My Mothers Shoes (a poem)

Big Sister, Little momma

A shout out to all the big sisters who have to at times step into their mothers shoes. If you’ve got one of those big sisters do not neglect to thank her for stepping in to help your mother. I’m a little sister, y Gracias a Dios that I had 3 big sisters who had my back, my big sis Marina, embraced her role and kept a good eye on me when my ama had her hands full, with 8 kids to raise, imaginate they were always bien llenas! Thanks big sis!  A few years ago I wrote this simple poem in honor of my big sis Marina. Now that I’ve revisited it, I realize that it was pretty cheesy and not quite descriptive of our home life. Pero, the message remains, when your big sister puts on her mommas shoes, se agradecida

 My Mother’s Shoes

Three boys & three girls was a nice even number, 

a quiver and more!

From sun up to sun down she worked, 

raising 6 kids was no easy chore!

The work never stopped 

as the needs piled on top.

Stacks of dishes and laundry miles high, 

with a heavy sigh she washed & she dried

With a pair of preteens, and another of teens

She learned to spy, behind her head she had extra eyes

Sweeping and mopping? Impossible! 

Her two toddler girls needed to play.

She asked God for strength and help 

as he granted another day.

At night, with weary exhaustion 

Mom took off her shoes 

Morning came all too soon 

with mouths to feed and no time to lose

 She had no quiet place

Still she took a moment to rest, 

but then came another test.

Her eyelids were heavy, 

she yearned for some sleep. 

Her lids closed for a moment 

but she caught her breath

She felt the stirring within.

She new what this meant, 

she was expecting again, 

And when the new baby came, 

she felt the stirring again!

Now her brood was complete; 

God gave her eight children to raise.

At night, more weary than ever, 

She would take off her shoes

She’d whisper a prayer for patience

And the strength God renews

She was created to nurture, 

to give all that she had,

But she needed a helper 

who could nurture 

like her

When my mothers hands were too full 

and I cried with my need

My Big Sister came, she was ready to give 

and ready to watch over me

She wasn’t my mom!

I wanted my mom!  

Big Sister shushed me

It was then that I knew 

she was wearing my mommas’ shoes!

Fast forward to my own mothering experience, I only had 4 kids and they kept me busy, I can’t imagine my amas experience. Pero, gracias a Dios for Emery and Thomas’ big sister!  My daughter Daniella stepped into my shoes so easily, at least she made it seem smooth.  A little confession right here is appropriate. Bien Concha, enjoying my motherhood, boasting that my last two babies were so easy at night, they slept through the night! Pero un dia, Daniella set the record straight, hijole! When the baby woke up and I didn’t, she would pat him back to sleep while I kept sleeping. Que verguenza, what a blow to my mothering ego!

There’s much more mothering practice that she experienced through her little brothers, but confessing this was too much for me already! Today, Daniella is an amazing mother: She uses all the talent God gave her and sometimes that strong latina woman comes out in her and she manages very well. 

Sunday is mothers day, bless your ama and if you have a big sis, thank her for every time she stepped into your mothers shoes.

How To Handle A Bully

I have three older sisters, all feisty fiery Latina’s!  Can’t say when I’ll see two of them again, so meanwhile, My sis Marina and I try to celebrate their birthday with sweet memories of them. I’ve told you about Marina and Patty, ahora, I’m celebrating Lupe, her birthday was this past week. 

Perhaps every little sister has that admiration glint in their eye for their hermana mayor, o no? My big sister was like the female version of the Godfather. De veras, just check out her name María Guadalupe Zepeda Sánchez. I Can hear my son Jonathan saying “Tía Lupe was a G” and I would agree with him. 

She was Passionate but in control (usually) Deep down inside she wanted to display outward affection but she held herself back, except of course when a fat little baby was near her and she couldn’t resist the rosy chubby cheeks, or the tiny rolls on the baby’s thighs. Only then would you hear that wonderful baby talk that my ama practiced and passed  down to us. Those catch phrases that are still heard around some Zepeda circles :D. “Que cosa tan fina!” o “Cosita fina” and of course the mumbo jumbo phrases, sweet nothings and kisses. With Lupe, after the infant stage was gone, you just had to know she loved you by her other actions.

From the heart of a little sister, I knew how to see and feel her love. Lupe allowed me into her heart and shared her life with me; the good, the bad and the ugly. Lupe loved my family. She knew how to win my angry little first born. Not having a girl of her own, she indulged mine with those girly frilles that I had no clue about. She knew just how to tantalize my finicky middle child with the right foods . She was smitten by my guerito, Thomas, always looking for ways to spoil him. And even my flaco, she enjoyed cooking for him, and he especially enjoyed her perfectly round soft tortillas and her nopalitos, we’ve never tasted a better cactus salad than my big sisters. 

One more of the ways she showed her love was in her “stand with you” position she took with family. My sister was a passionate and loyal latina. She loved her family and defended us when necessary or had us defend ourselves, but she was there for us.

My older brother just recently shared with me another story from the archives of Mexicali. The lesson he had to teach Lupe about facing the bully.

My apa hated to know we were being bullied, but I think he disliked even more the idea we were not pushing a bully back, or defending ourselves. He strongly believed that we had to send that message that we were not going to be walked on. Sometimes it just took a brave look into the eyes of the bully and other times it took more. I believe that we all learned that lesson at some point in our lives. Here’s a quick look at how Angel taught Lupe how to handle a bully.

Life was simple in those days, kids played outside in the yard or on the street, the most important thing in a little girl’s life in the colonia was play. Until it was not. Lupe was enjoying her liberty until Big Bully Girl came out. Then, she’d take from Lupe whatever she had or she’d shove, hit or hurt her. Lupe would run and hide, usually wailing to ama. Angel got wind of this “situation” He himself was now a street savvy neighborhood kid. He knew it had to change. 

One day, he happened to be home, outdoors with the kids when Big Bully Girl came out, and Lupe immediately ran to hide behind Angel. It was one of those moments: defend his little sister or teach her to defend herself. But why defend yourself when your big brother is there? In the flowery language he uses, he told me how he resolved her problem.  He told his little sister that she better quit hiding, go face that girl and show her she could not push her around. He didn’t say “tell her you’re not scared of her” What he did threaten was that if she didn’t face that girl immediately, she would have to deal with him! Lupe was more afraid of that consequence of course. When Lupe stopped hiding, Big Bully Girl was surprised when Lupe pushed back! Lesson learned, mission accomplished! Lupe never feared that bully again, in fact Angel said that he did feel sorry for the bully after that. 

Apa and 3 of his 4 girls. (That’s me in the frilly dress)

Por favor, I do realize that bullying can get way more serious than standing up to a bossy mean selfish kid. Bullying can turn ugly and dangerous. Family support is critical, but if you can’t talk to a family member there are places that will help a person in need. 

Por supuesto que, life brought on many difficulties and hurts for my big sis, many times she had no choice but to face them. When she had to fight for her rightful place she did with fierce strength, when she had to let things go, though it was a battle, though her heart ached she did so, fighting always to keep her head up. When she couldn’t defend herself, God showed himself strong.

There was a gap of 7 years between Lupe and I, but in our latter years as wives and mothers we enjoyed a wonderful friendship. She gave me a place of honor by making me her friend. In one sense I can’t wait to catch up with her in heaven one day and hear her morning greeting again. “Good morning sunshine”.