My Mama, My Hero

Today is Mother’s Day in Mexico, so I thought I’d take the opportunity to write about mine.

I still, to this day, cannot understand how she was able to leave everything behind: her family, her house, her friends, her job, her life, and come to a different country to start almost completely over. She was younger then, than I am now. Only 29. And she came toting a rather precocious three year-old.

I can’t imagine the pain she felt when that three year-old sang the first verse of the Mexican national anthem on most of the journey to the United States.

I can’t fathom the fear and uncertainty she felt when looking at drab apartments in an unknown city. One was across the street from a cemetery. Did she feel the pang of homesickness whenever she crossed some cheap, cramped threshold instead of the one back home?

I can’t understand. I am not sure I ever will. But I can thank her for doing it all with a measure of grace, compassion, and fortitude that I can only hope to achieve in my lifetime.

My mother has shattered glass ceilings like it is her hobby. She holds not one, but two advanced degrees. Her second in a field that was totally different than her first. In both careers, she excelled. It’s all she really knows how to do. Excel.

She became the absolute bedrock for my family as we all struggled to find our place here. When I was flailing wildly and messily through two cultures, languages, and identities, she was patient. Although now, I can only guess as to how much it hurt to watch her daughter pull away from everything that defines her.

Truly, I was no picnic. In fact, I told most of my classes today that if my mom had ever given serious thought to driving me out to the woods and leaving me there to be eaten by bears, I wouldn’t fault her for it at all. I was angry, bitter, and resentful, and I took it out on the people who had sacrificed everything to give me a better life.

Yeah, I totally deserved bears for a while.

When I regained my footing in this world, she has stood by me, providing wisdom and insight, even when I’m not in the mood to hear it, but I probably need to hear it most.

She has become my very best friend.

I stand in awe of her strength, her passion for life, laughter, and everybody around her. She amazes me with her gentleness when she is helping her students, and her tenacity in protecting them.

I hope that she sees a glimmer of that tenacity in me. That, when I recount stories of teaching my students about how they can go out and change the world, that she hears the message that she passed on to me.  I hope that, when I tell my students to fight for what is right, that she knows I tell them because I grew up watching her do it.

She believed in me when I couldn’t find myself to believe in.

There are not enough flowers, hokey cards, or cardigans (an obsession we both share) in the world, the galaxy, the universe, to express my love and gratitude for my Mama.

She gave me life, and then uprooted hers to give me an even better one. And to this day, I can feel her support in every one of my Pinterest fails, career endeavors, and dreams.

Little does she know how much I dream of one day becoming a mother just like her.

Feliz Dia de Las Madres, Mama. I am so lucky to have you. Thank you. I love you, always.



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