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 ~