channeling betty

We never know the love of the parent till we become parents ourselves.
~Henry Ward Beecher~


Some of the most unnerving moments in my life have come in the form of saying-and-or-doing things that I swore I would never say-and-or-do.  I’ve been doing this a lot lately. 


The litmus test will be when I can spider scale the walls and emote green pea-soupy stuff.  But.  We haven’t had to call the priest just yet.

Moving on.

Oldest son is home for the long holiday weekend.  In typical college student fashion, he deposits his dirty clothes in the laundry room, spends exactly 30 minutes, give or take 45 seconds, catching us up on his life while simultaneously engaging in a texting marathon with his friends. 

Suddenly he has Other Plans.  And he’s gone.  

In his absence, we, His Parents Being of Questionable Intellect, do his laundry, bake and cook his favorite foods, and anxiously await the moment the Firstborn Son’s shadow will darken the doorstep again.


The Conversation About The Ungrateful Child begins.

When the Husband and I were first married one of the Big Issues we faced was my relationship with his parents.  Elizabeth aka Betty and Fred loved their children with every fiber of their being.  Their family was structured in the stereotypical Italian manner.  My father-in-law’s father, Florindo, arrived in America directly from Italy with every homeland tradition deeply engrained.   When you married, you were part of their family, because wasn’t it great to be Italian? 

And.  While much was given, in return, much was expected.

However.  I don’t want to leave you with the impression this was always a bad thing.  Sometimes it worked in your favor.  I can recall the time when I was dating the Husband and received a speeding ticket driving home late at night.  A $100 speeding ticket in 1982 was some pretty hefty coin.  What did his mama do?  Without blinking an eye, she opened her purse, and pulled out five $20 bills she’d won at Bingo that night.  Problem solved.  The Italian family way.


My family is of English descent with no ethnic traditions.  We grew up.  We moved out.  We became adults and waved bye-bye.  No emotional expectations, we were free to move about the cabin.

When the Husband and I brought our sons into the world, we erred on the side of Italian over-indulgence. 

And much was expected in return.

Flash forward to this weekend.  Son had been in town, but out and about for about 48 hours doing His Thing.  About 3:00 am this morning I woke up, noted his car was not yet home, and began stewing in a very non-typical English way.   I picked up my cell phone from the nightstand and texted that the next time he comes home maybe he should  just stay with his friends and come to visit us when it was convenient for him to do so. 

‘I am very disappointed in the way you’re acting.’


Honestly, it was quite an epiphany to see things from her perspective.  She’s been gone since 1984, but when I say my prayers this evening, I’m going to give her a little shout out and say, ‘I FINALLY GET YOU.’

Because if she were here, she’d cuff her grandson on the back of the head and in pure ‘Moonstruck’ fashion, tell him to ‘SNAP OUTTA IT!’. 

Betty.  My new hero.