Simply Complicated
21st July
2014
written by Michelle

Dear Mija,

You have a spunk and curiosity that makes me laugh and worry at the same time. Our sweet friend took these photos of me and you one afternoon in our neighborhood a few months ago.


screen-capture-4

screen-capture-5screen-capture-3

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

And I love them. I love them because they capture the way you wrinkle your nose when you get excited and the serious glare you give when there is someone or something new in front of you.

screen-capture-7       screen-capture-8

 

 

 

 

 

screen-capture-9 screen-capture-11

They capture the finger by which you try to command your world  and how you have always been a girl on the go.

screen-capture-12

screen-capture-14

screen-capture-15

screen-capture-17

screen-capture-18 screen-capture-20

But there are some things photos can’t capture, like the hours, maybe more like the days, I’ve spent rocking and bouncing and nursing you back to sleep for the past 11 months. Or the amount of bean juice that gets plastered on your highchair or in your hair or how I seem to find cheerios everywhere- in my purse, in the car, in the bathroom. Everywhere I tell you.

Photos don’t capture the frantic google search when I’m not sure what rash you have on your stomach or late night text to your Nana reporting “she still has a low-grade fever.” These sweet photos don’t capture your lung capacity or the high pitch scream you let out when you’re so overtired and don’t know how to calm down.
There is a lot of motherhood that can’t be captured in an afternoon photo shoot.

screen-capture-21
screen-capture-22

 

screen-capture-24screen-capture-26

But you know what I hope is captured? How much fun I have being your mom. It’s a lot of work this mom thing. But I wouldn’t trade it for anything else.

Mija, I am so glad I get to be your mom.

All my love,

Mama

4th July
2014
written by Michelle

 

20140704-201244-72764661.jpg

I have lived in Guatemala for 4 years now. And every year around 4th of July a wave of homesickness rolls over me. I know myself well enough, that now I can kind of anticipate it, but I can’t make it go away. Funny how emotions work like that, huh?

I have always loved the 4th of July. It’s the epitome of summer. BBQs and bare feet. Family and friends gathered around picnic tables. Sun-kissed shoulders and beach hair and finding sand between your toes. 

But when you live in another country, where summer is celebrated between the months of January to April and July 4th is just a date on the calendar, it just feels different. Gerber and I talk a lot about this because we both “know” in our heads that our respective independence days are a big deal for each other. Individually, and for our little girl. But it’s so hard because we don’t feel anything. He can tell me all about the “antorchas” and “bandas” and “actos civicos” that are preformed on September 15th, but for me it’s still  just a date.  I understand what it is and what to expect, but I don’t feel anything. There’s not a collective memory or emotion attached to those things. At least not yet.

And I know the same is true for him. I can tell him about summer BBQs and beach days and how we used to sit on the curb bundled up in sweatshirts eating popsicles, staying up way past our bed time to watch fireworks. He knows all of that, but there is no emotional attachment or collective memory for him. July 4th is just a date. 

I think one of the beautiful and challenging things about cross-cultural relationships if you get to celebrate both. Or at least learn how to make space for both. You learn how to empathize, and negotiate and understand things that you’ve never had any reason to understand before. You learn to verbalize and explain things you’ve never had to explain before, because they just are. But when you’re an outsider trying to understand a foreign culture nothing is as it seems to be.  And  you also learn to accept that there are certain things that can’t be explained or verbalized, they just are. And you learn to accept those things as they are.

We have lots of explaining and trying to understand kind of conversations. Sometimes it’s a lot of work; this cross-cultural, two countries, two languages, two independence days kind of living. But it’s a good work.

And I think one of the reasons we put in energy and time for this “work” is because of this little one. 

20140704-201244-72764031.jpg

 

This little gringa, growing up in Guatemala.

Because we care about her identity and her sense of belonging. She’s too little to remember anything from today. And she certainly won’t remember her first dia de la indpendencia last September.

But my hope is that she starts to build something in that collective memory of hers. So that when she see’s  the 4th of July on the calendar she’ll feel excited. And when we get to el 15 de septiembre each year she will also get excited. 

20140704-201245-72765586.jpg

 Today we celebrated with some other expat friends up at a park overlooking the whole Antigua valley. Gerber left early because of the World Cup because as he said, “You’ll have 4th of July every year, we only have the World Cup every 4 years.” Touché. And I didn’t get any pictures of the adults. But the kiddos were pretty cute. Maybe one year we’ll celebrate 4th of July in the US. We won’t watch any fireworks tonight, but I am thankful that we live in a country where fireworks are enjoyed year around.

Happy 4th of July!

20140704-201246-72766236.jpg

 

P.S. Did you know that one year Gerber even surprised me for my birthday with fireworks?! And at our wedding we had fireworks right at the start of the ceermony?! Ever since I’ve been a little girl I have always loved fireworks.

2nd July
2014
written by Michelle

This really could be titled, What I’ve Been Into…oh, March, April, May aaaaannd June. But for the sake of brevity we’ll just call it June.

I love seeing what other friends around the blosphere are into. Here’s  some great tips from Lesley & Sarah and we’re all linking up with the wonderful, Leigh Kramer’s What I’ve Been [...] Continue Reading…

26th June
2014
written by Michelle

Last week Gerber and I were waiting with Elena for her 1-year checkup. We sat in the shared office space taking turns bouncing her and offering her Cheerios. An older man walked up the stairs and began waving and making baby sounds. Elena stared at him. (which she often does). The he reached [...] Continue Reading…

21st June
2014
written by Michelle

 

Dear Mija,

Tonight like most evenings I gave you a bath and wrapped you up in your turquoise towel, but I held you a little bit longer. I nuzzled my nose under your chin and you giggled. We sang Head & Shoulders Knees & Toes as I wrestled your legs and arms into your striped pajamas. We [...] Continue Reading…

13th June
2014
written by Michelle

We have been back in Guatemala for almost 2 weeks and I juuust feel like we’re getting back in the swing of things. We came back from a whirlwind 3-week-loving-summer-trip to a rainy, cloudy and flooded Guatemala. Then the baby got sick, I got mastitis (again!) and we welcomed our first group for [...] Continue Reading…

8th June
2014
written by Michelle

 

 

If you’re new here I have been writing letters to my daughter each month titled, Dear Mija. It all started with this letter I wrote over a year ago on Spanglish Baby’s site.

 

Dear Mija,

People often ask me how old you are and I keep wanting to say, oh, she’s 10 [...] Continue Reading…

1st May
2014
written by Michelle

 

To this day Gerber, my sweet-futbol-loving-husband, and I don’t agree on where our first date was. I say it was when he took me to Cafe Barista and we sat at a corner table, sipping our lattes, talking until we lost track of time. When we finished, he paid. [...] Continue Reading…

26th April
2014
written by Michelle

Well, this post is a week late but…heeey, that’s how life is going right about now? If you’re not familiar Semana Santa (Holy Week) is the week leading up to Easter and it is thee craziest, busiest, most touristy time of year in Antigua. Actually, it’s really 40 days [...] Continue Reading…

16th April
2014
written by Michelle

 

I was going through and organizing and deleting old photos on my computer the other night (anyone else ever do that?) and I realized it was exactly a year ago this week that we were moving.

I’ve written about it before. We moved twice last year. Granted it was just 2 blocks away [...] Continue Reading…

Previous