I recently learned there’s something called the immigrant paradox or “the evidence that immigrants, even those from poor, violent lands who live hard lives in the United States, tend to be physically and mentally healthier than the rest of us.” A lot has to do with the customs and traditions that immigrants bring to their adopted land, as journalist Claudia Kolker discovered and decided to put into a book, The Immigrant Advantage, which was just published.
As an immigrant myself, just reading the description of the book was enough to get me interested in it. As we’ve written about in the past, traditions are one of the best ways to preserve our culture, but who would’ve known they make for a better life too. While Kolker writes about some Latino traditions, I really like that she also enlightened me about other people’s customs from Vietnam to Jamaica. Some of it sounded kind of familiar – as in the multigenerational households – while a lot of it was completely new.
After I finished with the introduction (in which Kolker describes growing up Jewish and Mexican in the Maryland suburbs), I was immediately drawn to the chapter on the Mexican cuarentena – a maternity leave of sorts that pretty much doesn’t allow a woman to do anything for forty days after the baby is born. While the concept was not new to me, I just wanted to learn the history behind it. I did and a lot more because Kolker not only explains the roots of the traditions she writes about, but also tells interesting stories about the people that practice them.
I didn’t enjoy a full-blown cuarentena when I had Vanessa, but after reading that chapter, I realized I was pretty darn close to it.
One of the biggest reasons we moved to Denver from Miami was that I was pregnant with my first child and I didn’t want my husband and I to have to raise her on our own. I wanted to be able to rely on my tight-knit family in the good times and the bad. I wanted Vanessa to be as close as possible to her roots.
As the majority of people in this country; however, my mom and my sister are working women. So when the time came for me to give birth, I relied on the help of my mother-in-law to see me through my first few weeks as a first time mom. And I will never regret it.
Vanessa’s birth story has all the elements birth stories can have. From pushing for hours without a single drop of drugs to an unwanted but necessary C-section so she could be born. I know for a fact that one of the biggest reasons I was able to recover from all that was because I had my mother-in-law by my side.
Although those first few days after Vanessa was born seem like a blur, I do remember not doing much expect taking care of her and trying to figure out the breastfeeding thing. For weeks after she was born, I never had to worry about cooking and cleaning and for that I will be forever grateful to my suegra.
This post is an official tour stop of The Immigrant Advantage Book Tour.
Monday, October 24, 2011: Juan of Words
Tuesday, October 25, 2011: Chicano Soul
Wednesday, October 26, 2011: SpanglishBaby
Thursday, October 27, 2011: Latinaish
Friday, October 28, 2011: TikiTiki Blog
Tuesday, November 1, 2011: Voto Latino
Wednesday, November 2, 2011: Motherhood in Mexico
Thursday, November 3, 2011: Atzlan Reads
Friday, November 4, 2011: Multicultural Familia
About the author of the book:
This giveaway is now closed. Congratulations to the winner: Jessica !
We’re giving away one copy of The Immigrant Advantage to one lucky winner.
To enter, just leave a comment telling us if you follow any traditions or customs, such as the cuarentena.
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This giveaway ends Sunday, Oct. 30 at midnight PST and is open to everyone over 18 years of age. Check out the Giveaway Rules.
Disclosure: We received a sample to review the product. All opinions are our own.