[Disclaimer: the following post is written from a position of blatant privilege, whereby two white happily married, healthy and able-bodied middle class women struggle with life while on holiday and I moan about it – please don’t take offense if you deal with stuff that’s way worse].
We’ve set up for ten days in a hilltop village just North of Rome called Torrita Tiberina. It’s really lovely – it’s got a little walled centre with a castley bit and picturesque little streets, a little cemetery with cypress trees, a nice little bakery and bar, views over rolling lush hills and the Tiber River, and good public transport links with Rome. We have a lovely little flat, the people of the town are friendly, and there’s even a cat whose aim in life is to love and adore us.
But I’ve been really struggling in the past few days, because Eliza has been super tricky, not sleeping enough and wearing me down, and frankly being on holiday while this is happening is making things… well… kind of worse. We have to be together all the time, you see – if I escape (say, to buy something, to get something from the car), there’s intense guilt at leaving Hev to deal with the child. If we are both together, I make Heather’s day worse by being frustrated and gloomy. We are pretty isolated due to our friends and families being in other countries, most days talking to no one but each other (oh and elderly Italian ladies, about Eliza), and I feel pretty rubbish to feel rubbish when I really ought to feel peachy.
Because let’s face it, I should be totally ecstatic. We’re on holiday, we want for nothing (except for nappies, we forgot to buy some yesterday and now it’s Sunday, the shops are closed, and we have three left, and what if they’re closed again tomorrow it’s the first of May), we have each other, and our kid is healthy and cute. But, friends, she’s got this new thing where she shrieks – really shrieks, all the time. Not even sad shrieks, although she does that sometimes too – no, these slightly hysterical sounding, excited shrieks. It’s impossible to fix this because she is absolutely fine, she’s not hungry, she’s not dirty, she’s just fancying a good shriek. The only thing that will make her stop shrieking is going for a walk outside. This is not a thing you want to be doing at 3am when you are in bed naked. We think it’s her teeth, they seem to be giving her a proper hard time. The shrieks are mind numbing to the point where this is the third day this week (not in a row, though) that we’ve felt unable to actually do anything for fear of waking her up / upsetting her by putting her in the car / losing the tiny bit of energy we have left.
I get caught in this thing that you get when you feel really low – I know that if I got up and did stuff I might just feel better, but I just have to stare into space right now, my body doesn’t seem to want to do the getting up or the walking, and before I know it it’s mid-afternoon and we’ve “wasted” a day even though you’re near bloody Rome, for goodness sake; then the child wakes up and does shrieking and we have to pace while painfully bouncing her forever more while our shoulders and back slowly die. Then I have thoughts like “why did we do this to our lives?”, and then I feel guilty about those, too. Then I think of all the people who could genuinely complain about their lives as opposed to me who most certainly should not, and I feel more guilty.
Anyway. I guess this post is to let you know that even though life may look like we’re gallivanting through Europe totally carefree and it’s a succession of shots of us on the beach and us smiling in front of Loire castles while the baby gurgles happily, well, she’s still a baby, and it’s still hard, and we’re about to run out of nappies did I mention.
But then again as Hev just pointed out to me, maybe this trip isn’t about us gallivanting through Europe at all, and it’s about doing what maternity leave is about, which is keep our baby safe, happy, fed and spend time with her, and we’re doing that!