31 March 2011

pizza mamma

When I saw “Pizza Mamma” in the subject line of the email from the class mother, it caused a knot in my gut.  I knew exactly what it meant because a good friend recently shared that the mothers in her daughter’s first grade class do the same, even call it the same. They even have a father version, which I doubt will ever happen with Young One’s class. It’s all about le mamme in our group. Richard is pretty-much down with that…lucky dog.

The unopened email taunted me from my inbox for several days with me subconsciously wishing it away. It remained. I opened it. The message informed the date and time and indicated that a list would be posted in the corridor at the school, and we should each confirm our intentions to attend.  So very public. So very obvious if the answer is negative, with neat columns labeled "Sì" and "No" next to each child's name. So very much in the style of this class mother. 

When I finally checked the list on an afternoon that I was left virtually alone in the corridor, I noticed that nearly everyone confirmed;I begrudgingly followed suit, keying it in on my iPhone calendar and then putting it out of my mind, but not without remembering the words I used to encourage my girlfriend on her first “Pizza Mamma” experience: “It’s the right thing to do. We need to integrate. You’ll be fine. You have to do it for your daughter. It’s important to be a part of the group. You are an interesting woman. Drink lots of wine. Your Italian is perfect,”  with each encouraging word nudging me toward the big wooden doors and away from the list.  Words.

Socialite, I am not. I’m not good at dinner parties. I’m not good at striking up conversations. I’m not good with strangers. I haven't been granted the "gift of gab." I’m not even really good at making new friends. I take a long while to "warm up." I rarely just "hit it off" with anyone.I don't talk to people on planes. Words like "network" and "small talk" give me hives. Yes...I’m an introvert who prefers intimate settings to large groups, who prefers the known to the unknown, socially speaking.  I don’t mingle. I can’t. I am not a snob, though sometimes I am mistaken for one. I am extremely reserved until I get to know someone well. I know only one of these mamme well, and she told me she likely could not make it.

Great. Just Great.

Pizza, late on Wednesday night with a group of women that I perceived to be so entirely different from me? You might imagine the anxiety that would induce in me...and then double it. Double it, and then rip it open, exposing the fresh wound to the thick, Veneto smog. Add in that the evening would be completely in Italian with the 20+ of the "beautiful people" and you could pour a bit of alcohol or iodine on the open wound for good measure.  Just sayin'...

I did follow through on my committment this week and  survived my first "Pizza Mamma," and even though I was out so late that my husband called to check on my whereabouts (he never does that), I'm A-okay, completely unscathed.

Later, I'll tell you more about it.



  1. Ohhh... can't wait to hear how it went! Good for you for going.

  2. I'm sorry you stressed about it so much... I always find the anticipation of a nerve wracking event is so much worse than the event itself. Glad to hear you survived though! :-)

  3. oh, boy. are you writing abt me here? :) it all sounds so oddly familiar. minus the whole pizza mamma thing, that is. anyway, bravo on going!! that's awesome. i suspect I would have chickened out.

  4. Never heard of pizza mamma. I wouldn't have gone. I'm not particularly introvert, but I honestly don't get why I should dedicate one (precious) (free) evening to the parents of my children's school mates. If I had a free evening, I'd go out with MY friends. Maybe I am an introvert after all ... :)

  5. Oh, you're brave! Good job, Dana! I can't wait to hear more about it!

  6. I would have never thought of you as an introvert given your blog. However, I can understand how you feel. Despite being very social, I always feel a little ackward at these kind of get togethers. I am glad you went if anything for your daughter.

  7. Thanks for the encouragment. Of course, it wasn't nearly as bad as I made it out to be.
    Francesca: I don't have quite a ration of free evenings, o I can spare a couple.
    Kelleyn: Writing is different, completely different than live conversation.


  8. oh my....this one hits home in a big way. i am trying so hard to reach out but frustrated with my lack of the language and my very similar and shared fears/feelings that you penned here - it throws me into a sweat at times. i sooooo understand this. and with my little guy entering elementarie next year i know i will feel it even more.