Growing up with an Italian mother meant family, tradition and food. Lots of food.
Sundays were a perfect combination of all three. Every Sunday we would go to church, and after we would drive the 2.2 miles to my grandparents’ house for supper. Homemade pasta, sauce and meatballs were always served first, followed by chicken cutlets, salad and Italian bread. Most of the time, my Nonna would also make pastina for me and my sisters, while my Papa poured homemade wine in small glasses. Some Sundays our Grandmother and Grandfather (dad’s parents) would join us, as they also lived within a 2-mile radius. It was a typical Sunday, and it wasn’t until I was in college that I realized how truly precious these Sundays were.
Much like Sunday suppers in my Nonna’s kitchen, my mother’s influence over me and my sisters was something you could count on. Short in statue, my mother’s influence was enormous. I don’t even think she realized it. I think as the oldest of three, I may have felt it a little more than my sisters.
As I helped to clear the table from my mother’s kitchen this past weekend, I am reminded of all she has taught me and my sisters.
These are the things I learned about being a mother. An Italian mother…
- Love fiercely and unconditionally.
- Family is everything.
- Work hard for what want. There is no easy way around that. Sometimes sacrifices must be made.
- Food is the universal sign for love. Feed everyone who walks in front your door. Do not ask. Just do.
- Start your sauce early and be patient. Delicious sauce simmers all day.
- Arguing and yelling is a part of life. Forgive and move on.
- Teach by example.
- Pastina is the cure for most ailments.
- Plant a garden. Water it and take care of it. With a lot of love and a little luck it will grow and feed you.
- Love your sister. She will be your best friend one day.
- Say hello to everyone you meet.
- You can do anything you set your mind to. Do not listen to those who say it’s impossible.
- Never show up to a guest’s house empty handed.
- Nutella is a basic food group.
- Iron. Look your best every day. Even if you are just running to the grocery store.
- If you give the milk away for free, he will never buy the cow.
- Play with children. Really play. Sit on the grass. Read books. Go to the park. Play duck, duck, goose. Teach them to use their imagination.
- Always be prepared for guests. Have enough food, chairs and wine on hand at all times.
- Be a mother not their best friend. Set limits and boundaries. Do not be afraid to discipline. Let them know they are a member of the family, and their actions affect others.
- Remind them that even if you are not with them, you can see them. (Throw in Jesus is watching too every once in a while.)
Happy Mother’s Day, to my mom. Thank you for all you the sacrifices you made so my sisters and I could be the women and mothers we are today.