When daughter number one started to go out on her own and ride her bike outside the village, we installed a tracking app on her phone. Genuinely it was merely for safety reasons and she never questioned it.
The tracker app has two admin, me and the husband, and when daughter number two got a phone, we downloaded it in hers too. Daughter number two, barely leaves the house and she is the last who should be concerned about been tracked, but because she is a “woman”of principles, she immediately challenged us asking why we were not trackable in the app.
“No reason really.” I genuinely replied.
“Switch your data on then, so you are as visible as we are.” She challenged back and so we did.
The entire family is now traceable in the family app; dogs included, thanks to their million dollars hunting collar, (but that is a story for another time).
To be honest, I barely use the app. If I want to know where the girls are or when they will be home, I just ring them and the same I do with the traveling husband. It’s not that I have anything against the app, that is a great instrument, just most of the times I forget about it.
The traveling husband, instead, since the beginning, was quite keen on the app and checked on his daughters regularly.
“Let’s see where they are…” He nonchalantly would say to me looking for approval for his urge to spy on his daughters.
Nothing wrong with it, he is just a concerned and caring dad. If only! A few times I came home, and he was waiting for me at the door. In the beginning I was just glad to get some help to unload the car but then, one day, I asked: “Did you hear the car coming up the road?”
“No, I saw you on the app.” He was tracking me too!!!!!
For a moment I nearly believed that, after 23 years together the traveling husband was eventually showing a slight hint of jealousy. Not the case, what he was instead showing was a tracker obsession that became quite obvious when I asked him where he was or when he was going to be home, and quite annoyed he replied,”Didn’t you check me on the app?” or “Why didn’t you just check in the tracker app?”. Then was when it hits me: The traveling husband wanted to be tracked!!!!
Now, don’t think it was out of some wish to be the object of his wife’s jealousy. It turned out, in fact, that it was merely out of a practical reason: If I only cared to check him up in the app, we both didn’t have to waste time phoning or texting each other. Of course!!!! What was I thinking????!!!
The day when your oldest children act like they are the parents comes to every household, sooner or later. In mine, it arrived a couple of weeks ago.
Last summer, I bought tickets for the Dublin Megacon Live to go with daughter number two and a friend of hers. At the time I had no idea what it was but the two of them seemed so excited about it that I felt I had no other choice, and after all, I had seven months to educate myself about this mega convention for the anime, comics and fantasy saga/games/show lovers. That’s what it is, I later found out.
Eventually, the day of the Megacon arrives and I am in my bedroom getting ready when daughter number one barges in. “Excuse me can you put on something please?” She says rolling her eyes, “We need to talk!” I just want to tell her that I am in my bedroom, my space (as she and her sister always like to stress about) and I can stay with as less clothes on as I please, but her face is so serious that I say nothing and just quickly throw my bathrobe on.
“I just want to be sure you are well prepared for today.” She says with a quite intimidating tone,” First, don’t be your usual chatty you, you don’t want to give them the wrong signal and end up stalked by some furry person. ..” I am trying to object to something but she stops rising her finger to my face and goes on, “You don’t go into the cosplay room, no matter what. God only knows what they are doing in there. And ultimately, you do not accept anything to eat that is not factory wrapped.” I am touched by her genuine concern for her mama but I have to stop the none sense,”Honey I think you are exaggerating. Do you think if it was a dangerous place I would take your sister and N?” “No, I trust you of course, but we all know how naive you can be sometimes and I am telling you: there are going to be lots of weirdos there, starting from the one child you are taking with you.” (Oh boy, I suddenly am the poor naive mother.) For the record, the one child I am taking with me is one of daughter number two’s oldest and dearest friends. To me, she is like family but unfortunately, she is at the top of daughter number one’s blacklist since first grade (seven years ago) when she had told her she had bushy eyebrows. The poor child doesn’t even remember the episode but obviously, someone else does and forever will!!!! “Don’t worry honey, I can do this and I promise I won’t talk to anybody who looks even remotely weird,” I reassure her and she seems happy enough. She reminds me once again to keep to myself and not accept hugs and candies from strangers and to my relief she leaves.
Looking at all those kids and adults, lots of adults, dressed up like characters from movies or comics, I am starting to think that maybe daughter number one a bit right was. I kind of feel like I am in an episode of CSI Vegas and for the first half an hour I just go around looking for a body to discover until I realise everybody looks incredibly happy and content.. including me actually. Feck daughter number one’s paranoia and let’s embrace the Megacon!!! And so like I found my freedom of spirit I chat away with the actor who played Flash Gordon, I talk to a guy who carries around a full-size gremlins puppet and also take a series of selfies with them both. I graciously accept a free hug from some random masked guy or girl… I am not sure. I shameless ask for selfies with anyone is wearing a costume I like. I play cards game and dungeons and dragons in the gaming area. I browse around buying any sort of strange gadget, trying on elf’s ears and chatting away with fantasy writers selling their books and, of course, I exchange socials accounts with them, feeling quite confident that nobody will stalk me.
Nearly five hours later I am exhausted and while waiting for daughter number two and her friend to finish their last shopping spree I sit close to the stall of a lady exhibiting the finest handmade costumes I had ever seen. I don’t know which fantasy series they are from but they are beautiful and I can’t refrain from talking to her and enquiring about her creations. She is lovely as much as her costumes and it turns out she is also in desperate need of a loo break. I am for once in the right place at the right time and straight away offer to hold her fort while she has gone to the toilet. She gratefully accepts and so here I am wearing the most amazing hat ever seen and showing marvellous garments at the Megacon live.
“It was amazing. so many interesting people, and so much to look at. I also tried on some dress and guess what? We already booked our tickets for next year and we are gonna go in fancy dress!! ” I excitedly tell daughter number one once back home and I proudly show her all the pictures and selfies I took. “A new world had opened to me!!!! ” She is not impressed and makes no effort to hide it. “Come closer.” She orders me. “What are you doing?” I ask. “I am checking you have not been injected with anything. I told you those people cannot be trusted and neither are you apparently!”
And just like that it came the day my eldest kid treated me like I was an idiot child.🤷🏻♀️
New year new plans: I and my friends decided that once a month we are gonna have one full girls’ day out.
First stop, The Cheaster Beatty Collection in Dublin followed by a fancy lunch. A kind of sex and the city experience except without the sex and the fashion side because considering the -3 degree outside our outfits of the day are more suitable for a ski resort than a NY cocktail bar. Also, it is just three of us and not four. We dropped our Samantha too, that was not a big loss but made us closer to their middle age menopausal late version. Well in fairness our Samantha kind of self-dropped, long boring story for another time…or not. Back to the day of our city escape, despite me still feeling itchy and tired and still unable to wear any makeup ( who cares at this point glamour had already succumbed to the cold)we decided to go ahead with our plan. It was hard enough to find a day all three of us were free. Postponing this was not an option, beside I had it all perfectly organised: I was going to drop the girls at school earlier so to walk the dogs also earlier and be ready to meet my pals at the train station at the designated time, for once. My neighbour, who I share the school runs with, was going to collect them and the travelling husband was going to take daughter number two to hockey practice. I only had to stick with the plan. How hard could it be? Very Hard!!!
That very same morning as soon as I turned my phone on it started to beep nonstop. Friend number one messed up with the dates and might have to go home early. Not the end of the world as the travelling husband forgot about my day out and went to the office so I had to be home early too, to take daughter number two to hockey practice. We just have to jump on the 11.00 am train instead of the 11.30. Problem solved, till I realised that all the texting back and forth delayed me and I ended up dropping the girls at school even later than usual and consequently heading to the dog park far later than planned. “Sorry boys, you’ll have a slightly shorter walk this morning,” I announced to their great disappointment,” but I got you pig’s ears,” I added and I was immediately forgiven. All good and on track if only someone hasn’t decided to race on the ice(because of course the previous night had snowed) landing with the car diagonally in the middle of the road preventing the traffic to move either forward or backwards. The good news was that the recovery track was already on its way.
20 minutes had passed and there was no sign of the recovery track yet. The guy in front of me lost his patience and after slamming his car door run up to the crashed car trying to move it but before he could even get close to it he slipped and badly fell on his back. So now we’re not only waiting for the recovery track but also an ambulance.
It had now passed more than half an hour. I had to get out of there. I convinced the guy in the car behind me to slowly reverse and turn around so that I could do the same. Slowly but surely we arrived at the dog park but it was quite clear that I would have never made it to the 11.00 am train. I rang the girls and after a brief discussion, we decided to not let the adversities win. We would have fought our destiny till the end and made it into Dublin for some fun, we just had to drive instead of getting the train. The whole point of getting the train was because that way we could all have a glass or two or three with our fancy lunch but as I could not drink because still under medication it wasn’t making any difference. All sorted, we saved the day and it turned out to be an amazing day, so amazing that once friend number one received a phone call informing her she didn’t have to go home earlier after all, I forgot about hockey practice too and instead of rushing home we stopped for cakes and tea. By the time we left the city, it was rushing hours and we got stuck in traffic. There was no way I was gonna be home in time for hockey practice but, before I could call daughter number two and shamefully confess my lousy mother’s sins, she rang me first asking to skip practice because she was tired. “Well I don’t know honey….are you sure? Would the coach not be upset? Well ok then, but only for this time and since I don’t have to take you to practice I’ll make a stop on the way and be home a bit later ok?” She is a smart one and would have easily made her maths with the timing, but I played it well, didn’t I?
The plan wasn’t actually to let pass all this time before going back to posting but as you probably by now know, nothing ever goes according to the plan here.
I was driving daughter number one to hockey practice like every Monday night when I started to suspect something was not right with me. My tongue felt far too big to fit into my mouth, the glands in my throath felt like they were the size of a coconut, my speech was impaired and my face and ears were on fire.
Pretending at my best that everything was fine I made it to the hockey pitch. Daughter number one, got out of the car and after looking at me said: “Bye, I love you, mum!” . Now, the fact that she inherited her father’s dislike for any kind of physical or verbal display of affection, gave me the final confirmation that there was something wrong with me. Something very wrong!
One look at myself in the car’s rear mirror and I immediately knew: the doctor screwed up with my medication.
That same very morning I went to my doctor to get some more antibiotics for an infection it was bothering me since Christmas. My usual doctor was not there, there was a substitute young doctor who missed noticing the big red flag on my chart saying that I am severely allergic to penicillin. Unfortunately not even me waving my new allergy bracelet in front of her face during the visit rang any bell to her and neither did the fact that I highlighted that the antibiotic I was already on was without penicillin. It wasn’t that difficult, she only had to give me another week of what I was already taking but, instead, she changed it. She probably just wanted to prove her knowledge and live a mark and…oh boy if she did so!!!
Back to Monday night, I rushed home, took an antihistamine and from there it all went ballistic. My body was burning, my face looked like it was exploding, I was freezing and shaking and gasping for air. “You are in shock. We have to go to the hospital”, the travelling husband said and the next thing I remember it was me in a triage at the A&E covered in blisters and with a drip on my arm. When they eventually discharged me, my ass was itchy and flat after 9 hours of sitting on a chair.
Once home I just wanted to sleep and sleep and sleep and suddenly I remembered that a few nights before I texted a friend of mine who was sick in bed saying that I could do with some resting alone day in bed. Well obviously this was not what I meant and from now on I can assure you I will be very careful with what I wish for.
By the end of the week, my bedside table was covered in tubs of pills and soothing creams, nothing seemed to work as fast as it was supposed to but I looked far less like a woman whose botox went terribly wrong and more like a zombie ready to kill and eat anyone on her way.
Now nearly two weeks later my skin is turning from purple red to pink red, the blisters are drying up and if I want to, I can even pick my nose. Not that this is a habit of mine but it is indeed a great achievement considering that just a few days before that nose of mine was so swollen that I couldn’t even see the holes of my nostrils and my earlobes were as thick as a steak fillet.
Now, still, with some itch and scratch and no make-up, life went nearly back to normal and we can all have a good laugh.
Thinking about it rationally this is one of those categories of people we should not give a f..k what they think about us. Honestly, do we really care how a bunch of stinky teenagers with small brains still in development see us? Most likely they don’t even notice our presence because we don’t come out of their phone’s screen. They just want to be fed and not spoken to. That is how they normally choose the house where to hang out: the one with the nicer biscuits and the most willing mother to make them hot chocolate, ideally without talking too much. Like it would matter what you ask them as the answer is always one of the following: yes, no, maybe, I don’t know; when it’s not s all of them together and accompanied by a lost facial expression that makes you wonder if the noise you hear in the background is their neurones running frantically from one side of their brain to the other in the desperate attempt to make sense to your highly engaging question like: do you want sugar in your chocolate? But that is exactly the point: You don’t want your kids’ friends to see you as a housewife who jumped out of the fifties. You don’t want them to come to your house only because you serve them hot chocolate and biscuits and you are crazy enough to host a sleepover with 6/7 of them and make them all pizza from scratch. You want them to like you because you are cool! Easier to say than do, unfortunately, and wearing your last Metallica concert t-shirt is not enough. They don’t even know who Metallica are. But when you invite them over for Halloween strictly requiring them to be in fancy dress and unleashing your vast knowledge of vintage horror movies, then you might have your chance. Horror movies are a classic timeless cross-generation weapon that always works. Of course, popcorn and hot chocolate help but only if you serve them wearing your bat wings rather than your flowery kitchen apron.
The first Monday morning in three months I didn’t have to go physically to the office and I was already dreaming of it since Sunday night.
I had it all figured out. First, kiss goodbye to the travelling husband; second send off the girls to school with the bus; third, close the front door behind me and sip my coffee still in my dressing gown, waiting for the grocery shopping to be delivered, then work a couple of hours and ultimately walk the dogs to the park. It was going to be like Heaven!!! Except it all went to HELL!
7.00 am, the travelling husband’s driver doesn’t show up and he doesn’t pick up the phone either. While the husband frantically keeps checking between out of the window and his watch, I keep my face down pretending to have a sudden interest in whatever the first page of the newspaper said, (that I couldn’t know because I didn’t have my glasses and couldn’t read a thing). The tension and the panic in the room are now palpable and I can’t avoid the inevitable question any longer: “Do you want me to drive you to the airport?”.
And that was the end of my self-indulging morning.
Back from the airport, I rush the girls out of bed to drive them to school, because of course, they switched off their alarms and fell back asleep while I was stuck in traffic coming back from the airport. One foot out the door, and also the grocery man arrives. I quickly get my shopping in, throw everything on the kitchen counter and drive the girls to school. Once I am back I jumped straight behind my desk, “Just a couple of hours and then we go out, ok?” I say to the dogs who disappointedly look at me before sprawling at my feet under the desk.
1.30 am, those two hours of work became four and I am just about ready to switch everything off and take those poor creatures out when the phone rings. It’s the school, and when the school calls is never good news. Either your child got injured or you forgot to pay the annual “extra voluntary contribution”. Because I am quite organised and precise when it comes to school stuff, I knew already something had happened to one of the girls. Daughter number one fell during her PE class and her shoulder was sore.
After a few seconds of mental swearing, not against the poor child, but against the bad timing and the fucked up morning I was having, I went to the kitchen to at least release the dog in the garden. To my total horror, I also realised I still have my weekly grocery shopping all over the counter. Too bad, sure I did have no time to put it away now, so I quickly stack the milk in the fridge hoping it was not already gone off and left while big years German and the little mad redhead watched me from the window even more confused and disappointed .
Daughter number one is waiting for me in the office with two schoolmates and the secretary who briefly explains what had happened and proudly shows me how she had bandaged the child to keep her arm still on the hips. I thank her, even if I don’t understand why she tied her arm to the hip while the problem is on her shoulder but I indeed appreciate how nicely she had looked after my kid who is now happily chatting away with her friends and looks pretty fine to me …till she gets up and turns around. Then I see it. Her left shoulder blade is all out. It’s sticking out so much that you can use it to hang Christmas decorations. “She might have dislocated her shoulder”, the school secretary says.
“You don’t say! But thankfully you secured her arm still thought.” I think and after thanking her again I drive straight to the closest A&E.
“Her shoulder seems fine to me and she is in no pain. I don’t think there is anything wrong.” The doctor says after barely looking at her.
“I think it’s dislocated, and if you look at it from behind you will see.”I insist.
“No the bone is like that because she has scoliosis.” He sticks to his assumption and turns the child with her back toward him.
“No, she doesn’t! “I firmly say sticking to the facts and with a slight hint of annoyance in my tone.
“Do you know what scoliosis is, mam?” He dares me and continues, ” it’s when the spine is bent, see..” he starts running his finger over her spine with a half-mocking smile like I am an idiot.
“Oh, the spine is perfectly straight!” He eventually exclaims with surprise.
-Who is the idiot now, eh?-
“I told you!!!” I say with no surprise at all but with a full big mocking smile.
“You might be right.” He eventually admits his defeat and asks daughter number one to lift her arm, and just like that, with a loud crack, the bone is back in its place.
X-rays are fine, nothing is broken and all the bones are where they are supposed to be. Two weeks with her arm in a sling around her neck and she should be as good as new.
After dropping the injured child home I go straight to pick up daughter number two from school and finally walk the dogs out.
5.30 pm I eventually have time to store the groceries away and that’s when I realise that those puppy eyes they were looking at me with, were not begging for a walk but for forgiveness.
Four butter croissants, gone; Two blocks of cheese, gone; a bag of mixed nuts, chewed and ripped and all over the floor.No wonder they were not even running that much and were incredibly quiet despite the lack of walk…they were stuffed like turkeys at Christmas! But in fairness what was I expecting….all those goodies were there for the entire day….No one would have resisted!
7.00 pm, I am longing for a glass but I have to drive daughter number two to her banjo class. Thank God the class is only half an hour and by 8.30 pm after scrambling some eggs I can enjoy my cabernet.
9.00 pm I am ready to finally take off the nighty I am still wearing under the jumper and the legging since the unexpected trip to the airport, shower and slip into a clean nighty.
10.00 pm I call it the end of this madly ordinary manic Monday.
It appears that, for my family, I can’t get “properly” angry.
According to my mother, that’s due to laziness, and believe me, she might hate gyms, but when it comes to picking a fight over her principles (and she has plenty of them), she is not a lazy woman!!
My daughters, instead, blame it on my lack of coordination. According to them, especially when driving, I am far too slow to react, and so by the time I register the offence I’ve been a victim of, I find my voice to swear and finally push the right spot on the steering wheel to use the horn, It’s far too late. Whoever wronged me has either left or already forgotten what he did to cause my upset, making me look like a total lunatic.
“You should overtake them and show your finger…” Daughter number one once suggested.
“What? Where did you get that? We don’t do that, besides it’s dangerous, your grandmother tried once, and a very angry track driver followed her home.” I replay, not specifying that I was in the car with her, still a child, and that’s probably why I don’t argue much on the road.
“It never happened to papa, and he does it all the time.” God bless kids’ innocence!
“He does not!” I reply fighting for my husband’s decency.
“Oh yes, he does! All the time when we are in Italy .” She replays candidly, “Right C?” and I don’t have to say that daughter number two enthusiastically confirms it.
“He had never done it with me!”I keep fighting for my husband’s honour.
“Because you are never in the car when he does it, and you know what he can do too? ” I am not sure I want to know it, no, but it seems I have no choice, “He can roll down the window and give out to other drivers at the same time!!” WOW, that’s classy!
“Ok, I got it!!!! ” I say defeatedly. Fighting for the travelling husband’s decency is a lost battle, and I have to accept that I can compete with a family of professional anger show off….until the day I can!!!
Stay tuned to hear what happens when Ortensia gets “properly” angry.
And so it was an ordinary afternoon, and like every ordinary afternoon, I went to collect the girls from school. We got home and I made the fatal question they were waiting to hear back for months, “do you want a snack?”. Since I went back to work full time, in fact, it has been replaced by something sounding more like… ” Sorry girls I have no time . I have to go back to work. Sort yourself out”, with me throwing at them a bag of crisps. Yes I know, shame on me, crisps!!! Anyway, let’s not dwell on it and let’s focus instead on the fact that since I am now working part-time, the after-school snacks routine had resumed. This particular Monday afternoon it was a typical chilly end of summer day and so I thought that a nice cup of cioccolatti would do them good.(*cioccolatti is the word the girls started to use as toddlers, in their unsuccessful attempt to speak Italian, to refer to a beverage that’s nothing but hot milk with some cacao ). Now that they are both in secondary school and they can properly speak Italian we still use the word and they can have it in their bedrooms to not waste any precious time that they could instead profitlessly use on their phones!!! You thought for a minute I was going to say to study, eh? Anyway, let’s not dwell on that either and let’s go back to me, diligently toasting their crumpets and preparing their two mugs of cioccolatti. I put everything on a tray under the vigil eye of big years German who is hoping for something to fall and I start climbing the stairs, closely followed by Gino who, instead, is actively trying to make something fall, except he doesn’t have to make the greatest effort as I end up to do a pretty good job myself.
It all happens in a fraction of a second, I missed the last step and while I fall face down, the tray flies up in the air. The wall, the stairs, the carpet everything is covered in cioccolatti. I looked at the devastation around me, and after an initial impulse to cry and run away, I take a big breath and I assess the damages trying to decide what requires my attention first. The carpet! For sure I don’t want it to get soaked more than it is already, despite the great effort of the dogs to try to lick as much cioccolatti of it as they can.
I send the girls to lock Gino and Kurt in the garden while I get a bucket and some bleach. I kneel down and start scrubbing, and scrubbing, and scrubbing. Half an hour later the carpet was of the exact same brown colour as it was half an hour before, but at least instead of milk, it smelt of bleach, along with my jeans that now have two white circular stains on the knees. I might try to launch a new trend…
Time now to tackle the stairs glass panels, that in the meantime were still dripping cioccolatti. Well, guess what? It’s hard enough to clean them without leaving marks and streaks in normal conditions, after splashing them with warm milk and cocoa is nearly a mission impossible. I washed them and dried them at least 6 times, and then I simply decided that the fact that at least they didn’t smell sour milk anymore had to be enough for me to be satisfied and work on the wall. The wall! The one thing I should have washed first instead of last! A pity I only realised it three days later. Yes, you heard me, it took me three days, a bottle of bleach and one of cherry flavour washing up before I could eventually climb the stairs without having the impression that three sets of twin babies had just thrown up their last meals all over my landing.
And if you may be wonder where the travelling husband was in all this. Well, he was travelling, (eventually, after two years he went back travelling 🥳) and only came back on Friday, right in time to enjoy the cherry aroma our walls are now infused with and admire the new rug on the landing….Now, let’s just hope he won’t lift it !!!
10th of march 2021…. is the date of the last actual blog(shameful Easter advertisement aside). Holy Posy! For how long did I neglect my creature?18 months? And if I have to tell the truth, during these 18 months, I also thought to shutting it down! I know….I am a horrible person, but I didn’t .Did I?! And that’s what matters, right? And in my defence, it has been a very rough time: health issues, family issues, court battles, hormone rebellion and yes, some laziness too. I even cut my hair on a very very short pixie and went back to work full time. I know, I might have gone a bit too far over there, but I learnt my lesson, and one day I came to terms with the ugly truth: besides the blog, everything else was neglected too, the house, the children, the dogs and worst of all I turned into one of those women wearing short hair because it’s easy to keep. Except, because I have very straight hair, it did not turn that way either. It was true my life needed some changes , but I am afraid not the ones I made. But which ones? And that’s when I had an epifany. No actually, that happens only in the movies. To me it was after reading Sarah Knight and Marie Kondo. And if the first one thought me The life-changing method of not giving a f..k (and God only knows how much I needed it); the second one thought me how to keep my house tidy and clutter-free (and only God knows how desperately needed that too), but most of all she thought me how to keep only what sparks joy. And so I remember how much joy my little blog sparked in me ….
10th September 2022: Welcome back good old /new (Ortensia !
And just as you know, my Bob is nearly back , the job is now part time and I have 18 months of stories to tell….and many to comes because you never forget that a laugh and a bit of extraordinary can be found everywhere 😉