The Greatest Dream Of A Mexican Mother

MothersGreatestGift

A Mexican mother’s greatest dream is to see her children clean the entire house by themselves precisely as she wishes it to be cleaned. To sit down and have a cup of champurrado while her daughters make dinner by themselves. To take a look and see from afar that they are independent and she doesn’t have to lift a damn finger. To know that they can make tortillas from scratch and wipe their nalgas perfectly clean. She has expertly groomed her daughters for adulthood, and she is proud.

My mother saw this come to fruition and now she is happy. Her duties as a responsible mother with chancla and cinturon upbringing have been completed. Unfortunately, it cost me a lot. In her view, my job was to find a good man with which I would show off my excellent cleaning abilities. Dutifully, she inspected the sink each time I did the dishes. With a careful eye, she checked every corner of the kitchen to make sure I scooped up every speck of dirt on the floor. When I cleaned the bathroom, the fixtures should have shined liked diamonds. Every single day, from the day I was young enough to hold a broom, she was there to critically review my work – using tones of exasperation when something wasn’t quite clean and proudly displaying her extremely non-poker-like facial expressions. Yes, she masterfully completed her life’s mission, but it didn’t bring about the result she expected.

I was sixteen when I left my parent’s house to live with my boyfriend. You don’t have to tell me how fucked up that was. I thought, “hey, I know how to clean and cook! I (think) I’m in love with this guy (read asshole and just as naive) and I’m old enough to be on my own anyway!” What should have been typical teen behavior, via telling my parents I hated them and acting out without meaning it, instead quickly escalated into a teen life crisis except I didn’t know it yet. My attempts to be independent outside of our home would come back to slap me in the face as a “tu no sabes nada.” I thought that because I knew how to be a housemaid I could do what I wanted. The ability to maintain a home doesn’t equip you with personal responsibility or actual life experience, however. After years of failing on my own and trying to hold on to a young, cheating, drug-addicted machista, I became pregnant. ( I was scared to death of becoming pregnant! The last thing I wanted was to become another percent on a teen pregnancy statistics report! I was on birth control for all those years, but it failed me.) What I wanted was to prove that I was a grown-up. I wanted a fantastic job, my apartment, and a sense of accomplishment to show my parents that I could be independent outside of their house without a “man.” The guy I had at the time was just a desperate, sad, ugly attempt at getting out of the house.

See me here now, many years later, with my children and my amazing husband, and I continue to struggle. This time, not with knowing what responsibility and independence are, but with knowing how to raise my children with the same fervor as my mother and with a more expansive view of her teachings.

Now, it is my greatest dream as a Mexican mother is to see my girl and my boys clean the entire house precisely as I wish to be done. I want to sit down with my champurrado and admire my son at the stove when he’s making food for the family. To lift every damn finger in my house and wipe the floors along with them. I want them all to make tortillas from scratch and also know how to wipe their nalgas.

The difference is that now I know. Yes, you can cook a delicious meal, but can you also follow instructions at school? Yes, you can clean this house and leave it spotless but do you do your homework with the same attention to detail and follow-through. Obviously, you can make tortillas from scratch but can you just as easily complete other things? Also, do they take the same attention and apply that to other personal relationships – do they care for others as they care each other?

What do you, my child, need from me to be successful outside of the home? How do I help you to become a healthy, independent person? The gist of my revolt was based on that one word “independence.” It’s a swanky word now for parenting books who want to teach you how to manage a difficult child – if only my parents had those same tools when raising me.

Now, don’t mistake my story for hating on my mother. I still rely on her for so much advice and guidance. My goal is not to undo what she did. I don’t want to erase her. What happened to me is part of my story. Instead, it’s vital to me that I find ways to continue Hispanic traditions that maybe we don’t consider to be traditional at all. To have children clean the house from top to bottom on a Sat morning is customary for many Hispanic families. What I don’t want is for those traditions to continue in the name of promoting misogyny and sustaining gender roles. In my new view, who TF cares who/what/where/when/if you marry. Let me maintain my cultural traditions and marry them with new values. Our customs are what make us great people after all. Who am I to end them?

Let us reap the benefits of having our children in mixed cultures. One where we have the resources online or within our American schools to better our parenting and where we seek out the guidance of the tough love from our Mexican mothers to better our souls.

Let me know what you think?

The Struggles Of My Twin Pregnancy – Part 2

Twin Pregnancy

There is no plane in existence where I could ever imagine knowing what it feels like to have a miscarriage. Similarly, there is no plane in existence where I could ever imagine what it feels like to lose twins.

To have the ability to carry life is nature’s gift of love, and to be able to do so times two is a bestowment of grand proportions. It is a blessing that comes with emotions I will never be able to describe aptly. To have the opportunity to feel not one set of arms and legs but two! The joy of hearing two separate heartbeats at your ultrasounds. Feeling an equally immense responsibility to assure their survival is almost primeval – something I felt with my other two children but even more potent this time. This time because there was a nemesis working against us that was the same that brought them to life – my body.

I left off my twin pregnancy story with the beginning of my journey to getting a cerclage. (Read the first part here.) As I said then, it carried the risk of rupturing the twins amniotic sac because of my dilated cervix but also the factor that I was carrying two weighed heavily as well. When we were given the time to think about our decision we knew there wasn’t a decision to make. The odds of these boys surviving were far better with the cerclage than just lying bedridden until infection (practically guaranteed because of the bulging sac).

Both options were risky, and if anyone reading this post has dealt with the heart-wrenching decisions that come with complicated pregnancies, I send you virtual hugs. If anyone reading this post has dealt with the loss of a child (at any stage) or loss of twins, I send you virtual hugs. I have pictures to prove that I did not have to deal with one of those realities, but we were lucky. As I stated in the beginning, there is no existence where I could imagine what you feel. My heart goes out to you.

My surgery to be scheduled for the next morning.

When I was in labor with my oldest the nurses gave me the option of having an epidural. Not knowing anything about pain management and the varying types of pain medication available, I just said yes. I was 18 years old. When my daughter was finally ready to be born, I felt nothing. My abdomen, my legs, my insides were all numb, and the only way for me to know when to push was when the graph on the monitor ticked the highest. It was one of the most disappointing moments in my life. (Being pregnant at 18 was only disappointment in that I had followed all the rules for preventing pregnancy but was one of the 1% – or whatever the small margin is – that got pregnant while on birth control – yay, me.)

When the time came, and the epidural had kicked in, I started to panic. The comfort of my coping space had kept me from panicking earlier, but I would be lying if I said I hadn’t thought about waking up to bad news. In that space and time, my façade of optimism started breaking away. The creepy feeling that I could not feel my legs and I could not feel my belly began to upset me.

I thought, “I can’t feel my babies!”

The realization made me panic, and I started crying. Internally, despite my horror, I tried to rationalize and understand that everything was OK, but it wasn’t working. The nurse noticed my despair and suggested that I be knocked out. It wasn’t even a suggestion. She told one of the other nurses that I was upset therefore I needed to be knocked out. No sooner had I realized what was going on before I started to drift to sleep – probably for the best, I figured later.

I don’t know how often you have been put under for anything, but the sensation is the oddest. Every time I’ve gone under and then awakened, I feel like a chunk of my existence was just erased – in reality, I know that is not true. I have been laying on the table the entire time, the world hasn’t just stopped going or disappeared, but in my mind, I’m poof gone. If it were like a dream, it wouldn’t be so weird but even when you’re asleep and dreaming there is still a sense of being and living. Being sedated is different.

Anyway, when I wake up, I want to cry again. This time because I’m disoriented, I vaguely recall my last memory, and knew I couldn’t feel the boys but realize that now I can. I realize that THEY ARE MOVING! At this point, I’m a mess about everything and bless the nurses (men & women) for knowing that I am pregnant and susceptible because when they come to wake me up, they immediately assure me that everything went well. That there is nothing to worry about and that they are wheeling me down to see my family. I haven’t been away from the hospital room for more than a few hours, but damn I miss them.

So, there’s the happy news. The boys are now safe. The cerclage was a success, and after another day of observation, I am allowed to go home. Yay! Except, there’s some fine print written on my discharge order, it says, “Strict bed rest, no lifting, no standing more than 30 minutes, showers no longer than 30 minutes, and sitting only when tolerated and for as long as it is tolerable.”

Yes, this will be difficult, but at least the twins are safe, again.

This is the part when you think everything is going to be ok. The rest of the pregnancy will be difficult, but there won’t be any more surprises – WRONG! I’m not done yet. There are still a few more hospital visits left for me. Apparently, I liked it there. The doctors and nurses were kind, I guess.

Let’s get to it then. This next stage setup is pretty mundane. When pregnant there are a few necessary tests given around approximate gestation weeks. I was due for my blood sugar test. (Yep.)

You probably guessed it already. This wasn’t even a week or two after my discharge. I suppose I didn’t have enough stuff on my plate.

The next stage of this story is gestational diabetes. Whoo hoo!

Disclaimer: I am not a medical professional. The information contained in this blog post is not meant to assist in diagnosing any medical condition. Diagnosing medical conditions is the job of a medical professional; I am not a medical professional. The sole purpose of this blog post is to inform the reader of my personal experiences.

La Comida de Mamá – Tradiciones Mexicanas Para Mis Hijos

Comida, Tradicion, Tradiciones

Ahora que estamos en la temporada navideña empieza la preparación de comidas típicas mexicanas de este momento: tamales, buñuelos, champurrado y mucho más. La mayoría de nuestras tradiciones están envueltas en la cocina – haciendo y comiendo en familia. Con eso en mente quiero tomar el tiempo este año de hacer el esfuerzo y devolver estas tradiciones con las cuales yo crecí, a mis hijos.

Cuando yo era niña mis papás nos llevaban a fiestas en casas de familiares. Al parecer había fiesta sábado y domingo el mes entero de diciembre. No recuerdo mucho sobre lo que hacíamos ahí y menos con quien estábamos, pero si recuerdo que muchas veces llegábamos temprano para ayudar a hacer la comida. Me acuerdo de todas las mujeres sentadas en las mesas preparando tamales. Cada una con su hoja de elote. En la estufa otro grupo de mujeres friendo buñuelos y echando burla. Todas platicando y riendo y apresuradas para terminar antes de que llegara la gente.

Siempre esperaba con anticipó que las señoras terminaran también para poder comer. No bastaba con tan sólo oler la riqueza de la comida que hacían. Cuando podía me ponía a ayudar y entre escuchar a la plática me echaba un bocadito. Y si no me pedían ayuda buscaba los panes y el champurrado y me buscaba un lugar para sentarme.

Hace muchos años que he visto algo así. ¿Será que a estas mujeres se las llevó el tiempo? No lo sé, también puede ser que las necesidades de mis padres de trabajar horas extremas nos distanciaron de estas festividades. O, también que eso mismo las haya distanciado a ellas. Sea lo que sea, ahora tengo a mis hijos y les quiero dar la experiencia que tuve yo al crecer. La experiencia de pasar las festividades navideñas disfrutando de la misma comida tradicional mexicana que yo. Hay sólo un problema: no sé cocinarlas…

¡No me maten! (Todavía…) ¡Yo sé cocinar! El problema es que no se cómo hacer las más complicadas de nuestras comidas. Por ejemplo, los tamales. Ah, ese tamal… el mismo por el cual los güeros se someten a ser tus amores para comerlos. (Mi esposo, ji ji ji).

No es que no trate de aprender, pero cuando la ocasión se presenta hay que hacer un montón y se hacen rápidamente (y saben mejor) en grupo. Cuando hay que hacerlos en mi familia siempre son hechos por mi mamá. Ella prepara la masa y nosotros (mi hermana, mi papá) preparamos el relleno y las hojas. ¡Varias veces prepare la masa pero las mamás (y abuelas) mexicanas nunca miden los ingredientes! Se mide a sabor, dicen. 😉

La intención que me propuse es aprender.  Quiero tener la capacidad de proveer todas esas delicias navideñas para mi familia. En especial quiero que mis hijos tengan la oportunidad de pedirme a mí que les enseñe a cocinar esas comidas. Que ellos tengan por parte mía lo que yo tengo por mi mamá. Sobre todo en la familia mexicana es mamá la que con su manto (o su comida) provee el amor y la seguridad en abundancia. Es por el cual nosotras como mujeres y madres tenemos la capacidad de alegrar el corazón (y el estómago) a cualquiera.
Quiero en esta temporada que la comida de mamá siga trascendiendo el tiempo y los obstáculos culturales. Los mismos que yo me encuentro desintegrando por parte de mi matrimonio a un hombre americano. Que mi cultura mexicana siga viva en mí como mamá mexicana y que mis hijos, sean quien sea que ellos decidan sea su amor cuando grandes, puedan traer a la mesa (literalmente) su cultura mexicana.