While my husband loved me and I loved him, I realized I needed space to become my own person. Our relationship wasn’t growing closer and I asked for a divorce. When we returned to Mexico to finalize it, I saw my daughter for the first time in 6 years. After all that time away, I expected her to run to me and cling to me, but she didn’t. While I was away, people poisoned her thoughts by telling her, “your mom would rather be married than be with you”. I hated leaving her in Mexico, but I know that it was for the best for both her and my parents. My mother finally had the company she longed for and my father even gave up drinking. She’s married now with two kids and while we have a good relationship, it’s more akin to being sisters than mother-daughter. Even still, I’ve never told her what it felt like to leave her behind and I’m not sure that I ever could.
Once the divorce was complete, I returned to New York with my two youngest daughters. New York symbolizes a better life; it’s a city where they can have access to the best education, better food and a higher quality of living. It was then that I saw a life for myself. I could finally look around and make my own decisions and not just decisions that would please other people. I still had a lot of growing up to do, but I felt supported because my brothers were here. I made three goals: learn English, learn how to drive and learn how to swim. With these three things, you can be free. I don’t know how to swim or drive yet, but I’m doing my best to learn English.
Moving back to New York enabled me to really get to know my daughters because the three of us were on our own. The eldest would tell me, “mom, I love you”, and I would be so surprised because I felt that I hardly spent time with her. I’d think, really you love me? We began talking more, the three of us shared a single bed and spent all of our time together. My youngest would cry for her father and so I began telling her that I love her too, and she was surprised. I had held back so many of my emotions that my daughters didn’t even realize that I loved them. So I started telling them every day that I love them and now they do the same.
They say that daughters need their mothers, but mothers need their daughters too. I live a better life because of my daughters. They’ve helped me learn to drink responsibly, which is incredibly hard, especially since my father died from drinking. I don’t know if my mother felt she needed me as much as I need my daughters, because she never expressed herself in that way. She held her feelings closely, just as I do, and as a result we’ve never communicated just what we mean to one another. My mother lives in New York now, too and became a resident two years ago. She’s so proud to be a resident and she loves the city and its people. She lives in the Bronx near my brothers and she’ll go to the streets just to talk to people. She sells food; all of the dishes that people don’t cook anymore like pepian, which is green salsa with pumpkin seeds, and tamales with beans. She’ll make fresh cheese, too, even though the milk isn’t as good as what was on the farm.
I still haven’t apologized to my mom or told her that I love her, even though in my heart I do. She tells me that she loves me whenever we speak, but part of me still holds onto what it was like to live with her when I was younger and the arguments we had. She will always be my mom, and I love her for that, but I still feel like she never accepted me for who I am and who I wanted to be. All I ever wanted was for her to support me in my strength and independence, but it’s not something that I can expect her to do now.
So instead, I focus on my three goals of learning English, learning how to drive and how to swim. I hold them closely, but I’ve also expanded on them. Above all else, I want to go to Paris. My daughters laugh at me and say that Paris is boring, but I know in my heart that I must go. I saw a newscaster doing a segment on lovelocks, the locks that people attached to walls and bridges, and thought I want to do that! They say it’s the wall of love, but I want to do it for the love of myself. I’ve loved many, but most importantly I have found a way to be happy on my own, to not need others’ approval and live the life that I want to live. The lock represents my commitment to myself and the life that I’ve created for myself and my daughters, regardless of what others wanted for me.