Today’s post is from Alexa, and it is the first of two she has written for us this month. Alexa was born in Colombia, South America but raised in the States. Today’s post focuses on the strength Alexa finds in her mother, and how as she has traveled the world, she has come to appreciate her mother’s strength even more. You can read more of Alexa’s writing on her blog, Past the Horizon.
Strength manifests itself in so many different ways. But for me, strength has always worn my mother’s face. Though it’s not a face I always recognized in the moment, as the years have gone by and my understanding of events has expounded, I have come to recognize this face more easily, and admire the woman who meets life’s challenges with grace and faith.
At five year’s old I boarded a plane only to arrive in the U.S. a couple of hours later. You can imagine my vast disappointment when I realized that the United States is not synonymous with Disney world, as I’d previously been led to believe.
The first few years in the U.S. were really difficult. I didn’t understand why my mom had to work so hard. We lived with roommates, sometimes I had to be left alone, and though I was with my mom all the time I really missed her. Those were the days when I would be the first person dropped off at daycare, and the last one to leave minutes before they officially closed.
I missed my dad and all of the family members we had left behind in Colombia.
Why had we left our country for this? In Colombia we belonged to a higher social class, had many luxuries, were comfortable, and had all of our family. Why would my mom leave all of that behind to come to a new country with her little daughter? Why had she come to this country whose language she didn’t speak very well? Her title in business administration hadn’t even carried over from one country to another, and for a while she worked as a waitress at restaurants.
Like many immigrants before her, my mom came to this country in the hopes of a brighter future. Though we did have many luxuries in Colombia my mom had the strength to leave those comforts behind and work for something better. She loved my father, but she had to leave him to his vices in the hopes that by creating distance I wouldn’t have to grow up exposed to such things.
The older I get the more I find myself asking, “How did she do it?”. When I lived in France and China, being an immigrant, even a temporary one, was so difficult. There’s a language barrier, and even when you know the language you don’t know exactly how to say the right things, there’s a different culture and way of doing things, figuring out healthcare and where to go in case of emergencies is a pain, and creating a support system takes time.