Y Nuestra Mishpocheh También

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I have to admit I am having a bit of writer’s block.  All week I have been debating what topic I should discuss and writing draft after draft of nonsense.  I think it is largely due to the fact that a lot of people are reading this.  It makes me feel this probably fictional sense of pressure to keep everyone interested.  I have to be honest with you, before your expectations exceed my reach, sometimes I don’t have anything interesting to say.  I can blame it on the fact that sometimes I am too focused on the mundane to examine things too deeply. I work, I get tired, I worry about money and family and finch and how my spiritual journey is going (hopefully not in that order).  I just worry, I don’t think about these things in a constructive, interesting or innovative way, I simply worry and stress.  To alleviate the adult onset stress  I play Farmville 2 or I watch bad television (Real Housewives anyone?) instead of thinking, or even writing.  But today I got an email from my dad.  It is worth mentioning that my dad doesn’t email me.  I honestly don’t think my dad emails often, he probably does so for work because he has to and he sometimes emails my grandmother because it is one of the few ways that we can communicate with her.  However this email from my dad was worth waiting for, it was so my dad; it was funny and sweet, it was thoughtful and excited.  So I went into my blog drafts and chose to write about the most important category in this blog: family.

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I have a pretty big and interesting family, I wish I could describe in great detail each and every member because they are all rather unique, but this would take several posts and probably all of my allotted space.

Let’s start with the basics, my parents.  I was born lucky.  Both of my parents are incredible.  They are both smart, funny, attractive and complex people.  From the time I was born they chose to be open and honest with me about everything (even when I didn’t want them to) and fearlessly (or at least seemingly so) approached any topic I would bring up (there is no such thing between the three of us at TMI). Both made a great effort to raise me to be more tolerant, more understanding, more empathetic than they are.

My mom is absolutely brilliant.  She is a fascinating woman with a great sense of humor.  She is also the best writer I know.  She is passionate about basically everything, which often makes having a conversation with her about a specific topic difficult.  She is loving and devoted to a fault.  She is overprotective, but never to the point where she has clipped my wings. Seeing her feeling defeated destroys me.  She is more than any little girl could hope for in terms of a woman to aspire to.  We have endured a lot of growing pains in our relationship but she will always be my mother, my friend, my guide.  If I can be half of the mother and woman she has been, I will consider my life a success. I must admit, she is also the reason people are reading this blog.

My father is exceedingly creative.  His humor is a little bit sarcastic and dry.  He is an incredible father.  He is kind and considerate.  As I grew up he always made an effort to learn what I liked;  he still proudly asserts that he knew my favorite television show was Charmed.  He is hardworking.  He is a little crotchety.  I always knew my father had set the bar high for what I wanted in a partner.  I expect he knew it too.  He never liked any of the (albeit there were very few) guys I brought home.  Without ever saying an unkind word about them,  I knew he wanted better for me, I don’t think he wanted me to settle.  Regretfully we don’t get to spend as much time together as we used to.  We used to talk about every random topic we could think up, he is a great conversationalist.

I also have a gorgeous and quirky sister, who taught me how to apply mascara and lives too far away for my liking.  A grandfather who grows wiser with age and whose sense of adventure I hope to inherit.  A great uncle with strong convictions.  Three grandmothers who have shown me three very different approaches to life (one whom I am thankful loves me every day as if I was her own).  A plethora of loveable aunts and uncles, from a hippie Cuban-British pack I cannot imagine life without to a more traditional Cuban-Mexican group I absolutely adore.

However, this is a mere scratch on the surface of who I consider my family.  There are many I share no bloodline with, but are just as significant and close as those that I do.  And then there is my mishpocheh.

When my boyfriend and I started dating I wasn’t sure how to explain my very close relationship with my family, and I definitely had no idea what his relationship with his own was like.   Very quickly it was all very clear because familial relationships like ours are difficult to conceal.  As he grew more comfortable with me I realized he talked to his mom daily, what a relief!  As we began to talk more about our own families I was thrilled because family is pivotal in my life.  We realized that Jews and Cubans share what many others consider to be excessive family involvement.  Yet it was perfect for us.  He understood that I needed to spend time with my mom and I understood he needed to spend a significant amount of time chatting with his since she lived several states away.

I wish I could say that this meant meeting the parents was easy.  It wasn’t.  Meeting his parents was absolutely nerve-wracking.  Saying that I really wanted them to like me is an understatement.  My mother would encouragingly (and with obvious bias) remind me that they had to love me because I was awesome.  That, unsurprisingly, did not give me any sense of ease.  I met his dad first, in passing, and had absolutely no idea if he liked me or not.  I was dumbfounded.  My boyfriend did not provide any clarity.  Regardless of how much I worried I knew the person I really had to win over was his mom.

I met her much later and amidst a difficult situation.  It is sad to say this gave me a certain advantage, but I can say that merely because these circumstances facilitated showing her how much I (and my mother) loved and cared for her son.  The moment I saw her, an adorable tiny blonde in Coach sneakers running around the airport, I knew it was her.  The second we were finally introduced I liked her.  And amazingly, over dinner, it wasn’t long before she kind of admitted that she already liked me.  Since then our relationship has blossomed.  I love catching up with her on the phone, getting excited emails from her when there is a Kate Spade sale, and coordinating trips so that we can all spend time together.  I think in many ways we are similar women.  We are both very good at taking control, we like to plan ahead, and we both like to speak our minds, regardless of timing.  Moreover, I can’t not love her, she raised the best man any woman could ask for.

So now I have the family I was luckily born into (including those unofficially adopted) and my mishpocheh, which comes with aunts, uncles, cousins and grandparents I have the mazel to also call family.

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4 responses »

  1. Mi niña, desde que naciste hace 28 años y casi tres meses, vivo en un estado de asombro-sorpresa-sobrecogimiento presenciando el proceso de tu vida, de tu crecimiento en todos los sentidos. Cada etapa ha sido única, tremenda, difícil, maravillosa. Nunca olvidaré aquellos primeros días en que pasaba horas mirándote para seguir los casi imperceptibles movimientos de tu pecho al respirar. No tenía ni la menor idea de qué hacer contigo, pero entendía intuitivamente cuán frágil era tu vida, y comprendí entonces cuán frágil es la vida. Acostada pacíficamente en tu cunita o alimentándote de mí con los puñitos cerrados eras el milagro de la vida. Hoy día sigo muchas veces sin saber qué hacer contigo. Me guía sobre todo un amor infinito hacia ti y el más elemental, antiguo, ancestral y genético instinto de madre. A veces funciona, ¿no crees? Esta etapa de Lele mujer-profesional-enamorada también entra –cómodamente- en el estado de asombro-sorpresa-sobrecogimiento. Te veo plena, linda, trazando con inteligencia tu propio camino. Ya no vigilo tu respiración porque nadie lo entendería, empezando por ti, pero vigilo en vilo cada paso que das y a veces no sé si rezar, cruzar los dedos o mirar para otra parte de puro susto. Vas bien, lo sé, uno en el fondo sabe siempre si revisa con honestidad lo que siente.
    Gracias por tus lindas palabras sobre mí, (me superan). Mi mayor acierto quizá es la voluntad que puse en darte esa familia que hoy presumes y mantenernos unidos… a Pola (siempre), Pipa, a tía, mi padre, Migue, mi mamá, Ivette, Made… Cada uno trajo sus propias extensiones, para bien.
    ConsérvaTE. Preserva el ser hermoso que eres, tu honestidad, tu falta de prejuicios, la libertad de tu mente, tu enorme espíritu compasivo, tu sensibilidad y humanidad. Esas cualidades son verdaderas columnas para edificar la mejor y más respetable de las vidas y un día dar con ellas el mejor ejemplo a tus hijos.
    Mami.

    • First of all you can’t make the write of the blog cry! You have always been an incredible mother, aside from all of your other talents. I hope I have that innate motherness myself, at least an ounce of it. I am glad from afar it looks like I know what I am doing, because I often feel like I have no idea. You can take credit for so carefully and consciously raising me. I am also very thankful that due to difficult situations (i.e. the economy sucks, the Bar sucks, law school sucks) I get to share so much of my life with you. I love you more than words can express.

  2. Hi Lele, yes we are very lucky to have such a wonderful and loving family. Also very smart people. I also feel very happy that although the elders are gone, you the young generation will continue our legacy. much love to you . Tio Rj.O

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