I DECIDED TO CREATE MOMUMENTAL MOTHERS TO CELEBRATE WOMEN FROM ALL WALKS OF LIFE. EACH OF THE WOMEN I WILL FEATURE ARE DIFFERENT, BUT THEY ARE ALL UNITED IN MOTHERHOOD.
Today it is my pleasure to introduce you to Julieta.
I have known Julieta for over ten years. I originally met her through work and we still work together today.
Julieta is one of the most genuine and kindest people I know. She always tries to promote teamwork and to find the positive side of everything. This summer when she visited Mexico she brought back dulce de leche (milk candy) for everyone in the office, which was very sweet- no pun intended. She has often shared homegrown vegetables from her garden with me. Julieta is also a fabulous cook, her salsa is to die for, and my daughter loved her apple jelly.
Her creativity extends past the kitchen. She makes so many cool projects from felt quiet books to tie-dye T-shirts with her grandkids. When I was expecting my daughter she made me several cute burp rags and a baby blanket that my daughter still uses with her dolls now that she’s outgrown it. We have always enjoyed connecting with being able to discuss what craft or project we are currently working on.
I wanted to interview her because I think she is an all around good person and has a great story.
Julieta, can you tell me a little bit about your background?
I am 61 years old and I grew up in a little dusty town named San Pedro in Coahuila, Mexico. I became a member of The Church of Latter Saints at age 15. I love doing crafts and my church.
You have a large family. Did you have a large family growing up, and did you always want to have a large family?
I grew up in a family of thirteen people with ten siblings. I always knew I would have a large family but my body gave up after six.
As one of eleven siblings, did you get to spend much time one-on-one with either of your parents?
No. I was the oldest daughter and it is part of my culture that the oldest daughter is like the right hand of the mother and helps wherever it’s needed. Like I would make tortillas when my mother was making lunch or hold a baby if one needed holding, things like that. So I didn’t get to spend a lot of time with my parents one-on-one.
What do you think your parents did when you were growing up that helped you to become a responsible and successful adult?
My mother gave me big responsibilities. Being the eldest daughter I was expected to help with my younger siblings and learn at a very early age in life to care for them. My father always trusted my decisions. He always took interest in the guys I dated. Each one was interviewed by him, then he sat with me and we discussed pros and cons.
What do you wish your parents would have taught you or given you that they didn’t?
My parents did not have a lot of education. Most of my siblings only finished elementary school. After we became members of our church and they learned the importance of education they supported us. I would have liked them to encouraged me to persue and further my education.
How did you meet your husband?
Bret and I met while serving a mission for our church when we were nineteen. We were in the same zone but never in the same city, the only time would be when we would get together monthly for conferences. You know, I don’t remember meeting him until he was having a dispute with my friend. Then we got to know each other over two years on our mission.
We both went home afterwards, then seven months later Bret said he was going to come to Mexico. He came and three days later he proposed. So we never dated, we got to be good friends over time and then we got engaged. We will be celebrating forty years together in October.
I have been blessed with six children, three boys and three girls. I have sixteen grandchildren so far, eleven girls (we have a lot of girl power!) and five grandsons.
When you had six children at home or as you became grandparents do you ever get much time to spend one-on-one with Bret? What have you learned about creating a good relationship over the years?
We spent a lot of time separately. I would totally focus on the grandkids and we would never really have time to be together; the kids totally similarly consumed me so we didn’t get time to focus on each other.
You know, now we take a lot of walks and talk, and he told me that he felt he hadn’t been included and I never knew that. So after talking about it we are both on the same page and are all in when taking care of the grandkids and try to spend time together when not.
Bret and I found out that it really makes a difference to do small things to show your partner that you care. Like I will go and just sit with him when he is working in the yard or working on a car. Or if I am in the kitchen washing dishes he will come in and start drying them and putting them away right away. I think just doing simple things without being asked is a big thing. The more you do for them, the more they are willing to do for you.
I was able to make an effort to do little things, like write a note saying ‘thank you for doing the dishes,’ or something. I wish I found out earlier when we had the kids so I could have made that more of a priority.
I think if you don’t establish a relationship when you are younger there may be problems later on, at least with some of the role models I have seen through the years. You know, after the kids are gone they maybe find out they don’t have a lot of things in common and argue and don’t get along.
Sometimes you just have to ask or make an effort to ask for help. I’ve learned that if you need something you have to ask, because they don’t read minds unfortunately, and then be grateful and let them know you are thankful for the help or the company. Make an effort to communicate.
What do you feel has been your biggest struggle as a parent?
I wanted my children to be successful citizens and not put too much pressure on myself and them.
Well I think you have done a great job. You’ve raised a doctor, a nurse, an IT engineer, and more.
What is your favorite part of being a grandparent?
Seeing my children have successful careers and raising their children using the values Bret and I gave them.
What is your least favorite?
Seeeing them (my children) make the same mistakes that I made because they learned it from me.
How is being a grandparent different than being a parent?
I enjoy my grandkids. They come in a little package and you have to accept them as they are. I think that each kid is a gift. They all have their own special qualities. With my grandkids I have learned that it is important to focus on their strengths. I wish I had known that when my kids were younger so I could focus on their strengths instead of trying to change the things I didn’t like for them.
I know now but I didn’t then, one of my sons is Bipolar and has ADHD. It frustrated me that he could go through up to four sets of clothes in a day, like if he would get a small drop of water on his shirt he would strip down to his underwear and put on a new outfit. I would get so mad that I would have to wash so many clothes when I thought there was nothing wrong with them. I would have to send at least two sets of clothes to kindergarten because if someone spilled a little milk or water and he got it on him he’d have to change his clothes. If I’d have known then I would have had more patience and would have dealt with it better. We’ve noticed that two of my grandkids share similar traits and they get along so well. We’ve learned to use their strengths and help them focus on what they like to do or are good at and we work on the rest.
You once told me that there is a difference in raising boys vs girls. Can you tell me more about that?
The difference in raising boys and girls is like night and day. I think boys are more easy going. They can get mad and erupt and then two minutes later they are hugging each other and let it go.
Girls don’t let go. They internalize things so much that they just don’t let go of things, silly little things, like fighting over who has been in front of the mirror for too long. There are mirrors all over the house, why fight over the one that ‘has the best light?’
What are your tips for staying sane each morning as everyone gets ready for school/work and in the evening with bedtime?
In the morning get up 30 minutes early. Start the night before getting backpacks ready and making sure that homework is done. Have the children set up their clothes. Spend time before bed with your children making bedtime a positive experience.
What would you suggest to parents to teach kids home skills and make taking care of the home easier?
Teach children to do chores. Teach them to work together and independently. I found a method to create a wheel so each part of the wheel had a different chore. I tried to make something that would be a way that would be fair to everyone and accomplish chores. They didn’t like the wheel, even to this day.
We would have “D-day”on Saturday, here we clean. We’d work together and clean the house before we could go shopping or do something else. If they have something they want to do then they are more willing to help out.
Sometimes you have to just let some things go. They are only young for so long. Some day you will miss them and the messes that they made. Enjoy your children, they grow too soon. I would do it all over if I could.
I know you have a vegetable garden each year and you have chickens. A lot of readers are trying to stretch money as far as possible. With your experience of always being part of a large family, do you have any tips for doing this with meals and around the house?
Having a large family has taught me to shop wisely. Look at what’s on sale and plan the menu. If the budget allows, buy extra non-perishable items. Work on food storage. Cook a double batch and freeze the extra.
OK, last question. How do you handle everyday stressors?
I know that it is just a temporary thing. Soon I will be home sitting under the oak tree. I also do things in the yard, simple things that help me relax.
Is the oak tree your favorite place?
Yes, it is a beautiful old oak tree. When we looked at the property I didn’t care about how the condition of house was. I saw the oak tree and I told Bret, “This is it, this is where we are going to spend the rest of our lives.” I think it is around 150 years old. I can’t put my arms around it. I’ve told Bret that I hope the oak tree doesn’t die, at least I hope it doesn’t before I do.
Julieta, thank you so much for allowing me to interview you! I really appreciate it. I hope my readers enjoy your story and find it as interesting as I do.
If you would like to be featured in my Momumental Mothers series, send me an e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org or use the form on my Contact page.