I wasn’t supposed to make it.
My tiny eyes were never meant to gaze at the brilliant beauty that is my mother.
My little heart was never meant to hold the softness of my mother’s soul.
I was never meant to know the strength of her presence.
Never meant to feel the comfort of your voice.
You almost lost me. Twice.
The mistakes of a young mother, younger than I am now.
A naïve young girl trying to escape a life of misogyny runs into the cave where the wolf dwells
You thought marriage was your way out, but it’s their way in
You had dreams and aspirations
I wonder if you would’ve achieved them if it had worked
If nature’s plan to rid your body of mine would’ve prevailed
I sometimes wish it had
I wish you didn’t live this life of settling and enduring
I wish you had lived instead of surviving
It’s as if shoveling the soil to drain that field was preparing you for the loss of the parasite that your body was about to expel.
A new start.
But you fought for my life
Alone and scared you fought for my unborn life while a curandera searched in her arsenal of herbs and prayers
While you fought for a life that you hadn’t even met yet, for a life of servitude that you didn’t yet understand
She soaked strips of newspaper in your prayers
And wrapped you in your tears
Who told this woman that a life could be saved by implorations and a mothers touch?
Who told her that a child’s will to survive and a mother’s desire to love could lift a life from the grip of death?
Generations of women fighting for their existence, linked to one another by the burning pain of loss and the gleaming gifts of life.
My birth came eleven days after the first anniversary of your wedding
I wonder if I was the gift that saved you from the loneliness of your marriage
My father forbade you from visiting your mother – he knew how powerful mothers could be, so he took your strength
But he was blind to the bond between a mother and child that he housed under his roof
We were all we had
In that small concrete house
Surrounded by the gardens you planted with your dreams and grew with
Infused with the warmth you ignited
In that house I hid under a table and screamed at you
I yelled words of hate
In that house I sat at the kitchen table and ate pumpkin seeds as tears ran down my cheeks
Dad was leaving once again
I shed tears of pain
I made you shed them too
How does a three year old know that misery loves company?
I used to want to hurt you
I chose my words carefully, like blades
The intent was to cut you in the deepest way
I was in pain; I didn’t understand you were the prey
Growing up I always looked up to my father.
I admired his patience
But all those years I never realized that you remained patient in his absence
I took comfort in his silence
While you were silenced and accused of being a bad mother, a terrible wife
I praised his hard work
I ignored the countless night shifts you worked, the dark circles you grew, the
education you sacrificed, the dreams you forgot, the exploitation of your labor
I was in awe of his ability to abstain from liquor.
I didn’t foresee the years of addiction he would pour onto your body
I know you wanted more, mami
I don’t blame you
For wanting a life of love
The one my father was never capable of
You made mistakes
Yet, no matter how much I try, how hard I try, how deeply your actions have hurt me
The anger within me evaporates, your mistakes, are erased
I know, I’ll never know the sacrifices a mother makes for her child until I am a mother.
But I think I can compare it to my wish that on that night, when a wise woman with tired hands and a young mother fought to keep me alive
That night, the loss of my life would’ve given you a second chance to pursue your own.