are still in the process of adjusting to having Gabriele with us and travelling and outing as a group of four. I can count on one hand the number of times Luca, Millie and I have spent a family day out alone together, and since we’ve had Gabriele I’ve promised myself that I’ll make more of an effort to go out as a family more often.
I’m probably going to sound like I’m insane, a monster or a lunatic for saying this, but it’s how I feel and unfortunately you can’t help what you feel, how you think about things or what you desperately want. Not unless you have a lobotomy perhaps but I’m saving for a new car instead at the moment. So Luca called me from work the other day to say he’d invited a group of family along to the zoo with us, which at a different time or for a separate occasion would have been absolutely lovely as we’d all been to the zoo together before Gabriele was born a few years ago and had a lovely time. But in my heart and head I’ve been so excited to spend our family day out and strengthen our bond as both a couple and with our children, but when you’re in a group none of that can realistically happen. I know that Millie would more than likely prefer to run off all day with her cousin, Gabriele would take it in turns to have cuddles with everyone and Luca would walk off smoking and talking to the men, and I would be alone, despite being surrounded by people that I love. I wouldn’t spend any time with our little family because everybody would disperse which is what happens in groups and is the complete opposite purpose of spending our day out. I guess it’s like going for a date, romantic meal or couples therapy when you’ve been like passing ships and need to find one another again and you’re told to spend intimate time together, not in the bedroom sense but in communicating, sharing and enjoying what you’re doing together without the stress of everyday life. This is our family day. I already know Millie will want to be our little map reader and decide where we go and what we see next, and Luca will be the tour guide telling us all about the animals in the different enclosures, and I’ll be chief pram pusher pulling faces at Gabriele, fighting off wasps, struggling with the bags and keeping his milk-bottle skin out of the sun with an impossibly bendy pushchair umbrella. And when we go for a picnic I’m dreaming about Millie enthusiastically talking about the meerkats and waving her hands about making jokes about the funny noises they make, as we drink warm squash from plastic cups and eat soggy sandwiches, brush ants off of the picnic blanket and hold our noses when Gabriele does a stinky nappy. To be honest it’s a welcome break from the relentless tiredness, the nighttime arguments and the trivial and mindless chores and weekly food shopping that consumes us. It’s so hard to get everybody out together doing something fun without a care in the world, whether it’s for the lack of time, the cost of taking a family out or for the sake of our relationship; I cherish every second and hope that the acorns that we are today will grow into great oaks stood proudly together for many years to come, and not spindly separate weeds that never grew because of a lack of nurturing or not enough time together.
Luca and I have led such different lives up until now and in a way we still do, we’re poles apart in upbringing and it is really starting to show. Not in a bad way at all, but having our first child together has highlighted our differences and encouraged us to compromise and find a new path to follow in life together, we’re making decisions and solving the obstacles in our way one shouting match at a time.
Being English I guess I had a normal upbringing, both of my parents worked long and unsociable hours, we never sat and ate dinner together at the table aside from birthdays or Christmas and a handful of times a year we would have a day out at the beach or visit our grandparents. Life is and always has been hectic and when you look back in hindsight you wish you’d have done more together when the years were kinder. I left home just as I turned twenty-two and was a single parent living with Millie as a two year old when Luca and I had been dating for a couple of years.
Luca on the other hand has always been used to a traditional Italian upbringing, a beautiful family-orientated home where everyday they eat at the table together and talk about their day, enjoy the company of friends and relatives frequently, work together, play together and holiday together. Exactly what every family should aspire to be and wish that they were more like. Luca moved in with Millie and I just after she turned three and he was twenty-seven and I was twenty-three, where I became more detached from my own parents now living my life a distance away from the family home, Luca maintained his close bond and would travel to work and eat dinner with his parents each day before coming home and we’d visit them as a family of three for weekends and holidays. In a way I wish I had such a beautiful bond with my parents as Luca does with his own, but it’s just how we are and what we’re used to and it doesn’t mean to say that either of us loves our parents any more than the other, we just have different ways of sharing and showing our love to them. Luca would still go out with his friends and spend lads weekends away whilst Millie and I snuggled in bed and ate nibbles, and we’d get the occasional night out as a couple every now and then. But looking back Luca and I were very much leading two different lives, Luca and I as a couple and Millie and I as mother and daughter, despite that fact that Luca has been in Millie’s life since she was a tiny baby, we rarely did things on our own as a family of three. I can’t recall a time when we spent a day out together just us. I don’t want to look back in twenty years when the children have grown up and think I wish I did more, because these times you can never get back and there’s no worser thing in life than regret.
But before Gabriele was born it was a lot easier with just Millie, she’d grown to a manageable age where we had a little more freedom, she could feed herself and sleep in her own bed at night, we could spend a night going out together as a couple knowing that Millie was happy to stay at her grandparents until the following day; and life was just easy but not as family orientated as I’d hoped it would be, we had all of the right components but rarely had them all fitted together at the same time.
When I fell pregnant with Gabriele I automatically thought that it would all change because we had our first child together and as a result we would spend glorious long afternoons altogether playing card games and eating strawberries in the garden, but it didn’t happen, in fact it was quite the opposite. I think when a baby comes into the family instead of it giving you the opportunity to spend more alone time together for trips out you end up with less time than ever because you’re always visiting relatives, throwing parties, inviting friends over or stuck in a minefield of housework and food shopping. Luca has always been fantastic with Millie and he’s just as loving with Gabriele, he’s the perfect father for our children and I’m so blessed to have found my soul mate and hero. In the past I put our lack of alone time together as a family down to the fact that we didn’t live together, didn’t eat dinner together, and that Millie was from a previous relationship and perhaps the maternal instinct of keeping your cubs as part of the pack wasn’t there between Luca and I to the same extent. But now I realise why we didn’t move and work as a family before because back then, and up until now even, we weren’t living as a family because we were living as children to our parents and in order to create that bond we have to make vital changes to be parents to our children instead if we’re to survive the years ahead of us.
A big difference that we’ve made since Gabriele was born is merging our lifestyles together. Now we all eat at the dinner table together each day and Luca comes home to eat with us instead of at his mum and dads; which also means Luca is home earlier after work so we’re now able to put the children to bed together at night. Despite our mismatched sleep patterns and evenings throughout the week, we now spend each Sunday as family time for the four of us to do something together, whereas before we would all be everywhere and anywhere with everyone else apart from each other. It’s a given that as soon as the children see their grandparents they’re far more excited and interested in playing with them than sitting on Mummy’s knee talking about their day, and I’m off talking to others about holidays and school and Luca’s off tinkering in the tool shed or fixing things. By the end of the day despite being in the same four walls we’ve not see nor said more than two words to each other and before you know it the weekend is over and it’s back to the rat race of the week, and it happens to every family in the world. But making these changes, despite how subtle they may seem, they’ve given us a family of our own so that we can be the parents that our children deserve. It’s a funny thing growing up, because one day you’re a child living with your parents and the next you’re a parent living with your own children and you have to make that leap in order to give your children a stable and secure family home. We still see our parents and love them more than anything and at times it can be sad living away from home and in a way you miss not being there with them and I fantasise about my mums cooking and the smell of her perfume and washing powder, the little comforts that remind you of your parents. But at the same time I also take pride in my independence, raising our children and teaching them respect and our own family values that Luca and I have created together. I think I’ve always been a head strong person who isn’t afraid of change because having Millie made me that way; I had to take responsibility for my actions, I had to grow up sooner perhaps than others and I had to adapt to life on my own with a child, then within a relationship with a child and finally as a family with two children. Women have to be open to change and I feel a little sorry that Luca is a man because he isn’t as keen to let go of his comforts in life but you have to in order to grow and provide for your children. If life were simple I’d still be living at home with my parents eating my mums cottage pie everyday and reading books for hours on end on the sofa in my own little world. Now I have a family home, I feed my fiance and children and we take them on family days out. Life is beautiful, our children are beautiful and our love and happiness can only grow stronger with time. x x x
If I could give any advice to the ladies out there wanting babies, having babies or already blessed with babies it’s this; make the definition of your family only of you, your partner and your children and hold it at the pivoting point of life. Put your family first before anything and anybody else no matter what; don’t allow your insecurities or immaturity to drag you away from the people who need you most. Kiss your children goodnight together each day and wake up beside each other each morning. Love your family, nurture it and keep it together as much as humanly possible. Talk and communicate about the things that upset you, the things you need to change and the compromises you can both make together for the sake of your children. Life isn’t a battle, it’s not a tug of war between generations and families old and new, it’s a beautiful journey of discovery with your children that friends and relatives will always be a part of but only you can both take control of. Steer your ship into the sunset and love like there is no tomorrow because the tears that we shed today and the arguments over problems that won’t ever go away will only ever force a black cloud in front of your sunshine and your children and your relationship deserve more than that. x