When Mother’s Day comes around every year, I have mixed emotions. On the one hand, I love my mom more than she will ever know. On the other hand, the lady sometimes drives me nuts, and in the past there have been times when I have had to limit my contact with her for the sake of my sanity. There are no Hallmark cards that capture the complexity of our relationship. When I see an aisle full of those flowery, “Mom, you’re my best friend” cards, I envy the people who might truly feel that way (and I know they do exist: for example, my cousins have a genuinely great, loving, best-friendy relationship with my aunt/godmother).
But today I want to focus not on the tough times my mom and I have had, and instead focus on the positive. Here, in no particular order, are some random things I love about my Daily Chicana Mama:
1. My mom is gloriously goofy. She has the silliest sense of humor of anyone I ever met. She will burst into opera at the drop of a hat; start a game of tag and run away; suddenly speak in a crazy accent or in a little kid’s voice, just to make you laugh. I used to be embarrassed of this when I was younger, but now it’s something I love about her.
2. She owns her opinions. Intensely. It doesn’t matter who you are, how long she has known you, or what the subject matter is—she will make her views known. Do you like Julia Roberts? “Ew, I can’t STAND Julia Roberts!” Did you see the Lifetime Drew Peterson movie? “That was so STUPID!” Can you believe what my colleague said to me? “She’s an ASS-WIPE!” Did you watch the royal wedding? “Kate Middleton looked so BEAUTIFUL!” And on and on.
3. My mom defends us ferociously. Although she personally never hesitates to gossip about and criticize my sister and me when she’s talking to either one of us, god protect anyone else who dares to say or do anything remotely bad to us in her presence. When we were in school and felt that a teacher had been unfair, my mom went straight to the principal to demand an apology. When I was twenty-three years old and experienced an episode of sexual harassment at work, my mom wanted to accompany me to talk with my manager about the situation and confront the harasser herself, even though I told her I could handle it on my own. She always protects us.
4. She never was afraid to be unique or to follow her gut instinct. My mom has never been one to feel obliged to go along with any crowd. She had the courage to get divorced, for example, even though her immediate family frowned upon the decision. And when I was little, she applied for and got her first part-time job because she wanted some money of her own and greater personal freedom, despite the fact that she was told that being a stay-at-home mom was supposed to be her dream in life. I respect her strong will.
5. My mom wanted my sister and me to enjoy even the smallest of opportunities that had been denied to her. For instance, when she was growing up, my grandmother did not allow her to go to attend sleepovers, because in Mexican culture, the only reason you would stay the night at someone else’s home is because you are related to them by blood. My mom tried to explain that in the US, it was a social thing that kids did all the time, but my grandma could never see it that way. So when my sister and I were young, we could have friends stay over all the time and take up any invitations we had to do the same. Likewise, my mom never had really her own bedroom when she was growing up; she often had to share her room with relatives who visited from Mexico and stayed for months at a time. So again, no matter where we lived, she made sure that my sister and I had each our own personal space, which we never had to share unless we wanted to.
So that’s a little tribute to my mom on this special day. She’s going to be visiting me next week and I hereby publicly promise that, keeping in mind this list of some things I adore about her, I will make ever effort to be patient with her and get along with her the best I can.