Motherhood is a journey that shakes you to the core. No matter how many parenting books you read, videos you watch, or conversations with your doctor, you can never be fully prepared for all that motherhood brings.
Naturally, especially for those first-time moms, you look for guidance and support from those older generations that can provide wisdom. We yearn for their intelligence, for the home remedies and recipes passed on to them, for the old wives’ tales to stop the hiccups; we long for the insight you cannot find on social media.
They have experienced life more than we have, so they must have many things to teach us, right?
Resilience as a pillar of the Latino community
I have always believed it is essential to look to the generations that came before us to understand our history and how their circumstances shaped our upbringing and values.
Our ancestors taught us the meaning of true resilience. Growing up, my grandmother would tell me stories about how she’d navigated poverty as a young mother. She had the strength and drive to work hard and prosper against all odds, and she taught me perseverance with her stories.
The same can be said about many of our ancestors. They went through hardships that we could never imagine. Even if our ancestor’s sacrifices were meant for us to persevere, they have always taught us the importance of humility and to never forget where we came from. They taught us to be strong mothers and tenacious – a force of nature.
Our ancestors and the problem of gender roles
However, nothing is as black and white as it seems. There is always that gray area. We look up to our ancestors, for their traditions, knowledge, and insight can help lead us as we embark on the journey of motherhood. However, this does not mean that our ancestors were not flawed.
For example, our community’s foundation is based on gender-role expectations and machismo. It expects women’s sole purpose in life is to have children and take care of the household. Our grandmothers often had to put up with the infidelity of our grandfathers and kept the secret in silence to not break up the family.
Their inability to speak their truth and cope with their heartbreak and reality often had them retaliating against their children with anger. They did not know how to communicate their emotions, all due to the stigmatization of mental health.
This is the reality of the Latino home—family bonds filled with generational curses that must be broken. If we want to break the cycle, we must acknowledge our trauma and seek therapy in order to heal.
After all, without facing this trauma head-on, we won’t be able to continue to grow and flourish as a community together.