Well, I’m sad to say that I’ve discovered no matter how much Spanish I speak or books I read about Mexican culture, in the end I’ll still be a gringa. Now I’ll say up front that those are not my husband’s words because if they were, he would be on the couch indefinitely. He has always asked me why I married a Mexican and if I ever wish I married an American. He usually brings up the question after a bad cultural experience, like when his boss for a day at Gastof’s harassed him about our relationship, or when there is an immigration raid somewhere in the country. I take his questions as more of a reflection on his self-esteem when it comes to being a Mexican and it saddens me greatly.
It’s a hard line to walk from my side. I knew where he was from and his situation before our first date so I had already made a conscious decision not to let any of that be a factor in our relationship. I DO care that he is Mexican though, in the way that I want to learn his culture and language and history so I can appreciate where he is from and where his family still lives. I want our future kids to love their Mexican heritage and look forward to visits south of the border. I’ve spent hours studying Spanish and taking classes. I have read many books on Mexican history or on Mexican’s in the US. I really do try to be patient with the cultural differences such as time (that’s the most different).
My disappointing discovery last weekend was that despite all this effort, his family will always consider me a gringa. They would never tell me this but my husband was talking with his brother Gigio about some things and told him I would like to help him and the family. His brother told him that he likes me but he would never let me help because “I can’t understand because I’m an American.” Of course, he said it in Spanish but that was the translation that Mex told me later. The topic in question was something that I pride myself very much on knowing a lot about (as it is my career). My initial reaction was anger which Mex experienced the entire car ride home. Then I was sad. So sad and disappointed. I know it isn’t how Mex feels and I know our relationship is as “race free” as any biracial couple can truly be but I thought I was making more progress with his family. How can they like me if they don’t think I understand them? Even after Mex’s intense immigration process last year.
A week later I’m still sad. Now I’m also confused and worried, not about us but about children. I want them to feel comfortable everywhere and his brother’s comment scares me and makes me feel like they are going to feel like they don’t fit in anywhere. They’re American but not white like their mom. They are Mexican but not really Mexican like their dad. Where do they fit? Will they resent me or him or both of us? Whew…. a lot to worry about when there aren’t even any kids on the horizon. Maybe I should stop for the evening and just enjoy the time at the lake while summer still lasts! Good night from the Gringa.
Wow…. So much has happened that I should have put on here but I have had a hard time logging on. I don’t know why. As March and April went by we both reminisced about being in Mexico and talked about how lucky we were to have the opportunity to spend two months travelling and how sad it was that we were both so nervous most of the time.
We spent July 4th weekend in Mexico. It was a short trip and very disappointing. We didn’t really get to visit with his family at all because the local elections were held on July 5th and his sister Sofia was running for on office. Politicians very well-paid down in Mexico which is why it is a very sought after job and elections are a huge deal. There were over a dozen people running for the same position. Apparently a lot of the campaigning takes place right beforehand. Well, not the campaigning so much as the sabotage of opponents. Mex’s nephews and nieces were all running over the town like a bunch of spies taking photos of “secret” meetings with other candidates and trying to make sure no one was planning a negative attack on Sofia. I don’t know. I didn’t understand because it is so different from here. Here politicians don’t sneak around attacking their opponents, they pay millions of dollars to prance about commercials on TV proclaiming bad things. All I know is we flew down there and spent four of the five days with each other.
Mex did get to spend some time alone with his dad and that was good. His father’s health is failing and he can no longer walk. That is very sad to see and even I can see that his father is getting very depressed. I am afraid he will just refuse to eat one of these days. From what I saw and the description of what happened to his dad I am convinced that he must have recently had a stroke.
It breaks my heart to see the conditions in Mexico and to think that if he was here, the care would be different and he may have a better chance of recovery. Mex’s sisters care for their dad very, very well but there are some major cultural differences that concern me. For example, Mex offered to carry his dad to the shower (it is about 300 feet from his room) because he hadn’t been able to shower in 10 days and it is so hot down there during the day. His dad told him the doctor said he couldn’t shower because of his medicine.
Now maybe I’m wrong but I have heard of no medicine to treat high blood pressure or diabetes (his dad’s conditions) that say you can’t shower. Mex’s sisters won’t argue with him though because he’s the dad. They don’t even sponge bathe him because he doesn’t want to. It is wonderful in Mexico that they have so much respect for their parents and the parents authority (I’m sure I’ll appreciate trying to teach my kids that some day) but there is a point where I would force my own parents to listen to me if I knew it was for their benefit. Even if it meant hiring a nurse to come wash them if I thought they’d hate me for doing it myself. I don’t know.
It just makes me sad to see it and so sad for Mex. He’s already lost his mother and I could tell his heart was breaking every time he looked at his dad, realizing that it was very possibly the last time he would see him. I can’t imagine being in his shoes. He is constantly forced to choose between his family in Mexico and his family here. It makes me feel guilty to admit that I am glad every time that he chooses me and comes home to Minnesota again. I would have a hard time doing that if it was my mom or dad suffering. At least now he has the gift of being able to visit whenever he can get vacation and doesn’t have to go a dozen years without seeing them. I don’t know how soon we will go back but I’m glad we saw his father another time.
As we pulled away in the taxi Mex started crying and said “I feel like this is the last time I will see my dad.” I hope with all my heart that he is wrong.