While sitting in a stuffy classroom in the English department of Loyola University Chicago in 2000, daydreaming during a discussion on the symbolism of Moby Dick’s White Whale, I remember looking around the classroom and noticing that I was the only Latina (and the only person of color) in a single place, for the very first time in my life. I thought, how is this possible? What does this mean? Conscious of my identity, like many university-age students start discovering, but just starting to explore my contributions to my small world, I thought, does it all mean a thing?
I came to quickly discover that it meant a lot but at the same time it didn’t mean anything except the fact that my classmates and I were destined to hopelessly love the written word too much to know how to do anything worth the expensive college tuition! ja!
I’ve always been passionate about what I do. When I was acting for an all-Latina theater company, we put together performances about the unfairness of the auditions for the stereotypical roles. We were angry, but wrote comedies that made our audiences laugh about our experiences. When I was teaching in a predominantly Mexican-American neighborhood outside of Chicago, I took students who had recently arrived from Mexico in one of my regular Language Arts and Reading classes, solely because of the shortage of Spanish speaking educators. I dropped everything four years later to move with my husband to New York City and soon after to Japan for his work. Scared to be holed-up in a tiny Tokyo apartment for too long, within a week, I found a job teaching preschool at an international school. Later, when I found out I was pregnant in a foreign country, I decided it was best for me to become a stay-at-home mom.
Alone with a new baby and literally lost in translation for the very first time, I needed to find that voice that I once used to make others laugh, to make others feel comforted and to teach again. The obsession that my baby would grow up speaking Japanese and English and not be able to communicate with my “Spanish-only” speaking mother, kept me up at night! I began writing about my fears, my loneliness, my cool expat experiences and only shared with a handful of childhood friends back in Chicago. It was an exceptional outlet.
Those girlfriends were new mothers too and even though they were not in Japan, they had the same fears any new mom would have. Not only did they worry about their kid learning Spanish the right way, but also about potty training at the right time. We all worried if our babies were growing at the right pace! We were all in it together and I was happy to put the words down.
Those girls started to share their friend Betty’s writing with other friends. The only unwilling one was me. Not until five years later, and when I was back in the States, did I have the courage to say, I want to share this with people I don’t know…I was ready. Two kids later and while expecting a third child, I went “live”. That was the best thing I could have done to keep me sane from the hectic life of raising three boys away from all my loved ones. Now in New Jersey, I’m ready to take the blog to the next level, hoping to attend conferences like BlogaliciousFIVE and meeting my newly added support group of other Latina bloggers. I hope I get to learn how I can continue to do what I love and how my family, friends and all MFBS readers can benefit from it as well.
It’s a true thing about life being a journey. All of our experiences stack up to build the next phase. It is no coincidence that what started off as sharing educational ideas I provided for my children, turned into a platform full of suggestions to help Latinas continue to find the positives in everyday life. I know I have found what I love when my research doesn’t feel like work. I have incorporated all of my passions into one. I get to act the teacher day-in and day-out. I’m able to help those who come searching for that perfect cowboy-birthday party theme, books for their reluctant reader, or advice for the times other moms don’t feel very super.
This is why I stay up long after my boys have gone to bed. The ideas that flow through my mind as I wipe milk off the floor or wipe tears from little faces, help me realize that I will never be the only Latina anywhere again. There are communities for me and for others within this little site called My Friend Betty Says. This is why I write. This is why I blog. And I thank you for being here with me.