Sr. Beverly Revisited…

I went to an all girls Catholic high school. And looking back on it now, I’ve always been opinionated. Taught from the time I was a child to always stand up for my rights, and never to let anyone trample on me. All of my years in school had been pretty tranquil, and I was typically known as the “teacher’s pet”. So in comes Sr. Beverly, during my Junior year at Hallahan Girls Catholic high school.

Now there was something about Sr. Beverly that just rubbed me the wrong way. The way she picked on certain girls in the class, usually all my friends. She’d twist their words around to make them look stupid and all of the girls in the class would laugh, she was such a clown. But I never did. The way she put people on the spot and made them feel insignificant never sat well with me. There was just something about the way she talked to me, how her eyes would open really large, she’d push her face really close to mine and stare at me as if she could expose my soul.

She had this “in your face” follow you around the school kind of philosophy on teaching. And for some reason today, when my husband and I were arguing about what color trim to put on the floors, she came to mind. It was was almost as if I gave into him, that it would be like being back in that classroom watching one of my friends being humiliated by her and staying silent. I could stay silent and just acquiese to what he wanted. Or I could open my mouth and say something to her, something to sting her and make her think and make the other girls laugh at her instead of my friends. And I’d save my friends from embarrassment and in turn save myself.

I deserve to have a say in this situation after all, I’m the person that is here the most often. I should just LOVE this space, every inch of it. So it’s like Sr. Beverly’s Religion class revisited at home today. Me, saying things that Sr. Beverly/ my husband didn’t want to hear, but that I had to say so that they wouldn’t weigh on my soul. And this time it’s not for my friends, but for me… so that I don’t have to look at myself in the mirror and feel pity. But so that I can look at myself and know that what happened was hard, but I’m a better person for having stood up for what I believed in, and not letting others trample over me.

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I am the unwanted…

I love quiet moments at home alone.  They give me time to clear my head.  Being laid off was probably one of the best things that has happened to me in my life, although it still hurts me.  Because I had an opinion I was chosen; I was deemed “unnecessary”.  God forbid, a woman should speak her mind.  A man doesn’t want to hear it at home and he definitely doesn’t want to hear it in the workplace either.  I mean there at least the woman is getting paid to do a job and should be so “grateful” to have one.  Even if she was doing the work of 3+ people and one man was driving her nuts.  Well, he was a vital part of the organization.  A vital part of how the organization worked and I wasn’t.

When one thinks of mistakes, one must always look back and examine the actions that made you take that misstep and made you land where you fell.  Well, guess what? I don’t take one action on my part back.  Rather, I should have said and done more. 

I stopped writing here for a while because it started to make me feel like my soul was exposed to the world to see.  But then I remembered, I started my blog to expose my soul to the world.  Not to discuss politics, not to debate issues, but to write mostly just to clear my mind.  So here it is 3 months later, after I was deemed “fat that could be cut”, and I’m still not over it. I don’t know why.

I’m not sitting at home eating OREO cookies and crying.  Not by a long shot.  I go to the gym every day and work out about 2 hours a day.  I drop my children off from school and pick them up, no more before/after care for them.  I have so much more time for my family and for me.  I’m not in last place anymore.  When I was working 50+ hour work weeks, my time was about everyone else but me.  Not anymore.  I’m putting myself first for a little while.  I’m opening my mouth.  Rediscovering my own opinion and voicing it.  I think it will open new doors for me after a while.  We’ll see won’t we?

Scrubbing the Tub

As I knelt in the bathroom today, scrubbing the tub, my roots came to mind. I’m one of those Latinas. Not the ones that were born in a Latin country, but one of the ones that were born here. My parents were born in Puerto Rico and raised in 2 worlds, there and here. I, on the other hand, was born here. Only visited the island once in my life. Our familial ties to the island having long been stretched too thin by the hands of time.

My parents were progressive. My father being the first in his family to graduate college, law school and go on to become a lawyer. My mother graduated high school and went on to work full time in Corporate America for 30+ years. My father was the primary nurturer to us and my mother cooked, sometimes when she felt like it anyhow. Other times, it was every person to themselves to find dinner. I am no stranger to cereal and eggs for dinner. That was normal, part of life. My mother washed her own clothing and at some point so long ago that I can’t remember when ceased to wash all of ours. I washed my clothing. My sister washed hers. And my dad washed his and my brother’s.

My husband is one of those Latinos. Not like me, but born on the island. He didn’t come here until he was 19 years old. He still struggles to speak English. His mother doted on him, his father, and the rest of his brothers and sisters. She never worked outside of the home as far as I know. Her days were filled with nurturing their family. Cooking, cleaning, washing, she does it all. When my husband came to the US, he had never lifted a mop, washed a dish, or his own clothing to say the least.

And somehow, my husband and I met, fell in love, and got married. If he had known how un-domestic I was, he would never have married me. He sees me “serving” him as an act of love and devotion. I see “serving” him as being demeaning to me. So we often get mired into the same vicious circle of an argument. Him questioning my love for him because I don’t want to jump up and serve him dinner. I mean for God’s sakes, I’ve been taking care of the kids all by myself all day. Could he serve himself and give me a break? And me questioning whether he appreciates the sacrifice and the commitment that being a Latina wife and mother every minute of every day entails.

I was raised to be independent and now here I am being forced into a mold that I wasn’t built for. How do you just become the quintessential Latina when you were not raised by one? No one else seems to understand how I feel belittled, how I feel less worthy when my husband comes home and I have to jump up to serve him. Then continue to clean, help the kids with homework and so on while he sits in his boxers scratching his balls on the sofa watching ESPN. And I’m supposed to be happy. How do you find happiness in that? I look at my daughter, who is only 2 and being formed now for her future, and wonder what the future holds for her. A life of servitude for her family under the guise of nurturer? A husband who pitches in and cares equally for the children and the house? And my sons, will they do the same that they see my husband doing to their wives one day?

In the mirror, I see the marionette strings tied to my back and wait for the familiar pull of my husband’s hand. For him to guide me in the direction I should be going. For me to jump up, the happy puppet that I am, to cook, to clean, to smile, to laugh, to be reigned over. A lump forms in my throat; I swallow a tear and go back to scrubbing the tub.