It is undeniable that the political events of the past few months have put a dark light on the future of Europeans living across the UK, no matter how long ago they arrived.
My husband had been considering applying for citizenship much before all of this happened, he even passed the ‘life in the UK’ test in August 2014. But because our daughter was a baby at the time and we did not get much sleep at night, we kept on pushing back filling out all the forms for him to apply for British nationality, providing the traveling diary requested which was the longest job to put together with all the papers requested.
I care for my husband. Even on the days I feel miles away from him.
On the days I cannot forgive him for having once again forgotten to take down the compost bin the only time I mentioned I might not have a chance to do it myself, hoping one of us will remember this week as I always do. Or for having forgotten to help with our daughter’s potty training or our son’s homework, for wasting the left overs in the fridge as always even if we said we will finish the following day, for often missing to tell me about a work engagement that forces me into babysitting duty last minute. Even on the days I feel so disconnected to him, to the point I don’t want him to look at me or touch me because I feel uncomfortable with myself and I might not even know why.
When you become a parent one of the tricky things that starts appearing into your life planner once a year is the dilemma of your child’s birthday party.
You want them to have a great time to remember and celebrate something they like a lot as children, growing up (!), but at the same time you may feel overwhelmed to invite and entertain 20 kids in your tiny flat or be concerned they will destroy your house or garden!
Here are a few local ideas I used for my kids. They were born in the spring but weather is always a question mark in the UK so I used lots of indoor options as well 🙂
Last Sunday I had the most amazing 5 hours in Camden in a long time! Did I go to the zoo? Did I have a stroll on the canal or in Regent’s Park? Did I shop in the market? I went for a workshop at London Meditation.
The location was the perfect environment for this kind of ‘retreat’: a 3rd floor flat full of light, with big windows on beautiful roof views and 2 big balconies, spotless cosy main room with the perfect temperature, comfortable rug, chairs, pillows and blankets, well studied in every single practical detail (like the kitchen and a second room if in need of privacy for a moment).
The topic I had chosen to attend that day was self compassion mindfulness as too many times I catch myself being extremely judgemental towards my limits and poor choices, totally ignoring all the good things I achieve on a daily basis.
If you like the seaside, good food and hiking as much as I do, then the Amalfi Coast is definitively the place to visit! The mountains called Monti Lattari which are part of a natural reserve arrive straight on the sea in this beautiful land with spectacular little towns built on the sides of those cliffs. I discovered Amalfi for the first time in September this year. I had planned to go to Salerno to see a gig of my favorite band when I was a teenager. Since it was on my 34th birthday and I find that beautiful places heal my soul and help me to cope with the family routine of washing up / dropping kids at school / going to work / ordering the grocery / ecc, I decided to give myself a mini break of 2 days and visit the area before going to the concert on the Friday night. It turned out that the trip to Amalfi itself was even more worth it than the gig! Here are my suggestions when you visit the area.
For those who have walked for a decade from Brixton Hill into Brixton Water Lane on their way to Hootananny or Brockwell park, the meaning of this graffiti is much deeper than just some vandalism… If you want to understand more about it, read my previous post about Reclaiming Brixton.
A year has passed since the amazing unplanned home delivery that gave life to my daughter and I struggle to believe that this fearless, brave, hard working woman that gave birth to her that way was actually me. I wish I would remember every day I am capable of showing such strength and determination. I usually feel insecure deep down and wonder if I am a good enough mother, a competent employee, a present wife, a loving friend… I always doubt about myself, I tend to self sabotage my actions. But if I look back at that night of labor completely relaxed on my own, I believe I probably managed for once in my life to finally tune into my body and listen to what was happening, not fighting the pain, not even letting the fear take me to the core, at the bottom of my stomach. That was probably the first time I learned to let go: I knew what was coming and accepted that contractions would get stronger and stronger and by doing so, funny enough, they felt less painful. I also know now that her safe arrival in such an empowering way was actually a miracle of the God of my understanding, one of the many he performs in my daily life, the one and only that looks after me so well. My higher power helped me by raising my determination to make things different in my life in general, and more specifically in my second delivery. In fact, after the birth of my son 3 years beforehand, I was extremely anxious at how things would go with the delivery of my second baby. I remember having panic attacks in the last few weeks that brought to her safe arrival, thinking of all the things that could have gone wrong, as first time around… A nightmare period of my life! Luckily I had booked myself in early April for a whole day workshop at Active Birth Centre with Alice Charlwood, which I strongly believe made the absolute difference, together with my determination not to repeat the past and my Higher power’s plans for me.
The reason why I always find time to follow a bit of politics, even local movements and events, is contained in this smartly touching quote by Bertold Brech.
The worst illiterate is the political illiterate.
He doesn’t hear, doesn’t speak, nor participates in the political events.
He doesn’t know the cost of life, the price of the bean, of the fish, of the flour, of the rent, of the shoes and of the medicine, all depends on political decisions.
The political illiterate is so stupid that he is proud and swells his chest saying that he hates politics.
The imbecile doesn’t know that, from his political ignorance is born the prostitute, the abandoned child, and the worst thieves of all, the bad politician, corrupted and flunky of the national and multinational companies.
What makes us good parents? Some people would easily fall into the cliché that the excellent parent is the one whose kids never have tantrums: they always do as they are told and are polite in public. This would apparently represents the proof that manners and hierarchy were well passed on to the new generation.
Actually, I would deeply suspect of those situations because if children are too compliant, it may not be a sign of good parenting: the risk is to simply erase their personality, asking them not to ever disagree or have uncomfortable feelings so that you as parents are always in a good place and don’t have to fight to get your mission accomplished (getting ready to go home, having a meal sitting down in a quiet restaurant and so on…).
The truth is we actually measure ourselves as good parents in those difficult times, when we manage to teach our children how to deal with their own emotions and why despite they want to do something one way, they will have to accept the frustration of doing it a different way due to the circumstances.
It may seem yesterday that your tiny little baby entered your life changing it forever in all the amazing ways they do (and all the hard working, depressing and exhausting ways too, to be very honest 🙂 ). Therefore, the end of your maternity leave feels so far ahead you have not even considered your options. But as a matter of fact, even when you take the maximum time allowed in the UK (the entire year from when you stopped working, not from when your baby was born), it goes faster than you think and one day all of the sudden you may have 2 or 3 months left to decide what to do and inform your employer as well. It is a very important decision you are taking, that will strongly influence your child’s life and yours as well for the years to come.When you evaluate what is the best solution for your situation, there are a few factors to take into account. Here is a guide of what I personally experienced first and second time around (having a 3 years gap in between my two children).
I know Brittany very well. My mum was born and raised over there and I spent every single summer holidays in the area until I was 18. I remember my grandparents country house with that huge garden where I could play for hours (ironically sold in the late 90s to an English man and his wife who I am in contact with twice a year by Xmas wishes and birthday pictures of my kids). And I know by hear the streets of the little main town (Quimper) where my mother grew up and returned to once a year to be closer to her parents and siblings since she lived in a foreign country for her (Italy, where my father is from and I was born and raised).
Clapham and Brixton Picturehouse Cinemas both have a great kids club where they show cartoons for the kids in the morning on the weekends for a very cheap price, great rescuers of rainy Saturdays or Sundays mornings 🙂
Dust if you must, but wouldn’t it be better
To paint a picture, or write a letter,
Bake a cake, or plant a seed;
Ponder the difference between want and need?
Dust if you must, but there’s not much time,
With rivers to swim, and mountains to climb;
Music to hear, and books to read;
Friends to cherish, and life to lead.
Dust if you must, but the world’s out there
With the sun in your eyes, and the wind in your hair;
A flutter of snow, a shower of rain,
This day will not come around again.
Dust if you must, but bear in mind,
Old age will come and it’s not kind.
And when you go (and go you must)
You, yourself, will make more dust.
In the last few weeks I have been finalizing our next summer trip to Portugal at the end of August and whilst I plan it I am immediately taken back every single time to our amazing holidays in Spain last year as the setup will be very similar this year too.
First of all I should say that our trip to the Mediterranean coast was a very special one as it was my dearest aunt who gave me the touristic guide to go and visit that part of Europe: that is the last thing she gave me the last time we met. She had bought it to go and travel there when she would be retired. However her life had planned otherwise: only a few months after she stopped working she was diagnosed with terminal cancer and was given a life expectation of 4 to 5 years only. She gave me her guide book in February 2015 as she knew she only had a few months left to live at that point so she would not realise that dream, as many others. She passed away in August 2015 and a few week later I booked our summer holidays for 2016 to go and visit those places on her behalf, holding her in my heart and seeing everything through her eyes too. Our holidays there were such an unforgettably beautiful time of our lives that we felt as if she had managed to make us one last gift even if she was not alive anymore: she inspired us for such an amazing trip that would bring us joys for the years to come every time we would remember it…
Dates for the Lambeth Country show this year are already out! 15th and 16th of July 2017
Here a few pictures from the previous years editions if you have never been 🙂