A shout out to all the big sisters who have to at times step into their mothers shoes. If you’ve got one of those big sisters do not neglect to thank her for stepping in to help your mother. I’m a little sister, y Gracias a Dios that I had 3 big sisters who had my back, my big sis Marina, embraced her role and kept a good eye on me when my ama had her hands full, with 8 kids to raise, imaginate they were always bien llenas! Thanks big sis! A few years ago I wrote this simple poem in honor of my big sis Marina. Now that I’ve revisited it, I realize that it was pretty cheesy and not quite descriptive of our home life. Pero, the message remains, when your big sister puts on her mommas shoes, se agradecida!
My Mother’s Shoes
Three boys & three girls was a nice even number,
a quiver and more!
From sun up to sun down she worked,
raising 6 kids was no easy chore!
The work never stopped
as the needs piled on top.
Stacks of dishes and laundry miles high,
with a heavy sigh she washed & she dried
With a pair of preteens, and another of teens
She learned to spy, behind her head she had extra eyes
Sweeping and mopping? Impossible!
Her two toddler girls needed to play.
She asked God for strength and help
as he granted another day.
At night, with weary exhaustion
Mom took off her shoes
Morning came all too soon
with mouths to feed and no time to lose
She had no quiet place
Still she took a moment to rest,
but then came another test.
Her eyelids were heavy,
she yearned for some sleep.
Her lids closed for a moment
but she caught her breath
She felt the stirring within.
She new what this meant,
she was expecting again,
And when the new baby came,
she felt the stirring again!
Now her brood was complete;
God gave her eight children to raise.
At night, more weary than ever,
She would take off her shoes
She’d whisper a prayer for patience
And the strength God renews
She was created to nurture,
to give all that she had,
But she needed a helper
who could nurture
When my mothers hands were too full
and I cried with my need
My Big Sister came, she was ready to give
and ready to watch over me
She wasn’t my mom!
I wanted my mom!
Big Sister shushed me
It was then that I knew
she was wearing my mommas’ shoes!
Fast forward to my own mothering experience, I only had 4 kids and they kept me busy, I can’t imagine my amas experience. Pero, gracias a Dios for Emery and Thomas’ big sister! My daughter Daniella stepped into my shoes so easily, at least she made it seem smooth. A little confession right here is appropriate. Bien Concha, enjoying my motherhood, boasting that my last two babies were so easy at night, they slept through the night! Pero un dia, Daniella set the record straight, hijole! When the baby woke up and I didn’t, she would pat him back to sleep while I kept sleeping. Que verguenza, what a blow to my mothering ego!
There’s much more mothering practice that she experienced through her little brothers, but confessing this was too much for me already! Today, Daniella is an amazing mother: She uses all the talent God gave her and sometimes that strong latina woman comes out in her and she manages very well.
Sunday is mothers day, bless your ama and if you have a big sis, thank her for every time she stepped into your mothers shoes.
Feliz Dia de las Madres! I hope all you moms enjoy a beautiful day, or two. And for all you children, hear some nagging unsolicited advice from an ama of 31 years. If you’re able, give your momma that special attention, you’ll make her day grand. I tell you, life is but a vapor, appears for a little time. For you young amas, watch out for those stinking attitudes.
Don’t Be Too Busy
I was a busy daughter, probably since the moment I started walking and because of that my “me and mi ama” moments were few and short. I’m glad I have them though. I’m sitting here wondering, should I tell them about her ways with us? Or should I share with them the quick episodes? Maybe I’ll do both.
My Ama Celebrated Us
With 8 kids to raise, a house to keep up, mom didn’t have time for all those other things, like birthday parties or honor roll or sports banquets. Besides that, she didn’t speak English or Spanglish and she didn’t drive.
For our birthdays ama would cook our favorite dish and make sure we got our birthday wishes.
When I got to the rough rocky stage of adolescence, I wore that stinky face attitude that could appreciate nothing! And I was always right.
When I was turning thirteen, I got it in my head that I should have a birthday party because that’s what was supposed to happen for a birthday to be legit. Honestly, I’m sure I didn’t necessarily ask for a party, the plan just started coming together. How hard could it be? I explained to my ama that it was just for people my age, you know los jovenes. Que vergüenza! If my parents were home! More embarrassing were her serious hospitable ways of cooking for the whole barrio! Besides, pozole wasn’t a very cool meal for a soon to be thirteen year old. Somehow I managed to provide potato chips, not tortilla chips and salsa, no it had to be papitas in barbecue flavor. Teenagers didn’t eat much anyway right? LOL!
How do adolescents do that? How do they manage to make a parent feel stupid for doing the right thing? But they do. I’ve been on both sides of the situation.
Interpreting the facial expressions of teens
There should be a translation card for the facial language that has been used by 12 year olds and teens throughout the ages.
The rolling of the eyes: when you tell your teen to do something like be polite and greet ALL your tios and tias and be nice when they squeeze you in a hug and kiss. The indignant belittling stare: when your Ama says “Rosalba limpiaste tu cuarto?” What? Doesn’t she know she’s supposed to clean my room? The angry glare: when you hear “No puedes ir” the eyebrows knit together and you argue that you MUST go! I was one of those nasty lil 12 year olds that mastered that angry look (now i’m wishing I could tell my ama how sorry I am). There was also that blank or confused look: when pretending I didn’t hear the direct command. “Es que no oí” Lies! I’ve told you that my ama could easily be heard 😁. And finally the “I’m about to cry look”: when I was busted “Ama es que no sabia que se hico tarde!” The rule was you get home before it’s dark outside, Before I snuck the tears were piling up outside in the dark, “Pero ama, I was too busy playing, I didn’t know it was night time!”
There’s more but you get the picture, Rosalba was always innocent, a victim of circumstance. Let’s get back to my almost thirteen year old party planning shenanigans. Mira, I knew what my party needed, my ama and my big sisters would have to step aside.
The Birthday Party
I got the word out for my birthday party. I knew nothing about music but my older brothers did, so I had the record player ready. (Or maybe it was the 8-track player?) The chips y el Kool-aid were on the table, let the dancing begin. Although I was still very much a tomboy and a little kid at heart and mind, there was that awful adolescent voice stealing my kid fun with such ideas like “you’re not a little kid anymore, stop behaving like one” Hijole! I hated it, but I thought I had no choice but to get serious and practice what the older kids did, like dancing.
All of us wishing for the simple days of cake piñatas and candy. “Dale dale dale…” Shake out those dumb thoughts, what tragedy! Too old for pinatas and the wonderful dulces that gushed out when it was cracked open. No more freeze tag or escondidas, unheard of to have a thirteen year old playing hide and seek! I can only lift my hands and thank God that the adolescent rules allowed for sports organized or in the barrio.
So the big day came for my birthday party. Were there decorations? Yup, just the essential streamer. To this day I have to be schooled on the importance of presentation 😁 but like my ama I can serve you a delicious feast.
The details are fuzzy now. De veras, I’m not omitting juicy party “tea”. The boys from the barrio came, and some boys from my class room. Obnoxious boys, but the one boy I hoped would come, didn’t. I never did directly invite him, I figured he would get the word of mouth invite. I was not gonna go chasing after a dumb boy, that’s not the way my big sister Lupe rolled.
There we sat, boys munching on chips, their only available food, helping them ignore the big step of asking a girl to dance. Meanwhile we girls sat on the couch scared to death that we wouldn’t get invited to dance or worse! That one of us would be the last girl to be asked.
For a while, my ama and apa were not seen. A strange thing because my parents were strict about us staying away from boys. Pero, now I know that while things were “safe” they made themselves scarce. When I was slow dancing with a boy shorter than me, imagínate! My other nickname was Shorty! I was kinda hovering over this boy, leaning heavily on him. It probably took every ounce of strength out of him to keep himself from being crushed! Hay si, “slow dancing, swaying to the music”. All of a sudden! There was my ama in the kitchen and my apa sitting at the dining room table! Que verguenza! sheesh, all my friends saw my parents watching us, pero tambien, what relief. We didn’t have to dance anymore and, more importantly,
She brought a birthday cake. Oh what a rest it is to have an ama who thinks of her children, even when they’re thoughtless!
I do thank God so much that she never let my foolish adolescent attitudes affect her love or care of me or any of her kids. She was too busy to plan a “socially acceptable” birthday party for 8 kids and a husband every year, but she always managed to fill in the details of our life with her love and ways.
Happy Mother’s Day to all the mothers who are in the thick of the battle from changing diapers to fighting with teens, and to all the mothers whose babies have grown up and moved away, that’s where I’m at. To all the mothers whose babies are in heaven, and to all the mothers struggling with fertility. And to the mothers who have fulfilled that role for another mothers children. Feliz Dia De Las Madres, rejoice in the blessing of your inheritance momma.
Will you share with me a memory or your mother in the comments below?