Mama Said (There’d be Days Like This)

You ever have a Thursday that felt like a Monday?

You know, the kind that starts with babies who fuss and suckle all night–then wake up the moment you roll away from them, scream at the top of their lungs, and won’t stop until you crawl back into bed?

Have you ever had a day where you learn so much you just feel dumb at the vastness of what you don’t know in the subject area that you coach others?

Have you ever had a day SO productive it feels more like a week?

Have you ever had one of those days that is so busy you forget to pump your child’s milk until the last 30 minutes of the day–but you know you can’t go ahead and go home, because then she would nurse and you wouldn’t be able to squirrel away her stash?

Have you ever had to leave work, run through the drive through for supper, just to get to meeting on time–only to find out your child fell asleep two minutes before you make it to the meeting?

You know what meeting is like with a toddler who just learned to walk and wants down at every moment and an almost four-year-old who is so sleepy that you spend the first part of meeting waking her up and the next part telling her how you expect her to behave?

Have you ever give Motrin to one kid just to show the other it tastes good?  Have you had to take advantage of a toddler tripping, falling, and crying to shoot medicine into her mouth while she’s down for the count?

Have you ever ended your day by going to the bathroom only to find out that your husband used the last of the paper so you have to holler and ask for some?

And then…you wait…

Until your daughter brings you this: At least it’s time for bed.  Am I right?

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A Letter to My Youngest (on the Brink of her First Birthday)

img_4658Dear Little Jo-Jo,

My sweet, rambunctious, bien traviesa daughter… it is hard to believe you will be one in two weeks.  And at the same time, it’s hard to believe that you haven’t been part of our family forever.  You sure did take your time getting here–and we waited anxiously for your arrival.  I should have known then that you would be stubborn and ready to take us by storm!

I love seeing you light up, my love.  Your face is like a thousand suns when Sissy and I come home from school.  You twinkle and scream Dada! across the meeting when you see him glance your way.  Even other people you see in the street, in meeting, at the store… they can’t resist your charm!  I hope you stay this friendly forever.

img_4581Sissy sure does love you too, but sometimes it may not feel like it.  And you know what, sometimes you agitate her to the point her patience!  I just watched as Sissy arranged her toys, then walked outside.  As soon as she turned her back, you ran over to the little table, grabbed the Barbie, and proudly took off with her.  Poor Sis didn’t even know what was going on when she walked back into the room–but you did!  Oh! you little tootie!  I hope you and your sister will always be this inseparable!

 

Papi says you won’t let him rest during the day, and I tend to believe him.  He said you stand at the door and scream at him until he brings you outside to his work area.  And then when it is time to rest, he swears that you won’t sleep without him cuddling you.  What a cuddle bug you are!  I love seeing how you look at your Papi, and I hope that adoration last forever too!

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You’ve filled parts of my heart I didn’t know were empty, little girl, with your rat-a-tat-tat feet and your toothy smile.  And I sure do look forward to another year with you in our lives.

Love always,
Your Mama

 

Hear Me Roar

Saturday millions of women all over the world took to the streets in protest.  Friday, a great (tremendous, terrific) defiler of women was sworn in as the president of my country.

I sat in the school office Friday, and watched the speech that he gave.  And I cried.  I cried as he spoke about being a president for the people.  The secretary next to me turned around in surprise at my tearful expletive, “Are you crying, Jania!?”  I explained, yes… I am crying.  I am crying for my country.  For my family.  For my daughters.

See, Mexicans don’t understand how Americans are JUST feeling this way.  Politicians have been less-than-wonderful and undeserving of respect for years here in Mexico.    They have risen to power because of the money in their pockets, and the exchange of that money from hand to hand.  Politicians  have rallied in poor communities, bribing the people with promises of good roads and clean water, while literally PAYING for their votes.  Mexicans have snickered at the poor english spoken by their leader, and joked about the connections that he has to the cartel.

My Mexican colleagues don’t understand that I have never felt like this.  But at the same time, they understand how dangerous the world just became.  They understand what people all over the world can see: America just crept into the rat’s trap.  They understand what the rat doesn’t: that no matter how tasty the cheese might be, the chance of never tasting cheese again is just as sure.

Has America been embarrassed by our leaders before?  Sure.  Have they ever been this fearful?  This disgusted?  This disillusioned?  Not in my lifetime.

(No doubt some readers of this very blog post are disagreeing with me right now–and no doubt those readers are white middle-class citizens who have probably had access to fair pay and healthcare most of their lives.)

I didn’t vote for the former (and far superior) president in his first campaign.  But I attended his inauguration with thousands of others.  The air was electric with promise of change.  The metro was so full of people, that moving was like something from a cartoon.  Everyone was pressed together as one unit, shuffling their feet, and moving as possible onto the train and through the platforms.  Every inch of the lawns were full of people, and not just white people.

Say what you want about Obama, but he was the people’s president.  He made hard decisions that were made for the good of MANY, not just a few.  And that was evident that day eight years ago.

Which brings us to the protest of women all over the world: Has there ever been such a huge protest in reaction to a president taking office?  Has there?  Not in our country.

I wrote a post the day after the election in November, and since then I have seen many posts pleading to give Trump a chance.  But he hasn’t earned a chance yet.  And if anything, he has time after time shown how unworthy he is to be our commander-in-chief.  Unable to take responsibility, full of accusations and immature finger-pointing.  Even after his speech on Friday he shook hands with many standing behind him,  but skirted around the one who secured more votes from the people and her husband.

I watched with pride as a far more worthy politician held her head high,  pasted on a smile,  and continued to stand with pride.  Isn’t that what women have done for years?  She didn’t need to speak out in the protests, because the voices of many others rang out for her.  

And so here I am: a mother of two little girls, a sister of three strong women, a daughter of two respecters of human kind, and a teacher of the future.  I may not have marched in protest, but I am ready to defend our future.

A Lesson on Mourning and Empathy Following a Trump Win  

I deleted Facebook on purpose: your posts about the election always upset me.  Rather than engage in social media arguments with you, I chose silence and distance.  But I opened Facebook the day after the election.

Big mistake.

I, not only saw the Fox News rhetoric, but saw a complete and utter lack of empathy for those of us who are hurting due to the election results.  This explanation is for you: my white friends.

I call you my white friends because that is what you are.  None of my Latino friends say the things you do.  None of my black friends are posting begging us to “give Trump a chance.”  None of my gay and lesbian friends (albeit white) have asked us to move on.  

Only you: my white friends.

I am going to tell you what the Black Lives Matter movement told you, but you didn’t hear.  Your white privilege (yes, this is a real thing) protects you in ways that you don’t understand.  I understand why you don’t understand.  I didn’t “get it” either.  And then I began to think of my Mexican children.  I began to think of my African students.  I began to think of my non-Christian friends.

See, that’s what empathy is: empathy is stepping out of your own shoes and trying on another pair.  Then empathy requires you to say, “Wow! Yeah, the world looks at me differently here. What a bummer!”  Empathy allows you to return to your zapatitos and still remember, feel for, and understand the way someone else feels.

I haven’t seen that from you.  Instead there are posts about giving Trump a chance.  Posts about respecting our commander in chief no matter who he is.  Posts about how Trump’s voting population wasn’t created from hateful people.  Posts about how we all need to move on and get over it.  Posts about how Trump wants to bring us together.

And that tells me you don’t get it.

I don’t understand: we could see with each speech how Trump belittled those who didn’t look like him.  We heard story after story about him encouraging violence against anyone who believed differently and dared to say so.  In fact, they weren’t merely stories:  we saw video evidence!   We heard his “plan” for deportation of Latinos, elimination of equal rights to marry, and registration of Muslims.

So why don’t you understand the fear those people have?

It isn’t unjust fear!  They were told, as were you and I, that life would be different for them if Trump was elected.  Of course they are afraid! and sad! and worried!

Giving Trump “a chance” is a little hard when he’s told you your time is up.  Respecting a man who has so little respect for others in near impossible if you are the others.  Believing that you, his voters, aren’t hateful or ignorant is difficult when his entire campaign was built on a solid foundation of hate: beginning with hate and ending with hate.  Moving on and getting over it isn’t an option–as the next four years we are bound to this joke of a “leader.”  And trusting him to bring us together is equally laughable (except none of this is laughable) because he has done his best to drive a wedge between us: painting a picture of what American should be from the eyes of a privileged white man.

This isn’t about Hillary Clinton and her loss.  This isn’t about Bernie Sanders and his revolution. This is about one man who has caused hurt and fear in millions of people–not just Americans, but all over the world.  This is real.  This is scary.  Try to understand that, would you?

Shock and Sadness on the Day After Elections

I feel sick.  I am literally crying as I write this a country away.

When I visited home during the summer of 2015, Trump had recently began his race.  He had gone on camera talking about Mexicans, and we all were still wondering if it was a joke.  

And that was a question even during the spring of this year:  Is this a joke?   We have all been waiting for the punchline to be delivered.

You know what?  Hate is no joke.  I cannot believe that my countrymen just voted for a man who says the things he says.  Someone who has repeatedly spoken out against Muslims, Mexicans, homosexuals, and women.  Someone who makes fun of people with disabilities.  Someone who jokes about using weapons of mass destruction on other countries.  Someone who every living president has warned us about.  Someone who opens his mouth and spews anger, ignorance, and hatred with every word.

I am reeling, thinking of my little family here in Mexico.  I am wondering  if I need to apply for Victor’s visa earlier than planned.  We were planning on applying for a visitor visa in January.  But now?  What does this mean for us?  Do you, dear readers, realize that with the exception of one brother and my mother, my own family hasn’t met my husband?  Not one family member or friend from home has met my child?  Did you think of us when you voted?  Did you think of the thousands of families like us–or families who have to live seperate in order to survive?

And what does this mean for our country?  Do we really belong to a nation that wants this man as the leader?  I am appalled.  This is the first time in my life that I can say I am embarrassed to be American.  

And I am scared for our future.  

Halloween (With a Three Year Old)

Halloween with a three year old means buying grey hoodies to make shark costumes.  It means singing “baby shark, doo doo…” over and over (and over and over…)

Halloween with a three year old means that the night before a school Halloween party she informs you that, no, she is going to be a witch.(duh.) It means she will need a broom.  A hat.  A skirt.  Witch tights.

     
  Halloween with a three year old means she can remove the spider dangling from the witch’s hat, because she doesn’t like spiders.

Halloween with a three year old means giggles ensue when she talks about her calzones that Pablo looked for under her tutu.

Halloween with a three year old means toys have to be picked up before trick or treating.  It means you have to help, because she has forgotten where they go.  (And that the clean up song is for school.)

Halloween with a three year old means keeping little hands busy by gluing notes onto the marshmallow bags you are handing out to neighbors.  It means she will groan with sheer exhaustion when she can’t handle gluing one more.

Halloween with a three year old means that 30 minutes before it is time to trick or treat, she will change her mind about her costume.  It means she will be a “princess.”  It means you will have to move the bed to find her crown that fell off after she went to bed with it on.

    
Halloween with a three year means they can trail behind the big kids hollering, “Queremos Halloween!”  It means they lug their bag of candy  without help while you watch from the street.

Halloween with a three year old means you stare in disbelief that the neighborhood party starts at 8 and keeps going strong at 9.  Those people clearly don’t have three year olds.  

Halloween with a three year old means leaving the park after she screams at you–a bit embarrassed but mostly glad for an opportunity to use love and logic.  It means you get to say things like, “Would you like to walk or would you like me to carry you?  Would you like a sip of water or would you prefer to go straight to bed?”

Halloween with a three year old means hearing for the first time how little your daughter likes you.  It means she will tell you she wants a different mami, and that she wants to give you to the police.  It means you will have to hide your smile even as part of you dies a little inside.

Halloween with a three year old means that cuddles, laughter, bedtime stories, and hand holding will remind her how much fun it is to be a three year old.  It means that you made it another night. 

  
Get your sleep, mama.  Threeangers are out to get you again tomorrow.  Because Tuesdays everyday with a three year old…

She has what?

Question:  What do Velveteen Rabbit, Little Women, AND Little House on the Praire have in common?  See below for the answer.

Last week, my youngest pumpkin got her first cold.  She started getting a little fussy, stopped eating table food, and she got a fever.  The nights were the worst–tossing, turning, twisting, nursing!

Monday I stayed home with her and we took her to the doctor’s office.  He told us that he believed chicken pox was still leaving her system.  It bothered me–it didn’t make sense, but I know I am not a doctor.

Tuesday she began to get a rash, and I sent a message to the doc asking if it was a reaction to her medicine.  He insisted it wasn’t.  

Fast forward to today:

Victor called right away to tell fm that the baby’s rash was worse!  She was covered head to toe with the most uncomfortable looking rash!  So again, I messaged the doctor and off we went.

Thankfully. 

 My poor baby has scarlet fever!  Yes! It still exists!  Not just in great books!  

At one time this was serious!  I mean, the rabbit in The Velveteen Rabbit was cast aside due to her playmate’s disease!  Beth died from scarlet fever in Litle Wonen.  And poor Mary in the Little House on the Praire went blind (in the books) from the disease! 

Curse you for the dramatic flare you add to literacy, Scarlet!  Get back in to the pages of the books I read, and off my baby’s body!  This mama needs to sleep!

A Plea for Your Vote

Did you see the first lady’s speech?  If not, you may want to watch it on YouTube…if you are of voting age, and you are registered you SHOULD watch it.

I did.  Laying in bed between my two perfect little girls, I watched the First Lady speak about the upcoming election and all that is at stake.  She didn’t have to utter the name of Hillary Clinton’s opposition for us to know who she was talking about. He-who-should-not-be-named lit up the press again with his lewdness.

There’s something about watching an election as an expat that allows for a certain level of clarity.  My election conversations are not with my friends I’ve grown up with, my family, or my countrymen (in many cases).  And so, I get to see what they see: humor that turned to disbelief that turned to disgust.

I get it.  

Because I am disgusted that there are people (potentially reading this now) who would consider voting for a present day Voldemort.

I am an educator–so Day of the Girl meant something to me too.  All over the world girls have to fight for their right to education, freedom to choose their future career or husband, and/or survival.  Here in Mexico there are areas that JUST registered the female native population.  In the United States women who work just as hard as men (or arguably harder) are in many cases still paid less.

And yet, here we are.

Did you know that when women received the right to vote that the final voice chiming in for ratification was a young man from Tennessee?  His mama had sent him a note imploring him to wisely stand up for what was right, and he did (much to the dismay of his constituents).

I beg of you, vote wisely.

This is not something that we can ignore. It’s not something we can just sweep under the rug as just another disturbing footnote in a sad election season. Because this was not just a “lewd conversation”. This wasn’t just locker-room banter. This was a powerful individual speaking freely and openly about sexually predatory behaviour…

The First Lady says the men in her life don’t talk like that, and I feel the same.  I’ve NEVER heard my father, uncles, brothers, or husband talk like that.  Of course, they never made fun of immigrants, people with special needs, or plus size women either.  They were raised to respect others, not lie, cheat, and abuse them.

And I know it’s a campaign, but this isn’t about politics. It’s about basic human decency. It’s about right and wrong. And we simply cannot endure this, or expose our children to this any longer – not for another minute, and let alone for four years. Now is the time for all of us to stand up and say enough is enough. This has got to stop right now.

You know, I’ve had people in my own family say they just wouldn’t be voting this election.  The options are not options they are happy with, so they just will leave this one up to God.

In her speech, Mrs. Obama says something I want to share: One of these two people WILL be voted on next term as president of our country.  Don’t sit this out.  Don’t vote for someone who hasn’t got a chance of winning to prove a point.  Think of all that is at stake if we elect a national disaster (and embarrassment) as our leader.

And finally, think of my family.  Sometime in the next four years we will probably try to move home.  If you elect someone into office who makes ignorant, hateful statements about immigrants, what does that do for my family?  

Be responsible.  Vote responsibly.  And think of us when you bubble in, punch, or press your option for the next president of The United States of America.

Sweet Will of God

Today I had a friend ask me about what brought me to Mexico.  She and I have known each other for two years, but for some reason, the topic never came up.  She asked, “Did the thought ever cross your mind that you would find a boyfriend in Mexico?”

Whoa.

Talk about a major trip down Memory Lane! As I began telling her the story of coming to Mexico, something occurred to me: this year and last year line up perfectly with the days matching the dates for the year I left the States and moved to Mexico.  That means the day I quit my job (FIVE YEARS AGO?!?!) fell on the same day of the week this year.

Which means that this day, this time five years ago I was having a really hard realization that a relationship with a man I loved was coming to an end.

Which means that it was this month five years ago that I took a trip to West Virginia with some dear friends where I received renewing and encouragement I didn’t believe I needed.

Which means that it was five years ago that I sat in a Sunday morning meeting and cried throughout the hymn that said, “I worship thee, sweet will of God…”

Five years.  A lot can happen in five years.  Thankfully, God’s will for our lives will always be the best.  And when we allow him to have control of present, he can make something spectacular for our future.

So tonight I sit in my home in Mexico–five years later.  My baby is gnawing on my toes and pulling at my skirt-tail.  My daughter just yelled at me to come help her from the other room.  The four of us just got back from walking to the store to buy tamales and burritos from the street vendor.  And tomorrow I will (hopefully) go to Sunday morning meeting and we can sing the words of this hymn.  The words in English still have such great meaning for me!  I worship thee, sweet will of God, and all thy ways adore–and every day I live I seem to love thee more and more.  Perhaps  it’s the third verse means the most to me in Spanish–because the others are practically translated the same:

  I have no regrets today–I trust in your goodness.  I enjoy now the blessing of pleasant freedom. 

 

First Day of School

Tonight I told Ale about a first day tradition from my youth: at night, Aunt Jen-Jen and I would lay in bed and dream about the first day of school.  It was her secret to falling asleep, and rather effective!    “Just think about your first day,” she would say.  Tonight I added, “Think of all the fun you are going to have tomorrow–all the friends you get to play with!”  

I remember thinking about Sister Bear’s kindergarten as a kid–wishing I had barrels of clay to play with or a see-saw right there in the classroom!  I wonder what she thought of as she fought sleep last night.  Maybe getting to paint?  Reading her name like Froggy?  Having snack like Emily Elizabeth? 

Ale’s favorite book! This was taken for our summer reading storytime’s final day!

 

We checked out a pile of first day books last week, and we have read them together.  We’ve talked about “nap time,” and how it is okay to just rest quietly.  We tried on her socks and shoes, and practiced using the potty in her skirt.  And I have been the nervous one, knowing that this year will be one she remembers for the rest of her life!  

In just a few hours, my little girl is going to her first day of Kinder 1. In Mexico there are three years of Kindergarten, the first being when students are three years old.  She is excited, and ready for some out of the house stimulation.  And lucky for the both of us, she will be in my school!  I can’t wait to see her playing outside, talking Spanish to her friends, and wearing her tiny uniform.

When I had a class of students, I would always pray for them this first night before school.  I would pray that God would give me the kids that needed me.  I know that the biggest testimony is often that of a little life though, and I think of that these days: how can I help her little light to shine for others?

I read these verses this week in Deuteronomy 6:

“…and thou shalt love Jehovah thy God with all thy heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy might. 

And these words, which I command thee this day, shall be upon thy heart; and thou shalt teach them diligently unto thy children, and shalt talk of them when thou sittest in thy house, and when thou walkest by the way, and when thou liest down, and when thou risest up

And thou shalt bind them for a sign upon thy hand, and they shall be for frontlets between thine eyes. And thou shalt write them upon the door-posts of thy house, and upon thy gates.”

I want to do a better job of that first part (loving God more) AND the second part (talking to my girls about my love and desire to serve God.) If her life can be used, even at age three, then what she is seeing and hearing at home must be the right things!  

The backpack show

   

Quick pose before leaving

 

 

Family photo for Ale’s first day!

  

Ale and her teachers