How are you all doing so far this week? Hoping Mother’s Day weekend was full of warmth, love and relaxation. It is truly a gracious time to consider just how tremendous the power of motherhood is. Whether in relation to our own mother’s or as a mother yourself. I hope you had time to pause and relish the memories and create new ones with your loved ones.
This week we continue honoring women who have created life, sustained humanity and lead our world forward, sometimes against all odds. We have often spoken about the strength and determination of mothers who left everything they knew behind in order to start over in a foreign country. They are visionaries who saw another life for their children and family. And yet, had no way of knowing what that new world held for them.
Today’s episode explores the progression of this journey and offers respect and gratitude for these courageous women who became our mothers and grandmothers. Women, who followed their compassionate hearts and vivacious souls, to live the life they saw for themselves. Then, raised their children, especially daughters, with a hope and a prayer that we would appreciate their leap of faith.
I’m not sure which part is more difficult; making the decision to leave everything behind and hopefully fulfill a dream or raising children to believe in the dream, too. In life, making a decision that only affects oneself is already tricky. We hesitate in beginning a new career, or moving to a new location or just changing hairstyles out of fear of making the wrong decision.
Now add in, making the decision as a couple or as parents and things begin to get complicated. Pondering over a decision of leaving your home and country and things get downright frightening.
Women Carry the Burden of Immigration
In recent years, we have seen the real threat to mothers trying to immigrate here to the U.S. Violence and strife in other countries creates peril for families and often it is women that make the treacherous journey with their children to find safety. And once here at the border, there is the slow grind of bureaucracy threatening their security.
Not all families are forced to flee their homeland, though, and have the time to complete a more formal process of relocation. And yet, there is still no guarantee of residency once here. During the time it takes to get a Green Card here, so many things can go wrong. Women of all walks of life are forced back to their country to start the process all over again.
Again, it’s one thing to be single or even a couple and face the unknown. But, being a mother makes it so much more difficult. A woman has to choose between leaving her children behind in the U.S. and traveling alone. Or, taking them with her only to fear for the well being of her children.
This happened to my mother multiple times before getting her Green Card, with and without children. I’ll tell you more about that adventure later in the podcast, so take a moment and consider what it would feel like to dedicate yourself to leaving your current situation to immigrate to an unknown country. Put it in your perspective at the moment.
What if you were to take what little you owned and immigrate to a country that didn’t speak your native language. You had no job, barely any money, and had no work visa waiting for you. You are committed to starting a family there so it has to work out. There is no alternative to return to what you left behind.
Cafecito Shout Out- Andytown SF
While you’re pondering that a moment, I’m going to shout out the woman owned coffee business in San Francisco as part of our #steamycafecito moments. It’s our way of supporting small business in any community so if you have one in your neighborhood or a global recommendation, then DM me on our Life Lnxx Instagram or email me through our website, at TheLnxx.com.
Our cafecito moment is based on visiting women owned and diverse-owned coffee businesses to support their entrepreneurial spirit and financial gain through our favorite ritual of coffee. What started as an excuse for me to get my second round of daily coffee has turned into a blessing. I had no idea how many coffee businesses are founded by women.
This week’s business is a bustling one, just under 10 years established and flourishing in 4 locations in San Francisco. If you saw the hints on our Instagram stories, you may have noticed I visited their Salesforce Tower location. If you are in the Bay Area and haven’t been to Salesforce Park, then Andytown Roasters is the place to go first.
I will tell you more about the amazing cafe towards the end of the podcast so stay tuned!
Immigration Impact on Next Generations
So, let’s get into today’s topic of women leaving their home and everything they own to immigrate to another country and turn their dream into reality. Many of our mothers and grandmothers did this, either alone, with their partners and maybe even children. And, if you are still living in that country, then you have them to thank for it.
The vulnerability and severity of this decision is often taken for granted just after one or two generations. Usually, the first generation is experiencing the trauma of living two or three different cultures growing up. This is a really difficult scenario often because the mother is relying on daughters to be their ally in making their dream come true. This doesn’t leave much room for daughters to have their own dreams.
Children often have to learn a second language in order to help their parents. But, helping their parents could mean figuring out how to register for school, helping with tax returns or even getting a job. That is a lot to ask from children, especially when they see kids their age just playing, unaware of adult burdens.
This can cause anger or frustration towards the parents because children have no context of how hard it was for their parents already. We are born into their dream and only know of the burden placed on us as kids. That’s where temptation comes in to avoid sticking out and instead try to blend in, assimilate into the cultural norm.
Still, there is something magical, alluring about a parent’s culture. It’s really obvious from the beginning. The food, style, love of friends and family; it’s all just so different from the daily experience. Even if you don’t get it as a kid, you begin to appreciate it more as you get older. It’s in your DNA. Your soul starts craving for the life that fulfills the dream.
What Happens With the Wrong Visa
I had it a lot easier than many women whose mothers immigrated here, especially in today’s hostile culture. My mother was fluent in English while living in Peru. I never asked her if she had any plans to leave if she hadn’t met my father. It’s unfathomable to me that she would have left her single mother behind with two children at home to follow her own dream.
Even so, that’s exactly what she did when she married my American father in her hometown of Arequipa, Peru. Together they came back to the U.S. for his job. But, my father hadn’t completed the paperwork correctly for her Visa. He had completed a Visitor’s visa for her, much like the ones we use now to travel abroad. Ninety days and you’re out.
So, when he was called to Canada for work, and they traveled across the country by car to get to the border in Maine, she was forced to stay behind or not be allowed back into the U.S. again. They were only 6 weeks married. She was in a foreign country, having left her mother and siblings behind to follow her husband.
My father left her at the border, in Calis, Maine, alone at 26 years old, to fend for herself without money, friends or family. He paid for 4 weeks at the roadside motel and said, See you later!
Can you even imagine what you would do? It’s crazy to consider this on so many levels.
Instead of telling my mother that he had made a mistake with the paperwork, he told her it was coming to the Border Control. So everyday after he left, my mother would get all dressed up in her heels, hat and beautiful dress and walk across a steel bridge to the Border Control, for weeks.
Homeless Without a Visa
Now, two things happened that were so indicative of the times, 1956, that they are worth mentioning here. First of all, regardless of being an immigrant or a local, no woman of “decency” would be staying alone in a roadside motel. The owners of the motel lived in a house up the hill from the road. When they found out my mother was there alone, they were both shocked and upset. The owners were so kind though that they invited my mother to stay in their home. In order to ensure she had money, they paid her to help with their children.
Secondly, the compassionate Canadian guards were so concerned for this beautiful woman being stuck at the border that they pooled their paychecks together to hire her an immigration attorney. It took some time but they raised $1000, which is over $10,000 today! Who does that? For the love of all Canadians.
Now the whole time this is happening, my mother is desperate, not for her husband, my father, but that her own mother in Arequipa doesn’t find out. You see, the local paper had picked up the story that a beautiful newlywed from Peru was in their tiny town after being ditched at the border. My mother was so worried that somehow her mother would read it in the papers and be totally disappointed in her.
And even with an immigration attorney trying to correct the situation, my mother was deported back to Peru. It didn’t matter that she was married to an American or that she had a sponsor here to vouch for her. She was mandated to leave the U.S. and start over.
First Generation Immigrant Perspective
When she told me this story as a teenager, I thought it was ridiculous. How absurd to think that her mother would read a tiny U.S. border town’s paper. I was more concerned that my curfew was earlier than my little brother’s, who was 4 years younger.
I had no appreciation for the fear my mother had endured or the shame she felt in facing her mother again. I was too removed by privilege to have compassion for her situation, especially at 26 years old. She had done the dirty work for me so I was safe from experiencing deportation.
It took until 2005 for me to gain a true appreciation and respect for my mother’s immigration story. That was the year of my parent’s 50th wedding anniversary. They wanted to retrace their steps to celebrate how far they had come together. So, my daughters and I took them to Calis, Maine, to see the epic bridge and Border Patrol.
As we were driving into town, not even close to the infamous border, my youngest daughter, who was 12 at the time, exclaimed, “We aren’t staying here, are we?” Now, no insult to Calis, but this was a much smaller town than we City girls were accustomed to being in. She was a little freaked out.
But what really drove it home for me was when we all went out on the bridge. We followed my mother’s steps to the Border Patrol and suddenly realized the feeling of isolation and loneliness. While trying to keep my own life steady in manipulating both cultures, I hadn’t realized how severe hers had been just to get us here.
My youngest daughter summed it up for all of us. She turned to my dad and said, “Grampa, if I were Grammy, I would have left without you!” What a difference 2 generations make.
What Immigrants Bring to the Table
I know my mother’s story is one of the easier versions of immigration. She chose to come here with her husband and start a life together. She wasn’t separated from her children at the border. She was deported again and had to take my older brothers with her, not knowing when she could return.
This is all we hear about immigrants’ stories these days. The battle to get here and then to get all the paperwork right in order to stay. There’s also the stories of how society flourishes with the added culture’s traditions, foods and business savvy. Consider though, a more subtle yet broader effect of immigrants on our society.
It was my mother that convinced my dad to become a geotechnical engineer, to go into business with her, to get his Master’s and ultimately improve the lives of thousands of people through their engineering projects.
The same is true for others who became politicians, decision makers, artists, writers, educators and shared their knowledge with thousands, even 100’s of thousands of people. Whether it was their dream to come here or their dream to follow, women have improved our society through their strength to persevere past the obstacles and defeats.
It’s hard for us children to understand it once we are here. We are experiencing a different kind of threat and identity challenge. As a child, you think that parents have it all figured out. I mean, they seem sooo much older and in charge. But, as you get closer to the age that you remember them as when you were younger, that light bulb turns on.
Ooooh, wow! How did my mom do it? How did she dare leave her home and family, travel across the world and land in a country unwilling to accept her?
Immigrant Mothers’ Dreams
All in the hopes that I would love it here and be proud of her courage and compassion to create opportunity for me. Oof! This makes me cry. She’s not with me anymore so for those of you with your moms, especially moms that made the courageous journey, give big hugs, abrazos, in gratitude.
Mother’s Day is only a pause, an opportunity to ponder what being a mother is really like for a woman. She is so much more than a parent who takes care of others. She had dreams, loves, visions of success. Have you taken the time to find out what they were? Did your mom have the time to make her dreams her reality? Maybe it’s time to make that happen for her.
Although I didn’t empathize with her journey when I was younger, I feel I gave her justice in not assimilating completely into this culture. Not necessarily because of her but something resonating deep inside me. Maybe it was as simple as our shared name, Consuelo.
If she was Consuelo, then I would stay Consuelo. Connie was not in the pipeline. And once that was set in my mind, then so many other cultural aspects followed.
Show Us Your Cafecito Moments!
Now, for the cafecito moments. I hope you were following the hints on our Instagram Stories. If you missed them, remember to find them in our highlights. We made a reel of last week’s steamy cafecito at Soul Blends Coffee Roasters in Oakland so you can check that out on our Instagram profile at Life Lnxx.
This week’s woman owned business is in San Francisco. It was started by two baristas who wanted a cozy neighborhood coffee house with a great cafe and goodies. Lauren Crabbe and Michael McCrory did all the roasting, baking and serving in their Outer Sunset coffeehouse in 2014. Now they have 4 locations, including one by the beach on Taraval and the other at Salesforce Park. That’s where I went to experience the “grandma’s kitchen” effect.
Lauren is a pivotal business woman who worked diligently through the pandemic to keep her workforce employed. She also began a donation effort in order to deliver coffee to front line workers at local SF hospitals up to 4 times a day. So much compassion and philanthropy!
Andytown coffee is roasted as blends or single sourced. They even have a Peruvian coffee, Perú El Diamante, theDiamond, by Robert Chilcon! You can learn more about the coffee types on their blog.
If you are not in the area, the coffee can be purchased online andytownsf.com or @andytownsf on Instagram You can also access it in this episode’s transcript on our website at TheLnxx.com. So please support this business and Lauren’s valiant efforts to overcome the pandemic severity. Definitely someone we can all learn from.
Check out the cafecito highlights on our Life Lnxx Instagram for more visuals of
Andytown at its gorgeous location in the heart of SOMA. Remember to tag Life Lnxx in your favorite cafecito moments, especially with your mamas. Would love to see your own cafecito favorites that your mothers taught you!
Take a look on our website at TheLnxx.com for each episode’s transcripts and the articles linked to what you’ve heard here today.
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Step into your truth, ladies. We love you! Ciao!