Dicho: No Hay Mal …
Like most children I had a keen eye for injustice – especially when it was perpetrated against me.
“It’s not fair!” I’d declare. My mother, calmly, and sometimes without even looking up from whatever household chore she happened to be working on, would sigh and say, “Well, Tracy, life’s not fair.”
It doesn’t sound like a cheerful bit of advice to hand down to one’s child, and maybe it’s not an official proverb, but she spoke the truth. Life isn’t fair, and the sooner you realize that, the easier it is to accept the inevitable unfairness that comes your way so you can pick yourself back up, dust yourself off and keep going. It’s not a cynic’s view, but a realist’s.
“Life’s not fair” is easily the single adage my mother repeated the most, and so when I got married and gained a second mother-of-sorts, my suegra, I was surprised that despite very different lives and not even speaking the same language, that my mother-in-law would give me advice similar to what my mother had given me growing up.
Over the years, whenever I have complained that something is too difficult or simply sighed a disgruntled sigh in her presence, (which is often since she lives with us) – Suegra has smiled and regarded me with amusement – my life being a million times easier than hers ever was. I will curse the baskets of laundry I have to wash, forgetting that she grew up literally spending all day at the river scrubbing the family’s clothing with a rock. Still, as combative as our relationship has tended to be, she usually finds the compassion to remind me, “Ay nana… La vida no es facíl.”
So my mother taught me that life isn’t fair, and my mother-in-law taught me that life isn’t easy, but what do I tell my own children?
I tell my two boys, “No hay mal que por bien no venga” – There is no bad from which good does not come.
In other words, yes, life isn’t fair and life isn’t easy – but with that unfairness and difficulty comes gratitude for all the things in life worth celebrating, like smart mothers… (and maybe mother-in-laws, too.)
Tracy López is a writer living in the D.C. Metro area. Her blog, Latina-ish, examines cultural differences she discovers as she navigates life in a bicultural, bilingual family. She can also be reached via Twitter @Latinaish.