Paradise and Parenting: Mother’s Day

It’s pretty great to be a mother in Mexico on most days of the year. For one thing, doing almost anything is great when you live in a tropical paradise. I can handle working an entire work week knowing that there’s always something fun to do on the weekend.
But one of the best things about being a mom in Mexico is the fact that you get to celebrate Mother’s Day in a place where mothers pretty much reign supreme. I mean, there IS a Father’s Day, but it doesn’t even have its own special date. It’s listed as the “third Sunday in June”.
But in Mexico, Mother’s Day is always ALWAYS May 10. You kids and dads better have a plan. And it better involve a serenade with mariachi. We used to have neighbors that would awaken their dearly beloved mom and grandma at 4am with a loud, long mariachi performance every May 10. In other words, our own family (next door) was exhausted by noon every May 10 for six long years.
My Mexican musician husband gets up with the kids and breaks out “Las Mananitas” with the guitar, although, being a smart man, tends to wait until at least 9am and puts the coffee on first.
Yes, the people of Mexico know how to love their mamas, and they should. I have never seen a more loving, strong, persistent set of women than Mexican mothers. When I became a mother to two Mexican babies, I knew I was stepping into some pretty big chanclas. It’s been a daunting task to raise children up to a Mexican mother’s standards. I’m still trying to be worthy of the mariachi.
Maybe you wonder (but know better than to ask) why I find mothering so difficult?
1) Because you have to begin the learning on literally no sleep and after the most physically draining ordeal of your life. A woman starts out as a mom the same way an eighteen-year-old begins basic training in the military. It’s like boot camp, but you don’t even get to start until you have stitches and pain in every delicate part of your body. And even if you don’t physically birth your babies, preparing for one can in no way prepare you for one. You cannot be all you can be on minus one hours of sleep.
2) Because you are responsible for people who appear to be actively trying to hurt themselves. Who are angry when you stop them. Who are attempting to destroy your home and everything you liked about it. Who don’t nap more than twenty minutes a go.
3) Because suddenly there’s no time for yourself. And you used to do things that were fun for only you. You used to do things one at a time. Now you’re cooking, preparing separate lunches for each child, doing laundry and making playdate plans all at the same time with the same two hands that used to hold a really. good. book. For hours at a time.
4) Because teenagers. I shouldn’t need to add anything after that, but when we get teenagers we should have to renew our mom contract because the job is totally different. The stakes are higher, the eye rolls are deeper, the risk of failure is MASSIVE. Almost inevitable, actually. It’s a return to boot camp, except you’re older, so you are too tired to do the wall climb and the crawl through the mud maze so sometimes you fake it. Or lie in the mud and cry.
5) Because, after your stitches, and their stitches, and the nap disappointment, and the exhaustion and the TEENAGERS, they are going to leave you in the end. And you’re not going to remember the infuriating parts or the tired parts or even the terrifying parts. Not really. You’re going to remember the baby smiles and the first steps and the one-armed hugs. You’re going to remember their heads on your lap and the late night talks and the karaoke sessions in your living room where everyone knew all the words to “Living on a Prayer”.

You’ll remember the tea parties and the dance parties and especially the Narnia party where you dressed their dad up as Mr. Tumnus. You’ll remember them whispering “I love you, mommy.”

But they’ll leave anyway, because that’s what is supposed to happen. So then you ask yourself why you did all this. Why did you do it when you’re left sitting alone on their Star Wars blanket in their empty room, remembering the best parts of being their mother?

Well, that’s because they’ll come back. And, if you were a very good Mexican mother, they’ll bring mariachi (hopefully not at 4am).

Happy Mother’s Day.

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