Hispanic parents always say: “When you have kids, you’ll understand”. Now that I’m a mom, I understand my father. I have a new appreciation for him and I’ve let go of the resentment. I’ve realized there’s no manual for parenthood and he did the best he could. It’s now time for me to raise my kid and learn from my parents’ mistakes.
My parents were strict and very traditional
Growing up as the oldest and only daughter to Mexican immigrant parents was not easy. My parents were strict and very traditional. I struggled with staying true to my heritage while growing up with the influence of American culture. While my parents had to work several jobs to provide for their kids, I had to juggle multiple roles in the household. I had to follow my dad’s rules, do my chores and take care of my brother. I was the interpreter and the one that filled out paperwork. You can’t leave the house until your married but you can’t have boyfriend until you’re 30. There’s no drinking however go get your dad another beer. If you get pregnant, you’ll be kicked out of the house and disowned. And because you’re the girl there’s things you can’t do but my brother got spoiled for being the boy.
I was expected to go to school, get good grades and stay out of trouble
At age 15 they made me get a job. They wanted me to learn what hard work meant and expected me to help pay the bills. I was saving up for college and didn’t mind helping out at home but it was annoying that I was basically forced to fork over my paycheck to my dad. I tried to please my dad in everything but I grew resentful and couldn’t understand why he was so tough on me if I was a great daughter. I wanted a Full House dad that hugs you and tells you how much he loves you. I never got physical affection nor an “I love you.” My dad was overworked, couldn’t speak English and probably felt like he was carrying the weight of the world on his shoulders. No one taught him how to be a father and he was trying to survive.
Like a mother, I’m now living the whirlwind of emotions
It’s not that I didn’t value my dad before, but now I’m experiencing the responsibility and the sacrifices that come with a baby. I’m now living the whirlwind of emotions. The stress, worry, anxiety and fear of raising kids. We have to mold and educate these humans to live their own life and do good in the world. We fear our mistakes will mess them up. We want to protect them and will do anything so they don’t get hurt.
As I’m typing this, my dad is at the swing-set playing with my son. I’ve never seen my dad laugh so hard, smile so much and hug someone as much as he does with his grandson. He’s fascinated by everything he does and takes pictures of him all day long. My heart feels like it’s going to explode of the joy I feel. But I’m also annoyed at myself. My father is proud of me, he loves me; I am good enough. I was wrong to be resentful towards him and now all I want is to create new memories. Happy Father’s Day to my dad and thank you, papi!