By Maria Valenzuela
Día de las Madres is celebrated in Mexico and other Latin countries. May 10th, next to Christmas Day, is the second most celebrated by Latinos. Growing up with Mexican roots, May 10th was a day some of us prepared for well in advanced. We saved all of our change and our allowance that was given to us. This was the day I would notice my mother pull out her best dress that had shrunk a bit too much while in the closest waiting to be worn for a special occasion. Perhaps, this was a justifiable excuse to buy herself a new dress at Kmart or new shoes at Payless. I remember those days she would walk out of her room, she looked beautiful and so proud. I used to think that she should take more time to wear prettier clothes and do her make up. I believed it made her feel happy and pretty. In our “cultura” our mothers were and still are the glue to the family.
My mother lost her mother at such a young age. My mother was only 16 when she found herself lost in this big world without the one person she loved and trusted the most. I don’t believe there was one day that went by without my mother mentioning something to me about her mother. Well before Mother’s Day, my mother would search around to friends of friends that would be traveling to Mexico for the celebrations. Once she found someone, we would go to Kmart and buy red and white fake flowers and we would make a “corona” for my grandmother’s grave. Though my grandmother had passed years ago, she was still celebrated and talked about as if she had been alive well after my birth.
Working for Esperança with predominately Latino women from the communities I grew up with, I made it a mission to celebrate them the way my mother taught me to celebrate the mothers in my life. My goal is to celebrate them on May 10th, this is their special day. During Esperança’s past celebrations the ladies walk in so proudly to be celebrated. The glow on their faces, the excitement and love they share amongst each other. Some I know very well, and others shy away, yet I know of their struggles as a parent, their worries for the children, their doubts as a parent.
But, on May 10th we leave all of that behind and we have a fiesta! We celebrate with food we are all accustomed to eating (we don’t worry about food labels and portions). What matters most is that up until that day as mothers we have overcome all of the challenges that were thrown at us and we celebrate! We have games, music, pictures, raffles, love and laughter.
As long as I am at Esperança we will continue to celebrate all of our mamacitas!
Feliz día de las madres!
María Valenzuela is the domestic program director at Esperança, a Phoenix-based nonprofit dedicated to improving health and restoring hope to some of the poorest communities around the world, including Maricopa County.