I’ve never spoken about this publicly. In fact, if you ask me about it, I’ll deny it. Saying something like, “There’s no such thing” or “You’ve seen The Godfather one too many times.” But, and lean in close because the Feds may be listening in …The Costa Nostra (this thing of ours) is alive and well and I’m the Don Mom! What I’m about to reveal is somewhat unsettling and strictly Off The Record.
It’s not a life I chose. I was born into it. My lineage has the makings of an epic saga. So, I’ll begin, like all classic mob trilogies do, in the present.
It’s February 15, 2005. I’m ten days into the life of my second child. My first has avoided the Terrible Twos now for approximately three months. I am ecstatic with the knowledge that she is not like those other ill-mannered toddlers out there—screaming, kicking, and biting, raging in public with the parents who avoid eye contact at all cost, lest they be judged by others. Then at approximately11:32 I became a Made Momma. You see, something snapped. My sweet, round-faced daughter threw a WHOPPER, lay-down-in-the-floor, snot slinging, fist clenching, jaw dropping FIT.
It was the first time I had been out on my own with the new baby and the toddler together. She couldn’t have picked a more inappropriate place to express herself either. We were in a local jewelry store; the kind of establishment that has repeat customers and specializes in unique estate jewels and fine Swiss time-pieces. Heads turned as the silence was shattered by the blood curdling screams of my (alien abducted???) daughter. Unable to scrape her writhing body off the floor as I toted the newborn in his infant seat, I was utterly stymied. It was at this moment I knew exactly what had to be done. I made her an offer she couldn’t refuse. “Get up this minute and walk to the car or I will spank the tar out of you!” I whispered in her ear through clenched teeth, all the while smiling sweetly at the gawking customers paused in mid purchase. I was bluffing. I knew fully well that I couldn’t risk exposure and pull off a “public hit.”
Since then, I’ve had to make good on countless “Offers,” such as—you can share the ball or it’s going in the attic and you will never see it again … or … pick up your Polly Pocket pieces or they will be sucked up in the vacuum. A threat equal to sleeping with the fishes in the mind of a four year old. It gets easier each time, I just have to keep reminding myself—It’s not personal, it’s business.
On occasion, when demands are not met, a power struggle looms on the horizon, or blatant disrespect is evident, I’ve taken it to the mattress (mafia code-speak for going to war). It goes down like this: The dinner plate is shoved across the table and our eyes lock. She’s not going to budge and her younger, impressionable sidekick is ready and waiting to join in the coup. My capo steps in and reminds them of the consequences of their actions. As the Don Mom, I no longer have to be the sole enforcer. Punishment can be doled out by my trustworthy under-boss AKA Big Man Daddio, leaving my hands clean.
I’ve learned to trust my gut and make on the spot decisions for the good of the family. A kind of “pick your battles—leave the gun, take the cannoli” line of reasoning. For example: We won’t be able to make it to your party at Chuck E. Cheese this Saturday because (and this is where I lie like a gangsta) he’s come down with a rash. See there how I’ve avoided the real issues of nap-time-interruption and fear of pink eye exposure by laying blame on the innocent? Crafty, I know, but it’s in the best interest of the Familia.
Now flashback to 1969 or somewhere right around that era. You see my Grandmother indoctrinating my own mother in the secret society of Motherhood Mafioso: “It’s not a popularity contest. They don’t have to like me, but they will respect me.”
So there you have it. A sub culture glamorized by Hollywood; its existence dismissed as fiction by its own members; laid out for your interpretation. “… the funeral epitaph of the legendary boss of Villalba, Calogero Vizzini, stated that ‘his mafia was not criminal, but stood for respect of the law, defense of all rights, greatness of character. It was love.’ Here, mafia means something like pride, honor, or even social responsibility: an attitude, not an organization …” [Wikipedia.com]
I respectfully agree Mr. Vizzini …You gotta do what you gotta do.