Lessons I learned from my grandmothers

Growing up, my grandmothers were a source of calm, comfort and reason. When they spoke, I listened, and I was raised to always respect them. After all, it was their immense sacrifices that have allowed me to live the incredibly fortunate life that I do. They were different women in every sense of the word, but the one thing that they had in common was a profound strength and perseverance. As Mother's Day approaches, I look back on three things these extraordinary women taught me.

1. A strong work ethic

My maternal grandmother grew up as a field worker just like her parents before her. When she married my grandfather, they had nine children and migrated from Texas to Michigan for farm work. She and her children (my mom included) picked in the fields every day, from sunrise to sunset. There were no spa days or sleeping in on the weekends. There was no notion of finding your passion or fulfillment. Yet, she never complained. From her, I've learned to never complain about hard work. I'm grateful that I get the opportunity to work without having to experience the brutal circumstances that field workers have to endure. I'm grateful that she paved the way for me to live a life where I am seen and respected. When I went to college to get a degree in comparative literature, my parents made it very clear to me that I was lucky to have the opportunity to not only go to college but also to attain a degree that would allow me to be introspective. I have my grandmothers to thank for that.

2. You are more important than you realize

Oftentimes, domestic life can feel like an endless maze - dishes, laundry, diapers, cleaning, scheduling, work, cleaning and more cleaning. Life can seem underwhelming, and sometimes I feel like my value to the world is nonexistent. However, my paternal grandmother would remind me that, as a wife and mother, I am an important cog in my family, if not the entire cog itself. I now realize that I am becoming an anchor for my own growing family and that is the most important thing I can be.

3. Love takes work

My paternal grandmother was married to my grandfather for over 50 years. They were always by each other's side and never spent more than a few days apart from each other. However, there were many times she felt angry and frustrated with my grandfather and just wanted to walk (or run) away.

She explained to me that love is not always exciting, breathless and full of passion. True love is what happens when the flames have gone away and you're left with your partner as life settles around you both. Anyone can be "in love," but it takes real work to truly love another person and a strong commitment to making it last.

- Gabriela Garcia of Hinsdale is a contributing columnist. Readers can email her at [email protected].