I wrote a post yesterday about the Italian school year. Once my children were at school the only time I could really take them to see their grandparents was in June and July. In those days there were no mobile phones, no easy texts, emails, Ryan Air, Easy jet or Skype. The trip to Britain was an emotionally charged no win situation every time.
It cost me a lot of effort to arrange to leave my Italian life, family and friends, not to mention their father, my husband. They would look forward eagerly to going to England, having absorbed all my longing and love for my family and homeland. We would set off enthusiastically but also concerned about leaving their dad. Luckily for a long time he had a doting mamma who was only too happy to have him to herself for a while.
Often our arrival in England was a let down. After all the excitement of packing and planning we would step out of the plane into the rain, our Italian summer clothes quickly covered with warm coats. I had to try and fit back in, pretend I belonged there that it was my home. Often my brother and his family seemed totally unaware that we were coming, They were often out or having a party when we arrived, no texts to keep people up-to-date back then. My father found the whole thing an emotional strain. he loved having us there, but he hated to see us go. He almost preferred the time before we arrived when he could plan and look forward to us coming. Once we were there he knew it would soon be time to leave, and then the pain of missing each other would start again.
For a long time I thought there was something wrong with us, why couldn't we be more relaxed about it all? Why did it cost us so much? I started to confide in other friends in a similar situation. The answers I got were all the same. My Austrian friend told me that her mother had begged her not to go back home, she couldn't cope with the feelings of despair when she left to go back to Italy. Eventually that friend and her husband went to live in Austria and now spend their holidays in Italy. Another friend who had to take the children away for the summer said she found it hard to re-adjust to her husband's masculine ways. After weeks of having to be in charge she couldn't take a back seat.
It is very hard to understand unless you have experienced it. Most people thought we were lucky, and so we were of course. Once I ventured to ask my daughter's teacher if she could give her work to do because I wanted to take her with me to England for a week in February. The answer was a flat refusal. She said it wouldn't be fair on the other children who couldn't go to England. I confided in a friend of mine and she said what nonsense, it would be much nicer for my children to have their grandparents and cousins near them, and I should I ask again saying that. We did go and the other children didn't seem to mind at all.
Yesterday I spoke to a friend of mine whose newly graduated daughter wants to go to Australia for two months. She was very concerned and was doing all she could to stop her. I told her about Skype and cheap flights and said maybe she could go out too for a short holiday. Two months is a very short time.
Lots of people take the attitude that if there children go and live somewhere else they will have the opportunity to see places they had never considered. It will open up their minds and their lives.
My cousin's daughter is going to California for two years and so he and his wife are planning to go and stay with her for as long as they can.