Author Archives: mom2times

About mom2times

Tina Celentano writes about love, life and lessons from the empty nest. She is a Today Parenting and Red Tricycle contributor and is published in the anthology Once Upon An Expat. In no particular order, she is a friend, mom, film buff, book aficionado, music lover, wife, sister, writer and traveler. You can reach her at

Olympic Dream


Olympic Rings by Public Domain Images

I have a confession to make. I cry during the Olympic games. It’s not out of sadness or regret. Rather it’s when I see a flip or a twist or an unbelievable move executed perfectly my throat gets tight and the tears flow from the sheer beauty and excellence I have just witnessed. Yes, we are Olympic nerds and the 2018 winter games are upon us. Bring on the podiums!

I’m not sure I was such an avid follower of the Olympic games when I was younger but back in 1984, the Summer games were being held in Los Angeles where my husband and I were living at the time and we decided we couldn’t be in the same city of such an enormous event and not be part of it. We became Olympic volunteers. That was one of the best decisions we ever made. For 16 days we were immersed in the blood, sweat and tears, the hopes and the dreams, the highs and the lows of athletes from around the world, many who could scarcely believe they had made it to the world stage. The energy in the city was electric.20180214_165449 Strangers cheered events together in bars and pubs, restaurants stayed open way beyond their usual times, parties held by dignitaries and celebrities to celebrate these athletes were everywhere. We had amazing access to backstage activities as well as the drama and excitement of the competitions. It was one of the most thrilling events I have ever worked.

My assigned job was in one of the Olympic villages. I ran the video viewing room where athletes could come and watch themselves on video after their event or watch their competitors to prepare for their match with them. It was wonderful to meet athletes from around the world, cheer with them as they watched themselves and feel their excitement at even being considered an Olympic athlete no matter where they placed. Having family from different countries means I cheer for USA, I cheer for Canada, I cheer for Morocco. But I also cheer for the newcomer, I cheer for the underdog, I cheer for the veteran who knows this is their last Olympic games. It is a time to celebrate excellence but also to celebrate effort.


LA Times Day 6 Olympic cover circa 1984

What the average spectator does not get to experience is the amazing camaraderie behind the scenes. Young men and women from all corners of the world becoming friends, sharing wins and losses, trading uniforms, t-shirts, pins. It is a beautiful, glorious blending of the world’s colors, just like the Olympic rings represent. We still have our own uniforms from that wonderful summer of 1984 and the pins we collected and the uniforms we were given. The memories of that time stay vibrant. It breaks my heart to have recently learned that for many athletes this celebration was a facade that hid their private hell of abuse. And yet despite that they only showed the world their strongest and fiercest selves.


Since I have become a parent, the Hallmark type commercials during the Olympics illustrating a parent’s commitment to supporting their children’s athletic dreams often has me in tears. Parents who patiently spend hours with their children teaching them their sport from toddlerhood, driving at all hours to practice near and far, toting coffee and snacks, often fighting traffic and fatigue but always encouraging their child’s passion, never knowing where that road will lead but having faith in the process. I have siblings who were sport parents and I too have been one and I can attest that we all had those secret Olympic dreams for our children too.


Medals by Gadini via Pixabay

What had my eyes welling up this Olympic Opening Ceremonies was the powerful message and symbol of peace for the world. For months we have been on edge, hearing sabers rattling between this country and that one, fear of nuclear attack and retribution. Yet at these games, a divided country showed up as one united country wearing the same uniform, marching in together. Was this a savvy political strategy? Perhaps so, but it is one I found that I liked very much. The possibility of world peace was personified right before our eyes. I find it hard to understand why we could not all stand and cheer for that.

One truth these experiences have revealed to me is that we don’t need to look far to find common ground. The Olympics bring together athletes from different cultures and hundreds of stories to perform the same sports. Every person who has ever worked an Olympic games as a volunteer or a judge or an athlete feels the magic that continues long after the closing ceremonies. My brother volunteered in Vancouver 8 years ago and his experience mirrors ours in so many ways. It’s a unique bond. For now, though, it’s time to get back to watching today’s medal round events. That is, if the tears don’t get in the way.


Vancouver Olympic Flame 2010 by Makfish via Pixabay



Resolution by USA-Reiseblogger via Pixabay

The new year inevitably brings with it the resolution to do something different with our lives. We resolve to lose weight, exercise more, manage our finances better or be a better wife/mom/person. The Thesaurus lists the synonyms for resolution as courage, perseverance, pluck and tenacity. So why do most of us give up our resolutions by January 2nd? I believe it’s that exciting feeling that we truly can turn over a new leaf just as we can the pages of the calendar that spurs us to make resolutions in the first place. That all of our past transgressions and sins can be washed away with the new number of the new year. And that the comfort of the space we are in already convinces us to let go of those resolutions almost as quickly as we have made them.

20180117_164448The truth of the matter is that resolutions are never the quick fixes we hope then to be. That, in actual fact, a true resolution takes all the time and tenacity and courage and pluck that the word explains it to be. One of my favorite gifts this season was a piece of an amber glass pane that was taken from my childhood church before it was torn down. The window belonged to and was a tribute to my paternal grandparents. My cousins salvaged this gem of our family history and divided it into pieces for each of us to own.  These pieces of glass have bonded together my cousins and my siblings stronger than that glass could ever be. That glass is a reflection of the resolve my grandparents had to possess to be immigrants in a new land, raise their family in an unfamiliar town and navigate an unfamiliar language. The resolution they made with themselves was to start over in a new country that had the promise of a better life than the one they left behind. Or if not better, then at least different. Both my husband and I followed separate paths then my grandparents but to the same end. We each left our home to look for something different in another country. And when our paths crossed we started our own family, raised in unfamiliar places, navigating the language of marriage and parenthood.

What gets me through the night sometimes is the belief that only the best things will happen. To get through the hard times and believe we will be okay once we do is the true resolution I have made with myself. To have the courage to stay in the present through the turbulent times. My role in life changes constantly from wife to mother to sister to advisor to friend and I am trying to work it out along the way. That is a recipe that leaves me with no small degree of doubt, a decent quantity of confidence, mixed with a good dose of fear and a strong dram of faith. I can only resolve with as much courage as I can to keep moving forward no matter how hard the road might become. Giving up on day 2 is not an option. When I look around me, it sometimes appears like other’s lives seamlessly follow a perfect trajectory. From birth on it seems their path is blessed, lucky in love, fortunes and friendship. Yet we all realize that is just an illusion and no person’s path is preordained. Life gets in the way. In fact, it’s through hardship and adversity that we learn our greatest life lessons.

I’ve always loved the expression “looking at life through rose colored glasses”. I know it is meant to mean that one who looks at life through those fantastical lens refuses to acknowledge the pain and ugliness of day to day living. Yet it can also mean that life itself can be rose colored, that it can be awash with that kaleidoscopic color of pale red. Why is that so bad? If we are taught that the best life is one of balance then what better balance then rose colored glasses reflecting the bad and the good of life? Or maybe for me it’s reflected in my family’s amber colored glass. When I look through that glass I see back a couple of generations to a strong man and a strong woman who had the pluck and tenacity to carve out a different life than the one of their own parents. In the face of such courage can any resolution fail? In essence that is the question only an individual can answer. The resolution is never static. It changes and shrinks and grows with time and experience. Which goes back to that morning of January 1st when all of our resolutions are no longer a promise for a future date but right here and now. Halfway through the first month of the year, my resolutions have already changed with time. But the resolve to keep moving forward one step at a time never will.


Beach Walk by sasint via Pixabay




Snowfall by cocoparisienne via Pixabay

December is the month that reminds me most of traditions. Traditions are the maps we create as individuals and as families to guide us through the days, months and years of a life together. They are signposts for those who are coming behind us to teach them the legacy and the stories of a family’s history. Traditions come in all forms. They can be food or the preparation of food or rituals or trips to special places. They can be secular or they can be religious. In fact between mid November to early January practically every world religion celebrates one ritual or another, making it a true holiday season. Traditions also remind us of our humanity and keeps memories alive.

When celebrating weddings, Christmas, birthdays or milestones, certain rules should apply! They are traditions after all. That word has always had a weight and a gravity, a suggestion that something momentous is about to come around and we don’t just pass it by. Traditions give life structure and we look forward to them eagerly each year.

One of the traditions of my large extended Italian family is making homemade ravioli to eat on Christmas Day. The eating itself brings us all together but for me the actual tradition happens weeks earlier when the women of the family get together to make the ravioli. There are mothers teaching daughters, sisters exchanging tips across the miles, cousins using the old recipes as we all strive to make the tradition our own. The preparation of the dough and the filling and the meticulous sealing of each little meat filled dumpling has a certain reverence to it and is often accompanied by several glasses of wine as the hours long process takes patience and energy. Yet on the day of feasting, the work and the love put into the effort is all worth it. And yes, wine must accompany that too.20171217_115048

So many families have special traditions. They recreate old family recipes for special cookies or treats, they decorate their homes or trees like they remember when they were young while adding something new for their own children. It’s the way of traditions. They strive to stay the same but they must grow and evolve with the people who are recreating them.  When I had my own children, it was time to create our own traditions. We made it tradition to open one gift on Christmas Eve and after we would get the plate of goodies ready for Santa and the reindeer. A favorite Christmas story was read with the warmth of two small bodies tucked up against me. Then as they slept, I kept the fantasy alive by leaving nibbled cookies and chewed carrots on Santa’s plate (with a thank you note from the jolly old elf himself), special writing on Santa’s gifts and full stockings by the chimney. It was as much a tradition for me as for them and Christmas morning was always magical and joyful.

Last spring an old southern tradition was recreated the morning of my son’s wedding. In the south, where the wedding took place, the women of the bride and groom’s families gather that morning to celebrate the bride’s wedding day. It was an amazingly beautiful and spiritual event. It was a time for us to welcome a new woman into our fold. I have been blessed with the women in my life: sisters, daughters, nieces, cousins, friends. My sisters and our daughters were there with me and we symbolically and truly brought my daughter in law to be into our family with lovely food and champagne and the blessings of the women who were already married and those who would be future brides. The women of my family had all come to stand for my son and to bear witness to this joyous union.

But Karma is a harsh mistress. This Christmas our son will be starting his own traditions with his new wife. Their first Christmas together, our first Christmas apart. I left my home when I was 22 and have only ever been back for Christmas one time since then. I think of my own mother now that I too will have an empty seat at the dinner table. It’s never easy letting go of your chicks but it is the right thing to do no matter how conflicted emotions might be.

And yet I feel at peace. I have to trust that things are as they are meant to be. This weekend my husband helped me make the ravioli we will eat for our Christmas dinner. Some traditions never change. We will have another mother’s child who is far from home, our daughter’s friend, stay with us and celebrate. We will honor traditions new and old and look forward to a new year of possibilities and challenges and indescribable joys. We will give thanks as we celebrate yet another tradition. And yes just maybe we will start a new tradition that is waiting for us in the wings. I will welcome that one too.

May your own traditions bring you and yours comfort and joy this season. Merry Christmas.  Aid Moubarak. Happy Hanukkah. Blessed Solstice. Happy Kwanzaa. Peace on Earth. Namaste.


Candlelight by Myriams-Fotos via Pixabay