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Are you a strong woman? You might be stronger than you think.
For years, I didn’t think of myself as being a strong woman. I think it’s because I made a lot of sacrifices in favor of my family. Looking back, though, I realize that’s what being a strong woman is! I was being true to myself and staying focused on my values and what meant the most to me.
My Strong Grandmas
On this Mother’s Day, I want to acknowledge how fortunate I was to have strong women in my life and their impact on who I am.
Although I have an older half-sister, Debbie, our dad and her mom divorced and she moved away as a baby. So, I was essentially the first-born grandchild on both sides of the family and was lavished with attention. I have wonderful memories of my aunties playing with me. They were 6, 8, 13, and 15 when I was born. I was like their little doll.
I was really close with my paternal grandmother, Virginia. She had a big influence on me, and was my role model for homemaking. I still remember when I was a little girl and she asked me what I wanted for lunch. I said tomato soup, which was my favorite. When I tasted it, though, I didn’t like it. It was homemade, canned in a jar, and tasted weird. Until then I’d always had Campbell’s Tomato Soup! My poor grandma, I’m sure she was a little insulted at the time. She canned everything, never letting anything go to waste.
My maternal grandmother still had young children and teenagers when I was born. It wasn’t until I was an adult that I really bonded with her. She was a nurse back when they wore white uniforms and white hats. I loved seeing her uniform. She would make me white nurses hats, folded from paper to wear.
My Strong Mom
My mother, Mary, has always been a survivor and I am amazed by her strength. No matter what happened in life, she always dusted herself off and persevered. She married and had me before her 18th birthday. My mom had to drop out of high school, even through she was an honors student. In those days, girls were not allowed to attend school while pregnant.
She was emotionally unprepared for motherhood at 17. As the oldest of six kids being raised by a single mother, my mom knew how to care for a baby but she wasn’t ready for one. My sister was born three years later.
By 23, my mom was a single mother with a GED and no job experience. Some women might have given up and gone on welfare, but my mom took pride in working hard to provide for us. She got a job with the California DMV as a file clerk. Over the years, she taught me pride and the value of hard work. Because of my mom, I always knew that no matter what life threw at me I could survive and thrive.
Lessons I Learned
Seeing how hard it was on my mom to raise my little sister and I, I knew I didn’t want to be a single mom. I always knew I could it if I had to, but it made me work that much harder on my marriage. I wanted my children to experience the stability and security of growing up with their parents married to each other. My family was always my priority, often to the expense of myself. But, isn’t that what most moms who are raising children do?
While I learned strength, the value of hard work, and perseverance from my mom, I don’t think I would be half of the wife, mother, and grandmother that I am without my grandma Virginia.
As a newlywed, she helped me set up my new home. Together, we went shopping for my pantry, helped me pick appliances, and select linens I needed. She showed me how to organize my kitchen efficiently and bought me my first cookbook The Joy of Cooking.
When I got upset with my husband and vented on her, she encouraged he to let the little stuff go and reminded me what a great man I’d married. And, I took the love and affection she’d lavished on me over the years, and gave that to my daughters, and now to my own grandchildren.
Everyday, I pray that I’ll be “that” kind of grandma to my grandkids.
On This Mother’s Day…
reflect on those who have helped mold who you are. Show them your gratitude. If you can’t do that, then show it by paying it forward. Stay true to your values. Be strong. Love with abandon and without fear.
To all you mommies and grand mommies out there, do what means the most to you on Mother’s Day. Make memories, enjoy, and treasure each year.
Here are some scenes from Mother’s Day 2017: https://thefeatherednester.com/index.php/2017/05/17/2nd-annual-mothers-day-trip/