Thursday, January 2, 2014

Why I'm a Bad Mexican Madre

Jari and Lettie
"Pobrecito." It's a word I hear a lot these days. Vlad and I have received many a disparaging glance while walking around Mexico, mainly from older women. If they come up and ask how old Jari is, they always say "poor little baby" when I tell them and then give me that look again like you are the worst mom EVER.

In Mexico, basically, we are doing it wrong, and the person who explained this to me the most explicitely is Jari's self-appointed Mexican grandma, Lettie. Before I realized what was happening, Vlad had given away our brand new baby** to this random woman at the Christmas potluck in La Cruz who wound up explaining to me just exactly why I didn't know what I was doing. The very nice, but insistent, Lettie said she would hold him while we ate, but she also decided to give me a lesson in Mexican parenting.

Evidently, Mexicans don't take their babies out until they are 40 days old, and the moms don't go out either. I'm not sure what you are supposed to do inside for 40 days (go insane, perhaps??), but inside you oughtta stay. It has something to do with the baby getting sick and the mom needing plenty of rest. All nice things, but I would absolutely die if we were stuck in the boat for that long.

Additionally, Mexicans keep their babies literally under wraps when they take them out. This was Lettie's main complaint as she asked me for a blanket and I again got "the look" from a gaggle of Mexican women. They are terrified that the baby might get cold. Nevermind that it is a balmy 82 degrees outside or that I had been battling Jari's heat rash for several days. A blanket was definitely needed. Of course, I didn't have the right blanket. Most Mexicans keep their little ones bundled under a double layer of fleece, covering every inch of their kiddos including their heads. How they breathe is a mystery to me, not to mention avoiding the aforementioned heat rash.

In Lettie's defense, she's right. I don't know what I'm doing. We just disagree on the details. Anyway, I ate quickly and kept telling Vlad, "You had best go get my baby back."

** And in Vlad's defense, I gave our baby away yesterday to the woman who cooks at our favorite taco stand in La Cruz (best tortillas ever!). She came up and offered to hold him while we ate, and for some reason I felt totally comfortable just handing him over. Maybe it's because she makes such good tacos. Whatever. Jari loved her. Seriously, loved her. And she didn't say a single word about my bad parenting!


  1. CONGRATS on your new addition! I have been away from the blogging world for a few months, so I have a lot of reading to catch up on. Happy New Year. Again Congratulations!!!

    1. Thanks! Yeah, I was wondering where you guys had gone. How goes it with the boat?

  2. The first of many cultural lessons you'll gently be taught no doubt! How interesting. I'd go stir crazy too, but I imagine these norms are rooted differently than ours. :-)

  3. Definitely, Behan. We have actually enjoyed the cultural differences, while in no way following the norms. It's certainly prompted some interesting discussions among other boat parents and with locals.

  4. Yes! When Maura was born, I lived in a predominately Hispanic small town. The kind of small Texas town where if you are not Mexican and do not speak Spanish, you stick out big time. I was the worst mom because I not only was out and about with my baby girl literally the 2nd day after she was born, I too did not feel the need to dress her for an arctic expedition when the temps were above 80. My neighbors eventually forgave me and Maura survived my terrible parenting so I have high hopes for you and Jari.

  5. Love your post ... aren't we all terrible mamas in our own (or someone else's) eyes on a frequent basis. That's the nice thing about a third baby ... I can (and do) ignore most of the commentary, because we have our own ways of doing things now. We, too, have been offered hats for Benjamin, even when his face is turning red from the heat! (On the other hand, wouldn't I love to find an actually sun hat for sale in Mexico!) So nice to share this journey together, Liz

  6. Loving this - I think no matter where you'd be, there would be an older woman to tell you, "you're doing it wrong." I still get told that from time to time. For the 40 days - we Greeks do it too. We aren't allowed anywhere until the baby has been blessed in the church. Some of the old timey Greeks will think they'll get a curse if they see you out. Y'all seem to be doing just fine. Love all the pictures!