Yes, you read that correctly… I think Spain is possessed. Ok, maybe not possessed, but it has this curse that it keeps putting on me where things seem to be more extreme than they would be at home. Sometimes this can be a good thing when it’s more of a good possessed…other times, not so good. Thursday, not so good.
Let me preface this entry by saying that one of the reasons I really looked forward to our move to Barcelona was because it was/is my hope to spend better quality time with my family. In a world full of everything moving at the speed of light and technology, I feel like I am always in constant motion and have the constant need to be accomplishing something. If I’m not doing something, I’m sleeping or sick. And things got to a point where if my children interrupted my groove, all hell would break loose. I have high expectations for myself and if anything, even a small child, were to throw that off, I would be completely off balance. The result, a lot of yelling at the kids. Something I’m not proud of and continuously make strides to change. My goal when I got to Spain, take a load off, not try to be super woman all the time, and make time for my family and the things that are important to me, especially my kids.
Well, yesterday was not the day for improvements. Yesterday was a day full of just pure chaos. And it was once again my problem where I in a way took on too much and my kids were acting like, guess what, kids, and it threw my whole world in a tizzy. Yes, I said it… a tizzy. It started off well enough. I had to take Big Kid to get his NIE number yesterday (the foreign social security number) since he didn’t go with Liam and I a few weeks ago. He was excited about the fact that he got to go to school late AND mommy was going to be taking him to school. I was excited because I was actually going to use public transportation to get him to said school.
We walked down to the NIE office which is I’m going to say at least a mile and a half. Aidan was a super star!! No complaints and was just chilling out. But now the wait begins – we’re early because the line will eventually wrap around the building and you must get there before 8:45 or your screwed timewise. We were 4th in line so not so bad. But now my kids are just sitting outside the building (building doesn’t actually open til 9) and they are antsy. I let Aidan bring his DS so he could hang out and play that. He’d rather taunt his brother and vice versa. Not a pretty sight. Biting my tongue I just kept asking them to keep their hands to themselves. By the time we get inside, I’m a stress case. Elise (HR at VP and all around very nice person) helps out with the communication with the NIE people and we’re off to the bank (because remember, they don’t let you pay your fee here – you go to the bank, come back, wait in another line and then get your actual certificate). Kids are running like madmen around the bank. I’m pretty sure at some point I had taught them some manners but apparently they no longer apply now that we live in Spain. I’m trying not to yell to them but now they are heading towards people’s offices.
Let me just add a side note, I have YET to hear any parent yell at or to their children. When my kids get too close to the road (there is no breakdown lane here, the cars ride right along the sidewalk edge) I yell to them to move back. Have yet to hear anyone else do that. And that’s not an angry yell, that’s a concerned, move away from the edge of the sidewalk before a car takes you out kind of a yell – maybe even more of a shout).
Well, we’re done with our NIE numbers and the kids are already toasty. It’s about 10AM now. I figure with any luck I can get Aidan to school by 10:30. He’s already asked no less than 20 times if he’s missed lunch at school and he’s very very concerned about when lunch is and mommy, is it lunchtime yet because I don’t want to miss lunch?? All answered similar to, no Aidan, it’s still breakfast time, don’t worry. By the 20th time, I’m annoyed. And who wouldn’t be.
Off we head to the FGC. We’re almost to the stop and Aidan’s wearing out (it was all uphill) and we come to an intersection. I happen to look at my phone and see an email from Josh – “Aidan had a field trip today and has missed it”. Shit!!!! My original plan to get the NIE was to go on Fri and when Elise emailed me last minute to see if we could go on Thurs, I didn’t think twice – I knew my schedule was empty and I didn’t even think about Aidan’s. So now the poor kid missed his field trip. I’m so winning that mom of the year award this year! Yeah, the crappy mom of the year award. Now I’m wondering, hmmm… should I even bring him to school? Will there be other kids there that didn’t go on the trip as well? Or should we just go home?
We were close to some benches and an outdoor eating area so I told the kids to sit while I called the school. Ring ring… ring ring… beeeeeppppp… damn, why is there a fax answering? Try again… same thing. And again and again. At least 12 times. Same result. I look at my business card I have since now I’m wondering if I had the wrong number saved in my phone. Nope, same number. I email Josh to see if he has another number – try that. Same thing. Ok, so now what do I do? School or home? School or home? School wins… I figure that at the very least we’ll learn how to get there on our own. Hindsight is 20/20 and since my kids (and I) were already on the edge, this may not have been a brilliant idea on my part.
Now I’ve only taken the FGC once so far and it was with 2 experienced FGC takers. Again, we’re not talking brain surgery. However, the last time I was here I had very little time to get to Aidan and was feeling a bit frazzled. This time, I’ve got more time but still feel frazzled. I don’t know which train to take. I know I can take any but the 7 from what I’ve been told. But I never thought about the fact that the trains go in two different directions. For some reason the map just isn’t laid out right in my mind – I know I need to go to Sarria which is north. But which of these trains is going to take me there. I’m getting frustrated and the kids are running around the station. I yell. I can’t help it. I put Liam in his stroller and he’s crying and I’m frustrated and near tears. All I want to do is take Aidan to school. Is that really asking so much? We figure out the train and make it with seconds to spare (they run about every 6-8 minutes whereas the metro runs about every 3-4) and get on.
We finally get off at our stop (with a bit of stress because when Liam acts out like this my fear is that we won’t be able to get off the train fast enough and miss our stop or that Aidan will get off and Liam and I won’t make it in time). Liam has a bit of a meltdown on the stairs but we’ve made it to Sarria on the FGC. Score one for me!!
We make our way out, and honestly if I hadn’t done it with Jami before I would have no idea which direction I needed to go in. But the bus stop was right near the exit to the train – maybe 50 yards away. I see the #30 bus pull up as we are coming out of the train station. RUN!!! Yeah, we missed that bus. And I was totally unrealistic thinking they could make it and that was completely unfair to expect them to. Again, hindsight being 20/20. However, not having taken the bus before I’m not sure how long we have to wait between buses and so that frustrates me. Kids are once again poking each other and egging each other on. I finally tell them “your butts are glue now stay where you are and don’t touch each other”. If only they would listen. I raise my voice a bit and two other people have arrived at our stop.
We get on the bus, finally… I think we waited about 10 mins, maybe not even. It was forever in my mind. I’m frustrated, I’m anxious and I’m on my last string of patience. We get on the bus and other than the two other people with us, we have the bus to ourselves. My kids think it’s disneyworld or something. Hop from seat to seat. I’m beyond done now, JUST SIT STILL!
Then Aidan pulls my arm and whispers “hey mommy, that’s my music teacher over there”. Ohhhhh great…. so now one of his teachers has seen me very very far from my best. I manage a meek, “hi, how are you?? – it’s been one of those days, you know?”. I’m sure she thinks I’m the worst mom in the world and all I do is yell at my kids. But she ended up being super helpful as I wasn’t sure how long we were supposed to be on the bus (answer, til the end of the line)…. Got to school and yeah, he wasn’t supposed to be there.
Aidan’s pretty excited now – no school! Though now it’s 11AM – and it’s been a LONG day already. On our way home (took the bus and FGC again, getting to be a pro!!) I noticed a store on Travessera de Gracia that was in English – any store that has it’s name in English is appealing to me because I usually can guess it’s content or hope for some product that’s familiar. This place is called DeliShop. I walk in with the hopes that perhaps I might find vanilla extract since the sign says it’s for international cooking. Well, not only did I find vanilla extract but I also found Jif (YES!), Fluff, maple syrup, fruit roll ups (an indulgence for the kids), the infamous bisquick, cookie mix, brownie mix, muffin mix, goldfish crackers, microwave popcorn and lots more. About 30€ later my job is complete and my crappy day has taken a much brighter turn for the better. I looked up their website and they have several locations in the city – I’ll have to check out if any of them have a larger section of US stuff as this store was tiny. I know, I know…beggars can’t be choosers, but now I’m on a mission!
The rest of the day was pretty non descript. Kids miserable, I’m miserable… we’re really feeding off of each other from earlier in the day. It’s a life that I feel trapped in today – where there is truly no escape for me. I can’t call up a friend and say hey, I need some relief, you help me and I’ll help you later when you need it. Yeah, can’t do that. My children’s misery is now truly mine. And that makes me feel even worse. Not to mention the fact that I really do enjoy being with them and these feelings make me feel worse because it’s not that I want to get rid of them, I just want a few hours in the city a week to just do my own thing during the day – maybe get work done, errands, have coffee and there are days where it’s just harder to be a parent than others – this is one of those days. I have had Liam with me now for over a month – EVERY SINGLE DAY. You stay at home parents out there – I admire you even more than I did before. I’ve been a work at home mom since my kids were born and have had the best of both worlds but my kids always had some form of daycare at least part time so I could work and then they were home with me part time. It worked out. But to be working as close to full time as I can and having Liam full time and trying to adjust and wanting to spend time out in the city with him, I’m pretty much toasty.
I had one brief glimmer of hope today that I had secured a babysitter. What was I thinking? That I might actually get one? Elise, HR at VP, and I were chatting while waiting in the NIE line about finding a sitter, and she said she had a friend and would contact her to see if it might work out. And the woman was proactive and contacted me, I’d say within an hour of knowing my existence. Brownie points there, already like her. Sent her an email back asking a little bit more, talking about potential hours (like maybe 8-10 a week), etc etc… oh and how much do you charge per hour? Now at home we’ve always paid anywhere from $10-15 an hour depending on experience, age, length of time they are watching kids, etc etc. I truly believe you get what you pay for and don’t ever want to be cheap when it comes to my kids. We’re good tippers too, or so I like to think. But when this woman came back with 25€ an hour (I just did a conversion on yahoo currency to see how this compares with today’s US rates and it’s an astonishing $34.30 a hour), I was just blown away. And not in a good way.
My life once again came crashing down upon me. All I want is a babysitter – not a brain surgeon. He’s 2 ½. Make sure he doesn’t eat something he’s not supposed to, change his diaper occasionally and watch him on the stairs. I’d like it if you play with him too. But as my friend Cristy pointed out last night, for that rate, he should be working on his degree with her as well!! I emailed her back this morning and basically told her she’s a bit too rich for my blood. Sorry!! Back to square one again on this one. Since then I have spoken to her and we’re meeting on Mon to discuss if there is any happy medium that might work and I’ve also reached out to my landlord who may have some resources there.
I feel like this entry has been yet another negative one and that’s not my intent. I feel that if I’m going to talk about my life here it has to cover the good, the bad and the ugly. Today was not a waste. Today was a learning experience. I learned to take Aidan to school on my own (and it’s a haul) without relying on a cab. I learned I need to be more patient with my kids (maybe not a new lesson but one I need to actually focus on). I learned that I need to take a step back and focus on the big picture and not the little things that irritate me – why do those things irritate me and how can I change that? I learned that when life gives you lemons, you need to make lemonade.
I ended the night on a positive note. It was girls night – been sooo looking forward to that, especially after my experiences that day. Cristy has been going thru some rough patches as well and it’s good to have someone to commiserate with. We got manicures at this cute place called the Pink Peony (http://www.pink-peony.com/) that was recommended to us by our new friend Jami and then had dinner at this fabulous Italian place. I had one of the best caprece salads ever – super fresh mozzarella and tomatos! Yum! And then an amazing pizza – thin crust, wood fire grilled pizza. Just delish!!! The best part was getting to just talk to an adult for hours and get things off my chest. And laughing – laughter truly is the best medicine to fix any situation.
Today is a new day – I’m taking the bull by the horns and not taking any shit from Spain today. I’m determined to start my weekend on a positive note!! More later with our explorations from today!!