A few months ago, I was invited to a gala event for a local organization. I had the privilege of inviting my husband and mom, something I don’t typically get to do so I was extremely excited to share such a special occasion with them.
We celebrated the accomplishments of a new local nonprofit. It was a great night spent with great people. But something showed up that night that made me think about my parents – about their sense of belonging in certain spaces.
The Day of the Event
So, the day of the event had finally arrived! We headed out to the celebration – makeup, hair, and outfits on point. My mom, husband, and I were eager to get there and enjoy a night full of good food, music, and entertainment, and all for a good cause.
We walked in, got our tickets, and headed to our table. As we made our way through, I could tell my mom was a bit nervous and hesitant. She didn’t say much but I knew she felt uncomfortable. Her English is very limited so communicating with others was difficult.
After we found our table and took a seat, we were told that there had been a miscalculation, and someone would end up without a seat. My mom immediately stood up and suggested she perhaps was not supposed to have a seat at that table. I of course reassured her that she was exactly where she was supposed to be. It was visible my mom was uncomfortable, and I tried to comfort her as much as I could.
When she looked around, she felt out of place. She was quiet and reserved and kept asking me if it was okay that she was there. I did my best to get her comfortable and feel at peace.
My mom eventually relaxed (sort of) and did her best to enjoy the night. She understood most of what was going on at the event. She laughed and even cried at times (the testimonials shared were incredible). It brought me joy having my mom there.
Do I Belong?
That night made me think a lot about my parents and how often they feel out of place. As immigrants, as Spanish speakers, as people of color, how different are their experiences? Our experiences!
You see, that night no one mistreated my mom, no one told her to leave, or that she was not welcome. She simply felt out of place. Was it because there were only a handful of Latinos/minorities there? Because no one else spoke her language? Was it because no one else approached her? Maybe it was one or all those things. And I understood because I have been there before, plenty of times.
Walking into a room and being the only or one of the few Latinas or minorities, it’s very common. It’s something that does not go unnoticed. We show up and make the best of it because we understand that our presence is needed in all spaces. But man, imposter syndrome is real and it’s something we all continue to overcome.
Yes, You Do, YOU BELONG!!
Growing up my parents always reminded my sister and me to believe in ourselves, to believe that we belonged and were worthy of being in this country. They never hesitated to cheer us on because they saw our potential and knew that we were created for more.
While there may be times when I doubt my own worth and potential, I cannot stand by and allow my parents to feel less than. Now as an adult, I believe it is my duty to do for them what they’ve always done for my siblings and me. My mom and dad need to be reminded that they too belong and are worthy of being in this country, in any space, with anyone, at any time.
There will be plenty of times that we will feel out of place, that we don’t belong, that we are seen as less than whether it’s through words or actions, but let’s continue to show up for ourselves and most importantly, in my opinion, for our parents. They have given up and done so much to give us a better life, we owe it to them.
To My Parents:
Mom and Dad,
You crossed the border to give us a better life. Knowing that what was on the other side was better than what we had left behind.
You sacrificed what you knew; your home, family, and friends and all so we could thrive. You gave us your unconditional love, protection, and the belief that we could fly.
Arriving in this country not owning a single thing, not speaking the language, not knowing anyone was not an easy thing to do and yet, you worked it all out.
We learned a new language and traditions that were not our own and you were there to hold our hands and guide us the best you could.
You have witnessed our wins and losses throughout our lives, and through it all, you’ve always been proud of who we are and who we’re becoming.
You have given so much, never asking or expecting anything in return.
Mom and dad, you are loved beyond what words could describe. I thank you for who you are, for all you’ve done, and how you’ve loved.
I strive to be my best in honor of all you’ve done.
Please, always remember how worthy and special you are. To me, YOU are my world – you deserve it all!
Para Mis Papás:
Mamá y papá,
Cruzaron la frontera para darnos una vida mejor. Sabiendo que lo que había al otro lado era mejor que lo que habíamos dejado atrás.
Sacrificaron todo; su hogar, familia y amigos y todo para que pudiéramos prosperar. Nos dieron su amor incondicional, protección y la creencia de que podíamos volar.
Llegaron a este país sin poseer una sola cosa, sin hablar el idioma, sin conocer a nadie y, sin embargo, lo resolvieron todo.
Nos tomaron de la mano el primer día de clases, mientras aprendíamos un idioma nuevo y tradiciones que no eran las nuestras.
Han sido testigo de nuestras victorias y derrotas a lo largo de nuestras vidas, y a través de todo esto siempre han estado orgullosos de quiénes somos y en quién nos estamos convirtiendo.
Han dado tanto, nunca pidiendo ni esperando nada a cambio.
Mamá y papá, son amados más allá de lo que las palabras podrían describir. Les agradezco por quién son, por todo lo que han hecho y lo mucho que nos aman.
Me esfuerzo por ser la mejor en honor a todo lo que han hecho.
Por favor, siempre recuerden lo digno y especiales que son. Para mí, USTEDES son mi mundo, ¡Se merecen lo maximo!