Despite my best efforts, I'm absolutely more and more like my parents every day. I guess I've always been, because how could I not be reflective of where I came from, but in my youth I was so sure I was rebelling. That I could never be like that. Obviously, I'm different from my parents in many ways, as I've had my own unique experiences and developed my specific perspective and belief system. But still, especially now that I'm more of an "adult" than ever, I see so many parallels to my parents that I can't help but smile and laugh to myself.
I've gotten many qualities that some may find rather unsavory from my mom, but I am quite proud of. I'm a North-Jersey-Sicilian-Princess, and I wouldn't have it any other way. My mom taught me so much that is absolutely intrinsic to who I am today - about coordinating outfits with such astute attention to detail that you'd think we had an actual team of judges grading us based on color coordination and styles. She skilled me in how to decorate a home, again in an eye-pleasing color-coordinated manner, with holiday-specific decorations, decorative bathroom towels you'd never dare to actually dry your hands upon, the allure of matching placemats and cloth napkins that you'd never dare to actually eat upon, and so much more. My mom showed me the simply joys of late-night cereal snacks, how important daily moisturizing is, and that overpacking just means you are prepared for any situation that may arise.
She taught me to fight, unwavering, for those you love and what's right, even if it means being stubborn and hard-headed. She taught me how make that charm glow bright and hot, how to connect with others with a big open heart and nothing holding you back, and how to enchant others with your spell so they love you forever or at least carry your heavy things and grill your food in the summer.
One of the favorite things I've learned from my mom is our childlike enthusiasm, overt appreciation of seemingly insignificant things, and blatant refusal to be jaded. If there is one thing my mom and I are not, it's subtle. And my pride in our lack of subtly, in our refusal to be anything but true to ourselves, burns like a summer bonfire flame.
We are both aware of the hardship in this world, in our families, in our experiences. We both have dark sides and can easily get lost in the gray bleak clouds. Even so, I see that my mom has always blazed ahead, unabashedly appreciating all the beauty and joys of this world no matter how small. As a kid I couldn't appreciate the loudly-yelled commands to "look at the ducks! look at them swimming in the poooond!" or to try this delicious snack at the Italian festival or to look at the tiny baby pumpkins at the pumpkin patch or to come see the sunset at the beach. I thought it was just more bossing, more obligatory annoying un-cool shit my mom was trying to force me to do.
Now I see myself doing the same thing every day. I point out the delicate filigree and ornate exteriors of the buildings in this city with awe. I exclaim when I see just about any animal doing anything. I run over and smell the flowers in the planters in my neighborhood or comment on their saturated colors. I'm always "ooh-ing" and "ahhh-ing" and getting distracted by all the tiny little details, by the clouds, the color of the sky, the glittering of the river, of anything I can find that sustains and inspires me to keep moving forward.
This to me is the ultimate survival plan. To appreciate the beauty in this very difficult and hard world. People often perceive any expression of emotion and appreciation as vulnerability and therefore weak. To be constantly open about enjoying things makes us as women seem ditzy, unintelligent, silly, etc. - lots of the negatives associated with femininity. But I know it is actually being brave, being unabashedly myself.
I thank my mom for instilling this in me, and that it adds another sparkling facet to my femme identity.
Me and Mamma at our joint 30/50 Birthday Party!