My friend Estela used to tell me: Déjate querer, which in English means “let yourself be loved”. She would say it when I would refuse her offer of help, while carrying a baby in one arm, stirring the pot with the other hand and holding the phone between my shoulder and ear. What she meant by it was: “Let others show you their love by being of service to you. Yes, we all know you can do a lot all by yourself, but let us feel like we can be productive and helpful too.”
Estela had other wise words. As a matter of fact, I have had the blessing of knowing many wise people who have left me with words and thoughts that I use often in my own life and share with others. Here is a sample of the wisdom I have collected so far:
1. On good mothering: One afternoon at around 6:00 pm I finished a batch of chocolate chip cookies and offered them to the children gathered at my house for a play date. When I realized how close to dinnertime it was, I apologized to the other moms and said: “What kind of a mother serves cookies to children right before dinner?” Estela said: “Children need happy mothers, not perfect ones.” I wish I could go back and be a happier mother! Now that my children are grown, I realize that no amount of mess and disorder is worth making a fuss over. I wish I had asked myself what legacy I wanted to leave: happiness or an organized sock drawer.
2. On having tough conversations: My father used to say: “It’s best to turn red once than to pale over and over.” In other words, it’s better to tell people the unpleasant truth and get it over with than get a knot in your stomach every time the subject comes up.
3. On dealing with tantrums: My mother believes that some people need to be told to just cut it out when they are having a melt down, while others are really asking for a hug. And this is not only for two year olds. It is not a sign of weakness to just hold a person and sympathize with their inability to deal with the current frustration. There will be plenty of time for reflection and guidance when the storm has passed.
4. On judging character: My friend Andrea says: “When people show you who they are, believe them.” Good advice for when you are blinded by love. Seeing the good in people doesn’t mean you ignore the fact that we are all battling with some flaw in our character.
5. On the passage of time: My other friend Carolyn likes to say that time passes whether you sign up for that four year graduate program or not, so you might as well do it. Four years ago seems like yesterday sometimes. Imagine if we had done all the things we wanted to do but put them off because they seemed to take such a long time.
My favorite words comes not from a person I know but from a character in a movie. In The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel, the character Sonny likes to say: “Everything will be all right in the end... if it's not all right then it's not yet the end.”
What are your favorite words of wisdom? Share them, so I can add them to my collection.