Friday, April 7
Where do I even begin? This day was just great. I don’t even want to go to bed because I want to keep it going. Thanks to the hour-long nap I took this afternoon while ALL THREE boys napped, I may be up quite a bit longer. Red wine can help that.
There was no way that we could come all the way to Rome and not visit Saint Peter’s, so this morning we set an alarm and were on the 7:07 am train. Both Ryan and I consulted a few websites and agreed that the 8:30 Italian mass would be great because we could all go in together and then he could head to class. There was no line and we were inside the Basilica with fifteen minutes to spare, but could only find Polish and German masses. In true Italian style, we were told that mass was said in the San Giuseppe chapel at nine. Well, at least it meant we had time to look around.
We wanted to visit the tomb of Saint Leo the Great for obvious reasons. Once we figured out where it was, we realized it was in a roped off section, but we asked the security guard anyway. He assured us up and down that that was not the tomb of Santo Papa Leo, but all consulted websites happen to disagree with this young man. At least we were able to see Leo’s namesake from a distance.
Being in Saint Peter’s makes me emotional, but holding Leo close to me in the Ergo and trying to get him to sleep by softly singing “Amazing Grace” made the tears easily slip from my eyes. He is my baby and he’s growing so fast and getting so big and I just feel this time slipping away and in that moment it hit me that there’s a chance he may be my last baby and I just found that thought overwhelming. Thankfully I saw Ryan explaining something about the altar to the other two and I soon remembered that I have so much to be grateful for.
Mass was about to start, so we selected our pew and immediately the boys began with their usual litany of complaints: they were hungry, tired, didn’t want to be there and so on. I just stood to the side with Leo because he was ready to out-whine them because he was actually tired. While I stood there, I saw a couple and their selfie stick come and sit down. I noticed that his phone’s camera was on and focused on them, even though it was resting on the pew, and I wondered if he planned on live streaming mass. The next moment I looked over and he was on one knee with a little box in his hand. She was in as much disbelief as I was, but for obviously different reasons. Again, I started to cry. I was so excited to be a part of this moment and really wanted to go over and congratulate them and share their joy, but decided to let them have their moment. Besides, I wasn’t even sure they spoke English.
Mass was just as challenging as always. Maybe even more so because we were surrounded by sisters and the space was small. And then Ryan had to leave after the homily in order to make it to class on time. When we were kneeling, I was about to lose it. Henry was crying that he was hungry, Leo threw his cup one way and a crayon the other, Jude was using the kneeler as a headrest. I looked up at the ceiling and said this was the time to help me and I was clearly heard. First of all, a sweet Sister smiled as she returned the partially chewed crayon launched by Leo and then, all of a sudden, the boys were good. Well, good-ish. We went up for communion and they received there blessing from the adoring priest and then we all kneeled down and said a Hail Mary together. We were able to walk out with our heads held high and I was proud of my three little boys.
Jude immediately asked to go see the bones of Saint Peter, so we went down to the Grotto and made our way through the maze of tombs. We stopped at each one and I read the name of the Pope. The were interested and excited and, of course, wanted to touch everything. Soon we reached the exit and I decided that we had our fill of Saint Peter’s, so we got our stroller and headed out into the warm Roman sun.
All morning I debated about whether or not I was going to venture into Rome with the three boys on my own and I felt mass gave me the confidence I needed to do so. I really wanted to get them some cute speedo-short bathing suits and decided to go to OVS (kind of like Target, but just for clothes). But first, coffee. We headed into the upscale neighborhood of Prati and found a fun, artsy bar for cappuccino and breakfast treats. Again, we were quite a curiosity and people stared and marveled as I folded up our stroller while Leo slept in the Ergo. I love how they’re all eager to watch, but not lend a hand. Fueled by caffeine and sugar, we headed in the opposite direction of where I was going and were on our way to OVS (thank you, Google Maps).
Total bust. I forgot we were in Italy and it is only just now spring. There was no sign of bathing suits. Bummer.
The walk from the shop to the train station was about twenty minutes, but it probably took us twice as long because of how many times we were stopped. Never have I received so many auguri, complimenti, e “sei bravavissima!” as I did today. Mamma mia! Every signora and her friend had a comment, a story and a compliment. My ego was soaring and I was so proud of how well my boys behaved and really were deserving of the compliments. Seriously, they outdid themselves. We even had an easy time at the train station, the train ride home and had a nice lunch and naps. I was so happy that I took a nap too!
Originally Eleonora said to come over around 4:30 so the kids could play before we had dinner, but I didn’t wake up until ten after four and the boys were still snoozing. Luckily she said she was working at the restaurant still, so we didn’t head over until about 5:30. The kids all played for a bit in the backyard before we headed down to Molo. There was a party of eight Russians, some of whom worked at the Vatican, who had been there since three and they were ten bottles deep into their evening. They were on the terrace where the kids immediately ran out to play and we were all serenaded with Russian ballads. It was pretty awesome.
Vincent taught Jude and Henry how to be waiters and the three of them showed us to our seats and took our orders. The big boys all ordered themselves burgers and fries, pasta for the piccoli, Ryan had calamari fritti and spaghetti alle volgole and I had salmon with guacamole and grapefruit. YUM! YUM! YUM! Yesterday I told Ele that I we want to be patrons of their restaurant, not free-loading friends, but she assured me that this was their plan once they learned we were coming. Her parents joined us and played babysitter a bit and we were able to sit and talk somewhat, but also roam around the restaurant and terrace as our children required or as we pleased. While our dinner didn’t last quite as long as the Russians—who were still there after we left—but it was a nice drawn out evening that allowed the kids to play and have fun and us to enjoy our friends and good food. Thankfully we didn’t have to say goodbye because Elenora said she’d meet us at the beach for a bit tomorrow. We really are thankful for House Hunters International for setting us up with these friends of ours.
The walk home was fun. Leo was chatting and singing and trying to kiss my face all over. The boys were playing games and telling stories. Ryan and I talked about buying property here instead of back home. We were all feeling un po’ allegra and not wanting the feeling to end. But the boys are now in bed, the last load of laundry is spinning and Ryan and I are gearing up for our last day here.
On the walk from the train station to home this afternoon, we ran into the Anna picking up the boys from school. All of our boys are feeling sad about not being able to spend much time together and having to say goodbye again. Part of me feels really bad about doing this to them all over again, but not too bad. They’re still still young to understand. Sure it’s hard to say goodbye to friends, especially when you don’t know when you’ll see them again, but it’s much better to have those friends and those memories than to have never have had them all.