Wednesday, July 10, 2013

Back in the Saddle


Nearly 3 weeks off from stay-at-home mom-ing have left me flabby, exhausted, and a little bit shocked at the brute physicality this job demands. Last night, in a fit of what can only be classified as satanic toddler jet-lag, both boys screamed, alternating their tones and voices, from 8:30 until nearly 1 am. I am still not sure what we finally did to get them to sleep, but I know it involved multiple bedroom re-assignments, a situation involving the AC and a fan, an old laptop spinning Curious George flicks at midnight, and perhaps 5 bottles of milk.

My aching head is telling me that it was either a killer flashback to my first parental rodeo, or I got all kinds of crunk last night. (This baby bump I'm sporting is pointing to A.)
All 6 Senour cousins, in birth order. (We're tapping our next youngest and recently-engaged sister to provide #7, cause Lizzie and I need a b-r-e-a-k.)
I am so grateful we had the time with our friends and families - it was too short, it went too fast, but it was so much fun. And while I can't say why yet, coming back wasn't half as hard as I'd expected. Rome seems almost pleasant in these first few days back on the scene, half asleep in the sweltering summer heat and nearly emptied of tourists. They've all gone to the beaches, and so will we next week, to a charming little town on the Amalfi Coast called Atrani.

What do you think, worth the train ride/bus ride/hike?
While it still doesn't feel like home here, there is a familiar ache as I take in the beauty of Rome, and a realization that our time here, while sometimes difficult and always fraught with Italian bureaucracy, is fleeting. Will my kids remember that we did this? I think Joey will, but I'm sure John Paul will not. Perhaps he'll taste something years and years from now and it will jolt his memory and he will become somehow subconsciously aware that he has eaten octopus before, and that he loved it. Or maybe I'll just have to show them the pictures I really need to start taking again, because cell phone cameras don't really do life justice.

Whatever memories they escape with, I will always see Rome as the place where I became a mother in a fuller, more painful, and more exquisitely demanding sense. Now that I've had a few weeks' worth of love, support, and practical assistance with my blonde wolf cubs, I realize the magnitude of the task of raising them, essentially, alone. I mean obviously Dave is here in the evenings, but all day every day, it's me. No daycare, no gym play area, no mom's groups, no understanding friends with their own cubs willing to swap out for a quick trip sans bambini to the grocery store. I'm on, constantly. And it is almost debilitatingly exhausting. But it has also made me so strong.

We flew, counting our connecting flights, on 12 different airplanes over the past 2.5 weeks. Sometimes JP had his own seat, but usually not, and so he was perched atop my 16 week baby bump for the duration. 6 months ago I could never have done something like that. But I was a younger mom, and a less chiseled mom. And while 'chiseled' is not a word I expected to use in my self-descriptive vocab anytime in the next 1 million years or so, it's perfect for explaining this transformation in what I'm able to do and what I can handle now, as a mom.

Would this have happened if we'd never left the States? I'm sure it could have. I have dear friends whose husbands medical school schedules or demanding jobs require far more of them than what's been asked of me. But I don't know what other circumstances in my life could have made for this perfect training ground to toughen me up, and to ready me for my life-long career in motherhood.

So Italy, for whatever it's worth, thank you. You've been the hard place I've been slamming up against all these long months, and it really has made me stronger. But if you want to add AC onto those trains and buses of yours, I won't turn my nose up.

Stronger, but still not a sadist,

A mom.


  1. Jenny, this post is so hopeful for me. In less than 3 weeks, I won't be moving transatlantically, but I will be uprooting my small family - leaving an AMAZING familial support system - and moving many states away to continue my education. Things are going to be nutty, and many people think that I have lost my mind; and lately I have tended to agree with them. But, I think that this experience - despite and essentially because of the challenges that lie ahead - will lead me to a fuller version of myself as a mother. I also look forward to cultivating my own little family's identity whilst we navigate this new chapter. Thanks so much for sharing and enjoy the Amalfi coast - it looks spectacular!

  2. I love this. Also, if they ever do put A/C on the public trans. you wouldn't have to turn your nose up any more. :)

  3. Thanks..I needed this. as a FOCUS missionary family going through way too many transitions at once, this really boosted my spirits and even though you are very far away, and we've never met, it made me feel like I have a friend who gets it. Thanks!

  4. This is so beautiful Jenny! I feel unreasonably proud of you.

  5. Great post, Jenny! I am in awe of how many flights you guys have taken. And no AC on trains or buses? That is crazy to the nth degree.

  6. What a terrific post! My five boys are grown up and in their twenties (the oldest is almost 30!!), and I often think how much different it was raising them than it would be now (with all the newfangled inventions like TV's with DVD players built right into the minivans). But living over there, it's as if you've truly stepped back in time and have to do without so many of the conveniences we all take for granted. It's great that instead of letting it get you down, you've let it make you "chiseled" (great adjective, by the way). This post is such a beautiful tribute to the vocation of full-time motherhood!


Is your email linked to your comment? I'd love to respond to you directly, but I can't if it's not!