Good Mothers

Posted on June 28, 2019

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Almost all of the immigrant Mexican mothers I talked to or interviewed wanted more for their children than they’d received growing up. In most cases that meant earning power but also respectability. A son or daughter who dropped out of school or married badly or joined a gang punctured the parents’ slowly accrued self-esteem and invalidated years of sacrifice. Bitterness, depression often resulted, especially for mothers who’d invested a great deal of emotionality in their children’s futures. Often they sought consolation among other mothers who felt similarly betrayed.
From childhood onward many Mexican women develop a value system oriented towards giving, that what they give is important but that they as persons are not important. A good wife is one who gives unstintingly to her husband. A good mother is one who gives unstintingly to her children. Consequently she accrues an identity based on results of this giving. A son proclaiming “I owe it to my mother” is the finest tribute she can receive. To have children who fail, who become criminals, dropouts, outcasts is to have failed. Only others who also have failed understand.
“It’s not that the ego is lacking or that the ego is weak,” insists Violeta Aquino who works with feminist groups dedicated to self-empowerment and overcoming what she calls the stigmatization of subservience and poverty. So often, she explains,
one has identified so strongly with this concept of giving that it’s inturned but it hasn’t lost power, it hasn’t lost dynamism. When women who feel this failure unite they become formidable social forces, like the mothers from Central America who’ve undergone hardships and persecution while scouring Mexico for disappeared sons and daughters. Similar groups have been instrumental in locating the graves of persons sequestered and assassinated. It takes strong egos, Aquino insists, to not give up, to go on year after year searching, confronting, overcoming.
[From MEXICO VS. TRUMP, due out soon from Sunbury Press.

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