Recently I go to thinking, “is it possible to love your children just a little bit too much?” As an Italian mother, I fought long and hard to try to break from the over-protective, coddling, worrisome, over-nurturing Italian immigrant style parenting I was raised with. I suppose some battles just aren’t meant to be won. I tried to rebel against my Italian immigrant parents old-fashioned ways, swearing up and down that I would never raise my children that way. I would be one of those modern parents –one who would not blink twice if their child wanted to attend university out of to
wn, let alone out of the country, or if their child wanted to travel to see the world, with friends, or alone for that matter. I also pledged that I would not pass along the old Italian fears my parents raised us with, for example, “it’s a big, scary dangerous world out there, and any of the above dreams of mine and my sisters could never come to fruition.
So today I find myself alone at home – nothing short of a miracle considering seven adults are residing here under one roof. I decided to embrace the day, enjoy the silence, and make a list of only the things
I truly felt like doing. Somehow, I managed to stray from that list when I walked into 22 year old daughter’s bedroom and saw signs of moving boxes, bubble wrap, a sharpie, and some l
abels. Yes, the time has come my friends for this Italian mother to nudge her robin to the edge of the nest, give her that last little push and watch her spread her own little wings and fl
y. It’s not easy for an Italian ma like me. I know I said over and over again that I would allow my children to “let go and let grow”, constantly preaching the joys of independence, seeing the world, and chasing their dreams. As my middle child prepares to venture off to the big city of Toronto for graduate studies, I am bursting with pride. I am also bursti
ng with emotion, bu
t I certainly don’t want to project that onto the independent young woman I raised. I decided it best to face the music, grab some boxes and get some packing done.
It is a sad day indeed when a pare
nt must prepare no
t only their child, but themselves, for the day they leave that cozy cocoon of a nest called home. But in my heart, I know, as difficult as it may be for me to think about my little
girl on her own in downtown Toronto, I am at the same time inspired. Inspired to pursue goals I never had the opportunity to. Being the child of Italian immigrants is quite unique. For my siblings, my cousins, and many of my girlfriends, we were directed along the same path – go to school, get a job, find a husband, get married, have a family, a
nd live happily ever after. I too went from my “father’s house to my husband’s house” as the girlfriends and I would call our rite of passage, coming of age – actually, marriage. With much happiness and no regrets about my choices, I still feel that twinge of a young 20-year old girl wishing she could travel on her own, have an apartment somewhere downtown on her own, or study abroad on her own. Alas, ma and pop would
never hear of it. Even today I must be a shoulder for my 80-something year old parents as they fret and fear for this young granddaughter of theirs who is blazing a trail to the University of Toronto. It’s a strange reversal of roles actually. At a time when I could really use my parent’s shoulder to cry on, as I must let go of my little girl, I have to be there for them, and console them that she will be happy, safe, and come home once a month to visit.
As I pack the last of the teacups into bubble wrap, I take one long look around this young girl’s bedroom. Yes, I will miss her. Yes, I will feel lost without her at times, as she is my confidante, my voice of reason, my best friend. Yes I will cry. Yes, I will become unhinged and possibly throw myself on the floor in a tirade of emotion, perhaps even slapping, drooling, and biting myself…But suddenly, a revelation! This bedroom will make a lovely writing and painting studio. I can just picture it – my long-awaited Paris-apartment can come to life in this very room!
Yes my daughter, I will miss you. I will visit you. You will visit me. But for now, I must race off to the nearest Benjamin Moore dealer and choose some paint colours. Maybe I can set up a wall of book cases to house my beloved shoe collection! Country French, shabby chic, why my fingers are tingling at the thought of moving some of my furniture in here. Why I feel so much better already. It’s am
azing how a moment of quiet solitude can bring about such clarity…
By Dosi Cotroneo