Ok, this topic makes me laugh. When I promised to write this a month ago, I thought: This couldn’t be any easier! I’ll be in a small village in Crete exuding calm; sweating calm through my pores. I won’t need to find calm, calm is gonna hit me in the face. I’m gonna write the pants off this ‘calm’ thing as I’m basically meditating in the crystal clear blue-green waters of the warm Mediterranean eating the most amazing fresh produce in the world while my kids get to spend time absorbing their roots and culture.
Good one! Compared to traveling internationally with a 2, 3 & 4 year old (our last Greece trip), this is a walk in the park, but using the word “calm” to describe this trip is literally laughable. They are 6, 7, and newly 9. We are staying in a village an hour from the main city in Crete in a three bedroom, one bathroom apartment with our three kids, Nick’s parents, his sister, her husband, and their three girls who are 10, 13, and 15. Keep in mind, this is a European apartment – it’s TEENY- all five of us are in a 10×10 bedroom. The bathroom has a washing machine practically touching the toilet, and Nick is twice the size of the refrigerator. It’s 90+ degrees with high humidity. Being a mom here is like herding tornadoes in an outhouse.
In hindsight, I should probably have Nick write this one. This trip is his calm. It’s his heart feeling at home in the village he spent every summer, all summer, in as a kid. It’s knowing that he will not get torn away from his family for a delivery or emergency. It’s the calm of not having another’s life in your hands. No phone calls in the middle of the night. No surgery, no life and death decisions. It’s being with his mom and dad playing cards all night. It’s visiting cousins and aunts and uncles he hasn’t seen in four years.
From a mom perspective, this trip is a shit show of anti-calm. It’s three kids touching in a teeny rental car constantly fighting over who sits bitch. At one point, we had 9 of us in this teeny car. It makes my midsize SUV back home with its third row look like a palace on wheels. But it has AC and all the seatbelts work. It doesn’t always start the first time and we’re currently driving on a spare because the curbs are cut from sharp stone on roads barely big enough for one car to pass, let alone a car each way, two mopeds, a giant bus and a few cats. The guy at the car rental place sent us to two tire stores who absolutely don’t have a tire for our car and don’t have the time to go to the city to find one – the audacity at this notion was apparent when he said “I have a business to run. Go to the city and get it yourself” … hilarious. It’s a tire business. Oh well.
This trip is keeping six hot kids quiet in the apartment while everyone else in the country naps during the dead of the afternoon. This trip is sweeping as the kids eat so the grandparents don’t freak out. This trip is washing my underwear in the sink so my mother in law doesn’t beat me to it. This trip is one towel at the beach with nine people. It’s chasing my kids around with sunscreen and mosquito repellent (and consequently the medicine the middle one refuses to take because she scratched a mosquito bite until it became infected). This trip is looking up while writing this to see my kids together in the water laughing and my heart melting as my husband sits on the beach with a happy calm soul. And it takes my breath away.
Calm here for me is about stealing small moments and laughing at the ridiculousness of everything else. Cousins sitting on the floor having a pasta picnic. Picking the perfect giant watermelon. A sunrise run through the village. A quick kiss around the corner. Swimming out to sea with my girls looking for fish. Bedtime snuggles with George. A glass of wine with lunch that came in a plastic water bottle. Driving to even more remote villages for Greek dance parties that start at midnight and don’t stop until the sun rises.
Finding calm in a country known for its insane passion is no easy task, but learning to appreciate the moment for what it is and not race from one thing to another is my key to finding calm in this beautiful happy storm.
Opa. Love, the Caps from Crete