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I Learn Library

A human library inspired by the stories in the film

My Mother absence made me feel lost and alone

By Aline Martinez  |   From : Mexico  |   School : University Neighborhood High School (New York)

Throughout my life, I had always seen others talk to their mothers about their experiences. As a young child, however, while I knew my mother loved and cared for me, her absence in my life left me feeling lost and alone. As a Mexican immigrant, my mother came to this country to give my three siblings and I the best life possible, which often meant we had to raise each other so that she could work multiple jobs to provide for us. But once I stopped comparing my idea of what an amazing mother should be or could be, and learned to embrace my family for what we were, it not only made our bond stronger, but me stronger as well.

During the school day, something I would look forward to the most would be rushing home to see my mother so that I could hug her and tell her about my day, before she went to work for her 3:30pm-3:00am shift at the Venezuelan restaurant in our neighborhood. But day after day, instead of me finding my own mother at home, I would find myself playing the role of mother to my younger siblings. Making sure they ate, did their homework, and had fun where all the things that I wanted to experience with my mother as a young child. While this taught me responsibility and hard work at a young age, having to also balance my own school work with theirs, it nevertheless made me feel a sense of isolation. However, I knew my mother was working hard to provide for us.

But by the end of each night, I would see my books dance their way up on the side of my desk. Even though I was tired, I would wake up early to make my siblings’ breakfast and make sure they had all of their supplies in their bags. Once I remember not packing my brother’s lunch, and this haunted me with guilt because I knew he would not eat until he got home. The stress started to overwhelm me, but I knew it meant so much to my mother that I was helping her out.

 

I believed I had no time for school activities, but in art class I was given many opportunities to distract myself. I worked on creating collages, pottery, and silkscreening. One thing I did well was create a collage, which soon my art teacher submitted to the Metropolitan Museum of Art student contest. I felt proud because there was never a time where I felt like I could have any interaction with people outside of school because of my responsibilities. Winning this statewide contest made me feel like I belonged, and like I finally found something I could do without always having to think about home.

 

I was excited to find out I was one of the finalists, and I called my mother hoping that she would respond. Listening to her voice made me feel warm drops run down my cheeks. I was not sad, but excited to finally share something with my mother that I was very proud of. In my head, her words will always repeat over and over again, “muy bien mija, yo supo que podías hacerlo.” No matter what, knowing she believes in me makes me proud of what I have.

 

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