Letting go is hard. When my mom was a young teenager, her family left Cuba in disgrace. In 1966, the Revolution was over, Fidel Castro was in power, and many of the changes that would prove him a ruthless dictator were already taking place. My grandparents were both teachers–intellectuals were reviled in communist Cuba because they were considered among the most outspoken against the new regime. Before she left, my mom saw signs posted around the campus where her father taught, declaring him a traitor. The government seized their house, and they were only able to bring two suitcases among the five of them. I’ve never seen a picture of my mom as baby for this reason. On the airplane, she had to surrender her Cuban passport for refugee admissions to the United States. To this day, she has never again set foot in Cuba.
Today January 23rd, marks the one year anniversary of my very first post, called Mommy Marching with PTSD, which was all about how and why I overcame my post-traumatic stress disorder symptoms to bring my elder daughter to Womxn’s March on Seattle. Read it if you haven’t yet–it’s quite raw and ranty and fun.
I wish I could commemorate the first year with a post about attending the anniversary protest, which had been the plan, but as it happens Monday was my mother’s birthday, and Saturday–when the march took place this year–was when she decided to have a birthday ge-ttogether. Which turned into a birthday linner, or dunch, or something. In any case. I didn’t go (to the protest, I did see my mom for her birthday). But I saw photos of the turnout, and many pussy hats as I met my mom for her birthday celebration so I’m glad people are still fighting. And I do pledge to keep up the good fight via articles like this and like this and blog posts like this scripts and fictions you haven’t yet read but will someday (dear magical agent just waiting for me, please materialize and also materialize me some money). And maybe a march or two as well.
Let me just start by saying: Other moms terrify me. Even the cool ones. Even the ones I kinda want to be friends with. Maybe those ones even more, because I actually sort of care what they think. It’s as though, upon delivering their first child, all the other mothers in the world were provided a set of cute one-liners and social rules to get happily through a conversation with a stranger. And I was not. I don’t know, maybe the doctors were so freaked out by my delivery that they forgot to shove the information chip up there. Whatever the reason, I don’t know how to talk to other moms. When a mom talks to me, I basically curl into myself and begin spitting vapid responses through my grimacing parody of a smile. It must be a disturbing sight.
Despite all this, I have learned my lesson when it comes to wishing I don’t have to deal with other moms. When I was a twenty-year-old, newly single mama, just out of an extremely abusive relationship, and my son was just a babbling chubbins, I remember thinking to myself, ‘Fuck I hope he has no friends.’ I didn’t mean it. It was just a thought, a selfish, half-formed wish in jest. And of course I know that it really is paranoid magical thinking to believe that this small thought in any way contributed to my son’s profound autism which leaves him essentially with no friends. Nonetheless, I have learned my lesson. I am not going to make a similar wish, however lighthearted, about my daughters. I will, for now, only be grateful that they are both still young enough to get away with having birthday parties that only include family.
This year, on my daughter’s third birthday, family included my in-laws.