She has also had a second child (4 months old) and is feeling rather frazzled although her second is a calmer one than her first. Anyway, this lady is going back to her full time job next week and will be traveling and has brought-in live-in help from her home town. She told me that she finds it crazy that in Europe us mothers spend so much time alone with our children; caring for them, entertaining them, cooking and preparing, transporting... Leaving us exhausted and drained with little energy to see friends or do things for ourselves - which is in fact exactly what we need to do so badly in such times might I add!
She went on to say that this is why we feel burdened by them and that we would love our children better and more if we were not so alone in caring for them. Indeed, in French we say that you need a village to bring up a child. And in the olden days. when families lived in the villages or cities - sometimes in the same house - everybody would pitch in and care for the little ones who benefited from all this various interaction.
(I definitely know that I am a more fun and relaxed Mum when I have had time for myself for Pilates or coffee with a friend or had enough time and energy to be creative. Not just squeezing stuff in but real time to do more that what just absolutely needs to be done).
For us expats with grand-parents, aunts and uncles seeing kids once or twice a year, there is no village at an arms reach and that can be really hard.
But sometimes you are lucky enough to create a little village - if you stay in one place long enough and find the right people and have the right attitude and energy...- of friends and their family who can help with the kids.
Just the other day Emma spent the afternoon with Nonna - the grandma of her very best friend- who often has her over to play with her grand-daughter. Emma knows of course this is not her own grandma, but it's so great that this woman's heart was big enough to include Emma in it and that Emma found her way in.
Yesterday there was a Genusspfad down at our local market. A kind of food fair where all the shop owners got their tables and chairs out and offered special tasting menu for 1.- 3.- or 5.- Euros. There were cheeses and breads, curries and wines, salads, gratins, various Italian antipasti, organic fruits and juices, desserts... all mouth watering, scrumptious and colourful. (I totally could kick myself for not having taken any pics!!!)
Anyway, to come back to the subject (sorry! I hope you are still with me!) when I had seen this advertized a couple of weeks back I had emailed a pic to some Mummy friends from my phone - don't you just love modern technology! - and suggested an early dinner with the kids.
So yesterday 6 of us Mummies and our kids (who all go to kindergarden together) went down to the Genusspfad and enjoyed each others' company as the kids continued to play in the little park, occasionally popping by to taste an "Erdbeer knödel" or fill up on some "semmel brot" or apple juice or show us a scratched knee. We even had a reserved table (they don't normally do reservations for these types of events) but I had mentioned we would be coming with our kids and I am a regular down there so they made an exception. It might sound silly, but I felt so happy and somehow proud to have thought of this and that it worked out so well - me the expat with all these (mainly) local Mums at a local event and a table with a "Sandra 16h00" scribbled on to bright sunny yellow paper. (Can you just imagine me smiling right noow? 'cause I am, lips, eyes and heart - a BIG smile!)
It was lovely. William was passed from lap to lap, each of us took turns running after the kids or getting the drinks or food, cutting the food for the kids etc. Each of us a Mum, each of us enjoying the banter and food and drink and company and the happy laughter of the kids in the background. The happiness of this moment is going to remain with me a long time.
It is these kind of treasures that take time when you are moving from country to country and that I miss the most when I arrive somewhere new.
Someone once told me that with each destination you get quicker at going through the initial hard stuff and moving on to the happy bits. I hope that's true.