Lessons Learned from Living with my Nana
This past month, my nana stayed with us to take care of Gemma as I started back to work. Before she came, I was already thankful. I knew I wouldn't be able to easily transition back to work after maternity leave, and leaving my baby with a stranger was going to make it so much harder. Thankfully, my Nana came to my rescue.
I have a special relationship with my Nana. I'm her first grandchild and she took care of me a lot as a baby when my mom was sick. We have a bond, and I just love being around her. But let's face it, all of her grandchildren feel that way about her. She is an amazing lady.
I think when the average person thinks of a family member, even a close one, staying with them for a month, there might be a little bit of anxiety involved. But I can honestly say that this past month as my Nana stayed with us was one of the best months for me so far as a parent. Not only did Nick and I get to have extra hands around the house to take care of Gemma or to do all. of. our. laundry. (for real, every last piece), but I learned so much from her and gained new perspective as a mom. An extremely valuable perspective that comes from a different generation.
Many millennials might brush off the advice of a grandmother, but I have always valued my Nana's advice. She is wise in so many ways, and the lessons I learned from her in this past month will stick with me. Some of the most important ones;
-Take care of your loved ones through serving. While my Nana was here, never did I wake up to a dirty dish in the sink. A lot of people have tidy habits, but I'm not one of them. My nana is. She doesn't wait for a pile of laundry to build up before she gets it done. She just does it. She cleans the stove immediately after she cooks and just gets the dishes cleaned up right after dinner. Though this takes time, in the end, it saves time, and a tidy kitchen is never a bad thing.
What it comes down to is that she is anything but lazy. She's always doing something, and it sometimes makes me tired just to watch her. But the reason behind it is she is taking care of the people around her, and that really seems to give her energy. Or at least, the desire to take care of the people she loves trumps her desire to relax.
I know the idea of the housewife is outdated, but it's not about cooking and cleaning or the woman of the house being the only one that does it. In her own home, my nana isn't the only one that cooks and cleans. The idea is that through watching my Nana and benefiting from her love of serving the ones she loves, I've learned that the mundane tasks have purpose, as they are an act of love and service for the people you care for. The art of service in this way has been greatly lost on my generation, I think, and I'm thankful I got to see this lost art in action through my Nana.
If you want something done, do it. I have a real habit of procrastination. My Nana is the opposite. From getting a package shipped out to fixing broken drawers to organizing a closet, if she wants to get something done, she just does it. She doesn't wait til the perfect, opportune time like I sometimes like to think I'm doing (really, I'm just pushing it off). It makes me wonder if procrastination is really a generational problem. Either way, even if it is hard to kill my procrastination habit, I admire my Nana's ability to just get something done as soon as she thinks about it. Also, she knows how to do just about anything to get whatever it is that needs to be done, done. I'm pretty certain I haven't inherited that skill, but I feel blessed that I can learn from her.
-Listen to people. My Nana has a lot of advice, and good advice at that. She has stories to tell and I absolutely love listening to them. It seems she has a story to go with any lesson. This is something I love so much about her, and it is part of a reason why people gravitate towards her. However, I think the main reason people want to be around her is because she listens. She listens and a lot of times, she gets it. I have been going through a certain struggle the entire time she stayed with us, and she is one of the only people that I could talk to about it, especially at first, that I felt truly heard by.
Even if she doesn't agree with a person, she listens to them. Because of that, she has so many friends and family members that bug her literally all the time. I'm surprised she isn't constantly overwhelmed by the amount of people that need her or want her thoughts or opinions on things. The way she listens makes everyone she comes into contact with feel truly cared for.
-Parenthood is a gift, and it doesn't need to be stressful (not always, at least.) This is probably the most important thing I've learned from my Nana since Gemma was born. Anytime I've called stressed about an inconsolable baby, a fussy baby, or just anything Gemma is doing that makes my life a little harder, she always responds with a "that's okay..." explanation followed by "she's just growing, she's learning something new, etc." Over this past month, I've learned to find even Gemma's screaming matches less than stressful as I watched my nana laugh at such ornery baby behaviors versus freaking out about them.
Sure, being a mom is tiring. Sometimes I don't get to eat when I want to, or finish a hot cup of coffee ever. This is what I signed up for, though. The amount of complaining that goes on in mom culture these days is more than half of the reason I was afraid of having children. I'm not judging by any means; I've been a part of that complaining as much as any other new mom (or veteran mom). But watching my Nana and learning from her, I've realized it shouldn't be this way. Having a positive outlook and just finding joy in the hard things and always thinking of Gemma as a gift are my new goals, thanks to my Nana.
Maybe she's always been this way, or maybe she's learned it after years and years of being a mom & grandparent. Either way, I'm not saying I'll never complain about the tough parts of being a parent. But I do hope to be a little more like her and find joy and perseverance in the hard parts of parenting.
These are only three of the several things I observed in my nana for the month she lived with us. I also learned smaller, more specific things about how to be a good mom. Or little cleaning tricks that I'll follow from now on. Whether it was a small lesson or a big one, I'm forever grateful for the days I got to observe her in her daily habits.
There is just something special about learning from your grandmother, and I value everything she has taught me.
My Nana left today to go back home, and the rest of her grandchildren are overly excited to see her. Though I know we'll all go back to surviving without Nana over here, I really wish I could have her here longer. I'm forever thankful for the memories we made and all the fun things she taught Gemma while she was here. We really did nothing special and basically stayed in the entire time she was here, but it was just so special in itself to have her here for such a long time. I love how much Gemma grew to love her in this month, too.
Now I have to figure out how to do my own laundry and cook meals again without her. But I'll hope to do both of these tasks with more joy than I did before, as I learned that there is joy in serving from one of the most amazing women I know.
Thank you, Nana, for a month of valuable lessons I will never forget.