Free shipping on all orders of 2+ candles. $8 flat rate for all other purchases.

Multitudes Collection

Next Story: Iris


On finding independence and self love

My biggest dream is to be free. 

I grew up on a farm in what used to be a small town in Mexico. It’s grown since I left and they now call it Little New York because a lot of the young people have moved to New York and now send money back to their families. 

At the beginning, I didn’t understand why my family wanted to take care of me so much. I wanted them to leave me alone, so that I could do what I wanted. When I was older, my mother told me that I was bitten by a scorpion when I was only a month old. After that, she was always fighting with scorpions. They bit me tens of times, maybe hundreds. It’s dangerous but my mother always took care of me. Back then we used to walk everywhere and she’d walk and run the 50 minutes to town to give me the antidote. Even though I have 10 brothers, the scorpions never seemed to bother them. They’d only bite me, the only daughter of the family.

Ever since that first scorpion bite, my mother became fiercely protective of me. Even though I knew that she was trying to keep me safe, I always felt smothered by her. She’d rarely let me leave her sight or do things on my own. Whenever I pushed back she’d insist that I couldn’t be independent because I’m a woman. I rebelled by joining my father in the fields. My mother gave me so much grief for it. All she wanted was for me to be with her, but it drove me crazy. 

Even when we didn’t have much, my mother always taught me that we had plenty and could spare enough to give to others.

To create some sense of space from her, I spent all of my time with my father and he’d teach me about a man’s work. At 12, I stopped going to school and began helping him take care of the cows and the harvest. We would drink milk fresh from the cow, and my mom would always get mad because she needed it to make cheese. My younger brother and I would take our 40 to 50 cows and all of our goats into the forest to graze. We’d spend entire days watching the herd to make sure none of them wandered off. Inevitably, one would get lost and my father would be furious. We would search for them for hours, sometimes searching through the night, hoping that they didn’t get attacked by coyotes. I loved all of it: the adventure, the freedom to simply be and the time in the forest where I’d collect flowers and draw things on trees, like hearts with whoever I was in love with at that age.

We used to grow all kinds of crops. We’d grow corn, white, red and black beans, chiles, tomatoes, green tomatoes, papalo and other vegetables, but we’d never sell them. Instead, my mother would give our harvest to whoever came to the house. She gave freely in a way that I didn’t understand then, but do now. Even when we didn’t have much, my mother always taught me that we had plenty and could spare enough to give to others.

I began working at another household as soon as I had the opportunity. At 15, I began helping another family with their home and loved the increased independence so much that I kept going. I worked 12 hour days, six days a week. I would cook for the families too, even though I heavily depended on the family grandmother’s teaching to prepare something palatable.

While I had my freedoms, I still rebelled against my mother when I was home. I started doing things just because I wanted to. She’d say, “don’t get a boyfriend” and then I’d get a boyfriend. Then she’d say, “don’t come home late”, but I’d come home late anyway just to upset her. I finally woke up and told myself I’d stop, but by then it was too late. I was pregnant. 

They say that daughters need their mothers, but mothers need their daughters too.

I was 17 and pregnant and to my mother it felt like the end of the world. I broke her heart. She insisted that I got pregnant just to spite her, but it was really just a consequence of life. While she acknowledged this, I don’t think she ever moved on and we still haven’t apologized to one another. 

I returned to the farm with my newborn daughter and went back to taking care of the herd. I was so young that I didn’t understand what to do with her; to me she was just like a doll. I met my soon to be husband when she was only a year old and we were in the forest with the cows. He was 20 years older than me and a widow, but he was good to my daughter. He told me, “your daughter loves me, so we should get married”. I couldn’t believe his audacity, but I found him charming. As a young single mom, my mother insisted that I marry him because she said no one else would want me. I resisted until my father also suggested I do the same.

We wed a month later and moved to New York shortly afterwards. We planned to stay for 4-5 years, so I left my daughter with my mother because I thought that would be best for her. I didn’t know then that I was letting go of her as my daughter at 1 year old and that I would still be here in New York, 20 years later.

I was pregnant with my second daughter when we arrived in New York and couldn’t work for the first year that we lived here. I was so restless that I began working only two months after giving birth. I carried her everywhere with me and worked 12 hour days. Then I had my third daughter a couple of years later, while still working the same amount. I was working so hard that for those 5 years I barely knew them. 

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

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.

Thank you for reading this story from the Multitudes Collection.

Our affirmation candles serve as a physical reminder to embrace your power. We donate 10% of revenues from our I Am Multitudes affirmation candle to the Radical Monarchs.