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Category Archives: frustrations

Expectations

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I was recently speaking to a lovely, smart, high raking executive, who’s also a latina, mom, and an immigrant.  She was telling me that due to her particular circumstances her family’s expectations of her were for her to be an unwed, teenage mom.  

For some reason that really struck home.  It was something that I’ve never thought of, that I’ve never reflected back on and yet, WOW…  

Let’s start off with the fact that my parents really have no idea what it is that I do professionally.  My mom knows that I’m smart and wonderful and all of those fabulous adjectives created to be generally supportive.  My dad is happy that I married a good man and that I have a good life and whether or not I actually “do” anything is neither here nor there.  My best guess is that this blissful ignorance is cultural.  

Growing up, I had my own views on things, and one of them was image.  I often told my mom “who cares what I look like now?!  I’m in school, I’m a teen, now is the time to take advantage of my freedom” and I did.  

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Then I found myself on a wonderful journey of life, and learning that had nothing to do with a traditional education, but again to my family my path has always been misunderstood.  To the point that I wonder if I’m crazy, or if they’re not listening.  What’s even more hilarious, frustrating, ironic is that they gave me the foundation for my career.  When I was born my father already owned his own business, so I was typing and taking messages at a VERY early age to the point of being able to run an office by 14.  Yet at one point in my life my father suggested that I was a secretary, which left me a little stunned as I looked at him and said, “Papi, I HAVE a secretary”.  

I gave up on trying to explain to my parents what it is that I do eons ago.  They see that I’m happy (and in my dad’s case he sees that I’m married and happy) and this makes them happy, y ya.  Until I told them about going to the White House with the LATISM Top Bloguera retreat.  

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Yes, they were excited, but what struck me was the phone call I received from my mom after sharing pictures with her, “mija, es que para mi ir a la Casa Blanca y a l a luna es lo mismo“, in other words, going to the White House is as attainable as a trip to the moon.  Which I appreciate.  It is a pretty big deal, depending on what circle you’re in.  For me it was an honor, one for which I am very grateful for, and  but it’s a little overshadowed by my wondering, is it that my parents had no expectations from me or that the world is so amazing that they did not want to achicar las posibilidades (limit my possibilities)?

Either way, I tell you what… it’s given me the desire to aim for the moon!! #SiSePuede #YesYouCan

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Y padres (parents) let’s give our little ones something to aim for.  Perhaps giving them concrete ideas (astronaut, doctor, inventor, teacher, mother, race car driver, all of the above) and positive role models (within the community, not just on TV).  Let’s have our little ones shoot for the moon!  Even if they miss they will land among the stars. 

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There are calories in the air!

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Ok, let me just say it. I have body image issues.

You know how kids have lanky bodies where their legs and arms have almost the same circumference? Well that wasn’t me. My mother says I started that way, but the child I remember was too tall, too brown and too fat. Yes, fat. And it wasn’t fun. It was clothes from the husky section at Sears and elastic waistbands. It was “what are you?” because I was neither black or white. It was not the best. Then around 6th grade I grew into my weight and although I still wasn’t thin, I wasn’t an obvious oval anymore. By the time I reached high school the need not to feed was strong.  I lost the weight, and entered the fashion world where smokes and soup were all one needed to sustain themselves.

I was not anorexic, I was not bulimic, but I was aware of every forkful that entered my body. Painfully aware. Keep a running tab aware. Apps for entrees aware.  My family called me Olive Oil and some wondered if I was ill (we’re Latinos remember? being thin is a sin). I looked fabulous.

Into my 30’s I was 5’9″, size 6. I worked out at least three times a week and ate a high protein diet.  I felt great, I looked great.

Fast forward to  now.  I’m 42, overweight, with no time, or willpower to workout. A penchant for chocolate and a deep… disgust towards my body.  People often tell me, “you look great for someone who has two kids” and I sincerely appreciate the compliment, but this is what I call a compliment with an asterisk., like… “you breathe really well for someone with a nose” .  So my goal this year?  To get rid of the asterisk.

Where to start? What to do?  For first time on my life, I started to count calories and oh my God, there are calories in the air!  Ok, not really, but practically. Two things became painfully clear:

1. No wonder I’m  overweight!

2. It’s a miracle I’m not heavier!

It’s really been an eye opener. A wake up call. A really hard look at what I’m eating and what I should be eating instead.  Every bite I take while cooking, every bocadito from my kids’ plates…it has all added up over the years, and now, it’s time for it to go.  Instead of cafe con leche, I’m drinking cafe cubano.  This saves me approximately 145 calories, which on its own isn’t a lot, but if you drink several of these everyday… imagine… 3 cafe con leches in a week’s time is… 3,045 calories!!  Viste? Did you see how easily that adds up?!  So the counting (not fun) begins.

Will I ever get back into that size 6?  Quien sabe.  The important thing is that I remain healthy, which means that I lose some weight, through conscious food choices and that I start exercising.  So as I sometimes tweet it’s time to get #FitOrBustCarajo !!

 

That’s me and my Dad.  Don’t let his uniform fool you!  He stopped doing business at a bank once because he was judged by his uniform.  That’s my father. 

The Move

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When you think about the many families who have been uprooted and have lost their homes, I shouldn’t complain, and trust me when I tell you that I am grateful everyday for what we have, but catholic guilt aside, let’s be upfront and honest. Moving sucks.

We recently made the move from urban to suburban and…it sure is dark out here! 

Sure, there are great things like the fact that I haven’t seen traffic since we moved out here, and that I’m conveniently located to EVERYTHING, and that practically everything has a drive through, and did I mention I haven’t seen traffic? But I also haven’t seen people.

Yeah, yeah, there are people everywhere but they’re not as friendly as city dwellers, and I get that same look I used to get in the 70’s in Georgia that went hand in hand with the question, “what are you?” plus people here keep asking me if my very caucasian looking kids speak English…

I’ve just started a new job which I’m thrilled about, but my search for childcare is bleak.  Apparently everyone wants to take care of my kids, but with their kids at their house, and I’m just not comfortable with that. Sittercity and craigslist aren’t as commonly used here, so I’m going  to the churches, even though I’m not a churchgoer, to network for a sitter.

Frick has been a champ, starting a new school mid-year without a hitch, but there’s no parent list, no invitations allowed in the school and despite the fact that I’m making it a point to arrive early to introduce myself to other parents as we wait for the kids to come out, they aren’t very interested in making small talk.

My husband and I keep telling ourselves that it would have been a totally different experience had we moved in the spring or summer.  I guess we’ll see what happens in a few months, and if the first thaw works with the families as much as it does with the foliage!

“I had no idea” aka “When your child enters school”

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Last year Frick was in PreK.  They played.  They sang.  They danced.  It was so much fun!  So much fun in fact that she craved more.  So we did “homework” at home.  Mind you, I’m not an educator, and I’m not very patient so God bless my cutie for actually wanted to learn with me.

This year as we were “lucky” enough to have been accepted into a Magnet School (urban speak for what suburbanites consider normal).  It’s not my neighborhood school but it holds promise.  The promise of a “better” high school, therefore a greater chance of higher scores and a great college.

Mind you the entire “selective enrollment” process is more like entering college then what you would expect for Kindergarten, it is after all just Kindergarten!  Well here in Chicago we don’t mess around when it comes to the “right schools”. It’s a two-tiered system.  You have you innocent little preschooler tested as “gifted” which are tests administered verbally by college students to preschoolers in an alien environment to ensure the best success.  Well, we did that.  I did not tutor my child in advance like some do, but we did test.  Then we filled out the paperwork requesting entry into one of the “better” schools, stood on one leg, rubbed our bellies, patted our heads and waited… and waited… and waited.

Am I crazy?  Was the question I got from an education reporter, “your neighborhood school is just fine!” Which she’s right, it is.  But according to the current information available from “those in the know” the reason parents are chomping at the bit to get into a “good” kindergarten is because this sets them on a path for success.  The chances are greater to getting in since not all parents at this age are willing to go through the process (trust me, it’s a nail biter and I did feel slightly ridiculous during the whole thing, until I received the acceptance letter).

So why am I telling you the harrowing tale?  Because you my dear, yes you with that adorable baybe pulling at your hair while you read my blog post.  And you, with a 5th grader.  And you, dad, yes you too.  We must not only be involved in our children’s education – as we show them through our actions that we care – but we must be involved in the policies.  We must learn, we must speak, we must make changes.  Or else you too will end up driving 90 minutes each way to get your little one to school in the morning.

When two worlds collide – a family vacation

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My husband is a wonderful man. He is Puerto Rican, old school, has a great heart is strong, loving, and a caveman. I chose him for all the reasons we choose our mates. He completes me, he is Ike my parents, perhaps eve bit like my dad.

My father is a wonderful man. He is Cuban, really, really old school, has a great heart is strong, in recent year has learned how to express his feelings, and is a caveman.

My husband is either angry or ok. You are either on my father’s good side, or your not.

My father is 78 and as his age progresses, his health well, as his doctor tells him all the time, he is a young old person, but he is old, so the body changes and difficulties arise. This is one of the reasons that we have taken a 12 day vacation to visit my family and stay with my dad. In anticipation of our trip, he bought a new fridge and prepared the house months in advance. He was thrilled to see his grandkids.

My husband, because he knows that I miss my family dearly and that the kids love seeing abuelo agreed to stay at my dad’s house, albeit begrudgingly, but he agreed nonetheless. Something that I realize is a great scarified for him to do especially since I had witnessed them both do the “gorilla dance” – and that’s considering that my dad likes him!!

So here we are, day 10, my 41st birthday and I am managing both my father’s and my husband’s feelings, playing the diplomat and translator to ensure all ego’s are intact. The kids are having a blast, my husband was ready to go on day 2 and I’m exhausted.

Has it been worth it? Absolutely. Will we do it again? No. I think both the men in my life will agree with that. 😉

Days like this

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I am driving to Milwaukee today for a trade show, and then tomorrow I leave with the kids to visit my family, so time is tight, I am exhausted and then there are days like today.  Somehow, someway I’ve always noticed that the more imperative it is that I get sleep, the more I can count on the fact that one of my children will prevent that from happening.  Be it a cold, the impromptu ear infection, or frankly, no reason at all, they will make sure mommy gets no sleep.  

Now, I am exhausted and I don’t want to see them or talk to them because every fucking noise, breathing, the keyboard clacking, is annoying.  Then I look at my poor sleep deprived children and I want to cry, until they start running through the house (apartment, we are city dwellers, and I actually like my neighbors!) and I turn into the evil voiced super over enunciating witch.  I am too fucking old to run on three hours sleep, it makes me crazy!!  Fuuuuuck!  Now instead of doing all the things I have to do for tonight and tomorrow, and being the sharp cookie I normally am (ha!) I am now sitting zombie-like, the kids are fending for themselves and I’m venting (thanks for listening by the way).  And at the crux of the problem is the fact that my 2yo DOES NOT SLEEP!!  He used to sleep, but about a month (or two, who know?  I’m sleep deprived!) ago he stopped taking naps with me, he only sleeps with the sitter, so his nighttime sleep is all fucked up, his eyes are red and bloodshot, he is exhausted, and even when he gets his nap, he’s getting up at 5am so no matter how you slice it, my poor son is sleep deprived and I want to scream, POBRECITO!! 
In conclusion, I better go make some coffee and get a move on, and thanks again for listening.
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