In the spirit of Mother’s Day, I feel like it’s a good time to share with you a few highlights about the mothers in my life.
Italian moms are their own species. These women take love, nurturing, and protection to not only another level, but out this atmosphere. Mom is the planet, and her children are the satellites trapped, mindlessly orbiting around. Slave to the one another’s existences.
And dads? They coddle the mothers of their children. More of the men in my family have impregnated their significant others out-of-wedlock than those who were married before procreating, so they feel obligated to make sure moms are well taken care of. There are easily more aunts in my family than uncles, which sadly is the result of widowing more often than divorce. The single aunts make it work, but some look to their fathers as the defacto caretaker. One of my single aunts has had my 80-year-old grandfather, who has had a plethora of surgeries (hip replacement being one of them!), remodel her house and repair any damages, even if that means going on the roof of her house. My mother has not worked a job in my entire life, and decided she wanted to earn some income of her own about a year ago. This was the biggest blow to my dad’s ego you would’ve imagined. He never misses an opportunity to remind EVERYONE, whenever my mom working is brought up, that she did not have to work for 20something years and still doesn’t have to, it’s completely her own doing, blah blah blah.
My grandma has everyone terrorized into succumbing to her every whim. She worked right out of high school as a secretary in a branch of the military until she was married and makes sure everyone knows she was apart of a workforce at one point. She’s about 90 lbs, wears heels and pantyhose every day, and has extreme OCD. At 7 am, breakfast is one cookie and a coffee. At 8 am, she begins her daily errands, chauffeured around by my aunt. She travels with a lunchbox so she can have lunch at 12 pm promptly, regardless of where she is. At 3:30, she’s at home and starting dinner. (She’s also the only Italian grandma I’ve ever met who hates food, which translates a terrible taste when it comes time for her to cook! We’ve given her the nickname “Jesus” because she can take 5 loaves of bread and 2 fish, feed 5,000 people, and still be able to collect leftovers for the rest of the week. This comes less from her ability to portion and more from her inability to produce an amazing meal, so everyone only takes half a serving) She finishes her day with either (purposefully) burnt popcorn or Neapolitan ice cream in front of the TV, and then the rollers go in her hair and she begins it all the next day. Anyone who presents any threat to this routine is subject to the biggest temper-tantrum they’ve ever seen.
I have not ONE, but TWO aunts whose first-born’s baby books feature umbilical cord stumps. You read that right. The part of the umbilical cord that remains on the baby for two weeks after birth, fell off their newborns 20+ years ago… And instead of going in the trash, they hold a spot taped in a plastic baggie next to baby’s first hair cut… Also worth mentioning about these aunts, they have never lived further away from my grandparents (their parents) than upstairs and next door, and they’re each about 50 years old.
On the other side of the family, all of my adult male cousins have lived at home until they were at least 30 years old, rent and responsibility free. COMPLETELY the result of their mothers insisting. One cousin is approaching 40, living at home, about to get married and host a $100k wedding, and has full intentions of moving his bride into his bedroom at his mother’s house after the wedding. This is a theme amongst Italians, though. Living further away than 30 miles from any given member of your family is a mortal sin, and any violators of this unspoken rule will result in “givin’ yo’ motha a haht attak” and a lifetime of guilt will surely follow. The only way to ensure access into paradise is by living as close to Ma and Dad as possible.
The women in my life are so full of love, it’s truly unbelievable.
And that love is fueled by keeping everyone as tucked under their thumbs as possible.