A tribute to our grandmother. Those who bring wisdom among the new generations. They have experienced all aspects of what it means to be a mother. Whether Japanese or Italian, grandmothers can share the lessons they have learned about being parents, self-care, and practical tips for achieving joy, both as a mother and as a woman.
Few words can fully describe the importance of this figure in the growth of a child, and new mothers.
When I was little, both paternal and maternal, they have been essential for me, my brothers, and my cousins.
They took care of us when our parents were working, and without pretense, they taught us a lot. An example? The art of simplicity.
Both were humble and hard-working women, who dedicated their entire lives to raising their children, always putting the family first.
I always thought it was a somewhat extreme attitude, dictated by historical times and society (we are talking about years when women’s emancipation in the countryside was not an option available), and this is absolutely true.
But how many of us would be able to sacrifice even half the time we have, to build and maintain an entire family?
Now that I am a mother, I see in my son’s grandmothers, two important cornerstones that, despite the distance, are essential not only for my baby growth but also for mine.
Yes, because the love and the sense of security that they give off, has no boundaries. Whether Italian, Japanese or of any other nationality, the grandmother is always the grandmother.
My mother could not be near me during pregnancy or childbirth, and this will be a lack that maybe we will take forever. But the help and support she gave me, despite being on the other side of the world, was incredible.
When I was pregnant, our days always crossed each other at the same time, the 2 Japanese p.m. She had recently woken up in Italy, and I had just finished lunch here in Japan.
Her, with the morning coffee, me, in general (nausea permitting), with the coffee after the meal.
We talked for almost 30 min (let’s tell the truth even 1 hour) every day. About what? We don’t know it either.
We always started by asking how all the members of the family were doing, up to various gossip. Time just flew by, and we often said to each other “okay, that’s enough, let’s talk tomorrow”.
Let it be clear, even on the other side of the world, we managed to argue sometimes (we are always mother and daughter), but most of the time we had great laughs (and sometimes some good cries).
What can I say, mother, you are unique, and if you still haven’t managed to kiss little Haruto, don’t worry, as soon as the situation will find some peace, we will embrace each other again stronger than before.
I hadn’t seen Yo’s mom in over a year. The last time was at our wedding in August 2019.
That time was a beautiful summer and the time has flown by. The days were spent chatting, eating sweets, and visiting areas of Yamagata Prefecture that both she and I had never seen before. I never thought in those days, that our future meeting would be with a child in our arms.
Two months before little Haruto was born she told us that she was able to take a month off work and that she would come and help us out. We were very happy to hear the news ( especially my family in Italy, worried that I would raise a baby on my own).
I was a bit nervous at the thought of her arrival.
What if she had not enjoyed her stay? If she was bored? Or she saw something in my daily life that she would not appreciate?
Classic grandmother-in-law’s arrival paranoia? Well, none of this has ever been a problem.
When I came back from the hospital she was there waiting for us at home. Lunch ready, house clean, tidy, and sweets in the drawer ready to be eaten together. Not to mention the countless small purchases made as products to “improve our life” for the arrival of the little one (stock of cleaning products, small stove for when I breastfeed at night, kitchen accessories, etc. …).
The time we spent together was marked by the repetition of the same actions, almost every day.
Every morning she used to wake up at 5:00 a.m. to prepare Yo’s obento. We were 30 always minutes late, just the time of feeding the baby and changing him, and together we had the first coffee of the day (she Americano, I decaffeinated Americano).
After Yo left, the daily washing machines started. One with Yo’s work clothes, the other with the baby’s clothes and ours. We laid out our clothes together, and at 7 a.m. we prepared ourselves for breakfast.
Grandma: toast with margarine, one yogurt, and 1/4 apple. Me: toast with egg, 1/4 of apple and/or mandarin plus, for both, the second coffee (I always deca). At 9/9,30 am we did exercises together watching Radio Taiso on Youtube (super recommended to awaken the muscles of the body in the morning).
From then on, the morning alternated between the cries of the little one, long breastfeeding, the improvised study of Japanese (I still dream of passing the JLPT), chatting here and there, and consultation on what we could cook for dinner.
11 o’clock was the shopping time! With his backpack, cap, and mask she always went by herself to grocery, with the shopping list ready. I was always eating some sweets from the pantry and I was relaxing watching some videos on Youtube or scrolling Instagram… I’m kidding! My task was to make the little one feel calm because at that time every day he started crying his first deafening tears (we discovered afterwards the possibility of some gas problem in his stomach).
After lunch, the afternoon was “free”. The little one and I often took a nap while she went for a walk around the neighborhood.
6.30 dinner, all together (also with daddy), at 8 o’clock bathing for Haruto (we took turns one day each), and from 9 o’clock onwards everyone relaxed in their own room.
Favorite moment? On Sundays all four of us together.
Yo, and I would take 1 hour in the morning for ourselves.
We’d go shopping or pick up some things for the baby, and when we came back, we’d eat lunch and spend the afternoon chatting, watching movies, and experimenting in the kitchen.
(Check the recipe here)
But what can I say, if it comes to food, we did not deny ourselves anything even during the week. If lunch was our relaxing moment (we only used the kitchen to heat the water for the noodles or to heat the leftovers from the day before), the evening was a different story.
For the whole month, we ate exceptional food (mainly 和食) always prepared with her hands, and I seriously think it was the best postpartum recovery I could wish for.
Thank you おばあちゃん (grandmother in Japanese) for being a person with a big heart, for taking care of us and letting us spend a month full of laughter and memories built together.
We love you!