My Papi And Mami Do Not Get Me

I do not say this with resentment; I am saying this because it is true.
10/17/2016 10:33 am ET Updated Oct 18, 2016

My papi and mami do not get me. I do not say this with resentment; I am saying this because it is true. I grew up in a hyper religious household, where my papi and mami controlled everything we consumed, watched and listened to; if it did not elevate el nombre de Jesus, it was considered garbage.

I generally adhered to what my papi and mami wanted of me. This was “easier,” and I had not real evidence nor proof nor access to materials that would allow me to push back, so I went along with it despite my own internal dissonance around the treatment of women in my particular church tradition.

But then I went to graduate school, and was given access to womanist scholars who I could put into conversations around the intersection of race, gender and class in relationship to the Divine. I saw a reflection of myself in these black female theologians. I never sought out to dismantle and undo what I was born knowing, I just wanted answers to things that felt “off.” Once I got those answers (which resulted in more questions) I became a machine that took in every book that everyone ever recommended to me. I needed to know more, and the more I learned the more I rejected a lot of things I had been told about my body as an immigrant, my voice as a female, and my choices as a working poor Latina.

Earlier this year I fell off my bike, HARD. At this point I was biking around 30 miles a day, trying to exercise the anxiety out of me, and I fell. I was living at home at this time because after my 2015 graduation I was contemplating furthering my education (and completely depleting myself, because I was already depleted) or go home and let mami take care of me. So I chose the latter, and I spent a little less than a year at home recuperating from the angst that experiencing racism in “progressive” spaces gave me.

Earlier this year I fell off my bike, HARD. And when I did, I called my mami to see if she would pick me up from where I was sitting in the concrete. She did not pick up her phone, so I called my papi. He picked up, but insisted that my bike could never fit in his car so I had to figure out how to get back home. So I mustered all my independent-woman strength and began to bike back home, with one arm while trying to cradle the other arm. Then I hear my phone ringing, my mami was calling me back. She told me to stop where I was and in no time my mami was picking me and my bike up from the ground. My mami had come to rescue me. My 5’2” mami, who suffers from severe rheumatoid arthritis, had come to rescue her 30-year-old hijita. She picked up my heavy HEAVY bike that we lovingly refer to as The Jeep. And she also managed to get me into the car, and buckle me up. Once home she proceeded to clean my face, I had actually fallen face-first so I had pieces of rocks in my upper lip. She cleaned me up and she took me to the emergency room. All the while, I kept thinking: how lucky am I to have a mami like this. Because there truly is nothing that compares to a Latina mami, who will break her back for her children. Literally.

I have moments when I have this very real realization that I am the luckiest girl in all of the land, because some days I can’t believe my luck! I have the best mami in all of the world!

Then an article of mine published, I had written a piece about my hermano, and the first sentence read something along the lines of: The first emotionally abusive relationship I have ever been in was with my brother. In this piece I proceeded to tell the tale of having been born in a home where men were in charge and women were secondary. I proceeded to reveal very personal details about my relationship with my brother. My mami, trying to be a supportive mami, went on to read this article. She is a Spanish speaker so she google translates all my work. And WHILE I am still on this mami-heaven high, she brings in this stern tone and says: hay cosas que no se dicen. She told me that I needed to stop telling the family’s personal stories for “likes.” And with one or two sentences my mom had brought me from mami-heaven to mami-hell.

My papi and mami do not get me. I do not say this with resentment; I am saying this because it is true. I grew up in a hyper religious household, where my papi and mami controlled everything we consumed, watched, and listened to; if it did not elevate el nombre de Jesus, it was considered garbage. And while I generally adhered to what my papi and mami wanted of me, because it was “easier” and because I had not real evidence, nor proof, nor access to materials that would allow me to push back, so I went along with it despite my own internal dissonance around the treatment of women in my particular church tradition.

But when I started becoming aware of the many ways I was taught violent and awful things about my body, choices, and voice, I became this odd person that they loved passionately but were so confused by…

My papi and mami do not get me. And some days I feel so alone because I would give anything for their approval and their support in what I do, and what I write, but at least I have their love and I think that for now I have to be okay with that…

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