Everything I Ever Learned in Life, I Learned From My Mother

I learned that while Sunday dinner is mandatory; all other meals are optional.

I learned that even if your mostly Irish, if your last name is Ciliberti, you need to learn how to make sauce (even if you start with a can).

I learned that, eventually, the sound of the word “mom” said over and over again will cause temporary insanity.

I learned that phrases like “because I said so” and “she is not she; she is your mother” have an actual genetic component.

I learned that Neil Diamond can sing with the best of them, even if he is embarrassing to see in concert.

I learned to dance a tango, sing Christmas songs in July and how to take an ordinary event and use words to turn it into a story.

I learned that there is no greater parental punishment than quiet disappointment.

I learned that laughter is a requirement for living.

I learned that respect is an actual aura that surrounds a person.

I learned that loyalty is only second to love.

I learned that age is truly just a number and your mind determines how old you are.

I learned that stroking a child’s hair, no matter how old that child is, can heal all things.

I learned that sometimes it’s enough to want your children to have it all.

I learned that someone else’s definition of happiness holds no bearing on the heart.

I learned how to love amidst pain and heartache.

I learned how to be a mother.

Bounty Paper Towels and Why I Need Them

After devoting a blog to happiness and how material things ultimately play minimally into the mix, I started thinking. Why don’t I value material items? It’s not as if I see anything wrong with them. It’s not as if I’m opposed to them. It’s not as if I’m ready to go live off the land (although a yoga retreat is sounding really good about now).

The fact of the matter is that I’m pretty simple when it comes to wants and needs. I wasn’t always that way. When I was younger, I fell victim to the adolescent angst of needing certain things in order to belong. I needed Guess Jeans. I needed Forenza V-neck sweaters. I needed a ridiculous watch that actually looked like a digital clock attached to your wrist.

See that thing wrapped around my wrist? It’s a ridiculous digital clock watch.

In my twenties, I fell victim to needing things in order to feel like my life was moving in a certain direction. I needed to get married. I needed to have a beautiful wedding. I needed to have a beautiful house. I needed to fill it with beautiful things. I needed to have a child. Then I got divorced and left my beautiful house and most of my beautiful things behind, childless.

That’s my brother and me at my beautiful wedding. I don’t care if I’m divorced. It was still beautiful.

I’m pretty sure that’s when it changed for me. I moved out of a newly built, beautiful 4 bedroom house and into a studio apartment. I literally gave up almost all of my worldly possessions, except the necessities and a painting that I still own today and started over. I stopped placing value on things and started really embracing people.

It wasn’t like I didn’t have an underlying practicality before, because I did. When I was in my early twenties, bartending, and making money hand over fist, a friend announced she was going to buy a $100 Coach Wallet. I looked at her dumbfounded. The only thing I could think to say was “Well, I think I’m going to buy a $10 “Oach Wallet” and put the other $90 in it.”

In the here and now, I continue to have an almost detached opinion when it comes to “things”. I have a decent job (actually I have two) and make decent money. I try to live below my means because it makes me feel safe and in control. I have added very few wordly possessions to the mix since I left my marriage. I need new clothes but I want to really like them before I buy them. I need new shoes but the ones I have work so what’s the point? I need a sump pump (after yesterday, I absolutely, 100% need a sump pump) but the wet vac works.

The only concession I have really made in recent years is when it comes to paper towels. I absolutely need Bounty Paper Towels. For years I did not think I needed the quicker picker upper. But I do. I will pay the extra money to have a paper towel that gets the job done. I feel almost decadent when I bypass the store brand and reach for the Bounty. But it’s worth it. I’m worth it.

The quicker picker upper…worth every penny.