The multi-generation household – not only in Italy is what I say

family_FIBy Dosi Cotroneo

Three generations of one Italian family are residing under one roof at the moment, and I must confess, there are days where one can very well feel as though one is becoming unhinged. It certainly has the makings of a reality t.v. show and in case you’re wondering, it is our roof that the husband and I are sharing with one young brood of three, plus one girlfriend of one of the young brood of three, plus, the family matriarch, Nonna, my best-friend, aka. mother-in-law. Now many may cringe at the thought of sharing one’s home with family ranging in ages from 16 to 82, but somehow, this Italian family manages to laugh their way through most days.

The front door should really be replaced by a revolving door as persons are entering and exiting at all hours. The kitchen should have a neon sign hanging in the window to announce when it is OPEN and CLOSED. At the moment, it is more of a 24-hour diner and I have yet to encounter one single tip from this hungry, thirsty, and rather hostile, impatient crowd. Thankfully, Nonna rules over the kitchen with an iron fist, and the young brood learned very quickly to not mess with her space. On that note, we have been going through wooden spoons over here like free shooters at the local club.

On top of the fact that there are seven adults residing at my address, I may have omitted to mention that there are a couple of furry felines to add to the mix. Vacuuming has become a part of daily life, as has a trip to the grocers down the street. Can you imagine how much food is required to sustain an Italian family of seven, let alone two, or three fat Italian cats?

Did I forget to mention that part of the main floor and the basement are under renovation and have been for well over a year now? The noise of drills, hammers and saws must compete with the volume of the Italian cable channels – RAI, Telelatino, and Cento Vitrine. Ear plugs have become my new earrings, and husband and I have decided that booking appointments to see one another is the only way we can schedule those desperately needed date-nights out. Neighbors pass by and ask how we are coping. Passers-by hear the loud noises, the shouting, the loud Italian game shows, and wonder if they should call the authorities, the Police, or immigration officials.

Until recently, Nonna had her own set of wheels, and if it wasn’t for that lead foot, which she blames on a large bunion, she would still be on the road as we speak. The lawyer said it just wasn’t worth fighting it out in court. As a result, Nonna and I can be spotted on the roadways on any given day, with me behind the wheel and Nonna behind the store special flyers, knocking off our run of olive oil sales, toilet paper sales, cat food sales, and the weekly beer store order.

From a distance, we seem like a completely “normal” family, but from up close, particularly within earshot, our daily life unfolds more like a Seinfeld episode. Dr. Phil, Dr. Drew, I’m sure they would all be fascinated with the human interaction that takes place over here. Old world Italy meets 21st century youth meets “I love the ‘80’s” somewhere in between.

Sharing is certainly the key word at our house. Sharing bedrooms, sharing the kitchen, sharing vehicles, sharing the laundry room, and most importantly, sharing tranquilizers. It is a strange mix indeed, but like the tastiest of cocktails, at the end of the day, it all goes down great.

On that note, from our house to yours, Buona Pasqua!!