I own my identity as you own yours.
On reflection, I am a composite of several of the women in my family. Each of these women possessed qualities I continuously incorporate into my life. Their virtues, values, positivity and even the way one of my grandmothers made fresh corn on the cob have impacted me profoundly.
These women’s attitudes have boded me well over the years. Why? I know that all of us live our lives forward. However, we think of our pasts retrospectively. We increase our sense of personal awareness as we reflect on the wisdom from the women in our lives.
The Important Women in Our Lives
Who were these woman? Well my mother, of course, both of my grandmothers and two of my aunts. I will always have emotional ties with these women. They are all part of me. I am sure you have family figures in your life who have passed their virtues and values onto you.
I know my daughters have many of my qualities because I observe how they conduct themselves. Similarly, I also notice how they are instilling the values and virtues I taught them within their own children.
They have a handful of my mannerisms and they mirror me in a few different ways. While they may not be cognizant of this most of the time, they continue to follow the beliefs and attitudes of the women within their family tree.
Problems Families Face Today
Unfortunately, many of us live great distances from our families. This results in a significant loss for our grandchildren.
Family life is not supposed to be solely digital. It requires continued input from family members. To be a family, everyone has to paddle together. How do we combat the miles that separate us?
Every Grandmother Has Her Story
Neither words nor the sound of a grandmother’s voice will take the place of human touch. Grandchildren holding the hands of their grandmother, sharing hugs and kisses and hearing a grandmother say, “I love you to the moon” or “I am so proud of you” are incredibly important. Unfortunately, these can often be lost if a family is separated by miles.
My family lives in seven states across America. We make the effort to share time together. They visit us; we visit them. We travel together, but it can never feel the same as living in the same community.
Eager to Learn Family Stories
I remember growing up, I wanted to hear stories about my family. I wanted to hear the story of how my mom met my dad, when my family arrived in America and why they left their original country. Curious about how my grandfather made a living, I also wanted a stronger understanding of how he learned to speak English.
Living close to my grandparents, I could listen and learn with my eyes wide open as they detailed their stories to me. I loved every one of these occasions. And so do our grands today.
Multigenerational Relationships Must Continue
I remember my children asking me the same questions I asked my parents and my grandparents Now my grands ask me these questions. I am equally frustrated and saddened that I am unable to take them for a chocolate milkshake and just have grandma and grandchild talk.
When this happens, grands miss out on the importance of a multigenerational relationship and so do grandparents.
Stories From the Heart
I feel it is my obligation to share the story of our family heritage and my personal story with my grands. I know every mother and grandmother feels as I do because our children and grandchildren should know their family history. We, my darlings, are the gatekeepers.
The positive magnitude of knowing and understanding one’s family history is endless. Additionally, grands will be able to pass down our stories while adding their own to their future generations.
That is why it was my heartfelt pleasure to write the prompts for the journal, Stories for My Grandchild, published by Abrams Publications. I created this journal to record our treasured stories, family heritage, private thoughts and tidbits of wisdom in a personal journal.
As time goes on, this journal will become a treasured gift for your grands. As one of my favorite grandmother notes, “The greatest gift we give our grandchildren is what we leave them in their heads.”
This is an excerpt I answered from one of the prompts in the journal I wrote for my grands:
Of course, I wasn’t always Little Miss Perfect. Here are stories of two incidents out of the millions of times I got into trouble while I was growing up and how my mother taught me a lesson.
Getting Ready For School
I was in high school. Getting dressed for school was always a big deal to me. I was learning to define my personal style and each day I tried putting together different outfits. This meant matching a skirt with a top or a top with a skirt or a sweater with the perfect shirt and skirt and the shoes and socks and on and on!
One day, I was running late for school and I had no time to hang up the several tops I tried on. Instead, I took all of my clean tops and threw them down the laundry shoot. When I arrived home from school, my mother took me by the hand and led me down the steps into the basement. The ironing board and iron were set up and all the tops were in a ball on the ironing board. My eyes opened wide when she said, “Today, you are going to learn to iron.”
My mother was very strict, too strict as far as I was concerned. And, truth be told, I had my opinions and I let her know of them! Oftentimes this only made matters worse. I was anything but a goody-two-shoes, but I was respectful and always honored my parents.
Incentivized by the Telephone
I had a phone in my room when I started high school. Maybe it was before high school–I cannot remember. In any case, it did not have a permanent plug. The phone was on a jack for a reason.
If I did not receive a good report card by my mother’s standards, the jack was unplugged from the wall and the phone was taken out of my room until the next grading period! I studied hard to get the phone back on my desk. But I must admit, one month it was in my room and oftentimes the next month, it was out of my room again.
My mother was a no-nonsense figure and what I find interesting is that her mother, my grandmother, was anything but strict.
Dear Grands of Mine,
Growing up is difficult. It was hard for me as it is hard for you. I understand what you are experiencing because I was in your shoes. I was certainly not little Miss Perfect. Testing the waters, I pushed the button many times.
Fortunately, I had a mother and father who rained me in and taught me right from wrong. For that, I am grateful. Remember this: a strict parent cares.
I love you always and forever,
My Honey Dos
Darlings, I have filled out my journal for my grands. Here are some of the messages I sprinkled throughout the pages:
- See your glass half full.
- Be inquisitive and curious. Live big!
- Where there is a will, there is a way. Never give up.
- Love hard. Plant kisses, plant hugs and then plant a garden.
- Give back to others with your time, heart and funds.
- Practice the virtues of empathy, loyalty and honesty.
- Respect and love yourself. Then you will be respected and loved by others.
- Respect your parents. Live by the 10 Commandments.
- Knowledge never ends.
- Take the high road.
- Family first.
- Be grateful.
A Fairytale in My Mind
From generation to generation, every grandmother has her story to tell and her feelings to share. Gee, I wish I lived in a huge compound with all 20+ of my grands and my ultimate concierge and my children. It is a fairytale that lives in my mind–and I am sure your minds too.