Old School Latina Mom – Sagrada pero Complicada (Sacred but Complicated)


¿Qué Pasa, USA?

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.



  1. Your experiences/observations are on point! ‘Blind and intense Latina mom love.’ Truer words have never been spoken. Hilarious! This is exactly what it feels like to have a Latina mother. I wouldn’t have it any other way. There’s something about be doted on, while being fed and made to feel guilty at the same time, that just can’t compare to anything else in the world.

    I swore I heard my mom’s voice when I read the line ‘Ya tu no me quieres!’ It’s just like a telenovela. Way over the top, but incredibly accurate.

    Keep these coming!


  2. Michelle,

    Thanks for stopping by and sharing your thoughts…much appreciated. I think your “telenovela” reference is dead-on. In the final analysis, Latina moms are wonderful, sagrada but unquestionably complicada, at least some that I know.

    Till next time Michelle.


    Alberto Padron
    Born Bicultural USA

  3. Alberto, I think these are some pretty accurate assumptions, not for every Latina mom, of course, but in my husband’s experience this is pretty on point. For my husband, it got to the point where his mother’s insults became too much and he had to actually take a break in order to pursue his life as a man, husband, father. I think that there are definitely people out there who can relate to this, although, like you said, it doesn’t apply to all Latina moms. Having to agree with Michelle that the caring of Latina moms is beyond parallel. When I was speaking to my suegra, she was the center of our universe, it’s unfortunately that we’re not close now, but hopefully the relationship will mend in the future…and maybe will more balance. ❤

  4. Chantilly,

    I just posted and retweeted your ping-back from your Bicultural Mom podcast to my Born Bicultural USA blog. Thanks for picking up on this.

    This topic has generated a handful of watercooler chats at the office. Looks like we struck a cord, particularly among the daughter-in-laws of these wonderfully complicated Latina moms. Haven’t heard much from the objects of Latina Moms desires, their beloved Latino sons. Your husband gives some texture on your Bicultural Mom podcast…thanks for that.

    Please stop by again. Your thoughts are always welcomed here.


    Alberto Padron
    Born Bicultural USA

  5. This IS my mother. She is going to be 75 this year. She’s originally from Puerto Rico and married my dad who is from the states. I was raised in Indiana and everything you stated in this post is 200% true. I feel validated!

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