Mamita, Aren’t You Tired of Crying?
What we want for our mothers, we want for ourselves, too
A few weeks ago I was on vacation in Miami and on the first morning of my stay I get a call from my mom. Whispering, she asked me what I was doing.
“Mom… I’m sleeping.”
She asked why I hadn’t sent her pictures, why I hadn’t texted her when I landed. Why it seemed as though she hadn’t crossed my mind. It is not uncommon for me to leave and each time I do she tells me she hopes I will be different – kinder, more considerate. She cries so that I am aware of how much this bothers her. She squirms and moans over the phone and the long distance echo of her discontent evokes what it must feel like on the Day of Judgment. I should feel awful for making my mother cry but I have seen her cry so much already that often I think, “mamita, aren’t you tired of crying?”
I tell her she shouldn’t have these sorts of expectations.
“Frankly I find it odd and melodramatic that you are crying. It hasn’t even been 24 hours since I left,” I say.
And more, we don’t live together. We don’t even share an area code. We haven’t for several years now.
“Mom, you’re not my girlfriend.”
She went silent.
My mother crossed the border into the United States when she was 27, lured in by the promise of love that my now-estranged father coated in fool’s gold. Her family begged her to stay when she announced she was quitting her job as a schoolteacher in Peru to follow him. Despite having lived all her life in the same home, she left with unexpected ease. She slept for the first time in an unfamiliar place, as one of several anonymous bodies nestled in haystacks or crammed into the back of a utility van. She relied on the frontera equivalent of pimps, strangers who made a living protecting illegal immigrants on their trek north. She glows when she recalls her feat.