Nana Would Be Appalled

Tuesday, July 01, 2014

By Rachel Hoeing

Have you ever wondered what your grandparents think about the way you raise your family?

I've written about my sweet grandmother previously. Although she passed away just five years ago, she suffered from Alzheimer's for quite some time and I don't think she realized how much the world had changed and what had become "acceptable." When she was in her prime I saw her give plenty of looks to women who wore shirts too tight and skirts too short. "Oh, that's terrible," she would murmur under her breath. I saw her "shoo" her hand at the TV when people would curse too much and roll her eyes when her husband had too many beers.

My Nana was a little Italian woman who was quiet, sensitive and the perfect lady. Most of the time! Every once in a while that hot Italian temper would surface, but she was usually very kind-hearted and easy-spirited. She spent her days cooking, cleaning, taking care of her kids, providing for her husband, praying the rosary, and talking on the phone to her sisters. She always wore a calf-length skirt and pantyhose. She never even wore a pair of slacks until she was well into her 70's when we finally talked her into it. She never got her driver's license and never seemed to care. The church was across the street, the grocery store was a block away, and since her husband and all her sisters drove, she could easily get wherever she needed to go.

I admired my Nana so much for the way she cared for her children and their home. Nothing was more important to her than her family. I have tried to fill Nana's shoes, but at this day and age it just doesn't seem like an attainable goal to be the homemaker that she was. The cleaning and cooking always seem to be pushed down further on my "to do" list as I allow the more enjoyable things to take precedence.

Some of you have grandparents who are still living and have probably told you exactly what they think about your parenting. For me, I would have to guess how Nana would view my life now and in some instances I know she would be absolutely appalled ...

Nana would be appalled at the amount of frozen food I feed my family. My daughter in particular nourishes herself on frozen chicken nuggets and frozen Jose Ole taquitos. Nana would have none of that. A home-cooked meal would be placed on the table and I have full confidence that she would find a way to make my daughter eat it.

Do you know what a babushka is? Nana wore one every single time it rained and would yell and me and my sister to put on our plastic babushkas so we would not get our hair wet or get sick. How embarrassing to have to walk around with an old lady babushka! Nana would probably cringe if she were here now to see me pile the family out of the mini-van and run through the rain without even an umbrella.

Nana would be appalled at how infrequently I do laundry. There is no "laundry day" around here. I remember she had two laundry days each week and I loved helping her hang the clothes out back on her clothesline. At my house currently, when a hamper is overflowing onto the floor, that is when I finally dump it into the washing machine. Most of the time I do remember to move it to the dryer, but after that ... it could be days before those clothes are thought about again. And ironing? Nana would spend days ironing! We only iron our clothes if it is absolutely necessary and most of the time it happens directly before we put the clothes on our bodies.

And the cleaning - I am sorry Nana! I know you are in disgust when you look at this house. My windows haven't been done in years. The dishes from last night are still in the sink. I can't even see my daughter's floor due to the mess in her room. I can picture my Nana on her hands and knees with Clorox. You could literally eat off her floors and counter tops. I remember that the bathtub sparkled!

"Where are your socks?" she would always yell. Nana could not stand to see our feet uncovered because she just knew we would get sick. Nana would be in disbelief watching my own children run down the driveway barefoot in the middle of winter.

Girls weekends. Nana had no clue these even existed. Everything she did was with her children or her husband. Even when her sisters decided to take a drive to Atlantic City, the husbands were always along for the ride. I can only imagine that Nana would be furious at me for leaving my family to fend for themselves while I went off to drink wine on a deck overlooking the ocean with my girlfriends. The shame!

Nana would also be appalled that I have absolutely no clue whether or not my children poop each day. She would drive me crazy always asking, "Rachel, did you move your bowels yet today?" Why did it matter if I moved my bowels? Seriously. My children might move their bowels once a week or five times a day. I have no clue.

She probably yells at me from Heaven for my cursing as well. I know it isn't lady-like, but sometimes there is just no other word to do a story justice than a good curse word. Am I right? Although I will say that I have to smile when I remember hearing "that sonofabitch" come of out her mouth! But other than that, the worst thing I ever heard Nana say was "Hoof hearted? Ice melted." Say it fast a few times and you will see what it means! We thought that was the funniest thing we ever heard when we were kids.

It helps to know that after this survey I realize I am not alone in some of my behaviors! I know Nana would be proud of me for many other things in my life, but I will still try my best to make Nana proud in the homemaker area. Maybe we'll have some homemade meatballs and pasta tonight instead of frozen Costco pizza. :)

~ Dedicated to my grandmother, Anna Hess, who passed away Christmas Day 2006 ~
DebbieD commented on 06-Mar-2012 07:27 AM
Rachel, this is beautiful and I bet your Grandmother looks down at you and is so proud of you and your accomplishments. I bet she got to Heaven and has enjoyed learning from you the things that really matter.
Anonymous commented on 06-Mar-2012 07:38 AM
Costco has some really good frozen meatballs, too. Just throwing that out there. :)
becky johnston commented on 06-Mar-2012 07:43 AM
Amen to the girls weekend! My aunt (87ish) is appalled at the amount of time I spend "making" my husband "babysit" so I can go do things without the 2 of them. She is constantly reminding me that he works hard all day and I shouldn't "make" him watch E
while I go to Book Club, girls weekend, etc. Then, in the same breath, she tells me how fortunate I am to have a husband who wants to help- that in her day that was the woman's job. And, as you well know, I'm with ya on the laundry. :)
Jill commented on 06-Mar-2012 08:03 AM
I think many of us are not as good a homemaker as our grandmothers - there's no window washing going on at my house! - but we are great moms, and our grandmas and nanas are proud of us! That bowel movement comment cracks me up - my grandma also always
asked us if we had our BM yet that day. What's up with that?!
Katie commented on 06-Mar-2012 08:58 AM
Rachel, I wish you lived next door to me! My gram was so much like yours. She was so dear to me, passed away about 3 years ago and battled Alzheimers. I only heard her say "damn" once. She was a gem. I do think that our culture requires us to juggle so
much more, though. Any activities their children participated in were within walking distance, they didn't have to do fundraisers for baseball teams, or drive 4 kids to 4 different places all by 4pm! Room moms baked cookies once a year, and didn't have to
coordinate parties for every little "holiday"... Maybe I'm old fashioned, but I wish we could go back to less frenzied times.
Julie G. commented on 06-Mar-2012 09:19 AM
Oh Lord! What a great post! During my adolescence, my G-ma would visit and say to me as I was heading out the door for a night of fun, "Remember, Jesus sees everything." As a teen I recoiled at the guilt she was putting on me, but as a parent, she was
genius! My grandmothers would be appalled too, but also I think really proud of the ways of the world and how we all navigate them. Thanks for reminding me to remember those two wonderful ladies who so influenced me!!
Paige commented on 06-Mar-2012 09:36 AM
Took need a minute to get the hoof hearted, ice melted! Hilarious!
Lisa commented on 06-Mar-2012 10:24 AM
I loved reading this today. I see we have similar parenting styles!
Amy commented on 06-Mar-2012 01:16 PM
Rachel - you have such a gift for crafting such beautiful stories, reminders, nostalgia out of every day life. I just adore reading your blogs. I'm so envious of all of you that had grandmothers - one was gone long before I was born and the other died
when I was 7 so I know none of that wisdom but can certainly imagine it after reading this! So thank you for sharing. Looking forward to the next one!
Mb commented on 06-Mar-2012 04:49 PM
Rachel your writing is priceless. Do u remember the Mussari stories? She made the best sausage and spinach bread. So glad she was my aunt danna. 727 Vine - the homestead for us all. We were/are so fortunate to have had Italian grandmothers. I loved her
and the whole crew. Keep writing. Love u!!!!
Heather commented on 07-Mar-2012 09:18 AM
Amen! This is the best blog I've read all week. It's so hard to compare ourselves to our grandparents. Glad to see I'm not the only person that depends on frozen nuggets, etc. Thanks for sharing!
mpb commented on 07-Mar-2012 11:59 AM
My cringe is when I totally ignore my grandmother's fashion sense. She believed all clothes should be quality. Period. No discussion. She spins in her grave when I buy clothes at "that mall". She would die ( again if that were possible) to know that my
children go to school in consignment clothes. Clothes made a person in her mind. kids would be grubby little urchins based on my consignment/Khols/Sears purchases. I know she'd march straight to McCall's of Reynolda village, buy out the place, then
burn their current wardrobe. :)
unc00ref commented on 11-Mar-2012 09:42 PM
My grandparents would roll over in a grave if they witnessed some of the parenting differences!
Anonymous commented on 02-Jul-2014 01:48 PM
I really enjoyed this post - thank you for writing it! I miss my little Italian grandma too.

Post a Comment

Our system stores past comments, so if you have posted, commented or voted before, your name & email will be stored. To comment “anonomynously” just leave this email field blank.
Captcha Image

To view all blogs from the past month, click on the yellow sun!