Camouflaged Love

I received quite a few comments offline for yesterday’s post, On Loving a Teenager.   Parents at the end of their threadbare rope felt an instant of relief to know that what they were feeling for and from their teenagers was in fact love.

Doesn’t look like love. Doesn’t feel like love, but it is. At times it’s so messy, hurtful, and chaotic that a trace of harmony or hint of love can’t be found in the silence or obnoxious behavior, but it’s there.

My mother told me so countless times when we traded stories and I asked for advice. She’d endured eleven different types of teens, some were easier than others, but with each one of us, she dug deep and managed to find love to give and receive.

Crazy, Loco Love

When I read Karen Maezen Miller’s declaration of love on Mothering in the Middle, I knew after the first two sentences that the post I’d been writing had become a draft for another day.

Crazy, loco love stretches us in more than just directions when it comes to our children. Ms. Miller’s boldness and vulnerability opens up a space for conflict and love to traverse.

On loving a teenager

“They love us in a different way.

I said that when someone asked what it was like to have a teenager.

I feel like we’ve lost a daughter.

My husband said that after a silent and inconsequential Sunday.

Just shut up.

I said that to her after a ride in the car yesterday.

And yet, there is love, so much love between us and it has gone nowhere! I am standing on the high bluff over death valley, infinite openness in all directions, stunned dumb in the emptiness, but I know the space before me is pure love. Pure love. Life grows here, even when we can’t see it. Refreshed in a cool night, fed by invisible rivulets. A whisper of sea sails five hundred miles across five mountain ranges, and the whisper is this.

They love us in a different way.

They love us in the space, the space that is nothing but love…”

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My Sally Fields’ Moment

When Sally Fields accepted her Oscar for Best Actress in Places of the Heart, I bet she never expected that one sentence of her heartfelt speech would’ve been taken out of context and brought on such ridicule.

“And I can’t deny the fact that you like me… right now… you like me.”

Sally Fields

Please, Like Stretch Marks!

 Muchas gracias for your company and support as I Indie-publish Stretch Marks! I’ve submitted the Book Cover Changes, Interior Layout, and the manuscript, which was proofed, again, by three different picky people, myself included. We were stunned to find   punctuation errors and extra spaces we’d missed. So, I proofed it again, just in case. If all goes according to plan, you’ll be able to purchase it by mid-February!

Reminder: Listen To Your Mother!

“A few weeks back, I alerted you to the Listen To Your Mother show, a national series of live readings by local writers in celebration of Mother’s Day.

I’ll be auditioning in San Francisco on either February 10th or 12th. No, I haven’t secured an actual spot yet. This is just one of many ways I psych myself up.

“There’s no place like a stage. There’s no place like a stage…” Do you hear my heels clicking?

I’ve refined the five hundred and eleven words of my entry until I count each one in my sleep. I’m honing it with the precision essential to nail a spot.

But until my audition in February on that stage, I’m reading my piece out loud to adjust the flow as I work to stay under the strict five-minute maximum. I’m reminded of Nana Herminia’s advice, when I’d read a book report out loud to her: “keep them wanting more”. This applied to my boyfriends as well.

Reading for a handful of minutes may not seem like a big deal, but it is another calculated step in accomplishing my goal as an author.

I grew up among a witty and bold brood of eleven where we auditioned every day for my mother’s approval. Luckily for us, best behaved was not a category my mother deemed important. Best dressed, best manners, and best Spanish ranked high, but funniest reigned supreme in her book.

A witty joke or humorous story prompted her to stop whatever she was doing and award us with the best prize of all: her laughter. My mother didn’t giggle or chuckle. She threw her entire body into a laugh until her eyes squinted. That was golden! That was the equivalent of Johnny Carson’s okay sign to an up-and-coming comedian at the end of their routine.

That’s really what I’m striving for when I submit my piece, to hear my mother’s laughter.

I’m Your Mother, Not Your Maid

KJ Dell’Antonia raised an important issue in The New York Times, Motherlode about how parents who are convinced they don’t hover may not be stepping back to allow children to step up.

Most of us have great intentions when we do for our children, what they can, in fact, do for themselves. But I believe that it’s a disservice,in the long run, not only to our children, but also to us. They should be taught from an early age and be given the opportunity to become responsible for themselves.

I understand its gut wrenching for some parents to let go. I know it was for me. I remember the prideful delight when my adolescent sons rode their bikes to Jr. Lifeguards, instead of me chauffeuring them, during the summer. I’ll admit, I followed them once from a distance and barely managed not to scream when my older son showed off, riding with his arms up in the air. They learned more bike safety than any class could offer, found the best burritos on the way back home, and got to know their community. I garnered more than just time for myself. I was rewarded by their confident swagger.

They also learned to run most of the household appliances, all by themselves, at the tender age of eight. My mother was horrified and gently suggested I hire a housekeeper. I’ll admit it took a lot of patience on my part. It would’ve been easier for me to take over and do it to ‘my specifications’, but now when I hear the sound of the vacuum cleaner or the washing machine on a weekend as I’m heading out to the garden or a walk, well, it’s priceless.

As a Latina raised in a traditional home, I was resolved that my sons wouldn’t expect me to do all of the grunt work just because I was their mother.

Now both of my teenage sons know how to buy and bag groceries as well as whip up a decent meal. I eat with pleasure whether it’s slightly charred or am not in the mood for scrambled eggs with hotdogs, again. Eating a meal that I didn’t cook myself after a long day, is a gift.

Of course, they complain and give me dirty looks when I remind them that it’s their turn to wash the dinner dishes or clean their bathroom. They are teenagers after all.  But I hear the gratification in their voice when they correct folks who assume they don’t contribute to the running of our household.

How else do they learn that they are not entitled and exempt from the every day responsibilities of life?

Spreading my wings

I’m overjoyed to announce that I’m now a contributing blogger on Mothering in the Middle and adding my voice and Latina perspective to Cyma Shapiro’s vibrant site, which celebrates midlife mothers.

It’s no secret that I’ve been on a mission to spark a discussion about Latinas and infertility and hope this venue will help light the fire as well.

Infertile. Me? No way, I’m Latina!

“I’m soon to be 60, raising teenage brothers who my husband and I adopted from Ciudad Juárez, Chihuahua almost fifteen years ago. Being a Latina and native speaker definitely helped when we approached an orphanage in northern Mexico. Being a Latina also made it difficult for me to talk about it openly among my family.

I’ve noticed the same reluctance in Latinas to discuss infertility and IVF, as well as adoption. I follow many wonderful blogs where important issues concerning Latinas are showcased, but I have not yet found one that discusses infertility.

Why?…”

Read more of ‘Infertile. Me? No way, I’m Latina!’ at
http://www.motheringinthemiddle.com/?p=3607

Thanks as always for your company and support!

Blogging and the inevitable criticism

I lap up the advice from seasoned bloggers on their method of managing criticism and am secretly relieved when they admit to handling it as poorly as I do. I’d assumed these highly regarded bloggers, who have tens of thousands of followers, would dismiss the handful of criticism among the hundreds of gratifying comments. Not so!

The tips they offer range from taking deep breaths, going for a walk to sleeping on it, and consistently include a warning to thwart the overpowering temptation to respond right away.

Well, that’s child’s play for those who don’t have an evil twin sister, like I do, lurking over their shoulder prodding them to reply NOW!

I have to wrench her hands from the keyboard and wrestle her to the ground. She fights back with a seductive promise that in a matter of minutes she can compose a wicked reply to put the ignoramus in their place. How dare they disagree with me!

Sometimes I give in, but on the condition that my evil twin sister has to respond on paper, away from the computer, and the submit button. I give her diatribe ample time and don’t dare censor her bombastic remarks. I cringe while she gleefully pummels one of my followers with a thick red marker until she’s exhausted her rage. I only offer a tissue to wipe the drool off her chin.

Next, she must read it out loud to me at least three times. She laughs at her snarky remarks and pouts when I don’t high-five her skewering the poor soul. We pin it up on my bulletin board and stand back, shoulder to shoulder. I thank her profusely. She beams at me. She’s satisfied and goes off looking for trouble elsewhere.

Only then do I respond with humility and gratitude that this person is following my blog and taking the time to offer their opinion.

I find this helps keep me sane and prevents me from making a fool of myself.