A Letter to Mexico

Dear Mexico,

Happy anniversary!  I wanted to write you to thank you for what you’ve done for me.  It was three years ago that I came to meet you–and I remember my loneliest New Year’s Eve in a hotel listening to fireworks booming outside.  I was nervous to say the least.  I had heard the worst stories about you!  In fact, that night in the hotel, I huddled beneath the blankets with great trepidation.

They said to be careful.  After all, my countrymen were disappearing by the dozens.  They said to watch what I ate and drank, and I admit, I was worried too those first few days!  They encouraged me to try to communicate with you–but it took me a few weeks to open up to you.  They weren’t always right about you, but they said what they said with the best of intentions.

Mexico, I have to tell you, they don’t really know you like I do.  They are used to walking around with their noses stuck in their smart phones.  They don’t look up enough.  If they did, they would see the curiosity on the faces of your people.  They would see the colors of the buildings (just as bright as Charleston’s Rainbow Row).  They don’t know you very well, or they wouldn’t write so much about the scary things.  And they most certainly haven’t had enough of your street food and lemonade with questionable ice.  You offer so much more than cartels, mass graves, and dishonesty.  There is a side of you that they don’t get to see enough of–and it is time you let that side show!

You have been good to me.  He used to say, “Give me your tired, your poor…” but he doesn’t really mean it.  I know.  I left when I was poor and broken– and YOU are the one that healed me.  You picked me up, and dusted off my britches.  You put band-aids on my wounds, and told me that everything would be alright.  You helped me stop looking at what I had left behind long enough to see what was ahead of me.  And the wooing… oh, how you wooed me!  Before I knew it, I was your’s for the taking.  YOU did that, Mexico.  You helped me to love again.

The first year with you, I found my heart.  What a gift you gave me in my sweet husband!  The second year you stretched my capacity to love even more–and that sweet man gave me a sweeter hijita.  She shines with the brightest of light–and I know that God’s plan for her is great.  Finally, in year three I became permanently yours–free to go and work where I will within your borders.  What will this year bring me?  What do you have in store for me now, Mexico?

I am ready.  If I have learned anything in three years, it is to embrace you with open arms.

Your’s truly,

Jania

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A Letter to My Sleepy Baby

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Mama’s precious punkin,
This morning you woke up as I was getting ready to leave. I almost kept walking out the door, but I am so glad that I stopped, cancelled my ride, and held you for five minutes. Five minutes was all it took–I felt my heart lurch as you clenched your little fingers tighter. Your grip on me, metaphorically, is enough to make the world disappear.

Five minutes with you snuggled at my breast. Five minutes of those big chocolate eyes gazing intently as if you were looking into a window to my soul. Five minutes and you pulled away–and only heaven’s glory could be more wonderful than what I saw when that smile broke across your face.

Sweet baby, I’m sorry it was only five minutes, but if that’s all we get, I’ll take it. I’ll take those snatches of time, fractions of an hour, because they are full of so much more than seconds. Smiles, laughs, snuggles, babbling, or even just the touch of your fingers petting my skin as if it were velvet–I crave every moment.

You, my Allie-bug, fill my day with just five minutes.

Love,
Your oh-so-busy mama

A Letter To My Baby

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Dear Sweet Ale,
My precious little girl–mommy is so tired. Why do you wake up early on the weekends, but you sleep so long during the week? This morning you opened your eyes and just touched me with your sweet soft hands. I willed you back to sleep–hoping to get a few more winks myself. Then I realized, my moments with you are few and far between already…

My heart flutters when you reach for me.

I came home, and there you were. Daddy didn’t listen, and you were watching the Schoolbus YouTube video…again. You saw me, and started jumping up and down. Your two teeth were gleaming as you flash that million watt smile my way. I grabbed you up–and gave you a squeezed. Thinking of how excited you get–it makes Mama so happy.

Papi said that he doesn’t let you crawl anymore. He really can’t wait for you to walk! He doesn’t understand what he is in for once that day comes… All I can think is, “Please wait, baby.” I need you to wait until I have time to prepare for you toddling around. I could make a list of tangible ways I need to prepare, but really–I just need to hold you another day, week, month…

My dear girl, I love every minute I get with you. Even though right now, it feels like you are eating or sleeping most of the time we’re together. Even at the moment, you are curled against my side and out like a light. I look forward to vacations and weekends not just because I am off–but because I get to be with you! I cling to every smile, giggle, eyebrow raise–because one day you’ll be too big and impatient for Mama’s love.

Until then,
Amorously your’s,
Mama

My Brother-In-Law

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Once upon a time, my brother-in-law was just my sister’s boyfriend.  I remember it like yesterday…

Sidenote:  I’ve written about my sister before.  She has a heart of pure gold (except for the little black corner where punching-your-sister-in-the-gut lives…)  She has been through her share of country song experiences, and we’ve even written a country song about her experiences.  Luckily “My Husband Is A Lyin’ Cheatin’ Whore” isn’t the title of this song.  If there was ever someone who deserved to be loved and treated like a fairy princess–she’s it.

Enter Jacques Cousteau.

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Love is Patient.  Patience is plentiful in his petit french heart–hence the reason why he was so longsuffering with Little Sister (Me).  I found it humourous that he is from France.  I proceeded to call him every French name I could think of.  I ran out after Pepé La Pew, Jean Valjean, Napoleon, and Jacques Cousteau.  I also used up all the French I remember from class (“Zut!” and “Ferme la bouche!”).

Love is Kind.  As their relationship continued, so did his patience.  I drank up all his fancy coffee.  I slept on his couch.  I went “shopping” in his kitchen cabinets.  I complained about my hairy pup niece (whom I love dearly).  I watched his tv, used his internet, and held nothing back.  He kindly accepted me and the key I had to his apartment.  When I quit my job, he encouraged me and allowed me to spend every waking moment camped out on the couch.

Love doesn’t envy.  My sister has been loved.  She has a husband who cooks, cleans, does laundry, shops, and most important–accepts her family as his own.  After all, Jean Marc didn’t just (have to) accept me as his new sister–he has a whole slew of new siblings, nieces, and nephews.  In our family, that means that sometimes the girls get to hang out without the boys.  That means that sometimes the nieces and nephews sleep with the aunts.  That means that sometimes, you steal away with the Mama Bear to have supper without your siblings.  They say when you marry someone, you also marry their family.   It’s a good thing he has accepted us for the crazy nuts we are!  I’ve got a lovely bunch of coconuts…

It always protects…  Recently we all got fired up over an experience that Jenny and Jean Marc had.  Someone was oh-so-ugly to her–and who stepped in?  Jean Marc to whisk them away on a magic carpet back to the sane side of the river (Oh, why would you ever CHOOSE to live in Maryland?).  Despite the fact that my sister is fierce, it is always nice to know she has someone to look out for her.  After all, I’ve lived with that chick.  If you don’t buy her groceries and fix her food–she doesn’t eat.  

..always trusts…  A word of advice to my brother-in-law–don’t act like you don’t trust that girl.  There’s no one more loyal than she.  And you totally don’t even get points or sweet compliments for this.  It’s a given…always hopes…  Despite the fact that your lovely lady has muttered nothing but disregarding statements about marriage…always perseveres. Which brings us to now.  Here’s to fifty years, you two.  Much love!

Bon appetit!  (My third French saying…saved the best for last!)

P.S.  Apparently I have zero pictures of you…and about a billion of my bratty sister.  Hopefully the next fifty years will remedy that!

A Letter to My Sick Baby

Dear Sweet Ale-Cat,
Mama has never felt more helpless than she does now. You have slept in my arms all day, cuddled up next to me breathing laboriously. You open your fever-filled eyes and look at me–and my heart breaks. Because now, I finally understand what causes Grandmama to say, “Oh, I wish it was me and not you…”

You are so amazing, and Mama loves you more every day. I can’t believe how great it feels to see you reach each milestone. When you push up on all fours–then look at me with glee, I feel so proud! This is my baby! Look what she can do now! Sitting, standing, walking, running, climbing…I know that so much lies around the corner!

Ale, Mama loves all you can do–but most of all, Mama loves your sweet little spirit. I know that God has a plan for you that is great. I feel the burden that every mom must feel: to raise you to know and love our father in heaven! I want you to be aware of God’s plan for each of us, and to listen to his voice speak to your little heart. Little lamb, who made you? Doest thou know who made you?

You’re playing on the floor now with your giraffe, and I watch you with wonder. How could God think that I should be entrusted with a treasure as precious as you? There are a lot of things in life that Mama used to be proud of–but none of them are noteworthy now. You. You alone, sweet baby girl, make Mama’s heart swell.

Every day with you is something of a marvel, and oh! how I long for the moment that your eyes are free from pain. Until then, my love, cuddle your Mama. Let me love you up, mi hijita.

With a heart full of love,
Mama

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Home Visit

Maci and Ale

I watched my baby last night–she was laying on a blanket in the floor, and Mama was “gettin’ her.”  In the South, that means that she was tickling her tummy all the while saying, “I’m gonna getcha, getcha, getcha!”  Alexandria laughed and laughed.  The sound makes my heart so happy.

During the night, she snuggles up to me like never before.  I can’t decide if this is because she’s extra snuggly (being away from her daddy and home), or if it has something to do with the pillow-top mattress we sleep on.  Hard Mexican beds don’t allow for a lot of movement during the night.  She cuddles up beside me, and I look down to see her cubby little arms tucked between us.  This morning Mama took her and played with her–letting me get a few extra winks.

At gospel meeting yesterday, she sat up on my lap.  It makes me sad that her papi couldn’t see her.  She was (is) so big!  Her cousins (from the youngest to the oldest) wanted to play with her during meeting.  I remember that, you know.  I loved sitting with my nephews in Omaha.  It gave me something to do other than listen…  Hence the reason why I said, “No” when my very capable niece wanted to hold Ale.

Oh, sweet Ale!  She is so loved!  My suegra (mother-in-law) loves it when her son tells her everyone loves our baby.  It makes me so content and proud to see everyone loving on my baby.  She’s got an important role, I just know it.  There’s a place that she’ll fill someday–maybe just giving unconditional love to God’s children!  Only he knows, but I hope he empowers me us to raise a beautiful, strong, kind, and helpful young woman.

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Dear Baby From Mama

Hi My Sweet Little Girl,

I am watching you smile sweetly at your daddy.  He’s whistling and making funny noises at you while he tickles the space between your eyebrow.  I am glad you still have space between your eyebrows, but I am thinking that won’t be the case much longer.  I won’t pluck them though–not until you’re old enough to care about them.  And if you turn out looking like this we will celebrate your beauty.

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I see you getting bigger and more observant.  And I feel the pressure.  Because, Baby, I want to be the best mama I can be.  I know I’m a novice when it comes to being a Mama.  But to be the BEST?  I know what that means:

It means that even when I want to save you, I have to let you fall.

It means that when you fall, I show you empathy and give you a shoulder to cry on.

It means that I will continue to sit in a closet and pump you bottles for as long as I can, because I know it is the best nourishment I can give you!

It means that I will swallow my jealousy when you flirt with your Papi–because every girl needs a daddy like your daddy and my daddy.

It means that I will sing “Tell Me the Story of Jesus” to you, even when you begin to request “#1” every time we sing.

It means that I will make sure you get to meeting, even when I think of a billion excuses for myself.

It means that I will set you up for failure now while you are young, so that I can “Love and Logic” you into a successful adult.

It means that I will support your Daddy when he gets after you (even though it isn’t the way I would do it).

It means that if you want to be a car washer, “starving artist”, or bicycle mechanic, I will support you.

It means that if you want to be a teacher, doctor, lawyer, or indian chief, I will support you.

It means that if you want to quit your job and move to another country, I will support you.

It means you will have my unconditional support (this statement is invalid if you ever decide to drop out of high school, smoke cigarettes  or do anything harmful to your body.)

And when you do stupid things (because I know that you will–even though I am dreading the day that happens), I will still love you–but I will (try to) allow you to suffer consequences.

It means that when you get hurt roller skating down a ramp, I will rush you to the doctor and love you up.

It means that when you’re sick, I will clean up your throw up without letting you know that you’re disgusting–and I will sleep next to you to be there in case you need me.

It means that if ever you do need me (while you’re living your own life in some remote place), I will move heaven and earth to be there.

And, Lord help us all, when you start getting hormonal–I won’t make you feel like an alien.  Even though you will most assuredly act like one.

It means that I will probably embarass you one day.  There is no way I will be the “cool mom,” and you will pretend that you don’t know me.  But I will show you how to love yourself by not caring what others think.

It means that I will teach you to love unconditionally: the old, the sick, the weirdos, the unfortunates, the privileged and the poor.

And when I get old, I will hide my weakness from you–to give you extra time to love your Mama.

It means that when our roles are reversed, and you’re giving me a bath–I will probably complain and worry that you’re wasting your time on me.

When I look at you, Ale, I see how perfect God made you.  And I mean it when I sing, “I really think that God above created you for me to love.  He picked you out from all the rest, because he knew that I’d love you the best.”  I love your chubby cheeks, and if they stay chubby when you’re 29–know that you are beautiful despite what the magazines say.

I know that one day, you will grow too big for your britches.  Your Mama won’t be the light of your life.  You’ll make plans to be the complete opposite of me in every way that I annoy you.  But if there is one thing that you should accept and adopt–let it be this love I have to you.   Because THIS love is a legacy.  I come from a long line of loving ladies, and like it or not, that love is concentrated all on you.

Love always and forever,

Your Mama

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