Mother’s Day Special: A Little About Italian Moms

Mother's Day in ItalyMother’s Day is an important holiday, a day we take to express our love and make our moms feel extra-special, showering them with attention as well as gifts and treats. Mother’s Day is celebrated not only in the U.S. but all over the world, and of course Italy is no exception. Today we are going to shed a little light on what makes Italian moms and women in general so special (at least in the minds of Italians), and what role Italian moms play in the family as well as society.

If you ever visited Italian playgrounds on a weekend you would have noticed that mostly dads are there playing with kids, while moms are often chatting with their girlfriends on the side. This is not because Italian moms are too lazy to play with kids. In fact many of them dedicate all their time to kids and family, which is why every day off that dads get they often spend with their kids. Despite changing times, now like in the past, many Italian women with kids do not work outside the home. Nursery schools and kindergartens close around 1pm, while school day is over at 4pm, making it very challenging for Italian moms to do full time work outside the home. So moms care for the kids, but the term “care” doesn’t even begin to describe the commitment of moms to their kids.

The kids are often the center of the universe for mom and for the whole family. They get showered with gifts, allowed to participate in all adult activities and go to bed late, spoiled by grandma and grandpa and generally can do whatever they want with very few limitations. This sounds like kids’ paradise, yet there are difficulties that arise with this approach as kids get older. There is an Italian term “mammone”, or “mamma’s boy”, which has come to define an entire generation of Italian men in their twenties and thirties who still live with their moms and gladly use mom’s help as she cares for all their practical needs from doing laundry to ironing shirts, cooking, cleaning and much more. Such men cannot easily find a wife, due to their high expectations and their moms leading role in their adult lives. The women are also not in a hurry to marry “mammoni” and have to deal with a demanding and controlling mother-in-law. Hence, the current family crisis in Italian society where many adult man are still not married into their late thirties and many women first give birth in their late thirties.

Italian Woman Cooking
Italian women are amazing at running a household efficiently and smoothly. Often on one not-so-impressive salary they manage to feed the kids, dress well (and in designer labels), keep their houses sparkling clean, tastefully decorated and stylishly furnished. The expensive decorative pieces are usually family heirlooms that are treated with utmost care and get passed down to the children once they move to their own houses. Often a newly married couple barely needs to buy anything for their new house since their parents keep a stash of three extra table service sets, ten cooking pots and pans and tons of bed linens just for that occasion. Italian moms are ready to help their kids, both young and grown, with everything. Once the kids leave the nest, moms will invite them to dinners, help them around the house, cook for them, and do lots of other things.

Italy was behind many other countries in giving women equal rights. For example, only in 1975 did Italian women receive equal property rights with their husbands, and it was not until 2003 that they were finally allowed to take administrative posts in the government. However, despite such miserable history of women’s rights and the enduring popularity of a macho man figure in Italy, every Italian kid knows that mom is really the most powerful figure in the house. Moms control all aspects of running the household, from spending and family plans to the schedule of meals in the house that needs to be strictly adhered to. Kids know that dad can say whatever he wants, but mom will have the final word. Therefore Italian men have almost inborn knowledge of how to appease their moms and make them happy, which greatly helps them in dealing with women once they grow up and start dating. Perhaps that is why lots of women around the world idealize an Italian man who is always such a gentleman and knows how to treat a woman. Italian women know where all that comes from and are very careful when dating to not fall into that trap and see the man for who he really is.

Italian Family
In Italian culture, moms are put on a pedestal, loved and respected by their kids and other family members. On Mother’s Day it’s great to take a page from Italians’ book and remember that our moms are exceptional, precious, and amazing in every way, and that it is up to us to make them feel loved and appreciated today and throughout the year.

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