Writing at the intersection of motherhood, feminism and my Latinidad

11 July 2014

Summer of Feminista: For Valeria

Today Summer of Feminista welcomes April Lee. April is an anti-rape culture, sex positive activist located in Seattle. She is the founder of Modern Sex Culture blog. While April is not a Latina, SoF is welcoming her thoughts on this topic.  

Most people didn’t think living with my step children’s mother was going to be a good idea. It’s a little crazy, sure. Two moms under one roof will conceivably get ugly. We have different parenting styles and lead pretty different lives. We have completely different backgrounds. She’s Brazilian. I’m American. I’ve just turned 30 and she’s 15 years my senior. There is potential for combustion. But life happens and here she is living with her ex-husband, his new wife and three out of four of her children. It isn’t an idea situation and I was a bit nervous. I’m sure she was, too.

The children have tried to play the card of “Well mom said,” or “April said.” They’ve tried to take advantage of a parent not knowing something the other parent agreed or didn’t agree to. We’ve all had to wiggle around a little and find our spot with each other. I can’t say I expected things to be awful but there was a period of holding our breaths waiting to see how this would play out. I don’t know what I expected but I didn’t expect this. There was no need to be nervous because this situation brought out beautiful surprises. Happily, we discovered that not only would the other be cooperative but also that we had some things in common! Like, wine. Yes, we love wine and we love to share it. We trade cooking meals for the family, then pop the cork of the bottle open and share with each other. We serve each other. I tutor the kids, take care of the house and work as an anti-rape culture activist from home. You’d think working at home would be easier but I assure it is every bit as hectic and busy as working outside of the home. When I’ve had a long day, she does the dishes for me which is amazing because she does back breaking work. Because I know that she usually has a long day ahead of her, I like to pick up some coffee for her before she heads out for the day. We do little things like this for each other to show appreciation.

For quite some time, I’ve had trouble embracing my femininity. Then when I was happy with being a feminine person, I had trouble accepting my body. I KNOW. Can’t we just let this body thing go?? I’m sick of the issue. I never thought I had a body issue until I realized I didn’t feel comfortable in a swimsuit anymore. I noticed that when I go dancing, I’m constantly pulling the bottom of my shirt down. Inevitably, I end up comparing myself to the other women on the floor who all, in my eyes, have flawless bodies because they’re Brazilian. It’s my default perception. But spending time with my step-children’s mom and our mutual friends made me realize, actually their bodies are NOT perfect and they’re enjoying themselves anyway. It took me nearly a year to see that. Even without flat bellies they wear tiny bikinis. That was huge for me. I haven’t worn short shorts since I was a teenager but I was so inspired to join her in her confidence about the body she has I went out and bought a pair of my own. Finally, my thighs have seen the sun!

We’ve shared dating stories, dating advice and joked about my husband’s quirks. And the wine. Did I mention the wine?

But our friendship has become more than that. Not every mother would be able to welcome another mother of her children into her life. I’m not even sure I could do that myself. To me, that speaks volumes of her character.

We’ve cried when our son graduated from the 5th grade, when our 2nd grader finally decided to swim on her own, when she learned to play a song on the piano. We take turns throwing birthday parties and babysitting. We’ve recently cried together when the other suffered and stood up for each other through it. For there being a bit of a language barrier, we’ve made a good connection with each other. Really, I can’t ask for anything more. She inspired me and propelled me to deeper levels of connection. I’m so grateful we found ourselves in this precarious situation because we had a chance to get to know each other, to respect each other and to love each other. So this one is for you, Valeria. Saúde.

Summer of Feminista 2014 is a project of Viva la Feminista where Latinas are discussing girlfriends.  Link and quote, but do not repost without written permission. Read how you can join Summer of Feminista.


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