30+ Life Lessons We Learned From Our Nanas

by Katie Cloyd
Originally Published: 
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There’s nothing quite like the love of a devoted grandma. I’m lucky to have had both of my grandmothers in my life into adulthood. My Mom-Mom was with us until I was 27, and my Memere is almost 82 and as sharp as ever. The lessons they’ve taught me are as different as night and day, but I carry their wisdom with me everywhere I go. I’m a better mother, wife and person because of their example.

My kids have the best Gigi now in my mom. She learned from her mother’s example, and I know that my kids feel cherished and special in her care.

A good grandma is a treasure. Wonderful grandmothers come in unlimited varieties, and the lessons they can teach us are as varied as the grandmas themselves.

Scary Mommy asked hundreds of readers to share the little nugget of wisdom or humor that they carry because their grandmother passed it on to them.

Here are more than thirty sweet, spicy, relatable, funny and sentimental lessons from some very special grandmas.

Some of our grandmothers are super sweet.

She told me that there is no reason to hate anyone because of who they are/where they come from. And that anyone who feels that way is wrong, we are all valued and valuable to the world. — Nette R.

What unconditional love is. No one has ever loved me like that since. I try to live up to that example with my own child every day. — Charline L.

My Grandmother taught me to look up! To see beauty in a rolling thunderstorm and to find joy in a fallen leaf. To smell every flower on whatever trail we were hiking even when I wanted to barrel on through. She never let a plane go overhead without grabbing my arm, tissue in hand, and saying, “Look at that plane! I wonder where all of those people are going and what their stories are?”– Courtney L.

She taught me about unconditional love. No matter how old I was, every time I saw her, she was just as excited to see me. Her eyes lit up and it was as if I was the most special person in the world. — Lisa B.

Some grandmas are of a spicier variety.

My grandmother, who’s almost 90, often told me, “Sometimes you have to roll in shit to smell like flowers.” Anytime something pretty bad has happened in my life, I hear it. I guess it’s her wise way to say something good will come of it. — Melissa C.

My grandmother has the worst potty mouth. I learned the word “shit” before I could tie my shoes. – Sadie L.

Don’t take crap from anyone. You don’t like something? Change it. — Jenna G.

When I was potty training my middle child and he pooped in his underwear, my grandmother said, “Life is too short. Throw that shit away, and buy more. No one wants to clean crap out of underwear.” She supplied underwear for him until he was potty trained. — Jenna G.

How to order her favorite cocktail! Tanqueray martini, extra dry, on the rocks, with a twist. — Sara J.

When I was a virgin bride worried about my new husband seeing me naked for the first time, my grandmother pulled me aside and said, “Creative use of the sheets. Only show what makes you comfortable. He’s lucky he gets to see any of you at all. And don’t let him roll over until you’re happy.” — Ana G.

Grandmas pass on some practical advice.

Nothing is ever wasted. She had a use and second and third use for everything. Paper towels, aluminum foil, Cool Whip containers … I can still see them neatly folded on top of her bread box in the pantry. – Lisa B.

“Chickens lay, people lie.” My grandmother was an English major and a stickler for grammar! — Sarah O.

Waddle like a penguin so you don’t fall on the ice. Buckle up, watch for deer, and how to iron. — Hilary K.

How to roll my clothes so they fit better in my suitcase. — Julie H.

My grandmother always said, “Your clothes might be inexpensive, but you don’t have to look cheap.” She taught me how to do laundry properly and care for my clothes so that even a five dollar shirt can last for years. – Evelyn Y.

And some beautiful life lessons.

I made a mistake one day that meant inconvenience for her and I apologized. She said “that’s alright. As long as they keep putting erasers on pencils, you don’t worry about making a mistake.” That has always stuck with me! — Melodie J.

“I can be happy anywhere.” At age 90 when she agreed to sell her house and move in with her daughters and was discussing which one to live with. — Sarah B.

“Flaunt it like you’ve got it. Then no one will question if you’ve got it or not.” I’ve always struggled with self-image. This is what she said. It helped me get through teenage years. — Nora H.

Que sera, sera. She always said you can’t worry about the things you can’t control. It took a long time to live by that, but I’m getting there! — Meghan N.

Our grandmothers love us when life gets tough and other people let us down.

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When I was 22, my grandparents had to pick me up at the airport after my boyfriend broke up with me, again. This time, halfway across the country, she said, “I always say, if it didn’t work the first time, it’s not going to work the 2nd, 3rd or 4th time.” I had never heard her say that, but it made sense…and stuck with me all these years. –Vicki I.

My grandmother took care of me when my incompetent and useless mother didn’t. She taught me that I was worth it. — Eleni O.

I was a chubby kid, and my mom was always on a diet. I heard a lot of indirect messages about food and fatness. When I would worry about how my mother might feel about the treats my grandmother suggested I eat when I was with her, she would say, “You mother is my child. She isn’t the boss of me. If she gets mad, she will get glad again. Eat whatever you want.” She was a refuge where I could feel peace about my body. – Clara G.

I grew up in a house with a lot of rules and it was hard for me. I was always getting in trouble for things I didn’t fully understand. My grandmother’s house wasn’t like that. She would let my ride my tricycle in her kitchen. I would zip around the kitchen island at a million miles an hour and my mom couldn’t say no because grandma said yes. It was my taste of freedom. –Scott C.

If I was worried that someone was mad at me, my grandma always said, “Well, they’ve got the same pants to get glad in” — her PG version of saying, “Tough shit, let them stay mad until they get over it.” – Rita T.

Don’t forget all the delicious things our grandmas taught us in the kitchen.

My grandmother taught me so much about finding joy in spending time with family, and making special memories at the beach. (Also, who knew dandelion leaves are edible?) — Marc G.

Homemade biscuits and/or cornbread always make you feel better. – Ruth M.

Homemade chocolate sauce is the best kind, and there is a second use for just about everything. — Cait S.

My maternal grandmother taught me hospitality. Everyone was always welcome and everyone got fed. She also taught me how to sew. My paternal grandmother taught me how to make soup and the value of a good story of family from the past. Also, the value of time spent with a child. — Vickie W.

My grandmother taught me how to perfectly season and brown breadcrumbs in olive oil to toss with pasta for a delicious, cheap, meatless dinner. My husband is obsessed with it to this day. – Katie C.

Nana showed me how to make the simplest pie crust, and to this day, I get compliments on it. I’ll never tell anyone Nana’s secret, but let’s just say, butter isn’t the only fat that can make a delicious, flaky crust! — Madelyn W.

Other grandmas passed on lessons about self-sufficiency, hard work and the value of hustling.

After my grandpa died when I was 9, I became my grandma’s right-hand gal. I stayed with her a lot and she taught me so many life lessons and how to be a strong independent woman. Most importantly, work hard but don’t forget to have fun along the way. She was one of the hardest working people I knew, but my gosh, the jokes she could tell, pranks that she played and the adventures we had!! I miss her so much. — Jennifer F.

If you’re going to do something, you may as well get paid for it. — Kristy S.

Always have your own bank accounts. That way you can leave if you need to. — Becca S.

Don’t depend on other people for your happiness. Find it within yourself. — Christine T.

And sometimes a grandmother’s wisdom actually changes the course of your entire life.

I never knew my grandmothers, but my husband’s grandmother was a close friend of my family. I knew her my whole life. When I was eighteen, she got the idea that I might like to meet her grandson. Nineteen years later, we have two beautiful children, a lovely home, a life we could barely have imagined, and we owe it all to Memaw. – Emily D.

Any of us who were lucky to have a wonderful grandma carry wisdom and memories that we will always cherish. I can’t wait to be the grandma one day, and pass some of this on to my babies’ babies. As long as we pass on the love and lessons, our grandmas never truly leave us.

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