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Caarina12

Sep 8, 2005, 10:36 AM

Post #26 of 44 (3720 views)

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Re: [LadySlipper76] Michoacan - Meeting Mother

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Ladyslipper,

This will probably be my most personal post on Mexconnect to date. I am an American married to a Mexican for the past 8 years. I have a 2 year old son, and I have been right where you are. We currently live in San Diego, CA.

My husband was born and raised in Mexico (Specifically in Baja California Norte--less traditional than Michoacan) We met when he was 27 and I was 25. He had a traditional upbringing in a large working class family. However, his father and mother were determined that all their kids have higher education. Today, all 11 kids have at least some college. Some of my husbands siblings have advanced degrees and include MBAs, PhDs and MDs.

Contrary to some of the posters here, I have a wonderful relationship with my mother-in-law (father-in-law has passed away). However, when we announced our engagement, it was not very comfortable. She was not happy her "baby" (my DH is the youngest) was getting married, let alone to a gringa. It was not very pleasant, but thankfully the pain was brief.

Thankfully, my Spanish at the time was good, but I did not speak Mexican Spanish (I had a South American dialect and vocabulary). I did not know much about Mexican customs and life. After that first uncomfortable meeting, I took it upon myself to learn Mexican Spanish, popular culture and traditions so that I could understand where she and my DH's family was coming from.
Over time, I have developed a very nice relationship with my MIL. Every time I visited that first year, I was very polite and respectful... learned about her interests and likes/dislikes. (She love Pedro Infante movies, gardening and dancing) I also spent a lot of time listening and just observing.

My family (which speaks NO Spanish) has also reached out to her and has had her to visit in their home in Illinois as well as visiting her in Mexico. They also have been great about little polite details: Christmas cards, small gifts (candy, homemade jams etc). My folks have really helped show my in-laws that we are really polite, decent hard-working folk. :)

As far as married life goes, my DH does do more than some macho Mexican men. He does help with childcare, cleaning and laundry (with some prodding), but he doesn't volunteer. It will be very important to negotiate a fair distribution of household chores from the VERY BEGINNING and stick to it. If not, you will be destined for a lifetime of household drudgery with little to no help.

Many Mexican moms pamper their sons and do not require that they help with household chores from a very early age. Most Mexican Fathers perpetuate this sterotype with comments like "don't wash dishes... that's women's work, etc." This is culturally engrained and very difficult to change.

However, I do love my Mexican hubby and we somehow make it work. Marriage is never easy and when you add cross-cultural issues, it's even harder. Nonetheless, I live a very rich and interesting life because of this, and for that I'm grateful.

Good luck!
Caarina



julian3345

Sep 8, 2005, 12:55 PM

Post #27 of 44 (3696 views)

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Re: [tony] Michoacan - Meeting Mother

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The matriarch of a large family I am acquainted with is famous for getting along with all of her son's wives...and one or two of them must be a real challenge even for this proud, cheerful mother of 11 -- 8 of them sons. It is a very unusual situation. Another friend, a beautiful and accomplished woman, after many years of marriage, 4 grown children, etc was only recently allowed inside her mother-in-law's home. Why? she married a guy who was headed for the priesthood until he met her. Nowadays, he spends most of his time with his mother, an arrangement amicably accepted by his wife!

I am an observer more than a participant in the war between the sexes Mexican style, and I have been appalled at the second class status which is the destino of nearly all the women and girls I have met here. Several have told me of their struggles and manipulations to get an education, start a business, leave or divorce a philandering, drug addicted, abusive husband. They have few legal rights or social remedies - in reality or sometimes even in the law books. This results in an unattractive quality in many mexican women which may trouble ladyslipper in time to come -- the necessity to manipulate and deceive by any means possible to get what they actually deserve from the husbands and fathers who control their lives. Be very very careful about how you develop friendships with women in your novio's family...their capacity for jealousy, drama and deception might surprise and hurt you.

You will find very little mixing of gender groups at social gatherings...you could be at a party in Iraq for all the contact you will have with adult males who will be presiding over the parrilla while the ladies sit in little groups gossiping. Almost any friendly action on your part vis a vis the guys may be misinterpreted.

Having said all this, I do have wonderful friendships with Mexicans of all genders and social levels, but it isn't easy. Takes a lot of patience and you have to forget about some of the niceties of USA style social interaction (punctuality, reciprocity, thank yous, tolerance for difference) and learn to accept spontaneity, disorganization, or what seems to be an embarrassing lack of preparation; a level of commotion that could be read as disrespect for your guests in the US culture. I find that once I learn the general patterns of my friend's lives...it is really more fun and more comfortable for me to just drop by for a visit and to welcome them in my home on the same casual basis.

I second the comment about accepting food. My strategy is to try everything in small amounts, (you will be offered way too much food) ask questions about ingredients and preparation--Mexican cuisine is highly varied and often complicated to prepare--it is a great source of pride for the family that offers food to you -no matter how humble the plato. Don't expect your Mexican friends and family to follow this example in your home--even though you may make the finest chiles en nogada or barbacoa...inevitably -- it won't be the way Mama makes it which is the gold standard no matter how BAD her cooking might be! More and often I hear a very thoughtful "Que rico" which means my Mexican guests have trusted me enough and dared to try something different and have approved!

I join everyone else in wishing you all possible good times ahead and I encourage you to study the culture that you are getting yourself into very carefully ....and be ready for new perspectives on your own customs and hard-wired habits.


MARIA CUERVA

Sep 8, 2005, 1:55 PM

Post #28 of 44 (3677 views)

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Re: [LadySlipper76] Michoacan - Meeting Mother

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Dear girl, may I ask how long you have been living together?
I admit that my daughters have never brought home a man
I liked. BUT I have always wanted their happiness and have hoped
they would bring home a man who loved and respected them.

I promise you that that is what your boyfriend's mother would want as well.


jacc2410

Sep 8, 2005, 3:20 PM

Post #29 of 44 (3650 views)

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Re: [TATA CUERVA] Michoacan - Meeting Mother

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Surely you don't mean your daughter is actually in the kitchen making/cooking tortillas? What about a maid, a cook? Isn't that the accepted norm for people with modest means in Mexico?


jreboll

Sep 8, 2005, 3:36 PM

Post #30 of 44 (3643 views)

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Re: [Emiliano Palomares] Michoacan - Meeting Mother

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Don,
I was born in northern Mexico but raised in Texas. My wife is from Michoacan.
Between us we have a few hundred relatives stretched out between central Mexico and the Great Lakes region. Some of our ralatives have intermarried with Anglos, Chinese, Blacks and Italians. You could say we are typical Mexican-Americans (or Mexicans for that matter).
When I showed your comments to my wife she just laughed. Her sister(a school administrator) is twiced divorced and her sister's daughter just graduated from law school in Morelia. These are not women that will put up with machismo in a man for too long.
Mexican culture is changing dramatically. I started going to Michoacan thirty years ago when I married my wife.. The social mores, the media, the social problems are not the same anymore.
Look and listen to the television programs. Sometimes they are more radical that those NOB. Look and listen to young people. They are more sexually active and many are starting to use drugs just like in America. Many are taking their cues from American kids and doing the same things. More and more young women are receiving school degrees that allow them to work and be more independent. Sometimes the opportunities for an educated woman are greater than for an educated man.
The tradition of being courteous and reserved still persists and Mexicans are not the only ones who are this way. Look at people from asian countries. However, this does not mean mean that the changing of mindsets is not occurring in both men and women in Mexico.
Outward appearances do not tell the whole story when watching a married couple. That is just as true NOB as it is in Mexico.(How many of us men haven't been carrying on in a social function and our wives are kicking us underneath the table)
Nor every woman who says, "I'm sorry I can't make it to your afternoon social because it's my husband's supper time," is telling the truth.
It is just as common to blame the husband in Mexico as it is to blame the wife NOB
So, Don, it could be true that your wife and/or your circle of friends are the way you say they are. However, Mexico is a huge country with countless types of personalities. You just have to look and listen.
Let the young lady decide what she wants.


MARIA CUERVA

Sep 8, 2005, 3:36 PM

Post #31 of 44 (3643 views)

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Re: [jacc2410] Michoacan - Meeting Mother

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Of course my daughter is in the kitchen making the tortillas herself. Her partner is a lawyer so I don't know if you would judge their income as modest. And she has an MBA. But that is really not the point. My daughter who has never cooked in her life now has to learn to make food just like his mother and grandmother. So she is learning from me how to cook traditional dishes as well as learning from his grandmother. A criada or servant is for cleaning the house . The wife usually cooks the food for the family. One of the wealthiest women I know whose family owns land all the way from San Miguel to Queretaro cooks at a moments notice for her family. And yes she has maids.I remember my mother telling me
(at the onset of my own perceived sexuality) that I might think I was a woman but I would never be a woman untilI I learned how to cook. How I burned with rebellion. And my parents were very liberal.


(This post was edited by TATA CUERVA on Sep 8, 2005, 3:39 PM)


LadySlipper76


Sep 8, 2005, 5:46 PM

Post #32 of 44 (3620 views)

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Re: [TATA CUERVA] Michoacan - Meeting Mother

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Dear girl, may I ask how long you have been living together?

In truth, we do not live together. It is out of respect for my parents wishes as well as my own that we don't until we are at least engaged. Though that idea is vastly outdated by most peoples standards. Although my boyfriend doesn't completely understand this idea. He is honoring my wishes. I guess you could say the values I was taught growing up were the 1950's kind. Very old fashioned. I'm grateful to them for it. It's become increasingly rare here in America.


MARIA CUERVA

Sep 8, 2005, 6:27 PM

Post #33 of 44 (3609 views)

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Re: [LadySlipper76] Michoacan - Meeting Mother

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It sounds better and better. Nothing for his mother to be at ideological odds with. I think that you will do very well! It is a wonderful thing when a mother can stay home with her children. The bond is irreproachable and can never be duplicated. One of the many reasons I do not like my daughter's boyfriend is that he is pressuring her to go back to work. The baby is only 6 weeks old!
Open your heart, respect her initial wariness and she will come to like you very much. An important point is to always hold her in the proper loving respect. She knows who she is. Her role is well-fined.


MARIA CUERVA

Sep 8, 2005, 6:31 PM

Post #34 of 44 (3607 views)

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Re: [Emiliano Palomares] Michoacan - Meeting Mother

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Okay let me rephrase that "another loser male who can't make his woman feel good to stay with him". I think you know something about that and so did Ms Powell for that matter.


LadySlipper76


Sep 9, 2005, 9:58 AM

Post #35 of 44 (3539 views)

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Re: [TATA CUERVA] Michoacan - Meeting Mother

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It is a wonderful thing when a mother can stay home with her children. The bond is irreproachable and can never be duplicated. One of the many reasons I do not like my daughter's boyfriend is that he is pressuring her to go back to work. The baby is only 6 weeks old!


Unfortunately here in the US it is not unheard of for a mother to go back to work when their baby is very young. Though it isn't usually their husband/boyfriend pressuring them to do it. She wants to continue to pursue her career. An idea I have difficulty understanding. To my way of thinking, the career changed once she had a baby. The priorities of people here for many is no longer family first. Since women's lib, things have continued to move away from raising your own children. Daycare strangers have become the substitute mommy & daddy for many kids. It's rather sad.

If my boyfriends mother is as nice as you, we should get along great. Thank you for your supportive words. It has helped calm my nerves a little. Though I will continue to worry, wonder, & get very nervous until the first meeting is over. It's not until March. So I have a few more months to wait. I will ask him if she speaks English. It's what I'm most worried about. Nothing could make a situation more stressful than not being able to communicate well because of a language barrier.
One interesting fact about his family, only his sisters are married. His brothers all have children & live in girlfriends. Can't imagine that makes her too happy. If she is a traditional woman.

I understand your comments earlier about staying away from Germans. I'm about 1/3 German, the rest is a mix (including Mexican). So I've seen the problems that can happen in my parents & grandparents. The biggest one is stubbornness. Just seeing that was enough to keep me away. It would drive me nuts.


Esteban

Sep 9, 2005, 11:05 AM

Post #36 of 44 (3523 views)

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MARIA CUERVA

Sep 9, 2005, 11:51 AM

Post #37 of 44 (3509 views)

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Re: [LadySlipper76] Michoacan - Meeting Mother

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Mexicans are passionate. There is a wonderful freedom and ardent individualism in self- expression in Mexico. We are also a forgiving people. There will always be some boundaries of course- as in the rape of our madre tierra by the United States. You have gotten a lot of practical advice on this forum along with the cynicism bred in the mouths of the sour ones.
Your boyfriend's mother will not speak English. you do not need words to communicate. You have time to learn a few phrases that express what you feel and what you want to say to his mother. He will teach you.
There is alot said about men being hard. The hard nature of the German husband I had was a cruel legacy both for him and me. What ever failings we have as humans , Mexican or whatever, I have always found my cousins and uncles and my father most of all to have a sense of humor, empathy, love and compassion. The German had contempt for everyone most of all himself. What a brutal culture! In his mother's house there were always loud voices whispered tears and criticism. In my families houses there is always laughter , cooking, children, wailing when grief stikes us and SINGING.

Darling, I am going to give you a magic elixir that will put your heart at ease.
You only have to do one thing. Every day watch a Mexican soap opera. Anyone that catches your fancy. You will learn a little Spanish-rhythm and sound is everything. And most important when your boyfriend's mama sits down to watch her favorite telenovela with rapt attention you will be there with her sharing in the moment's magic.

What is so wonderful about the telenovela's is that every possible emotion that a human being can have is expressed. Believe me you do not have to understand the language .YOU WILL GET IT.


Gwynne


Sep 9, 2005, 12:13 PM

Post #38 of 44 (3499 views)

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Re: [TATA CUERVA] Michoacan - Meeting Mother

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GREAT advice!
When I was studying spanish in Antiqua, Guatemala, I lived with a family. Every night we gathered around a 15" TV and watched the favorite telenovela. It was an incredible cultural bonding. I quickly learned who to cheer for and who to cry for and we would all laugh or cry together. It also helped my spanish quite a bit.
Gwynne


LadySlipper76


Sep 9, 2005, 12:13 PM

Post #39 of 44 (3499 views)

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Re: [Esteban] Michoacan - Meeting Mother

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You sound as though you blame womens lib for changing some old tradition when nothing could be further from the truth.
Women work for a variety of reasons. I doubt whether women's lib has anything to do with it at all. Women work because they NEED money to pay bills. Even university educated women, who have enough money, like to bond and stay home with their infants. Yes there are, and always have been, women who would rather work but I don't think it's the norm.


I don't blame it entirely. Though I do believe it started some of it by opening doors that used to be closed. Women's lib is a great thing. I'm happy it happened. Just saddened by much of the feminist movement that continues on today. Not saying those that would rather work are entirely the norm yet. But probably heading that way a little at a time.
My parents didn't have much, but they made it on one paycheck (a low paying government job). It isn't easy but possible to do. I understand the need to pay bills. People had bills back in the 40's, 50's etc, before women worked. But they made it on one paycheck. If all else fails and you have to both work. Have family take care of the kids. I just object to daycare. The main thing that has changed is single parent families &/or more expensive lifestyles desired. There has been a breakdown in the family somewhere between then & now. Trying to find where exactly it started isn't easy.
At least that is the humble view from my inner city window.
Everyone believes what they will, right or wrong, this is mine.


MARIA CUERVA

Sep 9, 2005, 12:27 PM

Post #40 of 44 (3495 views)

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Re: [LadySlipper76] Michoacan - Meeting Mother

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You have made a very good point. If neccessity dictates that a woman work when she has a small child than it should be kept within the structure of the family that loves the child. I have been urging my daughter to stay at home as long as she can whatever the sacrifices. BUT we both agree that if she were able to live in the town where I live-and I am obviously not the one who decides this-that she would feel free and confident in leaving the baby with me. We are speaking of a flexible schedule where she would be in and out of the house during the day. Why? Because I adore him! Because he and I enjoy each other's company, because when his mother walks in the door it is a joyous event in which dogs, birds, a beautiful garden and her family welcome her. One other very importan thing, all the food made in my house is fresh foods from the garden or as close as I can get made with love.


(This post was edited by TATA CUERVA on Sep 9, 2005, 12:31 PM)


Georgia


Sep 9, 2005, 12:50 PM

Post #41 of 44 (3477 views)

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Re: [Marlene] Michoacan - Meeting Mother

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This thread about Mexican mothers could just as easily apply to my husband's family and Italian mothers. I'm sure that Jewish mothers, Greek mothers, and ..... well ..... fill in the blanks ... would all fit the same mold. Certain cultures just seem to know who they are and the participants understand clearly what roles they can play. The individualism in the United States doesn't provide that strong sense which can be either liberating or suffocating depending on the circumstances.


Gringal

Sep 9, 2005, 1:51 PM

Post #42 of 44 (3456 views)

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Re: [LadySlipper76] Michoacan - Meeting Mother

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The good things that resulted from the Womens Movement are taken for granted by many young women today. The best was the "equal pay for equal work" aspect, in my opinion. On my first job out of college, the guy working at the desk next to me was paid 25% more, simply because he was male. That was company policy, and not an unusual one. At the time, I was sole support of my family and my blood boiled at the injustice of it. Now, I see many well paying jobs filled by women, from which women were once barred completely. Unfortunately, some of the early crusaders got a bit carried away and the result was anti-male rhetoric that moderates resented.

Tata Cuerva speaks of keeping the children in the care of family if mom goes to work. Fine, if grandma wants a rerun of her child-raising years. Most grandmas make other well-deserved choices, such as doing some serious relaxing and pursuing of the interests they may have neglected in the years of rearing their children.


tony


Sep 9, 2005, 3:25 PM

Post #43 of 44 (3434 views)

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Mexico / US - not as they seem

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I am going to just throw out a bunch of observations/facts about this thread.

  • I run across more women business owners in Mexico than I do in the US. Many who have taken the business over from their dead Mexican spouse.
  • The US has never elected a women president yet a so called backward country like India has had a women prime minister.
  • The US has one of the highest rape rates in the world.
  • I run across more professional acting women secretaries in Mexico than in the US.
  • I have a background in the trades and (US) women have kept away from this type of work - WHY? They don't even try to study the trades in school.
  • Women being forced to work to buy more things is NOT a choice. Note: this comes at the expense of child rearing.
  • Did someone write that serious relaxing and pursuing interests are better than rearing grandchildren?
  • In the US a man is still REQUIRED to be the breadwinner. A womens choice to work is optional unless economics dictate otherwise. When will men have the choice to work or not?
  • Doesn't the US STILL require men to pay women alimony? Don't sound too equal to me.
  • My wife is a farmer and I am the buey. Every morn she puts on my collar and I plow the field (go to work). When I get back from the field she makes sure I have food and a nice bed of hay. The next day we do it all over again. Who is the servant? BTW this happens EVERYDAY in Mexico!


"We don't see things as they are, we see things as we are."


sfmacaws


Sep 9, 2005, 9:26 PM

Post #44 of 44 (3376 views)

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Re: [tony] Mexico / US - not as they seem

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Whoa! You guys are getting a little carried away here. The whole point of womens liberation was equality and a right to CHOOSE the life that suits you. If you choose to stay home and raise children that should be a respected career. If you choose to work and have a career because you want more intellectual stimulation or because you want more stuff, it should be your choice. If you choose as an older person not to take care of your grandkids like an indentured servent, that is also your choice.

The other side is that there are more and more house-husbands who choose to stay home and raise the kids while their wife works and that is ok as well. It frees everyone to find what they are happiest with and not to have to abide by the role society thinks is right. And, yes Tony, women do pay alimony as well as men. I have friends who are paying it. It is also true that alimony is no longer a lifetime salary for a divorced woman. In fact, one of the results of increased equality and women's liberation is the increase in poverty for women who are divorced but without a skill or too old to work because there is no longer the expectation that the man they married will support them for life.

I see a lot of changes in the rights of women in Mexico and in my opinion it is an improvement. There is a long ways to go but these things are cultural and change slowly. I think the biggest change would be if the women of Mexico stopped treating their sons like little gods, they are creating the monster their daughters in law will inherit.

Women have to grow up knowing they are responsible for themselves and that their future should rest on their skills not the skills of their husband. They need to teach this to their daughters as well. It's certainly not a completed change in the US either, there is still a long way to go. Parenting is a shared responsibility and each parent should give what they are best capable of doing, it is not always the woman who is the best at nurturing.

"God bless the child that has its own" Billie Holliday

"Every woman needs a room of her own" Virginia Woolf


Jonna - Mérida, Yucatán


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