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Te quiero Papi

10 Aug

Sometimes I get caught up in the everyday grind and forget to notice the small big things. Like what an amazing papi sig-o is to z-baby. I always knew he would be, but it’s a joy to see it in action. So just a quick post today to say, ¡Te queremos mucho, Papi!

Te quiero papi

Hecho por z-baby

That’s so Gringa

28 Apr

The other day I was preparing pasta for little z-baby. One of my favorite kitchen shortcuts is to use my kitchen shears to cut his spaghetti. Just snip, snip, snip and you’re done! I was happily snipping away when sig-o walked by and chuckled, “Ok. That is so Gringa!”

I was stopped cold in my snipping tracks… So Gringa? Me? Well, yeah. I had to laugh… sig-o and I have been together for so long that we sometimes forget that he’s Mexican and I’m American, that we’re different both as individuals and because of our cultural backgrounds.

Like once when I asked him what he wanted to get to eat and he replied, “How about Mexican?” for like the millionth time. With exasperation in my voice I asked, “Don’t you EVER get tired of Mexican food?” To which he replied, “Uh, noooo. It’s just food to me.” Oh.

So here are a few other things (not sure that I agree) that sig-o says also make me “so Gringa.” 

  1. Mis calzones (underwear) — They’re cheap. And I know it. But I can’t help it ya’ll. It’s a habit I picked up in college. When you don’t do laundry as frequently as you should… you solve the problem by just going and buying some cheap Hanes Her Way. While I do do laundry regularly now, I still have over 20 pairs of the cheapies. Though not the same ones from college… geesh!
  2. My obsessive planning — I plan everything. I even plan when I’m going to plan. Visitors coming? Trip to take? Picnic in the park? Lists make me happy. And there’s no way I would be able to not plan at least meals when I know my suegra is on her way for a visit. Of course, she always brings enough food for an army and takes over my kitchen anyways… but it’s the thought of not being prepared that would drive me to insanity. Sig-o tells me not to worry about it. I tell him I’ll add that to my list.
  3. The way I worry about everything — A close relative of #2. I worry too much about things. Like seat belts and firecrackers and not waking the neighbors. I’m not as bad as I used to be (except for when the postpartum depression was in full-swing… then it was BAD). And it all seems to be relative to place. In Mexico, I’m still a worrier, but I let a lot more slide.
  4. My immersion blender — Since sig-o and I have been together, we have been through countless blenders (lots of salsas, lots of aguas frescas…). And I got tired of them always breaking down. Or just breaking. We had a collection of mismatched bases and jars that did us no good. So one day I tossed them all and got a sleek little hand blender for a change. So what? It’s worked well so far, and I’m sure we’ll go back to the other kind as soon as it gives out, too.
  5. The way I watch TV — When I sit down to watch TV, I could also be reading blogs, playing Words with Friends, perusing recipes, making lists. And I may or may not have the volume on. But when sig-o (and everyone in his family) sits down to watch TV it’s like zombies sucked his brains out… he sits and stares open-mouthed at the blaring screen and can hear no other sound around him. Commercials are even worse. They’re not something to be muted, but rather something to lean into, the main attraction. I could strip off my cheap calzones and he’d never even flinch.

On borders and growing up

20 Apr

Borders. They have caused sig-o and I much grief over the years.

In our early days, the problem was usually separation. Either I was in the US and he was in Mexico, or I was in Mexico and he was in the US. At one point we even found ourselves to be ilegales in each other’s country, he in the US and me in Mexico — ¡qué cosa! But we were young and distance did make the heart grow fonder and we weathered the bumps together.

After living in Mexico for over three years, we came to the US to finish out a long and drawn out process to get sig-o permanent residency and ultimately citizenship (which we are still in the process of). Then the issues turned more towards family. No matter where we decide to live, one of us will always be separated from family. Luckily, sig-o’s mother, sister, and brother all live in the states now. But it has caused many headaches, heartaches, and punches to the wallet to both get them and keep them here. This is an on-going struggle, and one that gets harder and harder with the passing of every new piece of racist legislation.

Now that we have a baby, matters feel even more complicated. We’ve always known that we would return to Mexico at some point. We want our child(ren) to spend part of their childhood in both countries, to not just hear our stories but to know in their heart and feel it in their gut what it is to be Mexican, what it means to be American.

Borders. They have separated us, united us, and taught us lessons in patience and humility. They have watched us grow into adulthood.

When sig-o and I first met, he was a mere 19 and I was only 21. We have been together for almost 13 years now. And in those 13 years we have literally watched each other grow up. Some of the change has been subtle over time. But sometimes you can see it unfold before you in an instant, catalyzed by events beyond our control.

This weekend we learned that one of sig-o’s young cousins passed away after a difficult battle with leukemia. Sig-o was understandably upset, and as he is an extremely sensitive soul, he took the news quite hard. It’s these moments that borders make you feel so helpless, so far away. Mexico isn’t even on the other side of the world… but it may as well be when you can’t be there.

But it’s not just about the border. Technically, sig-o could have hopped on a plane and been with his family within six hours or so. But we really couldn’t afford it. And it was at that moment that I saw the change, saw the pain in my husband’s face and felt his heavy heart as he made the sacrifice for his family — for me, for the baby — and stayed. I watched, my own soul troubled, as he came to terms with his decision, growing up just a little bit more before my very eyes.

It’s hard straddling a border. It’s even harder growing up.

Please dress appropriately

16 Apr

As I’ve mentioned before, sig-o is in the process of becoming a US citizen. To our surprise, the application process has been progressing quickly — we sent in the application at the end of February, and he was fingerprinted just a couple of weeks ago. This week we were shocked to find his interview appointment letter in the mailbox.

The date is set for next month. We poured over the letter to make sure we had all the necessary documents and weren’t overlooking any details. One line in particular caught my eye: “You must be properly attired.” And I’m thinking, “As if they really need to say that. There are enough ways to mess up with la migra… dressing appropriately isn’t at the top of my list.”

We went to see David Sedaris speak this week (who is, by the way, one of the funniest storytellers alive today). While we were waiting for the show to begin, we were admiring the theater and chit-chatting about nothing in particular. Then sig-o turns to me and tells me this story about how last week, he was getting gas and there was this guy at the gas station trying to sell the gas station attendant a suit from the trunk of his car. Sig-o says he started to ask him about it but decided not to and then as he was leaving he saw that they were Armani suits… and now he regrets not asking him how much they were. 

In all honesty, I thought he was joking, and I think I must have laughed out loud at this point. But the look on his face told me otherwise. He said, “You know, I thought I should get it for my interview.” I stared blankly at him. “Because… you know, it says dress appropriately.” At which point I gave up trying to be serious.

First of all, we’re buying clothes at the gas station now? And second of all, I don’t think “properly attired” means “wear an Armani suit.”

He says, “Come on, don’t you think it would look good if I showed up in a nice suit?” I said, “Oh sure. And then they’d probably check the little box beside ‘narco’ (drug trafficker) on your application.” Which he did not find funny. “What’s wrong with a suit? I’m sure people wear them all time.” “Maybe,” I say, “but not a three-piece Armani from a gas station.” This back and forth went on for a bit and then it became clear why he was so offended: he thought I called him naco (tacky, trashy), not a narco. I see where his priorities are. Better to be called a narco than tacky. “Boba,” he said.

I told him that if he wanted to look nice and patriotic, he should pull out that t-shirt that my suegra got him down in Florida with a big American flag on it. Then they would know he was really serious. But that, we both agreed, really would be naco.

Co-sleeping Blues

13 Apr

Before z-baby was born, we painstakingly picked out the “perfect” pack n’ play/bassinet combo and placed it beside our bed. When we brought him home from the hospital, we would carefully swaddle him every night and place him in it. He woke up every two hours, nearly on cue, to nurse. I would get up with him, nurse him, and then hand him off to sig-o to change his diaper and get him back to sleep. We tag-teamed like pros.

Then when z-baby was almost 7 weeks, a series of events threw us into the world of co-sleeping. First, my gallbladder whacked out and I had to have it removed. Then, that very same day, sig-o got sick with the flu. To complicate matters, we were in the very early stages of what ended up being the swine flu pandemic, and we didn’t want to take any chances with the baby. So I sent sig-o to stay with his mom for a few days.

So here I was, still recovering from the emergency c-section, still recovering from the gallbladder surgery, and alone with a newborn. And barely taking any pain killers for it because of the breastfeeding and my fear that I’d be too drowsy or out of it to care for him.

My mom had come to help and before she left, she had tucked the baby neatly away in the bassinet. But when he woke up, I realized that I couldn’t get him out. I could either 1) bend over or 2) pick up the baby (from the bed, say), but I couldn’t bend over and pick up the baby from the bassinet. After 20 minutes or so of him crying I must have had enough adrenaline or whatever pulsing through me that I just gritted my teeth and hefted him out of there.

I collapsed on the bed with him and it was that day that we finally were able to get the hang of nursing while laying down. And we’ve never looked back. I remember the sheer elation I had that night… just the two of us in a big ole king size bed. Never had to get up to nurse. Slept better than I had for a long time.

Sig-o eventually came home and was like WTH? He had had to sleep in the guest bed for probably the last half of the pregnancy. Partly because I was uncomfortable and wanted to sleep diagonal across the bed, and partly because my (big) dog never wanted to leave my side while I was pregnant and insisted on sleeping diagonally along with me. So it was like a little honeymoon for us after the baby was born and we could sleep in the same bed together. But that day he immediately knew he had been trumped again.

Fast forward two years. We both love co-sleeping and regret not bringing him into the bed earlier. But this kid isn’t seven pounds anymore. And for a kid who is in the low percentiles for both height and weight, he can really take up some real estate in what now feels like a tiny, itsy, bitsy, king size bed.

Two years. Two years that sig-o and I feel like we haven’t been able to just… touch. Sure, we’ve managed to get him down in his crib (also a painstakingly picked-out waste of space) a few times and could sleep in each other’s arms until z-baby woke up wanting to nurse. And a few times we’ve put him off to one side in the bed and hoped he doesn’t fall off. We tried to sidecar the crib, too, but that never worked. Z-baby insists on being sandwiched right in between us. Two years is a long time.

And I’m not even talking about sex. Which is also a huge issue. Between the co-sleeping and just plain old parental exhaustion, it hasn’t been easy. Lately, I’ve literally resorted to setting the alarm for around 3am so we can wake up, grab a quickie while z-baby is fast asleep in the other room, and collapse into bed again… each of us on either side of the bed, not touching. But at 3am, who really cares, right?

Through it all, sig-o has been fine with it. There’s been a little whining every now and then. Even some pouting. But tonight it clearly moved beyond pouting. He’s actually… despondent about it all. He’s mentioned from time to time that he’s ready to start transitioning the baby to his own bed. But I had no idea he felt so dejected, so sad about it.

As I sit in the baby’s nursery writing this, z-baby is asleep in my bed and sig-o is snoring in the guest room on the futon. He refused to go to bed without me tonight. He’s basically waiting on me to… put him to bed. I’m talking about my adult husband here. I mean, I miss him too, but really? I think he’s just overtired and cranky and exasperated (sounds like I’m talking about a toddler, right?). And I get that. And it’s not always easy for me, either.

One day this will all be behind us and we’ll be pining away for the days that z-baby slept sideways between us, toes in his papi’s ribs, head in his momma’s. In the meantime, though, I have a 32 year-old I need to go put to bed.