This week has been so full of ups and downs, I'm not sure what to make of it.
It started well... Monday I took the bus out to Bristol, to spend a half-day with Sam at Circomedia. (photo of Sam, in white T-shirt, teaching.) As always, the air out at Kingswood does me good, filling me with nostalgia and inspiration. I especially enjoyed watching the aerial training time, with coaches Mike Wright and Jonathan Priest. Most of the students were working on corde lisse, such a joy to watch! In the circus schools I've visited these last couple of years, corde lisse has been rare, so many people prefer fabric now. But Jonathan is a corde lisse guy, and these students are learning solid technique. I even watched one student working on a "release" trick - where he actually lets go of the rope, does a flip in the air and catches the rope again. Incredibly awesome. But, I did watch him hit the mat, over and over again. Jonathan says you really need a foam pit to train these kinds of tricks properly.
Tuesday, things went downhill. I had organized the little girls (Isa, Gipsy, Kherlen and Dasha) to attend a local ballet class here in Kensington. Isa and Gipsy would go in one class, Kherlen and Dasha in the other. Gipsy's dad, Massimo, called me numerous times to confirm details and directions. We made it to the school, and with just a few minutes before class time, Massimo called to tell me they weren't coming, Gipsy wanted to stay and play with another friend instead. My stomach dropped - I was fairly sure Isa would not be willing to do this alone. But I did everything I could to cheerfully persuade her, and finally left her in the class with the other girls, crying.
Isa sat on the side of the room for the entire class. The teachers were lovely, the other girls were lovely, the class looked like a lot of fun. But every time one of the teachers would gently try to bring her in, she just shook her head and stayed planted where she was.
I had a breakdown, watching her from a distance. Partly I was angry at Massimo. He does this all the time. Even when he does show up to things, he requires so much more phone-calling and hand-holding than anybody else. And now, when I really needed them there? ...but the bigger picture was that I am stressed about Isa. As she approaches 5 years old, she has no other universe but Mom, and it's not serving her well. She needs to mature, and Baz and Ayla did this by attending preschool. Without that, I don't know how to detach her from my hip. And though I love spending time with her, and she is not asking for anything else - I feel like my baby girl needs some separation from me so she can grow up a little. The feelings of sadness and inadequacy as a parent over this just hit me, all at once.
That same day, Ayla jumped off a wall outside Royal Albert Hall and sprained her ankle. Honestly I'm relieved that's all it was - when she first fell, and was crying in real pain, I was terrified she'd broken it. Fortunately Greg was with me, and talked me out of whisking her to a hospital... she really just needed ice and rest. I carried her all the way home piggy-back (phew!) and that night Greg brought home some very small crutches from physio. The next day Aimee in Physio took a look at her, assessed it as a minor sprain, and since then she's been healing quickly. The crutches were off today and I expect in another day or two she'll be completely back to normal. In the meantime she got loads of attention from everyone on site!!
Yesterday (Wednesday) I was beginning to feel despondent... these dark moods come on me pretty often here. The more I think about it, the more I realize it's a lack of community, lack of being part of something.... that's the biggest difference here in London, and it really is a struggle for me. But the day improved a lot, because on Wednesdays and Fridays all the Moms and kids descend on my apartment from 3pm-6pm for English and Russian classes. It was a great afternoon - the apartment of course was trashed, but I got to teach, and connect with people, and all my inner energies just sorted themselves out. I was feeling so good that I tackled making soup from scratch for dinner, and when the kids melted down as a result, it didn't even get to me.
Today (Thursday) was empty of social contact. I did errands alone in the morning. In the afternoon Isa and I went out to Canary Wharf and explored the not-very-interesting Museum of London Docklands. I invited several other parents to join us, but no one was available. I was a Good Mom all afternoon, reading with Isa, playing with her, teaching her things. But damn it was lonely and un-stimulating, and I kept thinking things like maybe some people just aren't constitutionally cut out for full-time parenting. Heck knows, a lot of my friends wouldn't consider being home full-time, and it's not about the paycheck. As much as I love these three little people, my nerves fray at the end of a long day with them. And today I really haven't even seen Greg, we've been tag-teaming.
Well, the week isn't over yet, we'll see what the rest of it brings.