Friday, August 9, 2013

Finish Line

Today is my last day as a stay at home mom in Rome.

What that means on a practical level is that my beloved will be hanging up his press credentials for the last time come 6 pm tonight, packing it in after 6 good years of blood, sweat, and tears.

If I could take just a moment to showcase his hard work, I hope he'll forgive the public display of sentiment. But seriously, this guy? Solid gold. You wish he was on your staff, trust me.
Watching the newest Swiss Guards swear in. Definite perk of being a journalist's wife/son.
He helped to grow CNA from a 2-man operation working out of rented space in a diocesan building to a major contender in the global news game. They now boast a staff closer to 20 and have branches all over the world. So honey, if you're reading this: good on ya. You've helped to build something you can be proud of.

What this means on a less tangible but no-less-important (to me, anyway) level is this: when we move home next week, I won't be alone anymore.

If that sounds dramatic, well, apparently drama is my thing this week, so ... move along, nothing to see here.

But honestly. Only another mom with a frequently traveling or odd-working-hours hubby (I won't touch military wives, because you ladies are a different species of admirable and can do truly inhuman things for love of your hero) can relate here: being alone with toddlers all day can wear on a person. It can make you do crazy things, actually, like suddenly announcing at 2 pm on a blazing summer's day 'Let's go on an adventure, guys!' which may or may not result in a scene involving human excrement, the public transportation system, and a whole lot of regret.

I've been growing, stretching, trying, failing, and generally learning a whole lot about mothering during these past 8 months. For those of you who've been reading along and tolerating the tone and content here: thanks. For those of you who have been reading along and are scratching their heads and wondering who gave me children or why I can't just put a bird on it or count my lucky stars and shut up already...may I politely direct you to the other side of the blogging tracks. No need to slum it over here in my world if it's getting you down.

Sure, we've had some glamorous moments. This one, for example, which will be forever engraved on my heart (and on display in a particularly large and obnoxious photo exhibit in our front entryway):

Bottom right is mad jelly he's not getting Papa smooched right now.

Sorry you can't see Gorgeous Georg's face. Truly.
But then there are moments like these, where it's 2 pm and naptime has ended all too soon and guess what? There are no backup plans. You're the backup plan. There are no friends, no neighbors, no in-laws, and no grandmas around to save your sorry ass from a long, cold afternoon of failing hard.
I don't know, I guess he looks pretty content.
Those are probably the days where I've learned the most. Without my trusted circle of girlfriends, my handy drop-off child care center at the gym, without being able to even call my mom because she is 8 hours behind our time zone and oh yeah, our internet still hasn't been hooked up so I don't actually have a phone...those have been the hard days. And those have been most of the days here, I have to say.
Shhhhh, he thinks it's just one big 'adventure.'
What's the takeaway from this? I guess just that when pressed, we can all do really hard things. And I'm not saying this is the hardest thing in the world that anyone has ever faced, by no means am I saying that. I know how grateful I must be for my precious, healthy children, for Dave and my own health, for our happy marriage, for this unique opportunity to travel and to grow and to introduce our children to the very heart of the Church.

But I'd be a lying fiery-pants if I didn't admit this was the hardest thing I've ever done, or if I pretended that life has been pretty lately. It has been beautiful, yes. But not pretty. Lonely is rarely pretty. Frustrated and fed up is unseemly. Pregnant is definitely not least not on this body.

But it's real. And I'm sorry if it's too real sometimes. God knows I'm sorry it's actually happening at the time, though it's usually funny just a few hours later. And so I write about it. Because that's what I know how to do: write.

I think my biggest take-away from our time here will be an awareness of increased competence. I may not being doing it especially well, but I am doing it, nonetheless. And when the day is 2 hours old and there are still 11 more to go before relief in the form of D-a-d-d-y is due back...well, it won't kill me. Test me, yes. Cause me to question my vocational choice, occasionally. Make me really, really grateful that we have family to go home to, always.

I'll also live all my life long with a profound and abiding love for espresso. And travertine marble.

So Rome, thanks for the memories, the life lessons, the moments of blinding beauty, and the experiences of searing pain. I'll keep it all in my heart. And vomit it all over this blog. And if you occasionally want to click away to read something more edifying then maybe try here. Or if you're looking for conflict-free warm fuzzies, may I recommend here. Or perhaps it's just home decorating tips and ideas? I've gotten many a good idea here.

Arrividerci, amici. It's been real.


  1. Safe travels to you all!!!

  2. Love this, Jenny (I probably say that every time, but- truth). Keep on keeping it real, and have a good trip back!

  3. We are coming to Denver next week too (From California). I've loved reading your adventures in Roma. Especially at that most important time of choosing the next Pope, how exciting! May the next chapter of your life bring you the same joys.

  4. Thank you for validating that same feeling in me that has been festering all summer--that feeling that something can be good, beautiful even, and worthwhile, but hard (so so hard) and awful at the same time.

    I've moved away from home with a toddler/preschooler and have no family or friends here. The loneliness is overwhelming sometimes while hubs is at work, and even sometimes when he is home. Add 36-weeks-pregnant to that and well, Jenny, you know what I'm dealing with. It's incredibly valuable to me that you articulate it so that I feel less alone. At least I didn't have to do it all in a foreign language!

    Safe travels and welcome home!

  5. Aww Jenny, I'm getting emotional that you're leaving!
    But really, I think reading what you've written in the last couple months haven't been anything in the debbie-downer category at all. Honesty refreshes and inspires me. I guess this isn't the way for everyone(?), weird, but I don't know what I'd do without real moms on the interwebs. I think if you're a mom and haven't faced tough times then you better hold on because they're coming for you! And especially when we view motherhood as a vocation then things really get hard. I think you've grown so much and that's just from what I glean from your blog, I'm sure in real life it must come out in all sorts of awesome ways. Anyways...I'm babbling, but I hope all the packing/flying goes heavenly!

  6. I love what you said about your husband! And have a good trip, welcome back to America!!

  7. Never feel bad for admitting something is hard even if it's not THE HARDEST THING IN THE WORLD. Loneliness is hard, what you've done is brave. I'm blessed by reading what you write! Can't wait to read more about your new chapter.

  8. You definitely hot the bail on the head about being your own back up plan (and also the random lets go! Adventure that ends in regret, some sort of blow out and tears all around in my case). There is nothing harder than knowing you are the end of the line and those whines and tantrums are directed at you! I also love the love you have for your husband, I sometimes forget that while left alone to deal with 2 littles he's out there making that possible! Thank you for the reminder! :)

    Hopefully the flights, the move and the transition are easy on you and yours!

  9. I'm one of those military wives - 3 deployments in the past 12 years - he once left for 10 months just a mere two weeks after child #4 was born. Two weeks! So I had to write to tell you: don't belittle or minimize the struggle of being alone with toddlers in a foreign country and NO support system. I would argue that as hard as those deployments were, I read your posts and think that I had it easy. Yes - my hubby was gone. But I had a giant support system - friends who came and took my kids, friends who cooked us dinner, friends who drove my kids places and picked them up, family who was nearby and helped us out, and on and on. I look at you and think what you sacrificed so your husband could have that experience was amazing! I'm so glad you're getting to move back and I can't wait to read about your return to "our" world!

  10. I've enjoyed reading of your adventures in Rome, even if they weren't always fun at the time for you. You clearly appreciate the good things in your life, but that doesn't mean it's not difficult to have two toddlers in a foreign country!

  11. Pinterest, You are Drunk. Thank you for that! The time I'm sure to waste there is definitely going to be better spent than that I'll waste on Pinterest itself.
    I only found you blog recently, but I'm sure some time soon I'll sift through the archives to read about your Roman adventures. I don't know if I could have survived Rome with two small kids, so you've won my respect!

    Safe travels back to the states!!


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