When you’re a kid one thing tends to go in one ear and out the other. But as time goes on you mature and slowly those memories that you thought were lost start rushing back. For me becoming a parent was that pivotal moment. Those lessons that mi mama tried instilling in me all of a sudden made sense, and I actually asked questions and listened to the answers.
Her stories of her mom — my grandmother — became more relevant than ever. My experience as a new mom put them on the highest pedestals I could imagine. How could they possibly have done this parenting things so many times over? The same rang true amongst mi amigas. The tips we gave each other weren’t original, they were passed down from previous generations.
Here are 7 things I learned from Latina Grandmas.
1. Good things take time. I remember standing in the kitchen when I was 5 years old with mi abuela when she was visiting from Guatemala. We were making tortillas, rolling and patting each one to perfection. We didn’t rush, focusing on each one until it was ready for cooking. As many of us speed through our day half-heartedly doing things just to get them done, we could all benefit from slowing down to create something with care.
2. Work for a better life. Mi Abuela, 84, was a nurse all of her life. My great grandmother did manual labor on a farm, and my mother worked various jobs to raise kids on her own for many years. Each of them worked to give their children better lives. For that I’m grateful and hope to be that example for my child as well.
3. Natural beauty secrets. You may be noticing a trend in “natural” beauty these days, but that’s all many Latina grandmothers had. My grandmother and mother have an amazing face scrub recipe that consists of azucar, honey, and lemon. They both look 20 years younger than they are. Trust us your abuelita has one for you too.
4. Breastfeeding is natural. My grandmother visited us when my son Oliver was about 6 months old. I told her over lunch how there were a number of people here in the U.S. that didn’t understand nursing in public. To which she responded, “que lastima” (“what a shame”) and proceeded to tell me about her wet nursing days in Guatemala — which I hadn’t known about — and how people should stop their ignorance. While breastfeeding can be a challenge for many women, each mother has the right to feed her baby in the best way she knows possible. And without any judgement from others. Her encouragement gave me the strength to keep going and to ignore the eye rolls.
5. Dress to impress (yourself). So many of the Latina grandmothers that I’ve known throughout my life were pretty foxy. They dressed to impress and never lacked a beautiful shade of red on their lips. They felt that, If you feel good in what you’re wearing than everyone else will feel that confidence radiating off of you. Keep in mind everyone is different and what makes one woman feel confident may not work for another. I find that the right outfit usually starts me off on the right foot.
6. Familia is number one. I was at the christening of my best friend’s son recently, and her abuelita was sitting at a table surrounded by family. Her husband recently passed away a few months ago, yet she sat there surrounded by family looking happy and regal, proving that a strong family unit can lift you from even the toughest of times. Now that’s something to work towards in my book.
7. Be grateful. I can’t tell you how many times throughout my life I’ve heard my mom or grandma say “gracias a Dios.” I may not be the most religious of people I believe in the pure power of gratitude. We’re just tiny people people in this giant world. So whether it’s to God, the universe, or a friend, giving thanks connects us all. And I’m certainly grateful for these women in my life who are always teaching me something new.