The American Dream and a Mother’s Sacrifice

Leaving a child behind to search for the American Dream has to be the most difficult and painful decisions a mother would ever have to make.

For a very long time I didn’t understand why my mother left me behind in El Salvador under the care of my grandmother when I was just 2 years old. I didn’t understand why I was so far away while she had a new family with a husband and her new kids in the United States. I was with my Grandmother without my mother, father and no siblings. I didn’t quite understand that sacrifice and how difficult it must have been for her to leave her two children behind to have a better in the United States. She was having a better life without me.  I was very angry because I thought she didn’t love me the same way she love her new children.

Leaving a child in a home country to migrate to another happens very often. Families have to separate due to the lack of resources and options in their home countries. It is very sad to have to make these decisions but necessary for survival.

My mother decided to come to the United States when I was 2 years old and my brother Carlos was 11. The Civil war in El Salvador forced her as well thousands of other Salvadorenos to leave the country and find refuge in the U.S. So many others didn’t have the same luck as my mother to reach this country because they died along the way or during the War. The war in El Salvador began in early ‘80’s and ended shortly before I came to the U.S. in early 90’s.

We do not come to this country for a long vacation or to take away jobs from anyone. We come to this country to find better opportunities we wouldn’t be able to get in our countries.  It hurts like hell to leave our homes, our families, our children behind but we must do it in order to survive and provide for our loved ones.

When my mother arrived in this country she found a job, got married and had two children. Thanks to an amnesty she was able to obtain residency for my brother and I. My mother and I reunited in December of 1992.

I arrived in this country with the fantasy of a perfect family, the family I always wanted. I imagined the perfect relationship with my mother but my youth and rebel kept me from a lot of things. My mother was a stranger to me. I’ve never lived with her and didn’t have clue who she was. My mind knew she was my mother but my heart rejected the idea. During that time I felt awkward, out of place and alone. I missed my grandmother tremendously and all I wanted to do was go back home to her arms. I wasn’t home and that wasn’t my family.

The scars these separations leave behind never really go away. All those missed birthdays, graduations, and special moments are all gone. The special connection that one has with a mother is lost when 10 years of separation get on the way. Children who experience this type of detachment often feel rejected and do not understand how mom or dad could ever leave them behind. They tend to ask questions like, why didn’t you take me with you? Why did you take so long to come back for me? Why don’t you love me the same way you love your other children?

Some rebel against their parents and do everything in their power to go against them. On the other hand, there are some that will do everything they can to be the perfect kid, the perfect student so that mom and dad feel proud.

I blamed my mother for making the decision to leave me with my grandmother for a very long time. I was very angry and felt rejected. Fortunately things have changed and with time I’ve been able to let go of that anger and become my Mother’s friend.  The scars will always be there but I made a conscious decision to not allow them to control my life or the relationship I could develop with my mother. I’ve come to terms that our relationship will never be like the fantasy I had when I was a little girl. I’ve let go of that idea. Our friendship has brought us together and helped us get rid of the distance that once separated us.
Her decision to leave El Salvador to come to the United States hurt so much but also changed the course of my life and made me the person I am today. It took me a long while to understand how fortunate I am to have not one but two wonderful mothers who love me very much.

I thank my mother for making that life changing decision.

I thank her for being so strong and courageous.

I thank her for supporting each of crazy idea I come up with even if she doesn’t quite get it.
I thank her for allowing me to fly and never holding me back.

I thank her for being a powerful force in my life

I thank her for never giving up on her children and for her unconditional love

My destiny changed the day she decided to bring me to this country.

I’m also thankful to my beautiful grandmother Tota for being my second mother.

I thank her for allowing me to sleep by her side every single day after my mother left.

I thank her for all the affection and for making me feel loved.

I thank her for taking care of me when I was sick or wounded.

I thank her for protecting me when we tried to flee from the war

I thank her for being the only person who really sees my spirit as is and still sees me as her Negra (dark girl)

The American dream has its sacrifices but also amazing opportunities and blessings. My Mother’s sacrifice was not in vain and I will forever be grateful for her courage despite her pain.

This post is for my Mother Dora Sanchez and my grandmother Antonio Luisa Villalobos for being powerful, strong and the best Mothers AND fathers I could have ever wished for.


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