How does a young American woman brought up on field hockey, frozen vegetables, washing machines, takeout Chinese food and backpacking become transformed into a functioning Italian mamma with perfect pasta and luscious legs? Impossible.
How does any woman manage the obligations and responsibilities of wife, mother, job, and household management? In my case, this included the requirements of three children, TV journalism, and Italian societal demands with the heavy influence of the Catholic Church and, in the past 15 years, the political era of Italian Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi, where women as sex objects have become the norm.
How does a woman adapt and change to meet the demands of one society while trying to maintain her core beliefs, values and cultural traditions? My own answer to this question has always been, ‘with good friends, humility and a sense of humor’.
When my children were young, I spent hours sitting on park benches while my kids were playing, joking and laughing about difficulties with other mammas. My park bench mamma friends are still around, and still supportive, although we spend more time these days seated in cars driving our kids around. Over the years, my mamma buddies have provided the understanding and wisdom to get me through. One mamma friend summed up beautifully my concerns about being an Italian-style mamma. She said, “We try to teach them good values, we try to teach them to work hard and do their best, but somehow I think we are turning our children into mozzarellas.”
Over the past 16 years, as I have been raising my children, I have jotted down my humorous experiences as I have endeavored to become a good Italian mamma without losing my American-ness. These notes were made on pages pulled out of my reporters’ notebooks. I wrote down my thoughts at the side of the swimming pool sweating it out while my children were in swim class, on the side of the soccer field, on the bus to and from work, and in the orthodontist’s waiting room. Each little note was torn out of the notebook, folded up quickly and shoved into my wallet. Gradually I would take the notes from my wallet and type them up. Then I divided the anecdotes into different categories—food tales, health stories, clothing issues. My notes were a way for me to let off steam when I was frustrated, and to laugh at my own foibles.
Now I have put those notes together in a manuscript that I hope to publish as a book. It is called: “Mozzarella Mamma: Deadlines, Diapers and the Dolce Vita”. But instead of continuing with my habit of note-taking my younger friends and colleagues told me that the future of Mozzarella Mamma needs to be in a blog. So here it is.