Italy, Lifestyle, Sabbatical, Travel

Dolce Follia

Lucca has felt like home. This has been both a good and bad thing. Good, because we’ve fallen into a mess-of-a-routine that has made a week fly by. Bad, because it wasn’t until four days in that I realized how unique each building is. This is something I normally observe right-off-the-bat. I can’t help but wonder why that is. It’s no wonder that the first time I really stopped to observe the architecture was when my kids were with a sitter. We had our hands, time, and gelato all to ourselves for a few hours.

One thing I need to be mindful of is to not take this beautiful city for granted. Having been to Italy 3-years ago, I think I’m subconsciously thinking “I’ve seen this before,” but the truth is I haven’t. I’ve never been to this charming town, and it’s my job to recognize that though we’re in month two of our sabbatical, there’s still a newness that deserves to be embraced.

I could be passing blame, but I believe a part of the reason is the fact that we have two toddlers attached at our hips at all times. I find myself in moments of embracing it and also still adjusting to the lack of individuality this arrangement has brought. It’s been difficult for me at times, and it takes every bit of positive energy to remind myself that it’s okay to be frustrated and spent. But just because it’s okay doesn’t make it easy.

Yesterday, we sat down at a trattoria close to our apartment on a whim to eat lunch. I must add that we’ve had a few sit-down experiences in Lucca and the kids have behaved quite well. That wasn’t the case this time around. Let’s just say that we’d be shooting ourselves in the foot if we stayed long enough for the server to ask for our beverage order. We got up, and left. We picked up some lunch and brought it back to the apartment. Really, it’s what we should’ve done from the start. It is necessary to mention that we have had many meals out with our kids. We figure they’re never going to learn to behave at a restaurant if we don’t immerse them in the experience early-on. I was so disappointed, even embarrassed, with the behavior of my first born. I was caught off-guard because never have we had to do that, get up and leave a restaurant. But that’s just it–we’ve NEVER had to do that. Clearly I needed a serious perspective shift.

An American lady with a deep smoker’s voice came up to Brian and the kids while I was placing a carry-out order just a few doors down from the incident. Curious, I went over to see what they were chatting about. I could tell it was regarding the children and I was sensitive from the fresh experience of a full-blown tantrum over sugar packets at the previous establishment. She said “I was telling your husband that it’s great that you’re able to travel like this with your kids being so young. They must be great kids if you’re able to do that.” My first thought was that she must have missed the free show, starring my daughter. But then it dawned on me– does it matter if she did or not? She was absolutely right. We’re here in yet another country, having to reteach hello and goodbye in another language (Italy has given us a free pass since Ciao! is used for both), and tucking our children into a new bedroom. We’re lucky with how well our children have adapted, and it unfortunately took the random lady to remind me of this.

I’m not bragging about my children’s adaptability. Besides giving them a heads-up before embarking to the next location and making it sound appealing the best I can in toddler language, I’ve done nothing. So, yes, I need to count my blessings and remember that they are rockstars. Even rockstars have their moments of defeat and weakness. I guess that’s something I need to remember for myself as well. Although I’m no rockstar, I need to give myself some grace during moments of defeat and weakness. I’m still learning what that looks like, but I’ll tell you one thing–it’s nice to have Brian, who’s going through literally the same thing as me to talk to and work through my thoughts.

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