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Friday, October 12, 2012

Maternal Instinct? Check.

There are certain rituals in my life I could never give up. Washing my face before I go to bed. Flossing my teeth on the way to work. (I'm a Plackers addict.) Taking my dog out for his nightly wee on the bush. And saying goodbye to my kids whenever we part ways. Despite the fact my kids are now ages fifteen and eleven, I'm still neurotic about this last routine. The other night, Cole had a friend over and I considered not embarrassing him by eliminating my standard “Good night, Coley. I love you.” But I just couldn’t do it. (I believe that I’m probably scarred from the “Now I lay me down to sleep” prayer in which there is a certain looming possibility of never waking up again. So I must tell everyone how much I love them before dozing off.)

Anyway, my reason for pontificating on saying goodbye to my kids comes from one my most recent reads–Enrique's Journey by Pulitzer Prize winner Sonia Nazario. To say the book is informative is an understatement. And if you want to have your mind flooded with a plethora of issues like immigration, entitlement, racism, poverty, family conflict/separation, read this book. Apparently, it's required reading for many college freshman. I can understand why. Our book club had quite an animated discussion–on a range of topics initiated by this book.

Enrique is a teenager who leaves Honduras, and treks all the way through a very dangerous Mexico to find his mother in the United States. She left him and a daughter at young ages (without saying goodbye), in order to provide a better life for them. Enrique had a troubled youth after the departure of his mother. When he leaves at the age of 18 to be with her, his journey is horrific. And even after he finds her in the States, life doesn't transition so smoothly. Resentment has presided for too long. So, the book really begs the question: Was leaving her children worth it?

I kept trying to put myself in the position of the poor Honduran women.Could I do it?

There's no way for me to judge. In my feeble attempt to compare what these mothers would've gone through, I thought back to the day I took Cole to preschool. Doug took Alex a few years earlier. We both agreed it felt like child abuse when we walked away from our sniffling a colorful, vibrant room with loving teachers to play games and begin their education. Gosh, we'd be leaving them for a good three hours. Then we'd take them to daycare for the rest of the day, only to be reunited a few hours later. Obviously, I have no apple to apple comparison.

The majority of these Guatemalan women are single mothers, living in desperate poverty. Their maternal instinct is torn between staying with their children and leaving the country with hopes of providing more food and a better life. Poverty is devastating. It wreaks havoc on the family unit. I am consistently amazed by my own maternal instincts. But after reading stories like Enrique's Journey, I'm beyond grateful for the resources I have to provide for my children.
My kids. Happy. Healthy. Here.

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