Posts Tagged ‘Family’

Adventures in Mummying



I am now two years and seven months into this mothering lark.

There are moments when I really cannot recall what my life was like without my daughter, and moments I am so exhausted and Mummyyyyyyyyyyyyyyed! out that I feel like she has been here forever (which I am aware is not quite the same thing…).

Then there are those other moments I whip round in surprise at the sound of a squeaky little voice summoning her Mumma, and wonder how it is she seems so confident of who I am and all I am apparently able to deliver when most of the time I still feel as clueless as if the stork dropped her off the day before – although, given that young children are in a state of constant change, I cannot be alone in feeling that I never quite manage to get my mothering shit together or that bringing up a child is substantially more blindfolded white-rapid ride than it is guided amble round a park.

20160430_105953Of course the internet offers a myriad of foolproof parenting methods, playgrounds always contain at least one mother fortunate enough to know everything and bookshops bulge with tomes by parenting experts; all of which give the impression that it really could be a guided amble round a park, if we would just follow their 5-point plan to: Getting the child sleeping through from conception! Getting the child feeding on a schedule from the moment he crowns! Don’t put the child down for the first six months! Wash the birth gunk off, and don’t pick the child up ever again in case she gets used to it! Pretend you can’t hear him crying, he only wants attention! Anticipate your child’s needs the day before so she never has to cry!

It’s a confusing minefield with no possible winners (other than that know-it-all-mother’s ego and the royalties enjoyed by the aforementioned parenting “experts”): no two children are exactly the same, no parents are exactly the same, no families are exactly the same and no lifestyles are exactly the same. Parenting is an ongoing exercise in intuition, compromise, guesswork, consistency, patience and bluff.

One lesson I have learnt is that people who do not have children should not form an opinion on child-rearing, much less voice it. That intense emotional bond with the child you are raising colours every situation you are likely to face from the first moment you hold him in your arms. And your intuitive understanding of that child dictates how you decide to deal with those situations. There are very few OSFA solutions to parenting quandaries, and those on the outside looking in only ever have part of the story.


Before Maya was even born, I wrote a condescending piece referencing Attachment Parenting (or at least what I assumed it to be). I feel particularly silly about it now because without even really being aware of it, I seem to have ended up practising many of the AP principles. I read somewhere that a child who has all emotional (as well as physical) needs met, is more likely to grow into a well-rounded and confident adult. And not only does that make perfect sense to me; it also fits very nicely thank you with the way I have always instinctively wanted to respond to my daughter.

But in my pre-motherhood ignorance, I confused nurturing with controlling – something I have witnessed quite a bit here in Italy, where meaningful communication with children often seems to be eschewed in favour of endless commands to: Get up of that floor, you’ll get dirty! Get down off there, you’ll fall! Don’t go up there, you’ll hurt yourself! Get your finger out of your mouth, it’s dirty! Do your coat up, there’s a draft! Don’t run, you’ll fall over! Do that again and I’ll smack you!

20160713_175919 (2)In the playgrounds and piazze of my Italian existence, the gentlest of tumbles frequently results in a flurry of panic, surfaces are treated as terrifying germ-coated threats to fallen snacks (and toys and fingers), potential death-traps are seen everywhere, children are bundled up against dangerous breezes about nine months of the year and empty threats of corporal punishment appear to be considered an acceptable parenting tool more often than I care to notice.

It has an uncomfortable edge of negativity to it. I suspect children who are not offered rational explanations for things might have a harder time making good judgement calls, and children not permitted to play freely may struggle to safely discover their own physical limitations. Admittedly the inculcation of a fear of dirt, weather and theoretical parental slaps is not much worse than pointless, but what of the loud proof that these parents have absolutely no faith in their offspring’s fledgling abilities to get themselves safely from A to B? I can’t envisage that being an ingredient for either confidence or independence.

The bizarre bedfellow of the above is the Italian child-worship phenomenon (perhaps partially a result of ever-decreasing family size?) that grandparents, waiters and random passers-by indulge in. This mainly involves a Willy Wonkaesque deluge of sugar in all its most tooth-rotting forms, and a willingness to humour every cappriccio thrown up by the object of their worship.

IMG-20160704-WA0001So is there an absolute right way? I doubt it – there are simply too many variables, but who really knows. All I know is that I have no desire to shout all day, I don’t care about dirt or weather, I think Maya is more likely to learn respect if she is shown it, I encourage her to climb and jump and run as much as she wants and if she falls I comfort her then release her back into play, and although I did slap my child’s bottom once – she slapped me right back AND I WAS PLEASED!

The result so far is a joyous little girl, with a wonderful sense of humour but also a very strong sense of self: woe betide anyone, family or not, who tries to pet her or assist her without being expressly invited. She has strong opinions about what she wants, but gives in reasonably gracefully when told why she can’t have it. She is independent and adventurous, as long as she knows one of us is close by if required. She doesn’t try to dominate other children, but is slowly getting the hang of standing up for herself. She’s endlessly communicative and she’s kind.

On the other hand: she doesn’t sleep well, she has been known to deface the occasional wall with her wax crayons, she’s a bit Mummy and Mummy Milk-obsessed, she cries every single time she wakes up from a nap for no apparent reason, she’s stubborn, she pees in the bidet, farts like her father, is frequently reluctant to do whatever she has been kindly requested to do, and she is far too fond of the television (Blaze and the Monster Machines in particular).

20160522_105702But as a blindly obedient paragon of “virtue” is the last thing I want to unleash on the world, I am extremely content with progress so far as well as being increasingly more besotted with every passing day.

That said, I am also exhausted, wrung-out and in dire need of some time alone with my thoughts: time to write, time to read, time to walk, time to complete work calmly without the stress of trying to squeeze translations in her all-too-brief nap times. So from the 14th of September a new chapter begins for both of us – nursery school! And I don’t know who is more excited…


Condemned to Solitude


status viatoris – being ‘on the way’/being in a state of pilgrimage

No sooner is a woman in the position to pin on her twinkly primigravida badge (yes, they give them away free with each plastic pee pee stick – didn’t you know?), a surprisingly high number of curious bystanders begin to request information regarding her future procreational intentions.

It can be a little disconcerting, especially when her mind is rather full of other things: the anxiety involved in assisting this embryo through the gestational minefield before ushering it into a healthy babyhood, for starters. Questioning her sanity at placing herself in such a responsibility-laden situation, for seconds. And lastly, the dawning realisation that she has just willingly compromised her rights to being entirely her own person for at least the next eighteen years.

But regardless of the mental gymnastics that appear to be delivered – along with nausea and a tendency to easy tears – by the victorious spermatozoon, many women do already know the answer to this rather inappropriate question and can confidently state, “I plan to have two, three, four children…” (delete as appropriate and biology willing, natch), thus apparently satisfying the informationary requirements of the question poser.

However there is an answer that does not seem to satisfy, and – typically, I suppose, given my contrariness in most matters – it is the only answer I can offer.

“I only want this child. I have no intention of having any more.”

A statement that even in Italy, where the birthrate is one of the lowest in Europe and where there are more sibling-less children than one could shake a rosemary and olive oil grissino at, is greeted with a surprising lack of respect for my capacity for rational thought.

So, just to prove to the sceptical masses (ok, to the nosy few) that I have actually given the matter some consideration, I shall now list my reasons for feeling that one child will be my lot in life:

1) Although the statistics on overpopulation vary, there can be no doubt that many of the more serious current and future world problems are/will be caused by there being far too many human beings on the planet. My conscience simply would not allow me any peace if I had more than one child.

2) I would be able to afford educational possibilities and horizon-broadening opportunities for one child, that I would not be in a position to offer to two. Important considerations (I feel) in a world that is becoming evermore competitive and complicated.

3) Similarly, as I am English my husband is Romanian and we live in Italy, much of our holiday time over the next years is going to be spent travelling hither and thither to keep sproglet in touch with far-flung relatives. Not something that we would be able to do either financially or logistically with any ease in the case of multi-sprogs.

4) A child needs to be loved, sheltered, fed, clothed, educated and tirelessly cuddled. Having a sibling is not a need, it is a circumstance. A circumstance which plenty of us have never found ourselves in and not suffered as a consequence. And as an afterthought, it is important to remember that just as there are people who have wonderfully close and supportive relationships with their brothers/sisters, there are plenty of others who would happily cross continents to avoid them.

5) I don’t actually want more than one child. Seeing women walking along with a toddler at her side, another in a pushchair and a third “on the way” (for example) makes me want to run as fast and as far as I can. Watching friends juggling two or more children with their different and often opposing requirements – baby’s having a nap, four-year old is clamouring to go to the park, got to pick her up from ballet, take him to football practice, we’re late for school but the toddler’s just filled his nappy… simply reinforces my conviction that it is not for me.

6) And to the wagging fingers that are accompanied by: “Just you wait and see. As soon as you’ve popped that sprog you will be swept away on an uncontrollable sea of biological impulses that will have you planning the next three before the umbilical cord is even severed!” I would say: whilst I do not doubt that at some point during what remains of my fertile years I may well have a brief hankering for a second baybeeeee, I sincerely hope that I have the strength of character to take my present concerns into account and not be dictated to by my hormones. After all, what woman would seriously consider placing her hormones in the driving seat when attempting a spot of rational decision-making?


So there we have it: the reasoning behind my inability to offer curious bystanders a satisfactory answer to their queries in six explanatory steps! Now all that is left to do is translate it into Italian and post flyers round the village 😉

This is Status Viatoris, who maybe one day will have a strongly held conviction that people actually approve of! Unlikely, I know…

Small Crises of Identity


status viatoris – being ‘on the way’/being in a state of pilgrimage

I have a very boring surname; a single-syllabled yawn-inducer of a surname.

In fact over the years, one of the most exciting aspects of potential matrimony has been the thought that I would be presented with a perfectly legitimate reason to change it.

And yet here I am; spliced, ringed-up and officially wed, but without a single appellatory-alteration to show for it.

But, why? You might ask – as I myself do on a semi-regular basis…

Perhaps I should start with the why nots.

Well, it’s certainly not in any way because I’m a feminist (although I am, in the men-and-women-are-equals way), in fact it makes perfect sense when creating a family to give them the same surname, whoever’s it may be.

Having carried a child for nine months, squeezed it painfully out through a hole that is patently too small for such a purpose, fed it, worried about it, and taken marginally good care of it; I certainly don’t want to misplace it in the fresh produce aisle only to realise that the sole links the authorities may find to connect me to my offspring are our shared knock-knee affliction or the results of a long-winded DNA test.

I also can’t blame the lack of name change on a desire to keep the family surname alive – I am about as clannish as I am patriotic.

Could it be because the mere thought of the bureaucracy involved in changing my surname in a country where it is not the cultural practice chills me to my very vitals?

That plays a part, certainly; but in fact the primary reason I can’t seem to bring myself to alter my nominal identity is far more basic than any of the prior options:

It is simply the blinding realisation that having been plain old “me” for an entire thirty-six years, I find myself in no way inclined to get used to being someone different, even if it is solely in name.

So the very boring surname stays.

And the offspring – already facing confusion by being born to a British mother and a Romanian father, in Italy – will add to its international credentials by following the Hispanic habit of carrying its father’s surname, followed by its mother’s very boring one.

Poor creature.

This is Status Viatoris, finding out new things about herself every single day (none of them especially interesting, I might add) in Italy.

Like a Horse and Carriage


status viatoris – being ‘on the way’/being in a state of pilgrimage

Marriage is an institution that has gone severely out of fashion; there are occasional reports that it is staging a triumphant comeback, but for many people it is a step that is simply no longer relevant.

Which, I suppose, makes me old-fashioned (ditto my preference for Beethoven over Beyoncé, Pink Floyd over Pink and bog-standard trousers over those that display a spotty, g-stringed arse as soon as the wearer sits down), because I had always felt that should I ever meet a man with whom I decided to have a family, I might quite like to marry him first.

It was never about the big white wedding – horrid, fussy, expensive affairs in which being the dreaded centre of attention is apparently a must – it was more about the stated intention:

We are under no illusions that life is perfect, but we have taken the time and effort to organise a ceremonial promise to each other to try our very best to make our family work.

Giving myself and my intended that one further hoop to jump through seemed to offer an ideal opportunity for a last good think about our most heartfelt desires before we stepped into the bobbing sea of parenthood.

I have always been baffled by those (usually men, I might add) who claim marriage is too much of a commitment, but are happy to impregnate willy-nilly.

Pun, what pun?

But honestly, how on earth is marriage more of a commitment than breeding? You can’t divorce your children – although I understand they can now divorce you, if you don’t buy them the latest x-box or whatnot…

Of course there are still many who reckon love and marriage just go together like a nag and her cart. It has nothing to do with having children, it’s simply about forming a union that is built on mutual love and respect, a union they dearly hope will last forever and so wish to state that hope publicly.

And then there are those who are of the opinion that marriage is just a piece of paper. And I suppose they’re right: marriage can be just a piece of paper, if that is all you want it to be. And if that is all you see it as, then why bother? I get it.

Personally I just felt the need to officially verbalise my commitment to my partner before we went on to make an entirely more binding commitment to our offspring.

I didn’t want to call the father of my child, “my boyfriend” (too frivolous) or “my partner” (too business-like), I wanted to call him my husband and I wanted to be his wife – to me those felt like the building blocks for family.

But I am no romantic. Not a flutter felt I at uttering “I do”, and my heart didn’t dance a jig the first time I said “my husband”, I just felt rather silly – a little girl playing at being grown-up. I had no regrets at taking the plunge, but it changed precisely nothing.


And then, once the overwhelming relief at getting the dreaded hoop-la over and done with had started to dissipate and a sense of normality returned, I began to notice that not all was as it had been: there was an added sense of contentment in the air; a togetherness and a tenderness that I hadn’t previously perceived.

Having set sail on the bobbing sea of life and parenthood – precarious novices in our untried and wobbly little boat – the feeling that we are in this together, a team composed of just the two of us, is overwhelming.

Overwhelming, but utterly and joyfully exhilarating.

And that is the part I had never expected.

This is Status Viatoris, I know I know – just wait a couple of years and all the rosiness will have rubbed off blah blah blah, in Italy.

No Turning Back…


status viatoris – being ‘on the way’/being in a state of pilgrimage

Heavy left hands...

Heavy left hands…

For I am now officially married.




I jumped the broom, tied the knot, took the marital plunge; and do you know what? Life doesn’t feel remotely different.

Who’d a thunk it.

In the end, and like all the best bridezillas, I managed to get away with the wedding I had always wanted (if I had to have one at all, that was).

No fuss, minimal flap, a complete absence of fancy white dress and the bare necessity of guests.

Having ignored my bridal apparel for as long as possible (much to the anxiety of the much-into-forward-planning Mothership) I jumped in the bathtub for an ablute about an hour prior to the ceremony before finally allaying her fears by squeezing my ample tum into its nuptial threads without bursting any of the more obvious seams.

By ten to seven on Monday evening – apparently a most irregular choice of moments for matrimony – Tigger (resplendent in his new trainers) and I were hanging around outside the town hall with the majority of our 25 strong wedding party, waiting for the stragglers whilst being snapped in the first of far too many photos.

Civil wedding ceremonies in Italy, like many supposedly formal occasions, are nothing if not laid back; especially when the lady mayoress/celebrant happens to be a neighbour and very close friend.

With our very special marriage celebrant...

With our very special marriage celebrant…

Tigger and I were told not to bother sitting down in the chairs provided – no point, this will only take about five minutes! – so we stood obediently before her as she read out the contractual obligations we were entering in to, while our unruly party milled about taking yet more photos and umpiring a small ruckus that briefly broke out between a canine wedding guest and a curious cat that had popped in from the street midway to see what all the fuss was about.

Other than the usual exhortations to look after one’s spouse and not to get frisky with third parties, there was one final request in the wedding service that I found particularly poignant – the obligation to:

“instruct and educate offspring whilst taking into account their abilities, their natural inclinations and their own aspirations.” 

Potential Pushy Parents – you have been warned…

So, the final “sì” having been said, rings and kisses exchanged; newly weds and witnesses signed the register and Tigger and I made our way back down into the fresh air to be liberally showered with rice (and a random box of macaroni) for good luck in our new life together.

Then, horns blaring, the wedding party convoy made its noisy way along the 3km between village and pizzeria, where we settled in for an exquisite “giro pizza” and an unforgettable evening in the company of our most beloved blood relatives and our adoptive Italian family.

Non-traditional eco-flavour wedding favours...

Non-traditional eco-flavour wedding favours…

Romanians, Brits, Italians, Argentines and a random Ecuadorian – a truly international wedding.

This is Mrs Status Viatoris, who now has to decide if she has the energy to tussle with Italian bureaucracy in order to exchange her very boring surname for a marginally more exotic one, in Italy.

The Trickiest Relationship of All


status viatoris – being ‘on the way’/being in a state of pilgrimage

Last Wednesday heralded the arrival of the other most important woman in Tigger’s life: my soon-to-be mother-in-law.

Having been lucky enough to avoid the six-hour round trip to collect her from the airport by dint of being a particularly feeble pregnant person, I was instead left at home to sweat it out in the kitchen trying to prepare a feast fit for the lady I am often reminded is THE BESTEST COOK IN ALL THE WORLD, EVER.

Pressure? Just a little.

But by some miracle I did manage to throw together a meal – in between lying on the sofa with my legs up in an attempt to still heaving stomach and racing heart – and was therefore able to greet her with a semblance of domestic goddess panache.

Panache that was slightly jostled when she immediately opened her suitcase and began unloading fast-defrosting cuts of meat, huge balls of cheese, endless sausages and even a few frozen chickens she had killed and plucked herself only days previously, into our fridge and freezer – Tigger’s assurances that food is not lacking in Italy having apparently fallen on disbelieving ears…

But after all that, and despite being able to faithfully report that she is short, round, very smiley and more than capable of providing enough foodstuffs to nourish a small village; I am at present unable to offer a more in-depth insight into what makes my mother-in-law tick because we are essentially unable to communicate in any meaningful way.

My Romanian has yet to get off the starting blocks (due in part to laziness, but primarily to the fact that Tigger and his family speak to each other in Hungarian dialect thus reducing my Romanian language exposure to almost zilch) and my mother-in-law only understands about seven words of Italian and speaks but one: cipolla.

A blessing in disguise? Maybe…

Because despite being tired from the journey, and undoubtedly a bit overwhelmed at being fed strange foreign gubbins by her strange foreign soon-to-be daughter-in-law, it only took our visitor about an hour and a half to dive into that hotly anticipated/dreaded question: so, where will you be baptising the baby?

“Our child will decide for itself if and where it wishes to be baptised when it is an adult.”

Said Tigger.

And I was, once again, reminded that I am a very, very lucky girl indeed…

That small and briefly frosty blip aside, my first future mother-in-law experience was not the torturous occasion I had feared it might be – although I confess to being more than a little relieved by the fact that for the duration of her visit she will be staying up the road with her (far more pregnant than me) daughter.

The very same daughter who has been putting me to shame over the last three and a half months by her utter bouncy nonchalance in the face of pregnancy. My in-laws inform me that it is nothing more than a question of national suitability – sturdy country girls from the Romanian hinterland are usually up trees picking fruit when their waters break.

“You mustn’t worry,” they assure me “we’re just more cut out for childbirth than you.”

And as I clutch my aching head, bend double over my churning stomach and try to avoid catching a glimpse of my grey and spotty visage in the mirror, I can’t help wondering if they might have a point…

This is Status Viatoris, fervently hoping that her bun’s sturdy Romanian genes are beating the feeble English ones into submission as she types, in Italy.

Learning to Bake


status viatoris – being ‘on the way’/being in a state of pilgrimage

At the beginning of May I tinkled on a plastic stick and was rewarded with two faint lines, confirming my suspicion that the ingredients for a previously theoretical bun had been successfully combined and introduced into the oven pre-heated for just such a purpose.

I admit to being somewhat surprised – like many women I have been well-indoctrinated in the facts of life by the all-knowledgeable media: pregnancy at 36, as well as being indescribably selfish, is also practically impossible as all eggs are simultaneously snuffed out with the extinguishing of the 35th candle on the cake.

A well-known fact.

But apparently there was at least one survivor in there amongst the tumble weed, and thus, against all Daily Wail odds, bull’s-eye was achieved only two months after the cook book had been pulled from the cupboard and dusted off.

To say we were euphoric would have been an understatement; for ten days I walked about on a cloud, oozing Earth Mother zenitude from every pore and hugging my new secret to me like a particularly cuddlesome teddy.

But then, from about six weeks pregnant, the nausea hit. And although I have never actually been sick, the gut-churning desire to be so greets me from the moment I open my eyes in the morning and keeps me company until I hit the hay once again – sometimes even waking me during the night, as if to give me a little reminder that life as I knew it is over.

With the nausea came the debilitating exhaustion, and as the weeks have passed, those two evil twins have been joined by an even less-welcome visitor: pre-natal depression.

My initial elation at finding myself pregnant has been replaced with acute anxiety, feelings of dread and hopelessness – not the best state of mind to be in whilst nurturing a bun. When well-meaning friends gush about how wonderful it will be to have a baby, I just want to throw up on their shoes and make a dive for the nearest exit. I feel utterly detached when the doctor is walking me through my ultrasounds, and the few brave souls who have patted my stomach may never know just how lucky they are to still have the use of their hands.

In a way it was inevitable that I would be visited by this condition, either pre or post: I have been a sufferer for many years, and the amount of unfamiliar hormones zipping around my person at this time were always likely to knock something of its perch.

Sadly, that something has turned out to be everything even vaguely resembling peace of mind.

Getting myself through this in Italy is shaping up to be a struggle. Unlike the UK, where accepted studies have shown that it is safer for both mother and foetus if women with depression continue their medication, in Italy even the mental health professionals have reacted with surprise when I tell them I’m still on mine.

My gynaecologist is at a loss as to who I can be referred and internet searches for appropriate health professionals have turned up next to nothing.

The one thing I can be thankful for is the support of the ever-wonderful Mothership, and of her GP back in Northamptonshire, who are both going above and beyond the call of duty to gather useful information and put me in touch with the right people.

I now have my fingers firmly crossed that with their help, I will eventually begin to enjoy what the future brings rather than feeling utterly beaten down by the prospect.

This is Status Viatoris, who apparently can’t even do pregnancy like a normal person, hey ho, in Italy.

Straightening Records


status viatoris – being ‘on the way’/being in a state of pilgrimage

It was pointed out to me yesterday that my previous blog post could possibly be construed as an attack on my future mother-in-law, as well as being very offensive to those who set great store in an invisible sky fairy a god.

Firstly I would like to clearly state that any woman capable of producing a man as wonderful as Tigger, most certainly gets my vote. But that does not change the fact that I have always tried to write about myself, my life and the people in it with humour, and I do not feel that my in-laws should be any more exempt from that treatment than my ovaries, for example.

Secondly, it is an indisputable fact that I am often rude about religion. I am rude about a lot of things, but being rude about people’s religious beliefs is for some inexplicable reason considered to be beyond the pale.

Personally I think that making even a half-hearted attempt to emotionally blackmail your son over his wedding plans is also beyond the pale, but there we go – when it comes to someone’s religious beliefs we are just supposed to just humour the believer and assume that they know no better.

If a woman wants to attend Mass three times a day then of course, that is up to her. I may feel that her time would be a lot better spent reading a good book, playing silly games with her grandchildren or admiring the beauty of the world around us, but it is her life, not mine.

But religion is sadly not something that is confined to simple personal choice. It still attempts to use a guise of moral superiority in order to force its controlling nature on others: women’s reproduction, women’s sexuality, the love between consenting adults, children’s education, government policy, scientific fact and indeed almost every other step of human life.

But on what authority? On books written by a myriad of anonymous writers thousands of years ago? Books that contain more gratuitous cruelty, intolerance and bloodshed than even the best gory thriller…

Religion is no more a guide to morality than The Big Bang Theory is a science documentary. If it was, there would be more than 0.1% Atheists/Agnostics in US jails.

Non-religious countries would boast violent crimes rates superior to religious ones.

And the murderous Inquisitions, the evils of slavery and the Holocaust – to name but the tip of the religious-atrocities iceberg – would not have been carried out by those convinced they were acting with “God” on their side (all of this long after the “discovery” of the supposedly pacifistic and loving New Testament).

So yes, I proclaim it my right to be rude about religious belief.

I also proclaim it my right to complain very loudly about its undue influence in the lives of those who do not chose it.

After all, not only has religion shown itself to be the very antithesis of morality, but there is also not an atom of proof that even one god exists, let alone the plethora of deities that control the lives of so many.

But luckily for all concerned; Belligerent Atheist is not all I am in the same way that Faithful Catholic is only a part of who my future mother-in-law is, and I am sure that we will find plenty of other things to share in the years ahead – not least our love for a very loveable man…

This is Status Viatoris, who was herself shown up (but not offended) this morning for not having read enough about climate change – the pursuit of knowledge is what makes the world go round, in Italy.

One of Us


status viatoris – being ‘on the way’/being in a state of pilgrimage

When my future husband (aka Tigger) went back to Romania last summer to build his dear old mum a fence, he also had a rather more delicate task to carry out: that of informing his three-times-a-day-to-church parent that his girlfriend, as well as being ancient, was also a dirty dirty heathen.

Sadly there were no flies on that particular wall, at least not any wily and/or bilingual enough to report back, so I had to take my beloved’s word that the conversation went something like this:

Tigger: “Mummy, the time has come to inform you that my girlfriend, as well as being ancient, is also a dirty dirty heathen. How is that likely to work for you?”

Three-Times-A-Day-To-Church-Parent: “My sweet boy, if she makes you happy, then who am I to judge? After all, you’re the one who has to live with her and put up with her dirty dirty heathen ways. Just promise me that you will refrain from becoming a heathen yourself.”

Tigger: “No probs on that score, Mummy. I shall remain for evermore a good(ish) Catholic boy.”

The End.

Except, of course, it wasn’t.

Because when the time came to inform her we were getting hitched, she immediately wanted to know if the church ceremony would be in Italy or Romania.

Thus forcing Tigger to gently explain that dirty dirty heathens are certainly not permitted to marry in the Holey Catholic Church. We would be marrying in the local town hall – a place less concerned with one’s invisible sky fairy affinities, as well as being cheap and unfancy (just like us).

Three-Times-A-Day-To-Church-Parent was unimpressed.

So very unimpressed was she, that Tigger feared she might even boycott the wedding entirely.

Personally I just felt extremely sad that something so minor as my lack of invisible sky fairy affinity risked causing a rift between mother and son whilst seriously souring my future mother-in-law’s opinion of me before we had even met.

But sisters-in-law got involved, family talks were held, and eventually Three-Times-A-Day-To-Church-Parent rang to declare that Tigger had completely misunderstood.

She hadn’t been unimpressed at all! Not a bit of it! In fact it was all great! Super! Smashing! What could be better than a town hall wedding – it would be cheap and unfancy, just like us.

Didn’t Tigger know perfectly well that she loved all her children equally? And all her children-in-law just as much – even the dirty dirty heathen ones? Didn’t she always respect their choices? Because whatever made them happy, made her happy.

Oh! And by the way, son, is there really no way you can persuade your dirty dirty heathen fiancée to join the Holey Catholic Church and become one of us? It would be so much nicer…

This is Status Viatoris, now mildly curious to see what will happen when her future mother-in-law finds out she may eventually end up with at least one unbaptised grandchild, in Italy.

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