Scanning through pictures for this new hobby of mine, I’ve been doing a lot of reminiscing. And I seem to gravitate towards my childhood. Maybe it’s because it was the safest I’ve ever felt. Maybe it’s because I hadn’t known loss or heartbreak. I was blissfully naive. I was sheltered. I was loved unconditionally. I hadn’t yet felt the sting of reality that the world outside my door was jaded, hardened and self-serving.
My family was often compared to The Brady Bunch, just without all the kids. My mom was a full-time mom. She took pride in our home; a split level with a white picket fence and flowering tree in the front yard. The house was always clean. Like, really clean. When I asked why it always had to be so clean, she replied, “What if your father brings home a colleague? Or what if someone shows up unexpectedly?” She believed her home reflected her family. And she took great care with both. My dad, me, my nana, brother and mom
My father worked for an insurance company, and when we had just moved into our new home, I ran down the street, and shared my dad’s occupation with the neighborhood kids and their moms. I told them about myself, my brother, my mom and then, without taking a breath asked, “Will you be my friend?” I was three years old.
Our days were filled with music, food and family. Coming from an Irish & Italian family, it was safe to say there were a lot of us. And we got together every week. EVERY. WEEK. We had big dinners, pool parties, first communions and birthdays…parties, parties…all the time! And the food – my God – the food! Nothing was store bought. And everything was delicious! It was more often than not, dessert came before dinner. Any my husband wonders why I do this with our children to this day!
We traveled in groups. Getting ready for a day at the beach, was an event. My dad packed the umbrella, the cooler, the blankets & chairs, the radio. We had enough food and drink to feed all of us and our beach neighbors.
Frank Sinatra, Dean Martin and Tony Bennett were the crooners. My Nana was the entertainment, as she loved to sing to my Papa and dance around. She didn’t care where she was or who saw her. She lived out loud. Literally. Out. Loud. After all, she was the Italian side of our family.
My cousins were like siblings. We were together more than we weren’t. Every Sunday while my grandmother prepared her feast, we’d take off on an adventure. We’d be gone for hours exploring cliff edges, crossing the main road and walking by the water’s edge, collecting shells and sharing stories.
My grandfather would hand us all money, pat us on the head, and send us to the local ice cream parlor, where we’d fill up on candy and junk food, but still have an appetite for my Nana’s lasagna. That little shop was like a 1/2 mile away, but hey it was the 70s, so of course nothing bad ever happened. Good times.
I miss those times.
Now I’m the mom. I’m the one cleaning the house and cooking the meals, like my mom did. I too take pride in my domestic domain and my children. And while I am no longer a child, I try to maintain a child-like essence – because the world can be jaded, hardened and self-serving.
But only if we allow ourselves to see it that way.
A better way of seeing the world?
Through the eyes of a child.