1. “You’re wearing that?”
This is what your mother said to you almost every time you got dressed for an event, even if it was just a casual dinner with friends. As a result when going to non-Greek functions or events as an adult, you usually show up overdressed to a point that makes you feel uncomfortable and out of place.
2. Your furniture was lined with doilies.
Every piece of furniture in your home was covered with doilies. Sometimes there were multiple doilies on one piece of furniture overlapping each other. On top of the doilies, was an array of porcelain figurines or other decorative knick-knacks.
3. Fear was instilled in you from a young age.
From not being allowed to ride rollercoasters, to not going to rock concerts to not driving when it was snowing outside, your mother brought a whole new extremity to fear and worry. You still hear her voice in your head at times saying “Anna Maria, you’re going to die!” when it comes to doing anything she considered to be “dangerous,” which is pretty much everything in her eyes.
4. Nothing you did/will do will ever be good enough.
If you proudly received an A on a test and showed it to your mother, she simply grunted and said, “Why didn’t you get an A+?” When graduating college with honors she said “Why didn’t you graduate Magna Cum Laude like your sisters?”
5. She is never proud of you to your face, but sings your praises behind your back.
Seeing as how nothing you do will ever be good enough in her eyes, she will never tell you or show you that she is proud of you to your face. But through the grapevine you find out that she is constantly bragging about you to her parea every Sunday at Coffee Hour.
6. White, fluffy Easter dresses.
You will never understand why you and your sisters had to wear those matching, big, white, fluffy dresses every Pasxa. And you don’t know why years later your mother has a picture of you and your sisters in those dresses blown up, framed and hanging on the wall as evidence of your never ending humiliation for everyone who enters your home to see.
7. Olive oil is the biggest staple in your house.
Your house is equipped with at least four of those gallon tins of olive oil at all times, just in case. When you went to your American friends’ houses for dinner and asked if they had any olive oil for the bread, you were in state of shock and confusion when they said no.
8. Your American friends didn’t understand why she was hell bent on feeding them.
When your American friends came over to the house, even for just a short visit in the afternoon, your mother put out a spread fit for a king. When your friends said they weren’t hungry, but your mother insisted on feeding them anyways, they didn’t understand why. To top it off, they were especially freaked out when they saw calamari on the table.
9. Your mother thinks your friends are her friends.
When you told your mother that your friends were on their way to picking you up and taking you out, she got excited and said “Oh, that’s great, I’m gonna make some popcorn and treats so we can all watch a nice movie together.” You tried telling her they weren’t staying, you guys were going out, but she didn’t understand. Upon your friends’ arrival, your mother would charm them and guilt you, half of the time resulting in everyone staying in and watching a movie together.
10. You never made chocolate chip cookies with her.
Growing up many of your friends would come into school on Monday morning with a batch of chocolate chip cookies they helped their mother make over the weekend. Whenever you wanted to help your mother cook or learn to make one of her coveted recipes she would just shriek “Get out of my kitchen, you’re in my way!”
11. You were threatened of being beaten with the big wooden spoon.
When you behaved badly as a child, your mother would always threaten to beat you with “the big wooden spoon.” But as you got older you always wondered where this big wooden spoon was actually kept, because you never saw it, and she never ended up bringing it out to beat you with it.
12. “Take your shoes off!”
You were forced to take off your shoes every time you stepped foot inside the home growing up. As an adult your friends find it an odd inconvenience when you ask them to take their shoes off when entering your apartment. When you start to take your shoes off at other people’s houses, they often insist that you don’t have to, but you do it anyways from years of being nagged to do so.
13. There is never a shortage of pandoflas at your house.
Because nobody was allowed to wear their shoes inside, your mother was sure to keep extra pairs of pandoflas at the house for guests to use to keep their feet warm and comfortable, especially during the winter months. She would even bring her pandoflas with her to other people’s houses that she would change into. One time she picked you up from your high school restaurant job in her pandoflas, and wore them inside the restaurant when your boss invited her in for a cup of coffee.
14. You’re damned if you clean, damned if you don’t clean.
Your mother always complained and nagged that nobody ever helped her out with the cleaning or the housework. The few times you did try to contribute and help her out, she got frustrated and disgruntled that you did it wrong and messed up her entire system.
15. Your American friends still don’t know what koukla means.
Your mother always referred to you as koukla, in front of your non-Greek teachers, friends and friend’s parents. This always made you feel warmth when you heard it, but your Amerikani parea would tease you by trying to imitate your mother’s endearment.
16. Red Eggs leftover from Easter were packed in your school lunch.
Sometimes Pasxa falls a week after Western Easter, sometimes a month. But no matter what or when, your mother always boiled and dyed about six dozen red eggs for Pasxa. When you started peeling them at lunch your friends asked you why your eggs were red, you told them it was from Easter and they just said “Gross, Easter was a month ago, why are you eating a month old egg?”
17. If you were a boy, you could have gotten away with murder.
Greek boys are spoiled rotten by their Greek Mothers to an unhealthy extent. They could literally commit a major felony and their mothers would be in complete denial of it, saying things like “My son is a good boy, he would never get involved in something like that.” But as a Greek daughter simply coming home with an undesirable haircut or outfit is enough for your mother to try and make a federal case out of it. She would then guilt you and say things like “Why are you trying to kill me? You’re breaking my heart!”
18. You never knew how clean you actually were until you shared a dorm room.
Your mother resembled a drill sergeant when it came to keeping the house clean. You learned how clean of a person you actually were the first time you moved out of her house and had roommates. You had a few terrifying moments that you were turning into your mother when your college roommates weren’t nearly as phased or neurotic about keeping “the home” as clean as you.
19. You’ve worked hard to become fearless, but you still fear your mother.
You have the balls to move to Indonesia blindly without knowing anyone or anything. You have the balls to sit through a six hour long tattoo session, getting a huge chunk of your back tattooed, but upon returning home, you don’t have the balls to show it to your mother. When you go to her house in the summer, you wear a t-shirt hoping she won’t question your wardrobe. You are even slightly scared to write about it here, in case she happens to read it. Mostly because you think she might have a heart attack on the spot when she does find out, or feel betrayed/humiliated that she was the last person to find out.
20. She doesn’t understand why there is a need to leave your NYC apartment after dark.
It’s a nice, early summer, low-key evening so you decide to take a walk around 9 P.M. and call your mother. She asks you what you’re doing and when you tell her you’re taking a walk, she says “But Anna Maria, it’s after dark, what are you doing walking around after dark? It’s dangerous, you should be inside.”
21. She acts as if she has amnesia whenever you ask her about her youth or general family history.
When you were curious about your mother’s childhood, or had questions about the family history in general, she always said, “Where is this coming from? That was such a long time ago, who has the time to remember these things? Stop bothering me while I’m trying to clean and pick up after your mess.” As you got older, certain relatives would answer your questions or fill you in on the down low. You then had to pretend like you knew nothing around your mother. You still don’t know why.
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