Through all my travels thus far one of the things that seems to stand out to me the most is the difference in perspective of Hispanic on family as opposed to other cultures. Family in the Hispanic Culture is the center of our existence. We have a strong sense of self that really is derived from our family and we embrace that. Within the Hispanic Culture life's events are a time of family. We celebrate and suffer as a family. Children are not looked upon as a burden that needs thinking and sacrifice to have. They are looked upon as a blessing and something to be sought after and cherished. The same is to be said of elders. They are like precious gems that everyone loves and adores as opposed to someone who weighs down society and have little value. There is always time for family, which in the Hispanic Culture may be said to be the true heartbeat of who we really are.
Birth, that is where we all get our start in life. It is the beginning and all possibility lay before you at that moment. Within the Hispanic Culture, we anticipate having children. It is looked upon with joy by not only the women of our culture but by the men also. Children are the joy of the entire family. I have sat with many parents from other cultures and felt quite alienated by the manner in which they speak. Truly if children were such a burden I think I should dread it also. At birth I have heard remarks as to the ugly appearance of a newborn baby. At the only moment in time when we are pure and vulnerable, with the beauty of possiblity shinning all around us, with the miracle of life anew this view is stated. At thus life in some cultures begins. Though many would not admit to the remark it does not remove the guilt of it. Many a time I have spoken to mothers who can not wait for school to get back in session so they can be relieved of the perceived burden of their children. They seem to find no joy in their children, and if they do they rarely voice it as compared to the voicing of their displeasure. They speak of how their life was so good and dreams they have now lost due to the fact that they had children. Many parents counsel their children to wait at least if they are going to have children and if they decide to do such a thing, to think first of all the burdens that are going to come with having children. What appalls me the most is the fact they freely speak this way in front of their children. They speak of their plans for when the children grow up how they will be free once again to pursue life as it had once been, almost as if it were a prison sentence being served.
In the Hispanic culture, the talk is different. Having children is a natural and welcomed step in our lives. Life continues on with the birth of children, careers continue to grow and more depth and meaning is brought into life because of that gift. Families pull together and ties are strengthened by those precious births. Families resolve to set higher goals and make greater achievements is the result of having children. The tie from one generation to the next stays tight as each generation contributes to the upbringing of the children. I have never, though granted I know it occurs, heard a Hispanic family speaking of how they suffer because their children are such a burden. Nor have I heard them speaking of how good it will be to have them out of the house so that they can then move on with what the really wish they could be doing. Children are the laughter that fills a house in the Hispanic Culture. Without them we realize we would have no future. Beyond that they are truly loved, cherished and enjoyed, irreplaceable and indispensable to the family. Family which I stated before is the very fabric of who every Hispanic person is and the measure that we use to define ourselves.
If you accept and understand the selfish nature that seems to be a part of some of the cultures other than Hispanic, as interpreted by myself being Hispanic, then one can then understand how the fabric of family would be a hamper to achieving an individuals goals in life. If one is ego centric only aspiring to self achievement, then the time constraints alone that family involvement places on a person would be distasteful. Hispanic Culture has the reputation for sticking together and nurturing each other. Offering the hand up to each other ensuring the whole family prospers. I am proud to say that as a whole that is one of the stereotypical statements that I would be glad to say, though not true of every family, is true of most. Many the times I have heard it said in a condescending way as though family helping family is a shameful thing. Yet it is a comfort to know that this is true of the Hispanic Culture.
What does it mean to come from a Hispanic Family? To know that from the day we are born until the day we return to the womb as it were, we are treasured and valued. That all the days of our life we belong and have meaning. To know that you are not burdening your children as you age but that taking care of you gives them the same pleasure that you found in taking care of them. To know that your head will always be lain in the bosom of family and never in the hard cold embrace of strangers. To know that all the days of your life will be filled with the pleasure and laughter that true love can only bring. To look around you at the familiar faces and find peace and acceptance no matter what the losses you face or the riches you gain. To know that along the path of life, each step was anticipated, desired, accepted and shared. Yes it may be true that we do not appear to be as individual and ambitious as those around us. Yes it is true also that we may seem simple and easy going. What it also means is that deep in our inner most being, we have embraced and come to peace through the knowledge that in family we always have a place. That is our strength and the main reason why even though we have colonized, for lack of a better term, other societies, we have never lost our culture. It is the reason why we prosper against the odds that face us. It is the very reason why we have the ability to come to a land with not but a shirt on our backs and find a way to make a place that resembles home. It is because we remember the faces of our family. We remember the ways of our family. We stay together as a family and help one another to remember who we are. We are Hispanics, living amongst those who do not yet understand who we are, but we do, thanks to our family.
Lest we forget and become lost in the meaningless drift of the "progressive" way of life, to come to the end of our road and find ourselves standing there, facing eternity alone, remember your Hispanic Culture is in your family.
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Lamentations of the Caves By Rebecca Cuevas De Caissie