Some points in my life are tougher than others. Right now, I have a mix - my personal life is settling down, but my work life is acting up. When stress piles up, I try desperately to think through my actions and reactions, but sometimes, try as I might, I act out of instinct or habit. I'd like to think that I make conscious decisions about how to conduct myself through thick and thin, but how much of what we do or how we behave is choice, and how much is handed to us?
Throughout my life, I have been lucky enough to have strong women in my life, each of them with different kinds of "muscle". From my mother, I definitely learned how to be affectionate and loving, as well as the "buck up" attitude. From very early on, even when mom was upset with me, I never went one day without a hug, a kiss, and an "I love you". I think that's where I get my affection for my own family and for the kids I work with. It's very hard for me not to find something endearing about the people I'm surrounded by. Because of the pragmatic approach taken by my mother, I can (and am still learning to) stop and think about tough situations or tough people I run across in my life and think of them as "preparations" for what lies ahead. However, I have enough "me" in me to want to throw a pity party first. It always amazed me that, even when I was in my teen years, mom trusted me to do things that most other kids my age were not trusted with. Because of this trust, I learned to be independent and not always rely on an adult. From driving in a snowstorm, to having my first job, to helping out with the family groceries, I learned how to do things early so that I'd know how to do them when I was out of the nest.
From my Grandma Fran, I learned how to be domestic. Because of her patient teaching, I know how to sew, crochet, knit, and cook/bake. Don't scoff - it's a valuable thing, especially when considering how expensive it is to eat out. Even when I was very young, Grandma never refused my offer of "help", even though I probably made more of a mess than actually helped. She was from the generation that taught their children how to be self-reliant around the house. How else would you raise a big family if people don't pitch in and do their share? This is my grandma who I refer to as "my sugar cookie grandma" when I first introduced H to my family. This is because she has the sweetest and kindest heart. In all these years, I can count on one hand the times she has become visibly upset with me, even through all my mistakes. Grandma's strength, though, is her spirituality. Whatever life brings her, I've never seen her "lose it" or become despaired. The only time I can muster the kind of strength she has is when I made a full-fledged effort, and even then sometimes it doesn't happen for me. It's still something I strive for.
Grandma Jane, out of all the women in my life, had what anyone would think of as "strength". If anyone wore the pants in the family, it was her. She definitely taught me to stick up for myself and not to take any shit. She also was very generous (sometimes too much so), and tried to impart that, if I don't share what I have with others, I will end up with nothing. Like Grandma Fran, Grandma Jane also showed me the ways of the domestics. I truly believe that it's not just because of family necessity, but because both of my grandmas grew up in a time when they didn't have much. You had to find ways to make do - to tough it out. So, even in times of good, you'd better be prepared for what may lie ahead.
I'm lucky to have such strong role models in my life. Practically speaking, I see their effects on me each day, especially dealing with tough situations. Because of their love and acceptance for me, I continue to try to be the strongest and best woman that I can be. When I fall or stray off-course, I have the desire to get back on track. I have a backbone and speak my mind, but try to temper it with some self-restraint and composure. I cannot go through a day without expressing my affection, in some form or another, for those who are closest to me. Yet, I value the time when I have to myself to get re-centered and prepare myself for what lies ahead for me the next day.