Posts tagged " love "

On that Perfect Day

July 1st, 2016 Posted by Tabula Rasa No Comment yet

Rare. Surprising. Irreplaceable. Unrepeatable. It sneaks up on you, one tiny quake at a time. The first time they sit through a road trip without a tantrum, an emergency Dinosaur Train screening. When they rub on the sunscreen themselves. The first time they sit through a meal at a restaurant, eat almost half of their food, without complaining about the foreign objects on their plate. When they want less than three spoonfuls of vanilla ice cream. When the sea seems like the most amazing roller coaster ride they’ll ever be on, their laughter ringing in your ears, sending you on the highest high. When you voluntarily read four bedtime stories instead of two, they sit up, kiss your knee three times and say, “It was so much fun today, mommy. I love you.” It’s like a cluster of stars explodes somewhere in your stomach, their dust somehow makes it into your bloodstream, you are aglow, tingling.

Everything else, is immediately, forgotten.

On Crying

May 26th, 2016 Posted by Tabula Rasa No Comment yet

I went to pick up Stef from preschool today, and there it was, a see-through folder of his first school photos, you know, the ones that come in all sizes, the smaller ones that we used to exchange with our friends and put in our wallets when we were in school, and the big ones that our parents used to frame and balance on the mantlepiece. There was even a class photo, in the yard, with the teacher.

I ran to the bathroom, away from my over-excited three-year-old to push back the waterfall of tears tearing at my eyeballs. When did I get old enough to have a child, send him to school, and why do the strangest things make me cry? I cried at the Christmas show, I cried rehearsing for the Christmas show. I cried the first time he poorly traced his name, the first time he wiped his own butt. I cried when he told me loved a girl in his class, that she was his favorite girl in the world. I’ve cried more in the past three years than I have in my life. And I’m not talking about birthdays, mommy, I love you’s, injuries, falls, or fights. I’m talking about tears where nobody else seems to have any. No parents joined me in the bathroom for a tissue hunt today.

Maybe I see myself, my past, through him. Maybe I’m proud. Of him. Maybe I’m proud of myself for making it this far. Maybe I’m happy, maybe there is not enough sadness in life afterall, and I cry for the joy. Or maybe, holding hands while letting the cold sea wash over our feet together, is the most beautiful thing in the world and worth crying for, as are Christmas carols, milestones, and the rest of the little things that make this mountain we call parenting, worth climbing.

On the Mandatory Loss of my Pillar

April 12th, 2016 Posted by Tabula Rasa No Comment yet

Two months after my son was born, hair in a knot, eye bags melting into my cheeks, and constant fear on level red, I hired a babysitter. Her name is Maria, I knew her from before, she’d taken care of a friend’s kids, nevertheless, the first few times I left the house for an hour and then two, I cried from separation anxiety. Eventually, she became the person who I turned to when he has a weird rash, didn’t sleep on time, had a nightmare, refused to wash his hair, got his first tooth, took his first step.

And now she’s leaving.

I barely use her anymore, but the comfort of knowing that the woman who spent the most important years of my life by my side was just a phone call away, was priceless.

We’re a modern, nuclear family, mom, dad, kid, we don’t have grandparents that live next door, cook our meals, impose or babysit at the sound of a bell. Even though I wouldn’t have it any other way, I’ve had plenty moments when I resented that, and found solace in Maria.

But now she’s leaving. Though I’m not as scared as I was when she first came, my son is no longer a newborn and killing him by mistake is no longer a possibility, showers and hairbrushes are readily available, and I’ve grasped the fact that going to bed early will make 6am risings easier, I’m petrified at the thought of having no help when I most need it.

The people we choose to help raise our kids become a strange kind of family, one that we choose, one that we pay, one that can disappear at any moment, no questions asked. Maria came only three times a week for two-and-a-half years, much of what she did drove me crazy, but the thought of finding a replacement seems equal to just being alone. Will I hear him laugh as he does when she makes her noises and faces? Will he run and hug the next one, drag her by her finger to his play area, ask her to sing the songs only they know? I know he probably will. But I’ll always be crippled by the lack of my pillar, its knowledge, its strength, its balance, its presence. It was family.

On Being in Love with the Country that Hurts Me

March 13th, 2016 Posted by Tabula Rasa No Comment yet

The title is stolen from the great Seferis, “Wherever I travel, Greece wounds me,” he wrote, and I can’t help but wonder what he’d say if he was alive in today’s world, a place that I’m not too proud of these days; from the tragedy of the refugee crisis in Europe, to the frightening shadow of a misogynistic racist falling over the United States, to the dire straits of my home, Greece.

Today I want to take you to a place where you will be reminded why we love this country, a place that makes you happy to be alive, for the simplest of reasons. We’re going to a seafood ouzeri in a little village in Euboea (Evia) called Nea Lampsako. It’s not a beautiful island, seaside setting. In fact it’s on the corner of the village square. It’s not even really a square, just the grounds of the church that stands in the middle make it seem so. I come here a lot, for it serves food that brings out the plate-licking cannibal in you, and keeps you dreaming about it until your salivating mouth eventually takes you back for more. The food is simple, the setting even more so, the decor nothing to speak of. I’m told that the owner was either a captain on a ship or a fishing boat, it’s unclear. He quit the sea in the 1960s, and opened this place at first as a typical Greek cafe, full of smoke, clad in wood and darkness, crowded by men. He then introduced a couple of of appetizers, attracted a group of Masons who’d occupy its chairs every Tuesday night, and 50 years later the place is still thriving, though no longer as a men-only cafe. One playlist loops over and over again, you learn the lyrics by heart, the waiter knows who you are, what you eat and drink. Teenagers breeze by on bicycles outside the windows, and if you stay long enough, you’ll see the women waking from siestas, pulling open their lace curtains, sweeping the sidewalks in front of their gates. The local beekeeper will come by with pots of honey to sell, then the fisherman may pull up in his pick up truck with bags full of shellfish. The church bells will ring, you may catch a funeral, a baptism, a memorial service. It’s never loud, even when packed with families and children, and there’s plenty of room to push back your chair, stretch your legs, and try to breathe after you’ve swallowed the last piece of crayfish and licked your fingers.

Food, air, wine, friends, simplicity. It’s all I’ve ever needed to momentarily forget the complexity of what’s going on around me, it’s all I need to make it seem less complicated.

 

On Being in Love with the Country that Hurts Me 6

Sleeping with the Enemy

March 9th, 2016 Posted by Tabula Rasa No Comment yet

Just as the baby phase finally came to an end, just as he’d finally gotten used to sleeping on his new big boy mattress surrounded by two teddies, a dog, a bunny, another teddy, a rabbit, a duck, and a penguin, kept warm by duvets covered by Winnie the Pooh, Lightning McQueen, and a galaxy of stars, just as I thought, this is it, he’s officially a kid and I’m going to be showered and rested every morning, the toddler proved me wrong yet again.

Welcome to the forced co-sleeping phase. It’s full of fun and surprises. For example, just as my head hits the pillow after a day of digging, making trains, collages, and traffic jams on the hardwood floor, the minute I close my eyes, I’m roused by “mommy, I come to your bed!” It’s actually fine if it happens right at my bedtime, though not so much for my husband who ends up sleeping in the big boy bed because little big boy has taken up his side of ours. However, this can happen at 1am, 3am, 5am. You never know. It’s also often accompanied by a demand for milk, a demand which I stumble downstairs to fulfill, make it too hot or too cold, go back downstairs again, spill half of it on the hot stove or myself, and you get the picture.

The rest of the night is spent in battle. He kicks, he sleeps on my face, he puts smelly teddy right under my nose, he throws his heavy three-year-old leg on my stomach, he punches, he snores. Sometimes he brings his stuffed animal family to bed with us, and by the 6am wakeup call which can come in the form of my eyelids being gently raised to see if I’m really sleeping or infinite whisper of mommy wake up, mommy wake up, I’m literally balancing on the edge of the mattress, sometimes keeping a hand on the floor to prevent myself from falling out of the zoo that by bed is.

By 10am, he’s in preschool, I’ve had five cups of coffee, and I’m pretty much exhausted, starving, craving hot food like spaghetti bolognese. Or grilled chicken and mash. And gravy.

An older woman overheard me describing my nights the other day. She’d been complaining about her irresponsible daughter who is paying more attention to her boyfriend than college. Ah, she said. But this will all last only a few more years. I’d give anything to hold my children in the middle of the night, smell their hair, just breathe in that magical smell. And she started inhaling dramatically, using her hand to drive the point home.

Well, I’m not sure what your kids were like at three, but there is no holding mine because he hurts me in his sleep, his hair smells like the dirt he threw at me at the park earlier that day, mixed with tears and sweat and maybe even snot that he got all over his head while I was begging him to wash their hair, and gave up, and sometimes I can’t think of anything more magical than sleeping through the night with him in the next room. So yeah lady, I’m not convinced.

Pieces: a novel

“Pieces” is the winner of the silver medal at the 2017 Independent Publishers Awards (IPPY), and a finalist at the USA Best Book Awards and International Book Awards.

When Clouds Embrace: a children's book

All proceeds from the sales of "When Clouds Embrace" will go to Giving for Greece, a foundation that works to help the hundreds of unaccompanied refugee minors in Greece.