Tuesday, November 20, 2012

@ de nosotros

This blog is about a home-schooled Mama, an immigrant Papa and our home-birthed brood.  It's about the way we as a bi-cultural, bilingual, blended family of six (three varying shades of blondes and three degrees of brunettes) engage with the world around us. This blog is about how the six of us live as human beings and as equals, seeking to balance the wants and needs of the diverse and complex members of this little family.  It's 1 Corinthians 12 (the body as a metaphor for spiritual gifts working together as a whole) meets 1 Corinthians chapter 13 (love is patient, love is kind). 

The idea of Mamá Gallina comes from a traditional Latin American folk tale.   Mother hen hovers over her chicks and keeps them safe and warm.  She is not as pushy as the back-stage mom or the helicopter parent, but she is similarly fueled by oxytocin, the love hormone.  This mama makes sure her babies have what they need to survive and thrive, even if it means missing a night's sleep once in a while.

Mamá Cuervo is a ferocious mother figure who also comes from a Latin American folk tale. She is the mother crow who has lost her baby.  She asks everyone, "Have you seen my baby?  He is tall, and dark, and handsome." No one in the entire forest has seen him.  She finally asks owl, who says, "That scruffy, scrawny, grey pile of feathers that has been squawking all day?" Yep, that's him.  Mamá Cuervo is fueled by the mother bear hormone.  She will drink any bizarre herbal concoction that the midwife suggests in order to try to keep the baby on the inside for the full 9 months.  She will wait in line for the last parts to a hospital-grade breast pump so she can ship more milk home from the office.  She sits up nights emailing the teacher and the principal and the school counselor about how to solve the school bullying problem.  

This blog is written by me, Mamá Gallina ~ Mamá Cuervo.  But it is a blog about my family.  I made it though a public university and a private liberal grad school with no interest in feminism. When I shook the Dean's hand while crossing the stage at Columbia, he asked what I planned to do with my Ph.D. "I am a mother," I responded, which was obvious anyway from my big belly under my robe. "You are doing everything right," he replied. 

 I will not detail my own journey to liberation.  No bras were burned. Obviously, no abortions were performed, as the rainbow tribe attests to my pro-life stance. In the months and years that followed, as the daily rumination that accompanied the dishes, diapers and laundry moved out of the Iberian Middle Ages and into my small town Indiana circumstances, I saw that equality was not something to silently wish for. Equality is something women have when we choose to claim it, demand it, and use it. I expect love and equality for myself, for my husband, for my mom, my dad, my siblings, and for my sons and daughters. 


Hoy perdí una pequeña parte de mi ser.  

El día en que cumplí los doce años, mis padres me llevaron a una tienda de antiguedades.  Allá el en parqueadero encontré un anillo de oro, talla cuatro, bien chiquito aún para mis deditos de niña.  Mi papi les avisó en la tienda y llamó también a la policía local, y puso un anuncio en el periódico del pueblo.  Me dijo que después de un mes si nadie había venido por el anillo, iba a ser mío.  De hecho, recibimos una sola llamada.  Me pasaron el teléfono.  Una señora mayor había perdido una pulsera de rubíes.  Ella me dijo que no era la dueña del anillo perdido, pero que agradecía mucho el esfuerzo de devolver algo de valor a su dueño.

Por un tiempo, el anillo estuvo atado en un calcetín debajo de la cama de mis padres.  De vez en cuando, lo sacaba y lo probaba en el meñique porque no me entraba en el dedo anular.  Cuando cumplí los 16 años, mis padres me llevaron a una joyería a cambiarle el tamaño para que lo pudiera llevar.  Me lo ajustaron y me lo puse. 

Llevo dos décadas con ese anillo.  Me ha acompañado en las peregrinaciones urbanas de Nueva York y de Chicago y de Barcelona.  Juntos hemos hecho el Camino de Santiago.  Aprendí a ser profesora.  Di luz cuatro veces con el anillo puesto.  Con él en la mano, he aprendido a manejar, a coser, a escribir a máquina, y a traducir libros.  El anillito me ha acompañado a diario, en varios apartamentos, en varias casas que han sido mi hogar.

Perdí hoy una parte del anillo, y decidí dejarlo ir. Quería tener su libertad, y para decir la verdad, lo entiendo. 

Today I lost a small piece of me. I found a ring in a parking lot of an antique mall on my 12th birthday. My parents put an ad in the paper and we told the store about the find. It was size 4, too small to fit even my pre-teen hand. No one claimed it, so after a month, Dad had it sized and then let me keep it. I've been wearing that ring now for a couple decades. When I was single, I counted on it to make me look unavailable in order to get myself out of occasional unwanted encounters. It's witnessed cultural divides, life in Barcelona and New York City, a decade in small town Indiana, a new start in a bigger town in Indiana, some peaceful protests and civil disobedience, four home births, a decade of breastfeeding. That little ring has helped me learn to type, to sew, to drive, to play guitar. Together we've walked across Spain and written a dissertation on medieval miracle poetry, graduated outdoors in sunshine and in rain, moved about 30 times, and picked up some languages along the way. Today one of the tiny diamonds fell out somewhere in one of the three buildings on campus where I taught today. I looked half-heartedly for about 10 minutes, but my baby was waiting and needed to nurse. So I'm letting it go because with age I am accepting that we can't hold on to anything too tightly. That diamond wanted freedom and I understand.