May 9, 2003
Ah, the Greek Mother. What an amazing example of what it truly means to be Greek. She loves, nags, yells in two languages, laughs, cries, cooks like a storm, works like a banshee, and yet somehow has the patience to put up with us. For this Mother's Day, we would like to pay tribute to all our Greek Mothers.
God placed Greek Mothers on this Earth to be a shining example to the world of what all mothers should be like. Lucky for all of us, a Greek Mother won't let her actions be the only guide to what is good and pure in this world, for the good Lord gave our Greek Mothers mouths to tell people what they are doing wrong and why. Who else but a Greek Mother would remind the sub par moms in front of them in line at the grocery store that just because a meal comes from a box it is not a square meal? Would a non-Greek Mother tell another mother in the department store that the outfit she's just chosen for her child makes that child look like the Stay Puffed marshmallow man? Surely not. Only a Greek Mother would send your friends home with dinner even when your friend's mother already has dinner on the table.
A Greek Mother is not just your mother, but she's a mother to you, your friends, your pets, her plants, anything that could ever use a little or a lot of mothering. (This is why even if your own mother isn't Greek, there is a Greek Mother out there just waiting to give you some motherly advice, and a pound-and-a-half of lamb on the holidays.) She's the mother who wanted to know more than just what your friends' names were. She wanted to know where they lived, where they grew up, what they're doing, why did they just do that, and did they think that's a good idea? Nag, nag, nag, nag, nag. The best thing about introducing friends to a Greek Mother is that it distracts her from nagging you.
A Greek Mother will always make sure that you not only never leave the table hungry, but that you could survive if you had to on her latest meal for the rest of the month. But if you're within an hour's drive of your mother, that's never really ever going to happen. It's worse if you happen to be dating a Greek with a mother in the area, because then you'll basically have two Greek Mothers, so you'll be forced to eat twice as much. And somehow all the Greek Mothers in the area are on the same menu on the same night of the week. We've had dinner at friends' houses only to find out that our mother had cooked the exact same meal, in the same ridiculously large portion. It didn't even matter if you were three hours away from your mother, all thanks to the invention of the industrial size Coleman Ice Cooler. You knew in college if you were visiting a Greek friend's apartment because you'd open the freezer and there'd be individually wrapped bundles with tape, and written on the tape would be a date within the last couple of weeks, and the words, "Chix. Souv." or "Meatballs," when she really meant to write "Zouzoukakia," but she couldn't fit that on one piece of tape.
Greek Mothers exist in a world where the rule of law and sometimes the laws of nature do not apply. Greek Mothers are always the ones who are sampling things in the grocery stores, the walnuts, pecans, and pistachios, a few grapes, a few cherries, an entire banana, and maybe even some stuff from the hot food bars in these gourmet grocery stores. To a Greek Mother this isn't stealing or mooching, this is quality control. The fact that the big club stores and the gourmet grocery stores even have those sampling stations with the free cereal bars and the little cups of soup, is to at least monitor the behavior of what a Greek Mother would do on her own anyway.
Almost all of the time, there is a certain Greek Mother Physics that directly benefits her children. Greek Mothers have the ability to create space where none existed before, like when it's Palm Sunday and you're late for church and its wall to wall people, and she has a seat, and somehow, by just a wave of her hand, the mass of humanity is opened, and somehow there is room for you, your brothers, sisters, first and second cousins, to sit down right next to her. It's the same phenomena that allows your mother to find her "reserved" parking space just for her at every major department store and mall, the one at the end of the row after the nice little white lines stop. She just parks her car right next to the last car in the last row and wanders into the store as if this were totally normal, and she never gets a ticket.
There are plenty of great things about Greek Mothers and to write them all would take up a thousand pages (and then what would we have to write about next year for Mother's Day.) So if you are lucky enough to have a Greek Mother, or for her to still be with us, give her a call on Sunday. If she's in the area, take her to church, or better yet, remind her on Saturday night that you'd like to go to church with her and she'll call you bright and early at 8:30 on Sunday morning to wake you up. This is a natural thing for a Greek Mother (as opposed to a Greek Father, who will call you at 8:30 on a Saturday morning, 11:00 on a Friday night, or at any other time when you're sleeping or should be out, for no good reason, but we'll write our Ode to Greek Fathers next month, or next year, whenever we get around to it.) After church, take her out to lunch, even if she insists that she can whip up something better in 20 minutes back at her house.
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