We are a Moana-obsessed household.
My toddler can’t count to 20 yet, but she knows every word to How Far I’ll Go and will nap strike on the weekend by sitting in her bed singing it to herself and her stuffies.
And because my toddler is obsessed with this movie, I’ve come to know it quite well, too.
And one of the most beautiful aspects of this wonderful movie is, I think, the relationship between Moana and her grandmother.
I watch this movie as a parent and therapist, feeling touched by the love between the two characters, the wisdom Moana’s grandmother imparts and seeing how Moana internalizes her as a source of wisdom, comfort, and strength.
Would that we all had grandmothers (or grandfathers or elders) like Moana’s grandmother in our lives!
Someone to turn to during life’s tough times who can hold a wider and deeper perspective than, perhaps, our own parents and certainly more so than us.
Someone no longer burdened by day-to-day parenting who has decades-earned wisdom and mindsight to share and to guide us.
Someone to call on those days when we wake up, feeling like adulthood is a mountain in front of us that we don’t feel equipped to summit.
Few of my readers who come from relational trauma backgrounds in which there was intergenerational trauma, abuse, and dysfunction have someone like this in their lives.
And so today’s post is meant to fill in that inner parenting gap, to be another essay in the pep talk series that you can bookmark and turn to on the days when you’re so overwhelmed but can’t pick up the phone to call a member of your actual family-of-origin for comfort.
Read these words when you need some extra support, and internalize an imaginary elder, a wise inner grandmother as part of your own re-parenting and re-familying on your relational trauma recovery journey.
What Your Grandmother Would Say To You If She Could…
My dear one.
Talk to me, tell me what’s going on. I’ve been thinking about you.
I know you feel overwhelmed and worried and worn down.
That makes sense. Anyone who holds what you hold would.
I imagine you feel like an overly full cup of water, getting bumped and rattled and spilling over the edge every day.
You feel like it’s too much because it is too much.
That probably doesn’t feel helpful to say because there’s no clear way out of it all… you can’t quit all your obligations right now.
But my goodness I understand why you’d want to!
I hope what you’re hearing me say is that I get it.
That I get what you’re going through. I remember it well.
I remember it well and I want to tell you something:
A long chapter of your adult years can and will often feel like each day you wake up, and you don’t feel strong or capable enough to do all that you have to do, all those adult responsibilities, but having no other choice but to do it anyway.
There’s no magic solution here. There’s no silver bullet.
There’s only one day after the next, feeling like you’re standing at the base of a mountain, hiking it all day long, only to wake up and have to summit another mountain.
It feels never-ending.
And it won’t change. For a time at least.
Not when you’re raising small children, trying to buy a home, pay down the student loans, establish your career, preserve your marriage in the gruel of it all, and keep the house stocked with food and toilet paper.
It’s a blur of work, responsibility, facing more and new challenges, getting some sleep, and doing it all over again.
Honey, these days are not easy. They’re probably some of life’s most intense times.
I remember it so well. But I also remember it changed.
It’s so much right now, but at some point, it will feel like you’ll stop summiting the mountains of your days so much.
The daily climb will get easier, the peaks less steep.
I don’t know exactly when it happens or exactly why, but I think it’s because we all become proverbially stronger climbers from the year upon year of daily mountain climbing.
I promise you: there will be a time in your life when things don’t feel so hard.
I know because that happened for me and it’s happened for most people my age.
I trust it will be true for you, too.
And please remember this: because of this daily summiting, because of how you’re not quitting and how you keep showing up even when you feel like you can’t, you’re becoming a strong, wise future elder precisely because of the climbs and hard times you’re going through now.
And I am so, so proud of you.
Ever since you were born, ever since you smiled at me and I felt like you were a piece of my soul in a baby body, I’ve been proud of you.
Simply because you are who you are.
You are my dear one, a little piece of my heart, my pride.
Having you as my grandchild has been one of the great gifts of my lifetime.
Watching you grow up, become who you were meant to be, watching you listen to your soul, trust your instincts, and move towards a life that’s authentically yours gives me goosebumps and brings tears to my eyes.
You have overcome so much. You’ve worked so hard. You are so strong, so capable, so resilient.
I know you don’t always feel that way. And that’s okay.
Sometimes you’re not the best judge of yourself.
I see something different than you feel on your hard days.
You feel like you’re barely holding on, and I see a fine human, earning her mettle through the struggle.
I am so proud of you, honey.
And you don’t have to be “strong” and “perfect” with me.
You can tell me what’s actually going on for you, how scared you are, how overwhelmed you are, how angry and sad you are about some of your life’s choices.
You can tell me all of this and it won’t change my high opinion of you.
You can share all of your feelings, all parts of you with me.
I want to be that person you can call when you can’t call your partner, when you can’t call your best friend because she’s overwhelmed, too, when you can’t call your parent because they can’t give you what you need.
Let me hold space for you, honey.
I can’t solve and fix everything for you.
But I can be with you while you climb those mountains, and tell you more about how I climbed them, too.
I wish I could hold and hug you right now, honey. Just like I did when you were little.
You deserve that — a big warm hug.
I love you and I miss you.
And I am so, so proud of you.
Remember how much I love you and how highly I think of you when you’re summiting your proverbial mountains.
Remember there is one person here on Earth who loves you beyond words, who thinks the world of you, and who is holding hope and knowing that there will be easier times ahead for you.
Recall my words, imagine that I’m there with you, and carry me in your heart if it brings you any comfort.
I love you, honey.