When I was 5 years of age, I watched my mother get beat down by my father. It happened on multiple occasions, and one time I remember him beating her unconscious. I guess the beating was so bad that when she woke up, and stood back on her feet, she stumbled again and fell to the floor once again losing consciousness.
Before she fell to the floor, she told my aunts who were there, “Get my son out of here.” as her voice trembled, her eyes shed tears, and finally she hit the floor. I got scared, and instead of my aunts running to take me out of the room, as my mom had demanded, they ran to her aid. My father wasn’t there to grab me either because he had left as soon as he beat her unconscious.
A year later, my father brought her and I across the border, crossing from Mexico to the United States.
A few months after arriving to the U.S., my father left my mother for a Caucasian woman, which made it extremely difficult for my mother to get-by because she was now in a country, as a single mother, not able to speak english at all, not knowing how to acquire a job, and not knowing how to get around.
Luckily, she was living with her oldest brother, but unfortunately it didn’t take long for disagreements to happen, so my mother suddenly found herself out in the streets.
What did she do for money? Well, some things are meant to be left unspoken.
She was homeless, but thankfully not for long because a complete stranger rented her their tree-house in the backyard for $50 a month, which was where we lived for a few months.
The tree-house wasn’t so bad, it wasn’t too small, and it was better than the streets. I know that to people in the U.S. it sounds horrible, but back in Mexico my mother and father — before they ended up hating each other — built our small house with their bare hands, made out of adobe, so living in a tree house was not much different.
I believe that everything she went though really affected her, perhaps more so the beatings she received, and eventually she became very violent, and would beat me with closed fists, with extension cords, clothing hangers, and with belts using the metal belt buckles.
I felt tortured as an adolescent. I was afraid of her, and I grew up hating her, and blaming her for everything.
she had no patience, and all of her reactions to my mistakes were violent.
I grew up hating myself, and also hating her. I had a very difficult time respecting her, more so as I grew older.
As she also grew older, she began to learn from her mistakes, however all of the trauma in her mind made it so difficult for her to show me any love. Once in a while she would desperately try to force herself to be sweet, and to show affection, but it was very difficult for her.
Emotionally, she was a wreck, and although her verbal expressions were very negative, she still managed to work 2 jobs, one full time, and the other part time, meanwhile also making time to take me to school.
She struggled so much convincing me to care about school, and sometimes I’d purposely show how much I didn’t care with aims to make her angry.
I flunked school a lot, on purpose! I fought a lot, and got arrested, was always in court, always in the back of police cars, and always bruised up.
She would cry as she saw her 1st born failing in life, and the more she cried, the more I intentionally ruined my life, because I wanted to make her suffer for all of the suffering she had put me through.
In the year 1998, she got arrested and went to prison, and because she was undocumented, she was facing deportation.
When she was released from prison, she had probation and was on house arrest, meanwhile had to get a lawyer and fight in court.
Our relationship was always rocky, and most times it was best to not speak. I realized that the few times we did speak, it was always to joke around, and/or whatever it was that we conversed about, we made it humorous because we found out that we can’t really speak about serious topics with a serious tone of voice.
Whenever I asked her for advice — which was rare — we couldn’t look eye-to-eye, either I, or she had to turn away and speak. There was some sort of grudge and discomfort that I felt when I looked into her eyes, and I saw in her eyes as well that she felt something awkward, perhaps guilt, or also grudge? I don’t know, but all I know is that we could never look into each other’s eyes.
I look back and try to remember when the last time I told her that I loved her, or that she told me, and I can’t remember. If she and I did say it, it must have been before coming to the U.S., because as long as I’ve been in this country I don’t recall ever being told anything other than the spiteful names she called me for many years of my life.
In the year 2011, after so many hundreds of thousand dollars, and so much stress, she had finally won the case in court, and as a result, she acquired citizenship, which of course meant that she wouldn’t be deported.
It was a huge stepping stone for her, and immediately we began to make plans! We saved our money, and in the year 2013 she opened up her own restaurant, which was something that she always wanted to do.
I supported her with money, time, and work, since day one. I always did my best to make sure her business picked up, and slowly but surely grew.
We’re both adults now, she is still running her restaurant, and I still support her, meanwhile I manage another business, and write books as a hobby.
This isn’t a story about hate, but about love.
You see, although we struggled, and still do, as son and mother, and we still seem to have a difficult time communicating, and I still can’t look into her eyes while speaking to her, fact is, that she’s getting older and I am afraid that she will die, as everybody inevitable does.
I have realized that I could lose anybody, and everybody, which I have, and don’t even care, but I can’t lose her. It frightens me to the core to exist meanwhile she doesn’t.
I’m not superstitious so I don’t pray, but I often selfishly hope that I die before she does. I don’t care about living a long life, and am not even interested in one, as long as I live a short but good and successful one, where the short time that I do live is one where I’ll have my mother around, even if our communication isn’t so great, it doesn’t matter! I just want to know that while I exist in this world, she too is existing.
I just don’t want to exist if she doesn’t.
Often times, I want to disappear, leave somewhere far away, and start my own family, and never ever turn back, detach myself from my entire family, even my mother, just so that I never get to find out the day she passes away.
Sound crazy, and absurd? Yeah, maybe, but if there’s anything I’ve discovered in life is that love is crazy.
I don’t attempt to justify anything she’s done or said, however I have tried to comprehend why she became who she is:
At a very young age her parents sent her to work in the fields to pick cotton. She was a cotton picker for many years, since age 9.
At times she picked strawberries, and at times she picked corn, and cactus, in order to make a living.
She never had a childhood, never played with dolls, played sports, tag, hide-and-go-seek, or anything of that sort. As soon as she learned to walk and talk, she was sent to work. No school, no education, but only slavery.
She married my father when she was a teen, and all he ever did to her is abuse her verbally and physically, and then was brought to the U.S. to figure it all out on her own.
To hate her for who and how she is, is to ignore what she went through. She doesn’t need more hate, what she needs now is love.
How could I expect this woman to be anything else than what she was? It would be unfair, and cowardly.
Today, I can’t tell it to her face, so for now I’m just going to write it here:
I love you. And it’s ok, I turned out fine. Yes, several mental issues and traumas, but overall I’m fine, and I hope you are too, because you’ve suffered a lot, mom. And I’m very sorry that you had to go through all of that. I couldn’t imagine what it felt like to suffer that much, but I am grateful and appreciative that you didn’t give me away to an orphanage, or to another family while you struggled, because as tough as it was to be raised by you, I am grateful to have become what I am today.
I just truly hope that you manage to heal, just as I too am fighting so hard to heal as well. Thank you also for standing tall, even while wounded. That’s inspiring!
Happy Mother’s Day!
THIS POST WAS WRITTEN BY Ricardo Ignacio