Just Call Me J. Lo

Our (second) wedding.

When I was single, I always imagined that if I didn’t marry someone Greek, I’d marry someone I could steamroll with my culture. After all, that’s what my dad did. My mom is from Minnesota and was Presbyterian before she met him, converted to Orthodoxy, got married in the Greek church, moved to Greece, learned Greek, and fulfilled her dream of becoming a Yia Yia.

Then, one day, I came across Emilio, the first Nicaraguan I’ve ever met. Reader, I married him. In two churches (Catholic, then Greek Orthodox, one ceremony after the other as is common on the island of Corfu where we got hitched). The back-to-back weddings were a sign of things to come. I haven’t steamrolled Emilio with Greek culture, but I have made it a big part of his life, with yearly trips to Greece and a steady diet of spinach rice. And the bonus is: I gained a whole new culture. Basically, I’m Latina now, which is great because, if you’ve seen J. Lo lately, you know we age incredibly well.

Abu and her nietos.

Now Emilio and I have two Greekaraguan kids, who go to Sunday School and Greek school, but also speak Spanish. They have a Yia Yia Joanie (not technically Greek but Greek by marriage, the same way I’m Latina), a Yia Yia Neni (my aunt, also named Eleni, and as Greek and indispensible as feta cheese), and an Abuela, my mother-in-law, Carmen. So when  Parents Latina asked me to write an article that shares the results of their reader survey on the importance of abuelas in a Latin family, I was thrilled.

It would be hard to overstate the importance of grandmothers in my life. I’m named for mine, and wrote a memoir about rebuilding her house in Greece. Then I wrote a novel inspired in part by Emilio’s grandmother, Tina, who lived through, and continues to live through, the sweeping changes in Nicaragua’s history.

And I am so #blessed that my children have the most loving grandmothers in any country (in my humble opinion). So while neither Emilio nor I are steamrolling roads, we’re building bridges between cultures and generations. Which, if you read the article, is what abuelas do best, too.

Here’s a link to what appears in the September issue of Parents Latina magazine as “We Heart Abuela.

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