I was so grateful that I was going to get a week to spend with my abuelita, I call her Buelz, though it was not under the best circumstances. However, it was an opportunity to bond like we used to when I was little and she helped raise me. College and jobs took over my life, and that left little free time to dedicate to showing Buelz some fun. Now I finally had a week to spend making newer memories with Buelz. But then it hit, less than 24 hours into our one on one bonding–the typical ‘abuelita worries’ questions started piling on. You see, Latin grandmas of her generation were brought up under the culture where the woman was domesticated, and sadly expected to do JUST that, be domesticated. Although my Buelz is proud that I am a college grad and a hard worker, she won’t be fully satisfied until I tell her the magic words “tengo un novio” or “me voy a casar.”
My parents raised me to aim for the stars, that any goal I had in mind was possible, and that those goals should be my primary focus. But my grandmother’s generation believes that letting those goals override the search for a husband is ME messing up my priorities. For me, falling in love is not a top priority, it’s actually not even in the top 3 of my list. Don’t get me wrong, I’d like to get married someday and have children, but not now. When I explained this to my grandma she said, “Ay no, tu estas mal, ya tu estas de edad para enamorarte y casarte.”
In fact, she was distraught when I broke the news to her that the boyfriend and falling in love wouldn’t happen anytime soon. So much so, that she even took to the guilt trip methods saying, “Yo quiero que te cases y tengas un bebe antes de que me muera y despues no puedo ver tu marido ni bebe.” Yes, Latin grandmas know how to give one hell of a guilt trip. I don’t blame her for this, it’s how she was raised, it’s all she knows.
The urgency she has for me to ‘domesticate’ myself, creates an urgency for me to purposely break through those gender roles. I have always stood firm in taking action to break the Latino gender roles in my family, it’s the only way to progress the culture and allow my children to grow up equal to one another even though the culture wants them separated by gender. I focused countless college papers on the institution that is Latino gender roles.
All of that said, I love Buelz, wouldn’t trade her for the world. It is important to listen to old people, they are wiser than we will ever be. They have been through what we have yet to experience. They have failures and successes that we could afford to hear. Listen to them, learn from them, and grow from them. Every time she pressures me about enamorandome, I am reminded how desperate I am to make sure my daughter and her daughter never experience that pressure from me or anyone else in our Puerto Rican family. If it wasn’t for the lessons my grandmother taught me about life as a domesticated Latina, I would not be so inclined to pursue a successful career first and foremost.
I would like to leave all my intelligent and fiery Latinas with this: If Abuelita throws the hard hits about your marital status non stop, let it fuel your drive for more, for you are much more capable than your ability to find a man! And who says you can’t run the world AND be domesticated? 😉