I don’t look like those girls on tv, with cowboy boots and daisy dukes, luscious tits and lusty lips, shakin it to the Banda beat just for you… Those girls are not mothers.
Or celebrity moms who bounce back from birth in a day, sporting coordinated camera ready babies as if they were the latest accessory. Always smiling in spite of the unseen postpartum reality that lies just beneath the surface…
I look like me. Round baby belly, thick thighs and silver streaked hair. Baby on my hip that is the perfect cushy seat. Real women, like me, have body hair and I’m not embarrassed enough to shave it all off or pluck it out. I don’t hide my flaws behind make up. I wear my stretch marks and lopsided breasts as badges of strength and courage. And I wear my bikini top and short shorts anyway. Avert your eyes if you must, whisper when I turn away. I don’t look like them and I’m not sorry.
I am not your vision of a perfect woman. Straight out of a music video, immaculate house, short order chef, obedient and at your service always smiling. Some days I may resemble this mamacita, pretty hair, cooking fresh tortillas with my children smiling at my feet… But this is rare. And I do it because I want to not because I’m supposed to.
I wish you could appreciate the true beauty that lies inside me. As I radiate life and creativity. As I see myself. Holding all of the ancient mysteries that ever were, in silence, in reverence, in sacredness.
I am not like those other women. The ones who forgot their power or lost sight of it or gave it away. I hold mine deep where no one can touch it. I remember the earth and her wisdom. I live my own truth despite what’s trending or how I’m supposed to be according to your culture, your family or the many other realities that you deem important. I am not what anyone thinks I should be…
I am not like them, and I’m not sorry.
Anyone who has ever driven through Mexico knows that the roads often have many unexpected delays, inconvenient detours and dramatic check points you must pass through. Our road to Mexico has been full of these as well… Last week we traveled through one of these check points.
Last October our life in Mexico was put on hold while our small daughter had an operation. For the last year, she has lived with a steel plate and four screws in the top of her femur. These had to come out before we could even think about moving our family to those far off rolling mountains. Where walking everywhere would be a regular part of everyday, our girl has to be strong and healthy.
The day of the this final surgery was as nerve wracking as passing through a Mexican band of teenage guards armed with semiautomatic weapons. I remember those handsome young men in mismatched uniforms like it was yesterday. Never sure who they were working for or if their guns were loaded… But it didn’t matter. I always smiled, spoke my best Spanish and silently prayed while they searched my car. Then moments later, heart pounding, they would wave me through and I’d slowly drive on down the highway.
That’s exactly what it felt like that day with my girl in children’s hospital for the last time. We were halfway home before I let the breath out that I’d been holding for the last year.
Looking down our road to Mexico, there are still two more major check points to pass through. The first is completing the house. I was sure it would be done by now, but I’ve never built a house in Mexico. With the monsoon rains coming to an end in the next month or so, it’s finally time to build the roof. Currently we are stock piling materials. Here in the states we continue to live on next to nothing, but in Mexico we are the proud owners of a a giant pile of rebar!
The last major event on the horizon before we take the final leap is the birth of our newest baby. Once she makes her way safely into this world (as an official U.S. Citizen), it will only be a matter of the final preparations like passports, plane tickets and luggage.
Sometimes this still feels like it will take years… Sometimes my anxiety warns that it’s too soon. But knowing myself as well as I do, after six months of Pacific Northwest winter, and all that we have been through to get this far, I will be ready to dive in head first.
For the first time in a year it’s starting to feel real again….
Electric fan blowing ferocious breath, standing down wind of this smoking comal I am a dragon breathing fire. Nothing can touch this pungent aroma. Smoke cleanses me like cedar in the sweat lodge, creates tears and heat and builds strength in the hands and lungs of whoever handles it. In this mornings blessing, many chiles create the flavors of Mexico in my kitchen. When I close my eyes I forget where I am. And all day I smell like my memories of cooking fires.
In the mornings I wake up early before it’s hot. Before the children. I make tamales.
By mid morning my house feels like a sweat lodge. It’s ninety degrees outside, with the steaming pots my kitchen is hotter. Bare feet throbbing, aching back, swollen baby belly stained red from bumping into so much chile. This is what it feels like to want something so much you’re willing to work.
Seven days a week I feed the people who feed you. Leaving homes and families to work impossibly long hours in unforgiving heat until there is no more work. From my kitchen I am working the harvest too.
Clothes wet with sweat, tamales steaming, I escape the sweltering confines of my kitchen. I find water. Water to wash the clothes, water to wash the diapers, water to wash the dishes. Buckets of water. Baskets of wet things to hang on the line. Breaking ice chunks from frozen pots to fill the coolers later. Then back to my kitchen. More tamales.
Sitting in the passenger seat of my car I can feel the baby moving. Maybe the first time I’ve sat down all day, time is passing quickly now. “Tamales! Tamales!” he yells out the window as we slowly cruise the dirt road stirring up dust. “Salsa roja! Refresco!” Smiling, they wave and he stops. He passes my hot tamales from the buckets into berry stained hands. Then ice cold coca colas from the cooler. The money is good. Watching the people enjoy my food is better. Everyone laughs and smiles at our sticky kids eating popcicles in the back seat. This is as real as it gets.
We drive on until the buckets are empty and our pockets are full. Everyone feels good. The kids run up and down the rows of berries, kicking up clouds of dust, stopping every once in a while to eat a few berries. We sit on the back of the car drinking cold sodas watching them in the orange evening light. This is the life. This feeling.
Sunlight fading and tired from the long hot summer day, we drive home and do it all again.