First, I HEART Latinas, and moms, and Latina Moms.
Second, the subject of this post is not the second-generation+, modern day Latina Mom…those of you who are much more my peers in terms of age and world view. The subjects of this post are moms from my mother’s generation…moms approximately 60+ in age who immigrated to the U.S. from a Latin country.
Third, I recognize that I may be better served leaving this topic alone because authoring any post that makes everyone satisfied is like walking a tight rope…doing so when the subject of your narrative is Latina Moms, well, it’s like walking a tight rope blindfolded 10,000 feet above a lake of fire.
My observations are just that, my observations…not facts applicable to all, nor attempts to impose my view on anyone else.
Ok, enough with the disclaimers. Here goes nothing…
Mamá Sagrada (Sacred Mom)
Who will love ya more than a Latina mom? No one. She will express her love to you with everything at her disposal. She will hug you tighter than anyone will ever hug you. She will compliment you as if you were the most special person on earth. She will feed you like you never had a meal and insist you consume every last bite. There are countless other examples of this blind and intense Latina mom love. And what does she ask for in return? Attention which she equates to love. She wants your devoted, undivided, all-consuming, omnipresent attention as affirmation of your love.
Mamá Complicada (Complicated mom)
When you’re a child, the implied agreement of love and attention between mamá sagrada and her child is easy and natural and mutually enjoyable. The complications tend to emerge later, when adulthood and all of its demands are inescapable factors of maturation. For the former child, there’s pressure to keep pace with mamá’s demands. For mamá sagrada, there’s the perceived distance felt as the consequence that their “hijito” (young son) is now an adult, with adult-sized responsibilities. Perhaps it’s unfair to characterize mamá as complicada, instead, it may be the situation that is complicated. When a Latina mom feels distance, she’s been known to say (or yell) things such as:
- “Ya tú no me quieres” (You don’t love me anymore) – Latina Mom guilt? Anyone? Anyone?
- “Te haz Americanizado” (You’ve become Americanized) – This comes from a place of insecurity and gross cultural misunderstanding – we’ll have to revisit this on a separate post
- “Yo soy tu madre!” (I am your mother!) – As to imply everything else must be knocked down a few notches to preserve her “rightful place” perched atop your life’s highest pedestal, alone.
For many of my Hispanic male buddies, they’re able to maintain their role as mamá’s “hijito” (young son) for the balance of their adult lives seamlessly. Some do it because they enjoy being coddled; others do it out of a sense of obligation to mamá sagrada.
Over the years, I’ve reduced the degree of complexity from the Latina Mom/Son equation. Quite simply, I am a grown man with grown man responsibilities. The stakeholders I prioritize are many, and my Latina mom is among them. She may not sit alone perched atop that pedestal because I have kids to raise, a wife to tend to, bosses and clients to respond to, mortgages to pay, etc…and mamá will be sagrada, but once you’re grown, she’s not alone (in the “sagrada” category). Just ask your significant other.
Juana Peña, we love ya, but Joe can’t be your baby forever.