On October 21st, on the day that would have been my mother’s 64th birthday, we will instead celebrate her 1st birthday in heaven. So much of what I do with GMK was inspired by the lessons she left with me. But more than ever, I’ve been feeling the need to honor her and the lasting, loving bonds between mothers and their children. The soon-to-be-released Glow Collection for maternity skin care encapsulates this inspiration. But for today, I’ll start with listing some of her most memorable lessons that will serve as a record for when they become mothers.
Lesson 1: Become the best version of yourself for yourself and those who depend on you. My mom made it clear in our family meetings that everything her and my dad did was for us. She appreciated and learned from all her life experiences growing up and she wanted us to do the same. It was never about giving us ‘what she didn’t have’. It was about providing us with opportunities to be and do good.
Lesson 2: Let the men in your life do.
My mom told me early on in my marriage that men are going to do. This may sound antiquated and misogynistic but I don’t see it that way. And neither did she. She meant that in a relationship, we are each our own person and we can’t lose sight of that. If he wants to take up new hobbies, let him. It will make him happy. If he wants to start a business, let him. It will give him fulfillment. There is a reciprocal nature to this. If we are each allowed to be who we want to be, we will be two happy individuals coming together to share moments as one. Also, I secretly believe that she told him the same about me.
Lesson 3: Let the kids be kids.
Children grow up so fast, let them play while they are young. That’s why when Nani was young and wanted to use her fork to comb the dog’s hair in between cake bites . . . I let her. You are a kid for such a small fraction of your life. She explained it too, not in the condescending ‘you’re too young’ way but in the, “Todo tiene su tiempo,” way. Everything has its time. Being a kid is a short lived privilege. She didn’t want us in makeup, even pretend, because it wasn’t our time. She never bought us play heels because those were for when we became senoritas. No fake tattoos or movies that were not age appropriate. No. Kids need to be kids for as long as they can be kids.
Lesson 4: Absorb all that is green in nature.
There is no such thing as too much time spent looking at the beauty of the outdoors. Cheesy right! This is one of the lessons from my mom that took me a long time to absorb. She would tell us to stare at trees or take in deep breaths when visiting the ranch. She saw nature as cleansing and staring at greenery was her way to cleanse. I never understood it completely but ask me if I stare at trees. I do. And I make the kids stare at trees, too. Just because I don’t understand it doesn’t mean I don’t trust it. For sure, though, the one rule about nature she imparted onto us: NEVER EVER smell a flower directly. That’s a whole other blog, though.
Lesson 5: You need space in your life. Both physical and emotional.
This ties back to the earlier lesson about letting your men do. My mom loved spending time with her family. Honest, wholesome, sit and do nothing time. But she also loved to be alone. As a mom, this is hard. Even using the restroom as a mom involves multiple people. Actually, this is when my kids want to be around me the most. I remember my mom yelling at us multiple times, “Ya dejen me en paz!” We never took this wrong. She was right, she had the right to be alone and to demand that privacy. She was social distancing before social distancing was cool.
Lesson 6: A true giver, gives without expectation.
My mom was the most generous giver of time, money, food, you name it. If she saw a need that she could in any way alleviate, she would. Without expectation, without needing to be acknowledged. There were times when I would come home and there was a bag from Fallas Paredes hanging on my door handle. It was something random, a toy for the kids, a bra that didn’t fit, a plant, or my favorite: a pair of leopard boxers two sizes too big for Sal. Who does that? Someone who is always thinking about you, that’s who. If you knew her, you know what I mean.
Lesson 7: Que no se te cierre el mundo.
Have you ever felt like there is no solution or you’re just stuck? It’s dark. It’s weird, right? My mom could see when this was happening to us. And she would say, “don’t let the world close in on you.” It doesn’t translate well but essentially it means that even though it FEELS like it’s too much, it’s too DARK, the walls are too CLOSE, it’s not. How simple, right? But she was right. If you stop looking right in front of you when the walls are closing in or take too much stock in your current mood, you won’t be able to see that the world is still there. There is always a solution. The world is still there.
Lesson 8: You have to love your children differently.
It’s not that my mom had different expectations of her kids or that she loved anyone more or less than the other. But she knew she had to approach each of us differently because we are each different. I thought I understood why she loved differently when I was growing up but now that I look at how I love my twins, I feel the need to love differently. Lluvia needs the physical proximity, the hugs, the kisses. My Lucy loves the verbal reinforcement. And sometimes Lucy is my favorite and other times it’s Aurelio. And this isn’t wrong. It’s giving them what they need when they need it. We each had our turn in my mom’s graces. My brother, Elvis, was my mom’s favorite in the end. And that is ok, because that’s what he needed.
And putting all these thoughts into words today, is what I needed. I spent a lot of time with my mom before she passed. No matter how much , there could never have been enough. We shared moments that sit with me in the spot where she used to. Though I wanted to bring this blog to life for her from my own heart, this was one of those moments that I needed to share with my friend and sister. Together, we re-lived moments that only live in the collective. Lessons I had forgotten or experienced differently were clarified. I never thought that I would be sitting writing lessons my mom taught me without her sitting next to me. The chair is empty, that much is true but I will never feel alone. Her love that was made just for me in her own special way is always with me. Excuse me while I go give Lluvia the hug she needs, not me. I’m not crying. You’re crying.