The 10th of May marks Mothers Day in Latin America, no matter what day it is. This year, in El Salvador, places were decorated and the florists were filling the street corners waiting for sons and daughters to buy that special combination of colorful flowers for their mother.
Even though I am accustomed to celebrating Mothers Day on a different date, I still did a little bit of reflecting as Salvadorans honored their mothers (and mother figures).
I am finding in my life, that who you call Mom, says a lot about you. Here in El Salvador culture with a mix of poverty really changes the family dynamic. There are many single moms here and many women who have children with multiple men. I won’t explain the how or why of this (this is not the time of discussion), but I will say, that the role this woman plays in the child’s life is even more important. In addition, there are times when one or both parent leave the family to go North to support the family. Sometimes the family still stays in touch with the person who migrated, but that is not always the case.
I read a story recently in which a mom emigrated to the US to make enough money for the family. As a mother, she was the primary breadwinner for her family, but she was not the primary caregiver. Instead, the older sister assumed the role, which leads me to wonder. Who do Salvadorans call Mom? And when exactly does a woman become a mother?
Here, there is a strong presence of influential woman with strong character. I have met women here who are a definite force to be reckoned with and are seen as the matriarch of a whole family or community at times. These are the women who keep careful watch over every child (no matter what age) and keep the men in line and on their toes. In such a machismo culture, I find this reality to be surprising and a bit refreshing.
As a feminist who is blessed with many different individuals who have assumed mothering roles in my life, I often wonder what kind of mother I will become someday. Although I admire these strong Salvadoran women, I am not sure I want that kind of responsibility. It is my hope however, that my future partner and I complement each other in such a way that the typical mothering characteristics are distributed among the two of us. I feel that if life works out that way, then our child (or children) will understand that traditional gender roles do not need to be fulfilled to raise a healthy child, or to have a healthy family.
So in closing, Happy Mothers Day, to all those women and men who care for children and raise them to be happy and healthy adults. My blessings, gratitude and awe go to you…