On Zarela's Mind: Mothers and Grandmothers

Today I was remembering how often my mother would say to my sisters and me. "Don't tell me you can do it. Just do it.”

She would be so proud to know that my precocious grandaughter Violeta not only looks like her, but is like her in many ways. Fearless!

Recently, Violeta stood on top of the monkey bars and said: “Oh my! You can see for miles around.” Violeta is only 2½. She not only speaks in full sentences, she eats with a spoon and fork (she has still to master the knife), counts to ten in Spanish, loves to dance Veracruzan “son” and is starting to learn how to play the piano. I think she might inherit my mother’s ability to play by ear.

Her constant smile and joyful attitude are contagious and I feel helpless when I try to correct her. Even a disapproving look will make her lift an eyebrow like Mother did and then say: “Now be nice to Violeta.”

Much of our family life revolves around food and Violeta also likes to cook. This photo was taken recently when she was making cupcakes. She had insisted on wearing a chef’s hat and this is what she chose along with her daily outfit. Violeta has a cool hip look. She’s got style!

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I could go on and on, but this is about Mother’s Day. Violeta’s mother Victoria is out of Good Housekeeping magazine circa 1950. She cleans, cooks a meal every day for my son Rodrigo, takes time to bring Violeta to see me once a week—all while constantly producing art. I am very proud to say that she won the commission from DOT for a major public installation. But it her mothering that is astonishing. She lets Violeta be herself, is firm when needed, corrects her gently and has let her blossom.

My son Aaron and his wife Ife have a brand new baby, Yuma, and it will be exciting to see how his personality develops. I hope he’ll have an ear for music. All I know for now is that he smiles any time I sing him a ranchera song.

I’m also blessed with four other grandchildren from my late husband. My daughter Marissa helped raise two beautiful kids: Catya, an artist, and Shane, who plays several instruments. Spanky has two beautiful daughters whose only fault is that they insist on calling me Grandma instead of my preferred Mema.

Mother had another phrase, an American Indian one: “Give your children roots and wings.” I hope that’s what we’ve done.

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