warriors and claveles

my latinx family

How many times have you heard something along the lines of one parent being both parents? If you’ve never heard something similar, here is your first—my mom was both my mom and dad.

Stage 1 – Denial:

Before entering middle school, I never felt the need to say such a phrase—my mom was just that: my mom. My mom has always been my mother, friend, sister, mi consuelo. I have always seen her as the greatest of role models—someone whose strength, passion, and determination bring her back up every time life beats her down. She’s a tough one, that woman, “a wild horse of a woman” as Sandra Cisneros would say.

Stage 2 – Anger:

For the first couple of years after realizing that I—my family—was different, I would interrogate my mom about why all my friends had dads and I didn’t. I would cry and question the world for not giving me a father or siblings or cousins who weren’t 2000 miles away.

Stage 3 – Bargaining:

At the time a very Catholic child, I would pray every night with all my might. I prayed that my mother and father would reunite and get married. I prayed for a little brother. I prayed for my mom to find someone who could be a father to me. I was desperate—all I wanted, at the very least, was to have a family like everyone else.

Stage 4 – Depression:

After praying and crying for so long, I figured that if there really was a God then he would have listened to my prayers. I stopped praying for a family, a sibling—stopped praying altogether. I was not going to waste my time and energy on someone or something who did not exist or who did not listen to my pleas. I secluded myself because I knew I was different and I felt like something was wrong with me.

Stage 5 – Acceptance:

Before entering middle school, I had never felt the need to say that to me, my mom was both mother and father. I have always seen my mom as the greatest of role models—someone whose strength, passion, and determination bring her back up every time life beats her down. My mother raised a tough rowdy little child on her own—a little one who never liked being helped, a child who fell more times that anyone could count, a girl whose humble experiences have brought her far, a young woman whose only hope is to be as strong and resilient as her mother has always been. She’s a tough one, that woman, “a wild horse of a woman” as Sandra Cisneros would say.

The Final Stage – Reflection:

I could give you numbers and statistics—show you studies, research papers, and books. I could go into detail about how “terrible” growing up in a single parent household was.  I could describe how parent day and report card pick up were the worst events of the year because your only parent was working multiple jobs to raise you and couldn’t show up. But instead I am choosing to tell you how amazing it was to have only one parent. How I was lucky to never have to deal with my parents fighting with each other, and how I never had to fear my parents getting divorced or separated. Whatever my mother said was the law: in our home she always had (and still has) the final word. I had one parent and she was my best friend from the start; I grew up knowing that life is not as easy or simple or pretty as others make it seem. From the beginning I learned how to use every last fiber in me to fight for what I wanted because that was the only example I had.

Trying to explain or give you some idea of the experience of growing up in a single parent household is no easy task, and in some sense, that wasn’t my intention in writing this piece. They told me to write about “family” and I wrote about my mother—she and my grandma are the only people I have. They are the reason for my being, the blood flowing through my veins, and the strength I need to get out of bed every morning. They told me to focus on some aspect of my identity that the Brown mainstream usually lacks, and I wrote about growing up in a single parent household. You see, people like me, we’re cut from a different cloth. We’re warriors from the day we’re born—born to fight and survive, born to defy the sad statistics you read or hear about, born to make our story good enough to be told.