Celebrating Mothers and Maternal Figures

Depending on what Latin American country you come from, Mother’s Day may have landed on May 10, May 12, or May 13 this year. Or some Latin American countries don’t celebrate in May at all – they celebrate in various months in the fall and winter. At Esperanza United’s National Latin@ Network, we are proud of our representation from various different Latin American countries, so we decided to publish a special Mother’s Day blog composed of some of our staff’s sentiments about the women who provided their lives with nourishment, love, compassion, dedication, sacrifice, and selflessness.

Isaac Hitz Graf, Program and Administrative Assistant

I am so grateful and full of love for the two primary mother figures in my life, Marci and Jacquelyn.  Marci finds a beautiful balance between speaking boldly what she believes and, at the same time, being humble in recognition that there is always more to learn.  She keeps our family strong and close knit by encouraging open and honest conversation among us.  Jacquelyn always has two ears ready to listen, whether it be about big, pressing problems or small, fun conversations.  She teaches how important it is to be intentional in spending time building relationships with those we care about and love.  Happy Mother’s Day to both of these amazing women!

Rosario and her mom smiling at the camera

Rosario de la Torre, Co-Director of Co-Director of Family Advocacy & Community Engagement

For Mother’s Day, I want to tell you about my mom! She is 81 years old, Joaquina Contreras, a very strong woman, who has always been the pillar of the family, she still very active, and travels a lot, she lives alone in her little house with her memories, with photos of all us, my father,  her 6 children, 3 sons in law, 2 daughters in law and 21 grandchildren. If you have the chance to meet her you will know that she carries so much love and light in her eyes, she is the kind of mom that will make you feel at home, one who will offer you “un taquito”, and will listen without judgement, and always have the rights words to said to make feel better and hopeful.

She is one of the bravest people I know, she pushed my father to move from a little town to the big city to provide us a better live, she is a person of integrity and incredible sacrifice. She taught me to be strong and resilient for the people I love.

When we get together, she makes laugh with her “occurrencias and chistes”. For our children and friends, she is “abue Quina”.

Maria Cristina and her mother smiling at the camera and sitting in a park

María Cristina Pacheco Alacalá, Project Manager

My dear mother loves to kiss, hug and remind us how much she loves us. She always celebrates our achievements and talks about how proud she is of her sons and daughters. A simple, intelligent, sensitive and affectionate woman. I live grateful to have her as a mother. Happy Mother’s Day! I love you so much!

Paula Gomez Stordy, Senior Director of Training and TA

On this Mother’s Day, I’d like to celebrate and honor my mother and all immigrant mothers who travelled to new lands with different customs, norms, and languages for a promising future for themselves and their families. In pursuit of new opportunities, they experienced loss of family, community, language, and at times identity. Yet, they persevered and tried to learn a new language and culture, made new connections, and diligently worked for their children’s well-being and success while longing and supporting the family they left behind.

Some immigrant mothers may be separated from their children due to immigration restrictions and mother from a distance worrying about their children’s well-being and the impact the distance may have on their bond. During the years of separation from my mother, I was fortunate to receive love and protection from my mother’s mother, mi abuelita, also known as, La mama Ines, to her children and grandchildren.

As I reflect on my own difficult pregnancy and birthing experience , I recognized how privileged I was to have family, friends, doctors, and excellent NICU (Neonatal Intensive Care Unit) nurses who supported me and my new baby. I think of my mother’s birthing experience as a young immigrant woman who experienced a life-changing moment far from home and family.

Despite challenges, my mother learned a new culture and language, accomplished goals, and supported other immigrant women and men throughout her journey. This example of strength, love, and service guides me in building upon the legacy of my immigrant mother.

Patricia Tototzintle, Chief Executive Officer

When I think of my mom I can’t help but smile and think about how much I loved her—love her…

I was raised to be strong, to work hard, to be respectful, to give of myself, and to love family.

She was the kind of mother that could be so loving, wiping my tears when I was heartbroken, but also the kind that didn’t hold back if she felt you had been disrespectful or inappropriate —yes I do remember the time I peroxided my hair at 13–a disaster with my mom. It didn’t look good but the fact that I did it caused a scene.

I loved her. She worked hard to take care of our family. My dad relied on her to keep things going at home and we relied on her for her strength, her understanding and her love of family. We traveled, all 8 of us — mom and dad and 6 kids, at least every other year to California to be with family, cousins, tias and tios.  Living next door to my abuelita (my dad’s mother) was also special. My mom made sure I would go next door and visit abuelita all the time. I grew up in a home grounded in Mexican culture and I am forever grateful.

It’s from my mom, Mary Evangeline (Arocha) Castor, that I learned to be an activist, a leader, a community member that is willing to work hard and support the leadership of others.

Thank you mom, for always being a rock — a jewel, really — that shines within me now and always.

Patricia Celis Gonzalez, Bilingual Content Coordinator

This Mother’s Day I’d like to take a moment to acknowledge and deeply thank all mothers who found themselves having to care for their children while surviving an abusive relationship or dealing with the symptoms and sequels post-abuse. It’s known that one of the main reasons women stay in abusive relationships is their children’s well-being. Mothers quite often choose to stay and endure the abuse, rather than have their children face difficulties such as a broken home, possible homelessness, lack of resources or due to fear of the abuser taking away her kids. A mother’s love often becomes the tool abusers use to abuse and control.

In ideal situations, mothering, as it is, is a huge task. But, without doubt, the task becomes so much harder if your whole being is battling for survival while you are being pushed with full force down the abyss of abuse; as you try to hold up your children’s lives.

Whether you stayed or left, to you I want to say: Thank you. I want to tell you how amazing you are. I want to ask you to be easy on yourself because you did the very best you could while facing far from ideal situations. You mothered through severe stress, through anxiety attacks –you didn’t even know that’s what they were; you mothered hiding tears and trying to battle such unspoken fears. You rose to many challenges that were surrounding you and did the best that you could to gather love, smiles, dreams… for the sake of your children. You gave your very best each and every day. You put aside your life for theirs. You are a great mother, you are an amazing woman. And today I am praying you’ll see the fruits of your hard labor. You deserve to be honored, heard, spoken of.  It is your hands that hold the future. Thank you!