Llena mi alma de cumbia
Saca de mi la locura
Llévame a la luz y a la paz.
I grew listening to Juan Gabriel and Michael Jackson. I danced to Stevie Wonder. And when it came to my wedding, I specifically asked the DJ to make sure absolutely no banda, no rancheras, norteñas, none of that was to be played. I didn’t grow up with that music. I couldn’t shake it to Los Tucanes de Tijuana. But Daddy Yankee and Don Omar? Pobrecito if the DJ didn’t play that. Dr. Dre, Ice Cube, 2 Chainz? Yes, but the edited versions please. My grandmothers are here. Y las cumbias? Play all the cumbias. Because I grew up with cumbias. I danced to cumbias with my parents at weddings, parties, quinceañeras. Please, make sure you play plenty of cumbias.
I was trying to post something about not forgetting your raices on my IG stories and wanted Mexican background music, and as I went to my Apple music, I realized that I had nothing. Nada. I had some Rock en Español. I had a couple of songs from the Coco soundtrack. But I didn’t have Jenni Rivera, Banda MS, Vicente Fernández, I didn’t even have JuanGa, and I went to several of his concerts as a child. I felt like a hypocrite.
And that’s when I began playing cumbias in the car on the way to drop off Fernandito at my moms. And cumbias on a Friday night on the bluetooth speaker so we could dance as a family, and cumbias as I’m showering. And I’ll sneak in some El Mechon, and El Sonidito, too.
And we cheer for Mexico when they play, and Fernandito eats Champurradas, y frijoles negros con crema y bolillo. Fernandito is well aware that his Mamá Lilia is from Mexico and his Abuelita is from Guatemala.
And I want to surround myself with people who will understand Fernandito. It’s beyond speaking Spanish. I want to be around people who will understand our culture. And I am grateful to all the IG mamas I have met. The mamas who have taken the time to constructively correct my Spanish, the ones who have reached out to me to offer new book tips and/or TV shows in Spanish. And especially to the mama who is coaching me and helping me understand Fernandito better.
When I reached out to Leslie from @latinxparenting, it came from realizing that there are resources out there for me as a mother and I knew that she was one hell of a resource (from a non-violent parenting class I took). And when I told her the conversations I have with Fernandito, there is no need to translate, there is no need to explain my upbringing. We have similar stories. Nos entendemos.
I am grateful for this community of amazing women I have surrounded myself with. I am basking in your strengths.
It may have taken me awhile to awaken from this cultural slumber, but I am wide awake now. And Fernandito, he’s wide awake, too. And he may fall into a cultural slumber when he’s older, like his mama, but I’m hoping that his roots, like mine, are strong, and he will one day realize what an amazing thing it is to be us.