We're all involved in many different cultures. First off, we're inherently involved in the American culture in which we live, and with that, the varying subcultures and groups which arise from that. I am an Italian Chinese American Single Working Southern California Mother. Every single one of those descriptors means something and comes with its own defines, realities, members, rituals, etc.
More than anything, I live and breathe the mothering culture. And this membership of motherhood enables me to talk to parents of all ages from all over the world. It is fascinating and beautiful. This morning began with me waking up in a start thinking I had to rush Caleb to school again. I relaxed realizing he was at his dads. Caleb is home most of the time, so the nights and mornings when he isn't, I often have to remind myself that I actually don't have another breathing life in the apartment. I walk by his empty room and I don't see his sleeping, still body. It makes a difference. Part of me is so glad to have the few nights alone that I do. Admittedly, I work far too late-far later than I should. And I am out more than I am in those nights. But my heart is tied up in the breathe of that child. And sometimes, despite the wonder of space my nights of freedom bring, I have to remind myself that the bone of my flesh isn't sleeping a room over. It can be a strange paradox.
On my way to work this morning, I decided to call my father. You know, my Roman Italian father-my blood kin. When I speak about my dad I mean my step dad. He's the one who Caleb knows as grandpa. He doesn't know his Italian grandfather, the one whom his italian blood is from. He doesn't know he exists.
It's often a trip for me to talk to my father because he is as Italian as they come. He is straight from the Italian motherland and he sounds like it too. I am an American girl with Italian and Chinese blood. Both of my parents come from incredible, gorgeous, distinct countries with rich and ancient cultures. But see, I don't know these cultures really. Despite the fact that my father has lived in this country for at least forty years, when I speak to him, it is like he is Italy.
This morning he was telling me about his gout and how the doctor tells him that he has to watch what he eats and drinks. It's no secret that he loves Italian food made from scratch. He loves to cook. But what I didn't realize, was that he still drank wine. The doctor told him that he has to give it up, and when I asked him if he even really drank wine anyway, he said, "What, are you crazy?!! I am ITALIAN!!!!" Then he told me about all the wine he has made with over twenty grapes (are there that many really?), and all of the barrels he's done. One time he didn't put holes in the crates of wine, and come May when it became hot, the pressure built up in the wine crates and caused them to explode. What a waste of good wine! We talked about wines that we liked (because I love red wine, clearly it's in my blood), and he advised that I try Chianti, which is a drier Italian wine. I have wondered about Chianti, so I will likely try it soon.
There is seemingly an entire world of culture that I simply missed not knowing my father growing up. And rightfully so, I am apprehensive about knowing him now. I give space, and that is okay. Relationships are ever evolving and look different in every context. Either way, it would be wonderful to know the cultures where I am from. While I was raised with my Chinese mother, I so naturally gravitate and am an Italian more than anything. It's hard for me to see my mother in me culturally. But I see her in my in other ways. We are stubborn and strong. Independent and fierce. We do not relent. We butt heads. We love God and we love people. We have very different ways of expressing and showing this. We appreciate nature in different ways. My mother comes from an incredible and beautiful family-a family that crazily enough, I belong to as well. Her land is compacted and gorgeous. Unique and humid. I truly cannot wait to go back and see my family and that land again. But I also need to see Italy. I need to know these cultures more. And I need to understand them better for myself so I can impart them to my child. Because I missed out growing up. Fortunately, there is an entire life to learn about that.
I hope Caleb understands one day what incredible places he comes from. He is half Irish too, and we acknowledge and celebrate every part and place in which he is from.
This evening Caleb's school hosted a wonderful movie event. We sat on the lawns with pizza and kettle corn and watched kids play tag and have dance parties leading up to seeing Hotel Transylvania. Caleb has a big buddy at school, and was elated to see him at the event. The boy seemed nice. They danced and high-fived.
See, while I have much to learn and experience with the mother and father cultures that made part of who I am, I am involved in the culture of motherhood (and more). Many cultures make up who we are and what we do. The key is to be intentional about it-and that is a worthy life long pursuit.