-La tierra que yo conozco

This posting is about my feisty, Latina mother. She is actually  a re-markable woman! She made me and my two sisters who we are today. To put it quite simply, my dad had a hand in our upbringing during the  elementary years, which explains a great deal of our tendencies to, well laugh. He taught us how to laugh at life when things weren’t as we wish they would be. She’s feisty because she’s Latina, but also because she’s had an interesting life. I want to capture a glimpse of my mother because she is at the heart of all of my interests and pursuits in life.

I never really understood why my mother was so damn feisty and maybe I never will, but what I have learned about her is that she struggled to change her identity when she immigrated from Tamaulipas, Mexico as a teenager. Now, I’m not saying that immigrating to the US made her feisty. I think she was like that before she moved.

As I have pursued my studies in bilingual and bicultural education I have realized what my parents when through when they moved here not knowing a word of English. I have theories, misconceptions, studies and so much more to back up what they went through and may have felt, BUT there is ONE story that sums it all up for me. A story my mom shared with me over Christmas break last year. It captures everything I never understood about my mom and her dislike of speaking English and “American” culture.

During Christmas break I was telling her a little about what I’m studying as a doctoral student in bilingual & bicultural education when she shared this connection.

“When I first moved to the U.S. I would have the same dream over and over.  I dreamt that I was an eagle fly over -mi tierra- I would fly over my country, my city where I grew up and I would say –esta es la tierra que YO conzco. Yo conozco ESTA tierra. Es MI tierra. For many years I had this dream.”

I think that in many ways she still feels the same way about her Mexican identity.

Hearing MY Spanish

About a month ago my husband and I decided to watch a foreign flick. It’s one of our favorite things to do together. This time the movie that was delivered (Netflix) was La misma luna. Apparently, I added it to my queue. I didn’t know what to expect. The summary mentioned that it was about Mexican immigrants in the US. Sounds almost like a cliche right. I’ve seen several movies with the same theme, so I wasn’t too excited about it, but I thought who knows.

We had been watching the movie for about 20 minutes when I noticed how many questions Marcus kept asking me like “Whats a huerco?” There a few other words or phrases he asked about like “ya mero” or “ni modo.” He proceeded to comment on how he thought it was interesting that we hadn’t heard any English, yet. Thats when I actually turned to him and said, “You know what? I hadn’t even noticed.” I realized then that all the other Spanish-language films we had watched, mostly from Spain, I instantly would adjust my ear a little to the Spanish accent, the Spanish sayings, and the tone of the language. It felt really good to listen to a Spanish that was mine. One that my ear didn’t have to adjust to. One that I was familiar with. One that I didn’t even know I was missing. One that I didn’t even know had trained my ear to be familar with AND this is very important you see because of the huge disconnect I feel as a bilingual and bicultual individual living in the US, but still not part of the majority. I’m in the middle somewhere.

So, now I wonder how many times have I rejected MY Spanish because it wasn’t hmm “good enough” without realizing that it is MY Spanish that makes me who I am….bilingual & bicultural.