Watching a storm brew from my balcony…my house was hit by lightning 30 min later!
Greek summer has always been a challenge for me, even though most of my friends and relatives think I’m insane. People from all over the world spend small fortunes on heading to the land which created the first Olympic Games and has countless beaches, monuments and fascinating historical sites to visit. So when I confess that Greek summer is usually a nightmare for me they are shocked.
My main issue is the overwhelming heat. The temperature is usually between 35°C and 42°C (around 95 and 108°F). That’s just too much for me to handle during the day and it means that at night the house is uncomfortably hot. It’s so difficult to sleep and at least one of us can usually be found prowling around in the early hours of the morning trying to find a cool spot. Unfortunately, the best of these spots is directly in front of the fridge…that means that my family nearly always gains weight during the summer period! September always heralds the arrival of requests for gym membership and low fat meals.
Another issue that most parents have in Greece is the incredibly long school break. High school finishes the regular curriculum in the middle of May and resumes again around the 10th of September. When the teaching programme finishes in May the students go to school for a couple of hours in the morning several days a week to do their end of year exams. The exam period lasts five weeks. That means that parents of children in Greece have the pleasure of seeing their offspring for four whole months. There are no regular lessons, unless the parents can afford to send their child to summer school or pay for private tuition. My children went to a private school this year so I thank the Lord that they were busy until the middle of July! Having time to drink a leisurely coffee in the morning and catch up on e-mails without being hounded by your permanently hungry teen, should NEVER be taken for granted!
Private schools and tuition brings me on to my next summer difficulty: being able to save enough money during the eight months I work a year to cover the extra expenses we have during the long vacation. My teens have virtually all day free apart from a couple of hours they spend studying, revising and training for judo. Not a day passes without them asking, pleading or sometimes blackmailing me to give them money to go to the town and meet their friends! That means that I rarely go out, as I simply can’t afford it.
Most of my summer is spent at home trying to escape the gruelling temperatures. Thank heavens I have many online friends to ‘hang out’ with, otherwise the four months would never end! My teens also want to go to summer camp with their friends, so that’s another expense which makes it difficult to make ends meet. I really celebrate when September arrives and my kids only have time to go out on Saturdays! I also start working again at this time of year so things tend to get better in the fall.
So that’s the heat, the long school break, and the expense of a summer in Greece covered, but then there is also the weather…
Summer storms in the mainland area of Greece where I live are frequent and unpredictable. Last summer as I was gathering clothes from the washing line, a sheep was struck dead by lightening very close to where I was standing! It was a terrifying experience, for us both I imagine, and as a result I am very stressed this year every time I hear a thunderclap.
Our house was hit AGAIN this year and on another occasion shortly after that the electricity column next to my house was also ‘attacked’ during one of our frequent summer storms. The whole area was left without power for several days which meant cooking and cooling systems had to be abandoned. I gave away a lot of frozen food to friends in the town as the lack of fridge/freezer was the biggest nightmare. No cool spot at all during the blackout! My modem was also blown to smithereens and I don’t even want to recall the pain of being offline for several days!
Ok, so now that I told you how I really feel about summer in Greece, I will end it on some positives. Here’s goes…I can say that I enjoy having lots of time to catch up with my online friends and reading as many books as I like. This year I have also spent real quality time with my two sons who actually want to hang out with me. My 15-year old decided to stay at home while his brother went camping with friends. This was a total surprise as he just wanted to spend time reading books and chilling out with me. He hasn’t wanted to do that for several years! My 16 year old formally invited me to watch judo during the Olympic Games and actually insisted on me being with him so that we could bet on who we thought would win each match…I’m not sure whether I should be flattered by the invitation or worried that I have produced a gambler!
At least this year my two teens think I’m cool enough to hang out with in public (on the front balcony) and to participate in underage gambling (watching judo) in the privacy of our home….
How do you deal with a long summer vacation? What activities are your children involved in?
This is an original post for World Moms Network written by Ann Maria in Greece.
Lately, my life seems to be a blustery gale of unexpected mishaps and then, just when the sun dares to peek through the clouds, an unseasonal hailstorm unleashes its wrath to put me back in my place.
I mean this both metaphorically and literally.
The weather has been unusually freaky in my part of Greece with storms that would put parts of Asia to shame. We’ve had our house, outdoor furniture and internet connection damaged as well as being scared out of our wits due to a few close calls with Mother Nature. A neighbour’s sheep was struck dead by lightning – yes, DEAD – about 10 metres from where I was standing!!!
What was I doing hanging out in the middle of a thunderstorm with a sheep? I’d rushed outside to gather clothes off the washing line before they were blown all the way to India or someplace where such meteorological phenomenon are more common. The only positive result from this close encounter is that all my body hair has a rather lovely demi-wave and swishes beautifully when caught in a breeze. Must be a result from the static electricity when the lightning struck so close. It’s a shame the poor sheep wasn’t so lucky.
Apart from trying to dodge lightning strikes and hurricane winds, health problems and work-related issues have also plagued my family for a while. Thank goodness the health issues aren’t life threatening, but they are constant and irritating. No sooner does one of my family get over one thing, than another member gets something completely different. A few days ago I finally recovered from a particularly vicious case of gastroenteritis. On the same day my sons got sick with flu…! Hubby is now complaining of stomach cramps. HELP.
We only have one bathroom and it’s seen rather a lot of action recently!
Most adults go through such phases in life and especially moms with kids, of course.
Mothers are used to all the childhood maladies that life tends to throw at us.
If you’re lucky, you may have a partner who can help take care of your sick offspring while you try to nap or catch up on all the backlog of chores threatening to overwhelm. However, at least one of you, if not both, will have to go to work to earn extra money for the medical bills and medication as such situations put a strain on the family income. So, traditionally, it’s mom who stays home and tries to cope with the patients hoping that she doesn’t get ill herself.
I’m lucky that my mother-in-law lives so close as there have been times when the four of us have been really ill, and we needed a care taker to make us a hot drink and bring us medicine. I don’t know how people living in isolated areas cope. What about families who live far away from friends and loved ones? Perhaps they have just moved and haven’t had time to build up a support network. What happens when most or all of their family have been struck with some nasty little bug or mischievous virus?
These questions have been troubling me a great deal lately.
These insecurities are worming themselves into my psyche and sqeezing out every bit of creativity and imagination. I’m not the positive person I used to be, but feel I’m moving sluggishly in a black cloud.
So many predominantly negative things have been thrust randomly in my life recently that I’m starting to wonder if someone has put a curse or the ‘evil eye’ on me.
Greeks, of course, take such things pretty seriously, and many people wear jewellery in the form of a blue eye around their wrist or neck. This is supposed to help protect from negative vibes and illness.
Next time I’m shopping I’ll have to remember to buy a few dozen.
On the work front, I have been almost stressed to death with the uncertainty of our family income. Most Greeks are in the same boat though, and especially civil servants who don’t know if they will receive a pay cheque next month or not due to the country’s recent financial crisis. Several of our friends have either left Greece or are planning to abandon ship in the near future.
We are giving our two teenage sons the tools and skills to be able to study and work abroad if they choose, as life and survival in the country of their birth is so precarious.
The only way that I can deal with this stormy ride and find some moments of peace is to spend time in my OWN SPECIAL PLACE.
I have my ‘private’ sofa and TV/radio which is connected to the kitchen. It’s very cosy and convenient as I can keep an eye on the oven and read, sew or watch TV at the same time. The other three members of my family have their own larger living room and hardly ever sit in mine. I rarely go out socially because of my family obligations, so it’s the place I can be to chill out and unload. It’s my personal little area to try to make sense of the messy time we’re going through. I can ramble and ponder at my leisure. Should we try to sit out the storm and remain in Greece? Start somewhere else without a social network or support group? Dig up the roots we have taken a couple of decades to grow?
It’s no wonder we’re constantly ill-ish.
And it’s no wonder that the Gods have echoed the political/social climate and tossed cataclysmic rocks at us.
What are your stresses/worries at the present time? Do you have a special place you like to be to try to chill out and work things out?
This is an original post to World Moms Blog by Ann Marie Wraight of Greece. Photo credit to the author.