It’s a certain kind of special feeling when your Italian Mother-In-Law catches you the one time you forgot to wash the Broccoli. How does one go about trying to recover from such an egregious error? Accept your fate, admit your wrongdoing, wash and re-wash the broccoli, listen patiently to what will inevitably not be the last time you hear about the importance of thoroughly washing all vegetables.
Dearest Angela, our Angelina / Angelanina, my Italian Mother-In-Law. This is only the beginning, we have so much ahead of us, this is part 1.
Before we even met, Angela’s enthusiasm that her son had found a girlfriend was notable. “CIAO TESORO, TI FACCIO UN MONUMENTO SE PRENDI IL MIO FIGLIO!” Translation: “Hello my treasure, I’ll make a monument for you if you take my son!” Clearly, she approved.
Barely 5 feet tall and a Southern-Italian spit-fire of a woman, Angela is a force to be reckoned with. Although I fancy myself a strong person, I am by no means comparable to a typical Italian girl. While American culture teaches women to be sweet, polite and generally mousy, Italian women are intense creatures with enough attitude and resting bitch face to cut glass. Italians are blunt, they don’t dance around your feelings, they call you fat if you look fat. When shopping for winter coats, she was shocked that I needed a small, “AH, HA LA STESSA TAGLIA DI MOIRA, NON PENSAVO!” Translation: “Ah, she has the same size as (my daughter) Moira, I didn’t think so”. So there you have it.
It’s not malice, it’s just that they are taught that speaking (let’s be real screaming) your feelings in the precise moment you’re feeling them is allowed and encouraged. I, on the other hand, come from the nation of psychologically repressed fake-faced friendly people. This puts me in the difficult balancing act of learning how to speak my mind without being afraid to potentially offend. When Ivan tells me I need to tell his mother: “no, we really don’t need any more fruit, it will just go bad and I’ll have to throw it out,” I find myself in moments like these.
WHAT am I supposed to do with all that fruit?! I think the adage says – give your Italian mother-in-law a “si” and expect to come home with 10 kilos of fruit. I’m learning how to give a more convincing “no”. Bless it.
Never, ever tell your Italian Mother-In-Law when you’re feeling sick. This might seem counterintuitive, wait, isn’t she going to come pamper me and take care of my every need? Don’t be fooled. In addition, you will also receive round-the-clock text messages of concern and advice. Under NO circumstances should you try to convince them that you are not feeling great but simultaneously are well enough to leave the house. “ASCOLTA, TE STAI A CASA AL CALDUCCIO A LETTO A RIPOSO. CAPITO?” Translation: “Listen, you stay home in the heat in bed to rest. Got it?” Punto. That’s all she wrote and all she wanted to hear.
Generally considered a fool’s errand, convincing my Italian mother-in-law that I actually can cook edible food with flavor is one goal I will not renounce. When Ivan (equally shocked that I do actually make food) described to her a delicious dinner I had made, she remarked “AH PENSAVO NON TOCCAVA MAI IN CUCINA”. Translation: “Ah, I thought she never touched the kitchen.” So, as you can see, I have an uphill battle ahead of me. But, as time went on I gained major points by winning her over with banana bread. This turned out to be a tactical error, however, because now I have an unsolicited banana problem. Bananas make there way into this house like you wouldn’t believe. Grazie, Angela. Now that I’m getting into sourdough bread baking, she has given me the stamp of approval that is both satisfying and mildly awkward, “ORA STA SUPERANDO LA MOIRA”. Translation: “Now she is getting way better than Moira (my daughter)”. OKAY! …….
Anecdotes aside, I just want to say that I love our Angela, she really is one of the most generous, fiercely loving mothers I have ever witnessed and I am grateful for who she is. I am also truly grateful that she likes me, things could be way different. I am not trying to make fun of her and I’m certainly not complaining, I love her for who she is. I’m still learning how to shrug off criticism and how to accept genuine compliments and this will probably take me a while. Angel that she is, I hope we continue to always get along this well. I solemnly swear to never forget to wash the vegetables ever again!