GUEST POST: Greek Super Grans
The greatest invention EVER!!!
I hope that all you moms out there are coping with and even ENJOYING your summer vacation! Having kids at home all day and every day can be challenging even for the most organized, and creative of us, especially if we also have to work outside the home.
Do you have help with feeding, entertaining, and generally nurturing your offspring?
I wonder how many of you busy multi-taskers are as blessed and fortunate as I am to have a super-soulmate, super efficient ma-in-law to LITERALLY pick me up when I’m down and totally out of action…and yes, I did say
I have been bedridden for a while and in excruciating pain due to 3 herniated discs on my spine which have plagued me for years. Yiayia (Greek for grandma) makes sure that I have priority in getting meals and having clean clothes, then gets to work doing the same for my hubby and two teenage sons. She makes mouth watering traditional Greek pies and delish soups, so believe me, it’s almost worth suffering flat on my back so that she makes her culinary delights for us!
It’s hard to believe she was born with a severe physical disability and has undergone a series of operations over the years on her legs and hips. Although she can only walk with the aid of crutches, her doctors say that it’s a miracle she is mobile at all! At 83 years old, I truly admre her abilities and her absolute dedication to her three children and their families. The great news is that she is typical of women from her culture and generation.
In Greece, Yiayia is greatly respected and in many households a godsend for working moms. Having a hot meal on the table when your tired daughter/daughter-in-law gets back from work is an example of what Greek grannies consider their duty. Believe me, these ladies REALLY know how to cook!!! Imagine the quality of food our offspring are getting as no Greek from this generation puts takeaway or prepacked food on the table. This would be an outrage! Only dishes based on the Mediterranean diet, passed down from generation to generation are considered good enough for nurturing a healthy family. Really great, right? So, even if at times you might not see eye to eye with the older members of your clan-Greeks are exceptionally clannish-then try to remember that goodwill, especially towards your mother-in-law, has more benefits than negative aspects!
I know that in most cultures around the globe the mother/daughter-in-law dynamic is considered to be one of the trickiest and sticky to manoeuvre.
Haven’t you ever felt at some point in your relationship with the in-laws that a fistful of Prozac or a bowl full of magic mushrooms would be a blessed relief?
Come on now-be honest!
More often than not one or both women feel a need to have the upper hand when competing for the attentions of hubby/son as well as children/grandchildren. At least in the beginning of the relationship with our new partner things can be pretty tumultuous until the boundaries and expectations are (hopefully) worked out.
My relationship with my Greek in-laws was definitely tumultuous when I first came to live in the family home 16 years ago! My husbands father was certainly NOT pleased when his boy came home with the XENI NIFI or foreign bride!!! Remember that great comedy; MY BIG FAT GREEK WEDDING ?
That wasn’t a comedy for me but MY LIFE!!!
It’s truly staggering how my relationship with my (now) beloved ma-in-law has progressed over the last one and a half decades! These days I think of Grandma Vasiliki as my own mother who ALWAYS supports me if I have a disagreement with her son. My poor hubby is pretty fed up hearing from his own mother that I’m more practical and wiser than he is (even if it IS true) and therefore I should have the final say in any major family decision making! I sometimes wonder if he rues the day he brought me to live in the family home. After all, the two women who are closest to him have become loving allies and so he can’t get away with anything. AT ALL! There are two sets of beady eyes constantly watching him…sound a little spooky? Well, I’m more than half Greek myself nowadays and I can tell you most Greek families really DO tend to live in each others pockets! I was actually born in the UK but such close proximity and familiarity would be considered very claustrophobic there. In Greece however, every family member feels they have a right to express an opinion about all things great and small, whether it concerns them directly or not! Usually Yiayia has the final pearl of wisdom to share…and more often than not is the wisest of all.
My husband has a great saying in Greek we use when we need a babysitter, cook, housekeeper or a shoulder to cry on. I find it hilarious although it loses something in translation;
“Greek Super Grans- the greatest invention EVER!”
Do you have a mom or mother-in-law to help out when things are tough?
Would you like someone to be this close to you and your family, or would you consider it too interfering and claustrophobic in your culture/part of the world?
What types of behavior would you find acceptable or not acceptable from a grandma?
Enjoy the rest of your vacation wherever in the world you may be!
This is a guest post by Ann Marie Wraight who lives in Greece.