Saturday, September 4, 2010
My mother the brave
She desired me for 5 years, yet she couldn’t get pregnant; back in the 70’s fertility treatments were more like trial an error experiments. She suffered and yet kept trying every single option – from fallopian tubes blockage treatment (yes, the painful gas-injection-old fashion one), surgery to remove ovarian cysts, to herbal teas and prayers. Finally, she was with child – with me to be precise.
She worked in her trendy boutique (the first one of its kind back then in her Mexican home town) and expected me with hope and joy…and 6 weeks before my arrival, she find out the hard way my father was cheating on her…she cried out of deception, broken trust; and I felt it, of that I am sure…it left me an ultra sensitive and apprehensive heart.
A fling it was, he said… and she wanted to believe. I was born in a December night, as small and pink as I could be. Marriage continued, difficulties increased, she kept working non-stop... and yet, after five years from her first baby girl, my sister was born: baby of the year – it was barely past midnight on a January 1st. . I remember her arrival, I remember my jealousy. But mostly, I remember her big green eyes.
Two little girls completed her world. Two little girls were all she kept after the husband (my father) vanished. No, he didn’t die. He just decided to leave. She started a new life in a different town, she gave us all she could for us to be safe and raised us as good as she humanly could. She was alone. She was a 34 year old young woman (now I see it), with a huge responsibility and nothing else. I remember her working, almost never around. I can see her arriving after a long day at work and sitting at the kitchen table to eat her favorite dinner: a bowl of frosted flakes… spoon after spoon…so quiet.
My sister and I learned to do everything by ourselves: from cooking to homework, from shopping to cleaning. I was a 12 year old adult taking care of a 7 year old kid. Mom was always busy, but expecting the best from us. I was always afraid to disappoint her. .. She was terrifying. Good grades and perfect behavior was not an option, it was the only way. No prizes, no encouragement, but the mere idea of letting her down was enough.
Year after year, work after work… town after town… school after school; we moved a lot, she was always looking for the best opportunity for her girls. No matter what it took, she never cared: housekeeper in a popular hotel (frequently visited by her former high-society Mexican friends), a cook at a student’s cafeteria and an overnight shift as a caregiver … everything so the girls could afford a better life…but she was never there… the girls were always alone taking care of themselves.
We grew up to become two independent-strong and determined women. My sister married his best friend and has two beautiful perfect girls. I married the love of my life and have been just the two of us (plus our dogs) for the last 21 years (11 married). My mother lives near my sister, still works and takes care of her two granddaughters. It took me a long time to see the things I see today. It wasn’t easy to accept that no one’s life is painless (one way or another). It took me a lot of years to understand that, my mother, as a young and beautiful woman, back then had a choice: and she decided to stay with us. She did what she thought was best. Out of love, out of courage, she made us become what we are.
Even though we sometimes -more often than desired- fight, or despite the fact that she doesn’t react the way I think she should, or the three thousand door mats she places all over the house carpet (oh, because god forbid the carpet might get dirty) I love her with all my heart, respect and honor her for her accomplishments and even more for her sacrifices… and how blessed and lucky I am to realize it in time.
To Olga: the Mother, the Tita, the fighter… but foremost, the woman.