Although it was almost 30 years ago, my experience is still quite relevant today, if not even more so. My domestically challenged daughter, Gina, was going away to college in Italy for an entire year. She couldn’t cook. Scrambling eggs, and even boiling water would have been a challenge.
It is not that I was a bad mom by any means. Gina’s older sister did very well domestically, having always shown quite an interest. Gina was more of a “tom-boy” and just fought anything related to the kitchen and good housekeeping skills. This might be even more of a challenge today with the advent of video games, cell phones, texting and MTV. I am sure that many of you have experienced the frustration of having to pry teenagers away from their beloved electronics!
As the months ticked closer to Gina’s departure date, my anxiety reached new heights. Would she survive the year away? What would she look like without eating? She doesn’t even know how to make a bed!
Then, I had an epiphany. Why fight my fears and anxieties? Why not channel all of this energy to help Gina survive the year away from home? So I started writing notes – or should I say, homemaking tips – to help her get through that year. For the next several months, I wrote like crazy in a spiral notebook every useful tip I could think of. I tried to imagine all sorts of scenarios that my daughter might face and not know how to handle. Selecting an apartment, checking for rats and roaches, the first trip to the grocery store, cleaning, doing laundry and cooking – all made it into my guide.
Gina was grateful, as she recognized her short comings in these areas. I was put more at ease by facing my fears, documenting my homemaking skills and constructively contributing to my daughter’s journey away from home. Although I would have liked to have been looking over her shoulder every step of the way, this was the next best thing.
Gina survived that year away and still uses my guide to this day, primarily for the Italian recipes that I included. In fact, she surprised me on Mother’s Day, 2008 by publishing the book and giving it to me as a gift. Inexplicably, it has really caught on throughout the country. I was even on The Today Show. My granddaughter who just went off to college also uses the book. Can’t tell you how validated my life feels.
Whether you are an expectant mom, a new mom, a grandma or a dad, my advice is to write down tips garnered from your life’s experiences, homemaking suggestions and your favorite family recipes. You will feel so validated by making this meaningful contribution to your loved one’s life, and you will give them something that can be passed down for generations to come. The family heirloom that you create will be truly unique and a part of you. I cannot think of a more rewarding holiday or birthday gift.
Giving advice changed my life and I know it will do the same for you.