Bilingual is Better

Mi mamá y yo

The story of my mom is not that of a single mom who sacrificed everything to make sure I had a better life. Or of an immigrant mom who came to this country not knowing a word of English and raised three successful professionals by working two jobs. Neither is it the story of a mom who slaved in the kitchen to ensure we had the most comforting home-cooked meals to cure all our ailments.

No, the story of my mom is just one of an extremely strong and loving woman who hasn’t failed to be my side since the day I was born.

While my mom was not single, she and my dad did sacrifice a lot to make sure my siblings and I were not only exposed to other languages, but to other cultures too. As some of you might already know, I lived in five countries spanning three continents by the time I was 14. My mom truly believed in the benefits of living overseas and experiencing how others live and so she eagerly followed my dad wherever his job took him, even when this meant she’d be oceans apart from her own family, especially her own mother, mi abuela.

I do remember that was not easy for her at all, but I will always cherish the memories we made together as a family as we moved from country to country and she made sure we not only adapted, but thrived in our new environments, as only a loving mom can do. I turned 10 years old a couple of months after we moved from Buenos Aires, Argentina to Johannesburg, South Africa and my mom made sure I had the kind of birthday party that forever will live in my memory even though I’d barely had enough time to make friends in school.

While my mom was an immigrant to this country, she was lucky she spoke English way before she moved to this country. In fact, she used to be an English teacher for adults back in Peru. She didn’t have to work two jobs to make sure her kids became successful professionals, but when my dad was laid off after more than 30 years in the same company and not much of a retirement plan, she realized it was time to go back to school so she could become the breadwinner.

To this day, I still don’t know how she did it, but she went back to school at almost 50 and got a degree as a respiratory therapist. I remember she would spend long hours poring over material that was like Chinese to me — and apparently to her too, as she confessed not too long ago! But she did it and has been successfully working as a respiratory therapist ever since. If that’s not a lesson in perseverance and an awesome example for her own children, then I don’t know what is.

While I’ll never be able to reminisce about the delicious family recipes my mom used to whip up for us — I’ve written before about her (and my) lack of skills in the kitchen — my mother has been nurturing in so many other ways that I have no problems with that. (Plus, I have my Dad’s cooking to thank for those memories!).

I truly cannot remember ever needing my mom for anything and her not been there for me. She has always been a great example of what a mother can be: a balance between a woman who doesn’t stop her own life when she becomes a mom and a woman who will fiercely do whatever needs to be done for her children when she becomes a mom.

Today, my mother is thoroughly enjoying another role, that of grandmother to my children. Today, nothing makes me happier that to see my children with her mamama. She spoils them to no end, but she’s also the most important source of Spanish, our Peruvian culture and familia for my children.

Mamita, gracias por todo lo que haces por tu familia y ¡Feliz Día de las Madres! ¡Te quiero mucho!

And Happy Mother’s to all our awesome SpanglishBaby moms who shared their stories with us this week and to all our moms in our beautiful SpanglishBaby community!

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