Why were Adam and Eve so happy in the Garden of Eden? Adam didn’t have a mother-in-law.
But seriously, folks, May 8th is Mother’s Day in the U.S. It’s always the second Sunday in May. Here in El Salvador, Día de las Madres is fixed at May 10th. While Americans have one day to honor the women who bore and raised them, Latins have a lot more time. Perhaps they even take their mother’s more seriously than some of us from up north do.
Salvadorans are more likely to be raised by a mother in the absence of the father. That might be because he has left to find work far from home, because he was an irresponsible pr*** and took off leaving a girl friend pregnant, or papa as a common womanizer with families here and there and there and there. Mothers walk the kids to school until they turn fifteen. Mothers work and take their babies and children with them until they come of school age. Mothers are with their children every step of the way until they die. The generations are welded together by the mothers, grandmothers, and great-grandmothers.
Here we have no soccer moms, career oriented moms, alimony moms, or travelling moms. Mom is the rock-hard foundation of the family. Mom is not only there to pick you up when you fall and attend the periodic school meetings, but she’ll come to the jail or prison regularly with food, clothing, and spending cash as well as walk the picket line protesting your harsh conditions of incarceration. Mom is special in El Salvador.
Mother’s Day in the U.S. was legislated by the government and you don’t get time off from work to celebrate her. It means a mandatory visit to your mother and your mother-in-law if you want to keep the peace. Maybe you take her out to dinner, bring her flowers and chocolates, and wear a carnation in your lapel (does anyone wear clothes with lapels anymore?) to tell others if she’s alive or dead. If it’s the latter, you might visit her grave and put some flowers on it.
In Latin countries Día de las Madres may be designated for the 10th of May but you are given the day before and day after off in case visiting mom involves extensive travel. My first experience with the ‘long week-end’ Día de las Madres took place in La Pimienta, Chinandega in Nicaragua during our “Week in Hell” mission trip. The school kids suddenly were home. We’d noticed our two teachers walking out of our remote village on the long road to civilization. When we asked where they were going, we were told they were going home for three days to visit their mothers.
El Refugio is not at all remote. But I learned today that our kids will have days off from school next Monday and Tuesday as their teachers will not be working. I believe she said they’d have to attend one or two Saturdays to make up for it. Still, our church pre-school and the CDI program have been preparing art work and cards for the kids’ mothers. I’m sure my kids will bring something home for Margarita next week. Since this is my first Día de las Madres with Margarita and her first with me, I’m not exactly sure what my role is. Do I bring her a plate of frijolito y crema in bed? I don’t want tortilla crumbs on the sheets. Would she like to stay in bed all day and relax? I can’t see Adriana letting that happen. It’s a cultural dilemma. It’s different here.