Hispanic Heritage Month has begun and I certainly have something to celebrate this year, more so than ever before. It's the first time I honor the month with a very important role, the most important one I'll ever have - - the one as a madre, a mother.
I could have easily written this post about the history of Hispanic Heritage Month or the many events taking place, but I was inspired to write this instead when I saw my baby girl and her daddy listening to salsa music. This month honors my Hispanic heritage. It's what I am, what my daughter is and always will be.
When I was younger (and I may have mentioned this in a much older post), I wasn't always very into Hispanic, well - - anything. I didn't care for the music, I wasn't into the culture. I was indifferent. Although I was raised in a Spanish-speaking home, I didn't embrace the music or the culture until I was well into my 20's. I was a rocker (still am to this day) and had no interest in salsa, cumbia or merengue. The difference now is that I'm definitely not in my 20's and am much closer to having a mid-life crisis than anything else. But I digress…
English was the language I spoke most once I started first grade. I was simply an American girl who liked KISS, The Beatles, Queen and Billy Joel as a kid. At 7 I clearly remember my favorite records being KISS ALIVE II and The Game by Queen. My family listened to old music in Spanish! Blech! That's how I thought. I was too young to understand where I came from and the blood that flowed in my veins.
Now that I'm older I know my roots, I know where I come from and am very proud to identify as a Hispanic. I am 100% American and beyond proud of that, but I also realize the importance of understanding the culture and the past. The history my family experienced is mine, too. Spanish is my first language but you could never tell. I don't have an accent at all. I had been the only one born in the United States until my daughter was born late last year. I feel at ease at all sorts of events - - it's the norm for me to fit into each type of social event regardless of whether it's a Spanish-language event or not.
My daughter isn't a year yet but we speak to her in Spanish most of the time (except for moments when my more commonplace English escapes) and we want her to learn this beautiful language fluently, a language that will provide her with opportunity and the ability to speak with people in many Spanish-speaking countries. It's wonderful being able to go Argentina, Spain and all these different countries and be able to communicate with the people who live there. The ability to speak Spanish opened the doors to many of my jobs, including my very first one out of college. I want my daughter to be able to experience all of this, too.
The rhythm of our music, the beats, the sounds that make anyone want to move automatically even if they don't know how to dance - - it's in the blood. My baby girl doesn't walk yet but when she's being carried or even when she sits, if music she likes is playing, she'll move and begin to kick her legs to the beat. She loves rock and salsa, just like mommy! Hooray!
What I'm trying to say is that I will give my daughter the freedom to be who she wants to be, but her father and I will most certainly show her where she comes from and why we are so proud of calling ourselves Hispanic. We'll teach her to never be ashamed of her roots or who she is. Hopefully she can one day pass it on. One cannot erase heritage.