A High Standard and Unconditional Love

This month, we celebrate Mother’s Day, and we get to celebrate the greatest mom in the world. Every day, but especially on this holiday, we are thankful to have been born to a mom who held us to such a high standard while loving us unconditionally.

When we were growing up, our parents owned a business together. Our dad worked long hours, and our mom not only stayed at home raising us, but she also worked part-time doing the books for the business. Needless to say, hard work runs in the family. Neither of our parents had the benefit of college education, but they are some of the smartest and hardest-working people we know. While we were at home with my mom, she definitely believed in child labor and always had us help with the chores around the house. In the summer, we would each get a list of things that needed to be done, and we always finished our lists. She prided herself in keeping a very clean house and delicious food on the table, and we rarely stepped out of line because, well, she was tough. She inherited her toughness from Grandma Betty, and we could fill a year’s worth of newsletters on that topic.

My mom expected us to give our very best in whatever we did. We were to have our homework done as soon as we arrived home from school and before our dad got home from work. She was the one who made sure we behaved ourselves and got good grades, and she was always the one to shuffle us from school to sports, or other activities, and back home.

Growing up in New Jersey in the late ‘60s and ‘70s had its benefits. Our dad came from a large Italian family, so Mom learned from Dad’s seven aunts all of their secrets to making incredible food, added it to what she learned from her family, and BAM — she’s the reason that we would rather eat at home than eat out. Over the years, our mom learned to make the best Italian meals you could ever imagine, and she still comes over to our homes to make spaghetti sauce and meatballs.

Though our mom was strict when we were kids, she loves harder than anyone we know. We were held to a high standard, but it was out of love. When we got into trouble as kids, just like all kids do, it was then that we saw just how tough she could be. But even when we were in the doghouse, we never doubted that she loved us. Mom is full of unconditional, genuine love, and we would never want to disappoint her.

Our parents didn’t attend college, but that doesn’t mean they didn’t value a good education and the doors it can open. They worked very hard and sacrificed a lot so that we could attend the best schools. At home, we were raised to make our own choices and live with the decisions. In the end, we think my mom just wanted us to be good, happy people, and hard workers.

Luckily, my mom lives very close to me and my sister Ronnie. She stays active and is always there when you need her. Whenever we see her, we share stories with our kids and their kids. More often than not, these interactions happen in the kitchen as we are preparing a delicious and authentic Italian meal. Mom, we love you very much. Thank you for all the life lessons you’ve taught us and for loving each of us unconditionally. We hope you have a wonderful Mother’s Day.