Wise Things Abuelitas Say

Abuela. Abuelita. Nana. Grandma. Grams.

Regardless of what you call yours, all grandmothers have something in common: they are an absolute delight! I’ve been extremely fortunate to be very close to both of my grandmothers — my mom’s mom took care of me while my mom was still in the work force and still spoils me when I visit her in Mexico in the way only an abuelita can; and my dad’s mom regularly made the trek from Mexicali to San Diego just to get quality time with me and my siblings, and still makes the time to do so as often as she can these days.

From then to now, I have been fortunate to be completely loved on by my beautiful grandmothers — but I’ve also learned A TON from their tales and nuggets of wisdom!

The wisdom of an abuelita has no rival. It’s basically pure gold. Here are five of the very best things my amazing abuelitas have taught me about life that are worthy of passing along:

1. “Al que madruga, Dios le ayuda.” (“He who rises early gains help from God.”)

Both of my grandmothers get up before the sun EVERY DAY. Here’s the other kicker: they have done this for their whole lives. It’s unbelievable. Every time I stay at their place or they visit me, the same thing happens: they’ve already said their prayers, gone for a walk, made tortillas, had breakfast, cleaned the entire house (see the next point), and started making lunch by the time I get my lazy bum out of bed. The old saying goes that getting up early keeps God on your side, but I can’t help but sleep in just a little longer…

My abuelitas are living proof that when you start your day off early, you can do more for others. By getting their daily responsibilities out of the way early, they are able to be present to their loved ones in a better way the rest of the day. When I make the small sacrifice of getting up a little earlier, I can get certain tasks done earlier as well., Not only do I do those tasks better, but I also find that I can do more with others throughout the day because I’m not stressed about the million things I left until the last minute. Super cool, right?

2. “Escoba que no se gasta, casa que no se limpia.” (“An unused broom means an unclean house.”)

There is great peace in the homes of my abuelitas. Don’t get me wrong, sometimes there’s chaos — especially when all of the grandkids are around — but overall there is a sense of calm in their homes. It’s definitely due to all of the love that fills their hearts, but the smell of delicious pozole cooking in the kitchen probably helps too. It’s also because of the order they keep. Like they say, if your broom looks brand new, you’re not using it enough!

Now, I know none of us have time to clean like grandmas do or have the house constantly smelling like Fabuloso. That is obvious. However, I definitely have time to make my bed every morning (even if it isn’t perfect), put my shoes in their place (instead of just kicking them off carelessly), and put my clothes in the hamper (instead of tossing
them on the floor). These small and simple steps toward keeping an orderly bedroom or house help create a spirit of peace just like at grandma’s house. When the spaces we inhabit are less cluttered or messy, so are our minds! It’s not always easy to keep up, but it helps A TON. Start today!

3. “Estas son las mañanitas…” (traditional “happy birthday” song)

For the 20 years I haven’t lived in the same city as them, the best part of my birthday is always the phone calls from my abuelitas. They sing las mañanitas, say a bunch of wonderful things, pass the phone around to anyone else that’s in the room with them so they can also greet me, and then remind me how much they love me and that they pray for me every day. It’s the literal best and sweetest thing that happens to me all year.

Thanks to my abuelitas making me feel super special on that day every year, I have learned that a small gesture like a quick birthday call makes a huge difference for someone. This is especially true if you have family in a different city or friends who have moved away. Their beautiful example has inspired me to be better about making the effort to call the people I love when their is a special celebration I’m not able to be there for.

4. “Recordar es vivir.” (“To remember is to live.”)

Growing up, my cousins and I would joke that our grandma had no original content to share because she was always telling the same old stories filled with, “Like my mamá/abuelita/tía used to say…” We would poke a lot of fun at the fact that it seemed like she never would say anything for herself! When she would say, “recordar es vivir” (to remember is to live), we really didn’t understand what that meant.

Now I realize how awesome it is that our abuelas share so many stories with us because they teach me so much about the family I didn’t know or don’t remember. Whether they are just funny stories from their youth or really profound phrases, they all have had an impact on shaping my family, and thus shaping me. Their desire to recall and then share those stories have helped me value family and life in a way that really honors where we’ve been and where we’re going.

5. “Dios te bendiga.” (May God bless you.”)

Any time I am saying goodbye to my abuelitas, whether in person or on the phone, the last thing they always say is, “Dios te bendiga,” or, “God bless you.” I’m guessing it is in the abuelita handbook for life because it happens every time without fail. And it’s not just with me — they say it to everyone else in the family, their friends, their neighbors, the lady who owns the puesto down the street, or the kid who helps them bag their groceries at the supermarket.

Whether or not is a written grandma rule, I’ve come to really appreciate this practice and have reflected on the impact of having that blessing spoken out loud. Not only does it reveal the love and faith these amazing women have, but it also calls me to a greater reverence for the way each of us are called to bless each other. How often do I tell my family or friends, “God bless you,” and not just in a cheesy or trite way, but really mean it as a prayer of blessing? Even more, how frequently do I have the courage to bless the random people I encounter in a day? The world could certainly use more of this!

Well, there you have it, folks. Some gems of wisdom from some of the wisest ladies ever: my abuelitas. If it’s been a while since you talked or spent time with your own grandma, great-uncle, or any older family member or friend that you’re blessed to have in your life, schedule a visit or give them a call! There’s a lot we can learn from them to make our own lives that much better.