Grandparents connect us to our family history and ancestry. Nowadays, not all parents will grow older and wiser. Aged truth can soften a person or harden one.
Looking back at our families, we can learn form their examples or mistakes.
Growing up, I was fortunate enough to live by both my grandparents.
If you’d ask someone else in my family, they would want to take out the word fortunate. But I felt like I could understand them in a way no one else could.
During the first part of my life, I was born and raised in our family’s home which had been owned for multiple generations. It was, in fact, the same home where my dad was born. My grandfather had built a small villa next door. He would visit us almost daily, and would prolong his stay by talking to me. My grandfather would often tell stories about his life. I remember my sister often asking me if I could just sit in and listen to him, because his stories were so long she needed to go finish her homework. So I would sit and listen. Perhaps It’s the fact that he repeated those stories so often, or maybe it’s because I didn’t mind him talking at all. But I treasured those stories and I liked imagining them in my head and trying to envision what my grandfather would have looked like going through them as a child.
Once we moved to the Canary Islands when I was 13, we were fortunate enough once again to live a short 5 minute walk away from my mom’s parents instead.
When we first moved there, I was a young teenager. I was mad at my mom for uprooting me, so I decided to stay and sleep at my grandparents for a whole month. They gladly took me in.
I must have had a way with the elderly because I am one of the only children who had such a good relationship with them.
My grandfather would help me learn Spanish and do my homework almost everyday. I remember it was really painful to watch him search for his glasses and wait for him to read passages himself until he understood them with his 70 year old brain at the time. And yet, I appreciated his patience because it must have been really hard to do that for someone else.
Being close to my grandparents allowed me to learn about where they came from, and how they lived in their time in history.
There are some things, from my time there, that have stuck with me the most. And those have been my grandmother’s teachings. I have shared them before with friends and I have often noticed that I wasn’t the only one whose grandparents shared the same sentiments. Hence why I wanted to write about them here on this blog since they are especially helpful for our day and age.
So as my grandmother always says here are my top favorite.
6 lessons best learned from grandparents:
- Don’t run faster than you have strength to.
My grandmother often reminds me of a time in their life where they were extremely busy with work, raising the children, and serving at their Church. She would go into great details about all of the driving, the work experiences for my grandfather, and especially how much he dedicated helping others in within their church.
One of her least favorite memories was of a time when their youngest child had to go to the hospital to have an appendix taken out. Grandfather was busy at a meeting and didn’t step out to go to the hospital. So he finished his meeting and headed out right after.
She would remind me of how foolish that was of them and how she wishes they would have not allowed the pressures from the world win over family.
She learned other the years to say no when something is too much, and how important it is to say yes to everyone and everything.
- Live and love exactly where you are at
Whenever I tell my grandmother that I want to travel and visit the world her answer is always:
“But why? You got everything you need right here in your community.”
Our world has changed drastically. Visiting places is absolutely wonderful. I love to learn from different people and cultures. I find it rejuvenating and inspiring.
Yet I still appreciate my grandmother’s perspective. Because in an era where we are all being pushed by social media especially to travel and visit everywhere. Sometimes we forget to consider whether traveling is something that is truly for everyone. And it is not. I know some people who are perfectly happy to stay at home, because they appreciate where they are. And that’s fine.
Traveling can also be dangerous and exhausting if one doesn’t know what they are doing. Not everyone is meant to visit every place on the planet. There is beauty in knowing how to live in a stable place and absolutely love it and blossoming where planted.
That has not been my case, but it is something that I admire. I appreciate the chances I get to visit the places where I roamed as a child, as well as places where my extended family has been.
- If you have done it once you can always do it again
Every time I tell my grandmother that I am afraid of the future, and how to make money, she reminds me that money can come and go, but our skills sets remain. What we have done once can be done again over and over again. Businesses can be rebuilt. Someone can take our idea once, but they won’t be able to take it again going forward. That our talents cannot ever be replaced. So, do not fear because we can always start from scratch and rebuild what we had built before.
- It’s OK to cry when things are hard
.This is a bit of a tender subject. As adults we tend to feel guilty for showing any other emotion than joy. And life can be hard. As kids we are often expected to outgrow crying eventually. It’s not necessarily something we talk about all the time, but we tend to assume that if we are grownups we must not cry. I used to feel like a baby all the time as a young mom and a new wife for crying.
I never said this to my grandmother, but one day I mentioned to her I was having a hard time with life. I loved when she reminded me that it’s OK to cry and let it all out. It’s therapeutic and when life is hard. For me, it has been a great way to release a lot of pain from the hardships of life, and has absolutely helped me feel better.
- You can’t have it all
I’m afraid to type these words. Our society has ingrained in us so much that dreams are made of going after everything. Our modern culture often pushes the ideas that if you work hard for it, you can have it all. But even the richest men on earth are limited in some ways.
Reminding myself that life comes with compromises keeps me grounded and reminds me that in life you are not going to have everything. And even if you did, you’d be probably sacrificing something along the way even if one would refuse to admit it.
It’s a reminder that many store deals can be left on the shelves. And that the word NO SOMETIMES it’s for our own good and it’s absolutely perfect, to accept it, hear it, and recognize it’s a part of life.
- Your kids are your best friends
As a young mom I was living in a new country, with a different culture and in a new neighborhood around new people. I often struggled to make friends. I felt different and I didn’t quite fit in.
I remember mentioning to my grandmother that I felt lonely. She asked me why, and reminded me I was never alone. Because my children were my best friends. My little children that were home with me all day long while my husband was busy with work to make ends meet.
She made me realize with that advice that I had often viewed my kids as little human beings that needed their mom all the time and that’s it. Never did I tap into the potential that they could also be my little best friends.
Once I started viewing them as my friends rather than just little kids that needed me all time, even though of course that is partially true… I realized that they made wonderful little companions. They were the perfect friends to have a dance party with, or to play with, or to take naps with.
I started seeing how many things we could do together. So I was not just a parent to them all the time, but they could also laugh with me, come with me to the store…
She had also remained me that there is a stage of life for everything. The stage of parenthood was different. She reminded that this wasn’t a stage to worry about friends and popularity, This was a stage to focus 100% percent on my family.
As the years have passed by, I have also needed my personal time and time with friends that I treasure more than ever. But I remember now that the relationship I have with my kids doesn’t have to be one sided. Not one where they take it all and never contribute.
These are the teachings from an older and wiser woman I will forever take with me. I hope from your own ancestors, or maybe just from mine that you’ll be able to take something good with you all the time.