life in the present

Our holiday party was a success! We invited a few families over and the children ran around like wild animals while the grown-ups and the babies crowded around the Christmas cookies and mulled wine. I also made a pumpkin pie using my mom’s recipe, and it was good. The crust wasn’t the greatest, but her pie filling cannot be beat. It is subtle and creamy and never overwhelming. And it makes the whole house smell just right.

After our guests had gone home I asked the boys if they’d enjoyed themselves, and they said they had. Six told me that he wished he had a time machine so he could always go back to the party, that’s how much fun it was.

I cleaned up the kitchen and announced they could sleep with me because we could barely get inside their rooms for all the toys strewn across the floor and not one of us felt like paving a path to their beds. So we snuggled up in mine and they informed me that the party was very nice and all that, but they still liked our old house better and the way it was when we all lived together with Papà.

They do that now. I think they want me to know that as okay as this new life is, the old life was better. “I know,” I say. “I liked it too. But this isn’t so bad, and it will get better.”

It is hard to let go, and I imagine this is part of the process: letting your mother know how much it sucks. It used to kill me when they said things like that, but not so much anymore.

We are all going to be okay. I actually believe that now. Come to think of it, I feel kind of okay already.

It was quiet in my room after that, and I half held my breath, waiting for six to mention the time machine again. I thought he was going to say he’d like to go back to our old house and to the way things were. But he didn’t say that at all. When three complained just one last time for good measure: “All together with Papà! Please!”, six informed his younger brother very gravely but not without kindness that we can’t go back to staying all together forever, that’s just the way it is. And then I repeated all the things the therapist told me to say (which the boys now know by heart but like to hear every so often for reassurance anyway) and we all fell fast asleep.


About Jennifer

I'm a freelance translator and American expat. I live in Northern Italy with my two young sons.
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6 Responses to life in the present

  1. Hilary says:

    I’m glad your party was a success and that the boys had so much fun! I think it’s a good sign that your boys feel they can tell you honestly how they feel. I remember feeling bad/scared to tell my parents when I was little because i thought I might have made them feel sad too. I think your boys are really lucky to have you as their mamma!

    On a totally different note, do you (or your mother) share the pumpkin pie recipe?! Do you use fresh pumpkin? I bet you can even find canned pumpkin up in the civilized north!

    • Jennifer says:

      Thank you. It is a process (with the boys – not the pie, I will get to that later) and I think a lot of them being able to talk about these kinds of things honestly has to do with us seeking professional help on how to guide them through this. I am definitely a better parent because of the counseling and I think my relationship with my kids is better than it was before the separation. The difference I see in my relationship with my six-year-old is huge.

      The pie is much, much easier! No therapy necessary and the recipe calls for canned (but you could probably use fresh). I can only get it through special top-secret contacts with access to American grocery stores on US bases in Europe. It is quite an operation. But a friend of mine in Milan has discovered you can order American groceries from Amazon in the UK. (Free shipping to Italy if you are not in a hurry)

      I am pretty sure my mom would share her recipe. In fact, she is probably reading this now. Mom? Would you paste it in the comments if you still have it saved on your computer?

  2. Tanya says:

    Now that you feel kind of okay already, the boys will be okay too.
    You are lucky to have each other.

  3. Lisa says:

    Six sounds like a mature, compassionate kid. 🙂 I know how three feels.

  4. Sydney Engle says:

    Jennifer & Hilary,

    I would be happy to e-mail you my recipe. Perhaps Jennifer has your e-mail address. Let me know.
    Big mama

  5. Hilary says:

    Thanks big mama!!! I’m pretty sure Jennifer can see my email address and if she wouldn’t mind passing it on, I would be thrilled to try making pumpkin pie in sicily! I definitely don’t have any inside connections with anyone at sigonella, so I’ll have to try with fresh pumpkin.

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