The allure of a quinceañera for teenage girls is the stuff, the attention and the feeling of collective adoration from their family and friends. Is it an outdated tradition with misogynistic roots? Yes, completely. Will it ever go out of style? No, I don’t think so.
The quinceañera is not just a party or a debut into society for a young lady of marriageable age. It is an industry with lots of stakeholders comparable to the wedding industry. Because let’s be honest here, a quinceañera and a wedding have way more similarities than differences. And just like weddings, quinceañeras are here to stay.
People love a party and a quinceañera is a party on crack. There is church, a procession, pageantry, synchronized dancing, and of course, glamour and drama. It is the stuff that literally movies, documentaries, and TV shows are made of and have been made of.
For this week’s podcast we interview Jesse Garcia, the star of Quinceañera, the movie from 2006. This movie was released when I was working as a choreographer for a company called Sueños de Quinceañera. I did not have a quince. I had never even been to a quince before starting to choreograph for them. This job, this movie, and all of the subsequent shows like My Super Sweet Sixteen on MTV, were my indoctrination into an a segment of Latino teen life that I had not been aware of.
We talked with Jesse a little bit about quinceañeras, but mostly we talked about the movie. Enjoy!
Did you have a quinceañera?
Will your daughter(s) have one?
Would love to hear from you!
When I was pregnant for the first time the advice that I received the most was to get sleep because I was never going to sleep again. I was already a mom to two fur babies who woke me up constantly in the middle of the night so I didn’t really take this advice too seriously. And the thing is that no matter what advice you get, what books you read, what mother adjacent experience you may have had, nothing can prepare you for the realities of becoming a first time mom. It is just impossible to comprehend until you live it and see how your body, your mind and I dare say your soul, will react. It is an intense and difficult transition and it is all encompassing especially at the very beginning, so it isn’t until you kind of feel like you have the hang of it, that you can even recall who you were before you became a mom.
I am deep into motherhood. Almost 6 years and 2 kids later, and I am seeing the fog lift. I used to be someone totally different. I loved that person. I loved that life. I miss her sometimes. I’m on team hashtag no regrets over here because becoming a mother was all part of the plan, but hey, I’m only human. Of course I miss some of the things that I took for granted before having kids.
Here is a list in no particular order:
1. Real uninterrupted sleep and sleeping in till whenever I wanted on the weekends.
2. Loud crazy sex. I co-sleep and this is no longer an option unless I want to wake up and scare the baby…
3. Eating leisurely and not having to think about cooking various meals to accommodate the kid’s picky eating habits of the week.
4. Being able to be spontaneous. Freedom! Only answering to myself!
5. Going out to adult places and doing adult activities. I get to do this sometime, but not very much. We always have to accommodate the kids.
6. Watching adult TV and movies. Kiss anything rater R or PG-13 even goodbye. I didn’t sleep train so my kids are watching whatever I watch. I know, my bad.
7. Just being me and my husband in the house. The quiet, the solitude, the just-the-two-of-us-ness of it.
8. Being able to wear whatever I want and staying clean throughout the day. Kids are gross is all I’m saying.
9. Getting ready leisurely. I’m the last to get ready and by then I’m stressed and flustered.
10. Quiet time to binge read a book. Quiet in general. Oh, the constant talking sometimes kills me!
11. Being uninterrupted. I. Literally. Cannot. Finish. A. Sentence.
12. The luxury of only having to think about myself. This!
13. The luxury of wasting time. If I had only known then what I know now. Sigh.
Moral of the story is, life changes when you have a kid. (Duh) You will never know how it will change you for better or worse, until you experience it. Good luck out there first time mommas!
What are some of the things you miss from your pre-mom days?
Knowing what you know now, what advice would you give your pre-mom self?
Would love to hear from you!
Alex and I both have bicultural children. We are always trying to figure out how to instill in them the cultural traditions and cultural identity that we grew up with. It’s hard. Our kids are growing up in a different world. One in which we have to re-educate ourselves regarding terms like Latinidad.
I like the word Latinidad because to me it sounds very similar to La Unidad, unity. But apparently I am totally wrong about this because as I’ve researched this term and have learned about how it has been used, I have come to realize that it is just another umbrella term that does not quiet encompass the diversity that exists in the Latin American diaspora. This umbrella term just assumes that we are the same type of demographic and this could not be further from the truth.
Politicians, marketers, content creators want to speak to us and appeal to us because we are a fast growing population who will soon be approaching our peak earning years. Having a term like Latino, makes it easy for them, the people in power, the patriarchy, however you want to call it, to put a very diverse population into a very neat little box. The real question here is: is it easier on us to be or become Latinos in the US or is it just another confusing term of identity we have to adapt to and learn to be a part of?
Honestly it’s both easier and confusing. It is easy in the sense that I can just say that I am Latina and most people know what I am talking about, and what that kind of sort of means. Latino/a/x provides a point of reference mainstream America understands. It is more confusing though because it is added layer of identity. I have to be from my country of origin. I have to be American. I also have to be this hybrid Latino in the US that is a little bit of this and a little bit of that, depending on where in the US I reside.
If it is confusing for me, imagine how it is for my kids who happen to also be bicultural. This is my challenge as a mom. How will I teach my children about all of the spaces that they inhabit?
How do you explain Latinidad to your kids?
Is this a term you identify with?
Would love to hear from you!
making mom friends
One of the hardest things I’ve ever had to do was make mom friends. I am being very deliberate about not just saying friends, because a mom friend is very specific. A mom friend is someone you can go through motherhood with. A mom friend is an ally, a confidant, an ear, and a fellow soldier in the trenches.
I was one of the first to have a baby in my friend circle. I knew nothing about babies, or baby things. Out of sheer luck, a childhood friend, who had already had a baby, moved back to our hometown, where I still lived, and she walked me through what it felt like to be a mother. She drove me to the big box baby store and showed me all of the things that I would need. She helped me to understand the vast transition that I was about to go through. And even with her being so kind, generous of her time and thorough, I still was not prepared for what motherhood would feel like to me.
Not gonna lie, this transition was rough. My son came into the world via emergency c-section, he was 2 weeks old when we move to another county, my husband started a new job, my parents moved in with us, being a first time mom was not what I was expecting and I for sure had postpartum depression. We went through a huge upheaval in our lives. I was suddenly in a new place, living another life and had no friends.
I don’t know how I managed to do this, but I gave myself a mission: to find mom friends. I joined every mom group I could find nearby. I went to every parent and child class that I could attend. I saw other moms, saw how they interacted with their babies, and I talked and asked a ton of questions. These groups helped me become more comfortable in my role as a mother, helped me feel more comfortable in my new community, helped our new multigenerational family become better acclimated.
These groups were a blessing. And while I did not make the type of mom friends that I was looking for at that time, you know, the fellow Mamacitas that would day drink with me at the park while we shit talked about the crazy things our kids did, the groups were a wonderful resource.
My son is almost 6 and I have a second child now. My close friends did eventually start having kids and I did eventually find a mom friend group in my new community. My world has grown immensely. And while I have always said that I am not good at making new friends, I proved to myself during one of the hardest times in my life, that I can. That I could. That I did.
What was your experience making mom friends?
Do you think having mom friends is important?
What do you think the benefits of having a mom friend group have been for you?
Would love to hear from you!
In the 1990’s there was what the media dubbed the Latin explosion, referencing pop artists such as Ricky Martin, J-Lo and Marc Anthony who were successfully doing cross over albums. I remember my teenage self thinking finally, we (Latinos) have arrived. But as it happens with most trends, the idea of the Latin explosion was fleeting.
It wasn’t until recently that I started noticing more Spanish language programming on Netflix, and then learned about the conscious efforts of said company to appeal to and coerce more Latino viewership that I thought to myself, ok Latinos must be trending once again.
But now that we are popular again, are these bigger entities political, commercial and the media, that are trying to coerce us into backing their ideas, purchasing their products, or following their brands, going to do us justice or will they just perpetuate stereotypes that the the mainstream culture is comfortable with? Will we finally get a chance to be real people living in the US with universal problems or will we still be portrayed as two-dimensional caricatures?
In the past, the representation of Latino women in the media has been extremely stereotypical at best. We have been portrayed as the sex pot, the maid, the gangster or as immigrants that cannot speak English, or speaks English with an accent. And while I admit that all stereotypes are founded in some truth, and that we all know one of these archetypes in our own circles, what is missing is everyone else in between. Real, complex, complicated, people that straddle and navigate both worlds with ease and distress.
All I’m saying is that if the powers that be want to appeal to the Latin market and get the Latina experience right, they should check in with real Latinos from all walks of life. They may learn that we have more similarities than differences and that the part about being Latino can just be descriptive and not necessarily all defining.
What are some stereotypes of the Latina woman or mom that you’ve encountered in the media?
Do you see yourself accurately represented?
What would you like to see in the portrayal of Latina women and moms in the media?
Would love to hear from you!
Wendy writes blog posts that turn into conversations for the Mamá Cita Podcast.