Mis Histórias

By js, 24 April, 2008, No Comment

In thinking about the narratives that have affected the way I view life, I have to consider both the narratives of my parents as they grew up. Those narratives directly lead to the ways that they have functioned as parents and knowing their narratives helps me to understand many of the choices they have made as parents.

My father grew up in a ranch in Mexico. His stories are what I would call “boy in the woods” stories. He talks about going swimming, ditching his chore duties to go hunting birds, going out at night during a full moon to hunt rabbits. He talks fondly of his mother and the food she would cook for him and his siblings. He never says this, but his stories show that he was never aware that he had anything but a “normal” childhood. The only traumatic experience was suffering from rheumatic fever when he was a young boy and living too far from town to get medical help. My father’s narratives, though, do not deal with hardship or deprivation which he was most likely unaware of because of his age.

My mother, on the other hand, had a much tougher childhood. My grandfather moved to the U.S. when she was quite young and was an absent father (to put it mildly) most of her life. She lived in (what can only be described as) a shanty town and went without shoes most of her early childhood. She, like many others, was forced to work to help support her family right after finishing primary school. When she was 16, she ran away from home. Her narrative is more of an escape narrative which includes deprivation, abuse, months of planning, a dangerous trekk “al norte,” and kind strangers who helped along the way until she reached her destination.

These narratives helped me to understand that my father’s goal was to be the traditional “provider” so that our basic needs would be met. My mother’s goal was to keep the family together so that we didn’t grow up without parents. She wanted to allow us to concentrate on preparing for the future rather than struggling for daily survival.

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