An open letter to every mamá Latina sending her daughter off to school
The time has come for a new generation of mamás Latinas to let go and to be the first to send our babies off to college. We hope to have played an instrumental role in helping create the character and to instill the values and moral foundation that our daughters need to continue to make the right choices and to succeed. As a Latina who straddles two cultures that at times seem to collide, raising a daughter in America hasn't always been easy. It's been hard to strike the perfect balance of my two cultures and between my career aspirations and being a mom.
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To every hija and especially to my daughter Carolina: I know that you often think that I'm too old-fashioned and traditional because I was raised in Chile and still believe that familia, respeto and disciplina are more important than anything else. Mi amor, only when I'm viejita and you become a mom will you fully understand and appreciate what I mean.
It's sad but only now do I truly understand what meme always taught me and my sisters. Letting you go away to college has been a big step towards raising the daughter that I'm so proud of--an independent thinker who is self-sufficient and confident--traits that are so important for a young woman to succeed in this country. But please understand that these are attributes that were always in conflict with what I was raised to believe. I know that I'm not perfect--perhaps I should have given you more compliments and less criticism, and I know I can be quite gritona. But I hope that you focus on remembering the good times and the positive influences--the lively Latin sounds that always played in the background, always dancing in the kitchen no matter how tired I was after coming home from work, the Latin flavors that I always tried to infuse into my cooking and that are now among your favorites.
I hope you now understand why I enrolled you and insisted you stay in your school's bilingual program so that you could speak Spanish fluently and hopefully pass it on to your children. Growing up Latina in America has shaped your identity, beliefs, passions and priorities and it has enriched your life in ways that perhaps only now you will begin to truly discover. Please know that although you are leaving home, because everything we've taught you will forever be in your heart, you're really taking us with you!
¡Te adora, tu mamá!
Image via Lucia Ballas-Traynor