Latina Moms' Nurturing Secret, Unearthed!

Sunday, May 8, 2011

For better or worse, many Latina moms' intense nurturing is everlasting, particularly towards their daughters, says Sandra Guzmán in this excerpt from her book "The New Latina's Bible." This long umbilical cord is buried in tradition.

(WOMENSENEWS)--If your mother's identity is like my mother's identity, it's tightly woven to her kids, her grandchildren, her great-grandchildren, the food she cooks and the house she keeps.

My mother always worked outside the home, doing all kinds of odd jobs to put food on the table and clothes on our backs. At one time or another she worked as a hairstylist, a hotel maid, a pastelera (tamalera to some) and a sneaker seamstress.

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But her greatest sense of achievement is having raised her children--two boys and three girls--by herself, children who today have successful careers and families of their own. Her greatest joy is cooking up a storm and feeding her family in the home she built with her life's savings.

My mother is a chingona, as my Chicana sisters would say--a fierce Boricua warrior who never takes no for an answer. Though she has a small and stocky frame, in my eyes she was always an amazona. She taught me, by her unbreakable strength, resistance, perseverance and profound Christian faith, how to be the warrior that I am today. I have seen parts of my mother in so many Latina mothers I have met. We have been raised by truly fearless women who were in turn raised by awesome abuelas. They are emblems of our collective strength.

Time for Appreciation

However--and this is a big however--I didn't always appreciate all that my mother was. In fact, my mother and I had so many fights growing up, I thought that as soon as I hit 18, I'd never see her again.

As a young Latina coming of age in America, I kept making choices that went against the grain of tradition. Nothing I ever did, except excelling in school, seemed to make her happy. The clothing I wore was ugly or weird; the way I styled my hair was freaky; the music I listened to was horrible; the friends I had were never good enough; and the "bad habits" I was picking up were offensive.

Many times I felt as if I were an alien in my own home. The fact that she didn't speak English and I was quickly losing my Spanish made our communication even more difficult. It was so hard to explain myself to mami. She didn't cut the umbilical cord for a very, very long time and, bless her heart, she still hasn't stopped meddling in all of my affairs.

When I was young I spent years resenting her and our life together. Now that age and understanding have tempered my anger and I can appreciate the wisdom of the past, I see her for who she is. More important, I'm peaceful enough within myself that I can accept her as she is.

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