What's her secret?: 'Love intensely'

abredeson@islandpacket.comJuly 1, 2013 

Mary Beth Buonaiuto sits with her husband, Peter Sr., and two of her three children, her son, Peter Jr. and daughter Ashley on Tuesday afternoon at their home on Hilton Head Island.

DELAYNA EARLEY — Staff photo Buy Photo

  • The moms featured in this column are not bragging about themselves. They often have no idea they are even being selected for the weekly feature until they get a phone call. Most are recommended by readers. Please send your suggestions of Lowcountry moms to features writer Amy Bredeson at abredeson@islandpacket.com.

Name: Marybeth Buonaiuto

Husband: Peter

Town: Hilton Head Island

Children: Ashley, 26; Lauren, 24; Peter, 20

Occupation: Real estate agent with Schembra Real Estate Group

Go-to dinner: Vegetables with spices and a little olive oil cooked in a hot oven and something on the grill

Biggest pet peeve: Buonaiuto said her pet peeves used to be when someone didn't turn off the lights or close the doors. Now that she has a child with mental illness, her biggest pet peeves are the lack of knowledge of mental illness and the lack of resources to help those who suffer from it.

Hobbies: Interior design, reading, entertaining guests

Volunteer work: Buonaiuto is the vice president of the National Alliance on Mental Illness Beaufort County's board of directors.

Favorite mommy moment: "My kids have always depended on my homemade roll-out Christmas cookies," Buonaiuto said. "When Ashley and Lauren were little girls -- I'm going to say like 4 and 5 -- I went to a place called BJ's, like Costco or Sam's Club. ... It's so much work to make the cutouts. It takes months because I make hundreds and hundreds and hundreds. They eat them as fast as I make them. Anyway, I go to BJ's Club, and lo and behold in the case of frozen foods are cutout Christmas cookies, all cut out on parchment paper. I pull out two boxes of them, and I rush home, put baby Peter in bed, and I start baking these cookies. All I had to do was ice them. But I had to make believe I was cooking. So I got the flour out, and I threw it on my face, and I was throwing it on the counters, all over the place. It was on me, on my apron. And I'll never forget ... Ashley takes one bite and says, 'These aren't yours.' I had cooked a ton of them. ... I had to do them all over again."

Most challenging moment: "When mental illness struck our family, without a doubt," she said. "When mental illness reared its ugly head into our wonderful family, our perfect family." Buonaiuto said everything seemed so perfect at one point -- nice house, three healthy children, a great marriage. Then one of her children was diagnosed with mental illness. "We've got to break the stigma of mental illness, and we've got to make people aware. ... I believe that early intervention equals the possibility of recovery."

Stress reliever: Riding her bike and enjoying Mother Nature on her deck. "What better place to live than Hilton Head Island?" she said. "Look outside. Isn't that a stress reliever?"

Advice for other moms: "Love intensely," she said. "Remember the higher power of God, and surround your kids with that. Eat as many meals together as you can. And my favorite one is laugh. Laugh when things are bad. Laugh when things are good. ... Never lose your faith and trust in the Lord. One more big, huge thing that changed my life -- One day at a time has a new meaning to me."

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Marybeth Buonaiuto

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