Fierce

I Never Wanted To Be Like My Mom But Our Time Sewing Saved Our Relationship And I Am So Grateful

I am sitting in the back yard of our house in Menlo Park with my mom. She is teaching me to hand sew. The sun feels warm on the top of my head of long dark hair, and I am happy. I am wearing a red blouse and my favorite patchwork print skirt. The grass is scratchy and cool on my bare legs. I hold the sewing project on my lap, push the needle in and out of the fabric to make tiny stitches just like Mom taught me, and she is chatting now with our roommate Janet. She is not looking at me trusts me with my project. I feel big, like one of the grownups, doing what they do.

As I sew, nearing the end of the row of stitches, I can feel the sun feels hotter on my head, and beads of sweat have formed on the tip of my nose. Then I lift the fabric to show my mom my work. My whole skirt comes with it. I have sewn the hem of my pillowcase project right onto my favorite skirt. I start to cry.

Mom laughs, throwing her head back a bit, but righting herself quick when she realizes I’m upset about my skirt.

“Oh, Michelle, don’t cry. Look, we can get that out.” She digs in her tin of sewing supplies and pulls out a seam ripper.

Photo provided by Michelle Cruz Gonzales

I sit in my blouse and underwear watching as she she pulls each stitch one-by-one, freeing my favorite skirt from the pillow case fabric.

                                                                        ***

My mom learned to sew from her abuelita, my great grandmother Lupe from Veracruz, and from her own mom too. Grandma Lupe sewed flamenco dancer costumes, doll clothes, mended her own clothes; she could sew anything, and passed this skill onto my mother who naturally wanted to pass the skill on to me. Only, I didn’t want to sew. I wanted to play in my punk band with my girlfriends instead.

My first memories of sewing with my mom are good ones, but as I grew older, and began developing my own interests, they all seemed opposite of sitting behind a sewing machine, and in high school I began associating sewing with dark days in high school, her in her full-blown addiction behind a sewing machine all day and all night for two or three days in a row, and me doing everything I could to get away from it all. Like many women, I have resisted being like my mom, even though I know very well that I sound like her, laugh loud like her, and I am wild like her too. For so many years of trying to be my own person, I rejected the things she is best at because I associated with dark times in high school.

As an adult, I’ve realized that sewing, which she also does for a living, is to her, like writing is to me, the thing that defines her, one of the things that she is best at.

Being taught to hand sew at the age of three, the memory of being close to my mom then is something that I have always cherished, and knowing how to sew came in handy many times over the years. But for most of my life, I never cared to learn to sew on a machine or make things from patterns. Even though Mom made sure that I have always had a machine in my house, I had many chances to learn, but I was afraid of the needle, all the loops, and thread, and the pounding foot. In my twenties, I owned a number of sewing machines given to me by mom, sewing machines that I never used that my mom thought were as necessary as a plunger or vacuum. I feared these sewing machines, and they collected dust until Mom came to visit and I needed something hemmed: a pair of jeans, a second-hand dress.  I left the cute blue sewing machine, which she claimed was easy to use, behind in the attic of a house I rented in my twenties. She took back the heavy black Singer because I had complained it smelled like it was on fire and because she knew it was too complicated for me to operate on my own.

Then ten years ago, the stakes higher than ever before, with me, her oldest daughter now in her forties, she bought me a new current model machine. She really hadn’t given up on the idea of passing this craft on to one of her children, or of me, the family academic (good with my brain), learning to operate a machine, learning to sew.

Photo provided by author

When I began to use the machine, I started on easy projects, sewing rick rack on tea towels with her help, and then altering old clothes, attaching an old skirt with the stretched-out elastic to an old top to make a dress. As I sewed more, I surprised myself by how much I already knew. I guess, since I had seen my mom at her sewing machine so often over a ten year period before moving away from home, and listened to her talk out loud about what she was working on, that I had by osmosis drawn some of the knowledge into my own body where it lay dormant but ready for access when needed. And whenever I sit down at the sewing machine, I feel like my mom, the same flick of the wrist when I drop the foot lever down, the snip, snip, sound of my scissors cutting the thread.

And each time I sit down behind my sewing machine, I learn something new about mom and understand why she has wanted me to learn all these years. I have learned how she sees the world, how it looks from over the top of a sewing machine, the details she sees when she eyes beautiful fabric and imagines how it might look on an apron, the cut of a dress, a delicate lace hem. I see her as I reach up to roll the wheel forward by hand to back the needle up and out of the thread so I can cut it and move onto the next area in need of stitching. I can feel her in my breath when exhale and flick the foot lever down so it will hold the fabric in place. I know what it’s like to feel the hum of the sewing machine motor under my hands, the rush of excitement for the moment I can pull the work from the machine and see how it turned out, knowing whether my mom would approve or disapprove, her standards for good work as my guide.

And I know what it feels like to create something tangible with my own hands, to take many parts and pieces and put them together, and the ways in which creating in this way is not unlike writing–crafting living documents of our lives.

Our relationship has changed a lot of over the years, but I know my mom has sometimes has a hard time relating to me, and I know she feels I haven’t always seen her the way that she sees herself. She didn’t finish high school and she had me when she was eighteen. I graduated high school, went to college, traveled, seen places she’s only dreamed of seeing, waited until I was in my thirties to have a child, and I only had one. 

Still, mothers want to pass something on and like all mothers, my mom wants to be understood.  And I have always thought I could understand her and why she did the hard things that she did all those years, but maybe she was right. I hadn’t really known her, not in the way she wanted to be known, because I didn’t practice or care to practice the craft, the art form that that defines her, the thing that distinguishes her from others, the thing that she is best at, the thing in which she excels. But I understand it now, how what she does feels, how it works, the time it takes, the patience (something she is often associated with), and the practice and the talent that it takes to be really, really good. I won’t ever sew as beautifully or as fluently as she does, and that’s not my aim, but I do feel closer to her for learning to sew, and I know now that’s all she ever wanted.

From Strained Family Ties To Outright Abuse, These Women Opened Up About Interracial Dating

Fierce

From Strained Family Ties To Outright Abuse, These Women Opened Up About Interracial Dating

whitemenblackwomendating / Instagram

Many of us date people from different cultures and backgrounds. We asked our FIERCE community if they had stories related to the issues they had dating someone of a different ethnicity and the responses were enlightening, hopeful and sometimes even a bit heartbreaking.

Differences can be overwhelming but interest is super key.

“For me was so difficult. I’m Mexican, raise and born in Mexico and I was dating with a Xicano man, but he never was into the Mexican culture… long story short, we broke up. Some differences were overwhelming.”

Expressing excitement over exchanging cultures goes a long way.

“My husband of 13 years is a white American while I’m Mexican American, first born generation of immigrants. He loves my heritage and appreciates my family. He gravitates toward our culture because his family doesn’t really have anything like that except being American, which is kind of boring to him. They know they are a big mix of English, Irish, and Scottish with some Dutch and German but that’s really the extent of it… he’s also learned Spanish and went with me to live in Cuernavaca for a month to study.”

The sad truth is that fear of being judged or mistreated sometimes keeps us from such fulfilling relationships.

“We don’t. We get dirty looks everywhere we go. I’m either a traitor or a thief.”

Previous interactions with other races and proper communication are vital

“I think both of us being bi-racial (myself being Ecuadorian and Irish, my bf being Black and Polish) has shown us that there are many different ways to do the same thing and that not all things are as they appear. When we run into those cultural differences, it helps to try to see the duality of the situation. Communication and respect are [key].”

You can both learn about your cultures together.

whitemenblackwomendating / Instagram

“I play him the Mexican survival guide videos. Very accurate, also lots of communication!”

Talk about the shared struggles of your cultures.

italian_stallionne / Instagram

” I’m really passionate about this topic. I’m Mexican-American & my husband is South African. Like my parents, he’s an immigrant. A white immigrant. While the differences of being a white immigrant and a Mexican one are obvious, it’s the shared struggles & similar perspectives that are worth highlighting.
One perspective that has struck me is when my husband said, “I noticed Americans don’t make eye contact. In South Africa we at least acknowledge a person by doing so….” then I sarcastically thought to myself, ‘wow, what an idea. People recognizing the existence of other human beings.” Though I am guilty of this! BUT. Why am I guilty of this? Could it be that I was raised to acknowledge others even if it meant hugging every tia & tio in the room? Or my favorite, less intimidating way of respectfully recognizing that your fellow humans are present while also respecting your boundaries: greeting a room full of strangers with a smile & a “buenos días,” as you sit quietly in an open chair at the doctors office? But we don’t do this in America, at least not where I’m from. Most of us tend to do the opposite of acknowledge each other.
So back to the point:
we navigate our cultural differences by having these kinds of dialogues; connecting the dots. Mapping out how different humans attempt to figure out this crazy world we live where a wild fascination with the color of skin & borders exist. Who are we when we let go of our country & our skin?”

Speak up but also listen and learn.

“I’m Mexican and my bf is black/puerto rican my family has knew about him before when I talked to him in high school but they never really liked the fact that we were together so they separated me from him and made me switch high schools my senior year it was hard I talked to other people the two years we lost contact but realized he’s my happiness and now I gave us another chance without my family knowing I’m still figuring out how I’m going to let everyone know Ik that some of my family will shut me out because they are really old school/ traditional Mexicans and what me to be with someone of my race and my beliefs but we love each other so we are gonna make this work.”

R-E-S-P-E-C-T

interracialkissing / Instagram

“Respect, appreciation and being open to conversation. He still thinks I’m a little crazy for wanting to one day pierce our future daughter’s ears.”

When you have kids, be sure keep your families involved.

“Been in a 10 year relationship. My husband is Asian and it’s been so hard even til now. His family has a hard time dealing with the fact that he is with a Mexican woman. We have two kids and I can count with one hand how many times they have seen my kids. I have a 6 year old and a 3 year old. My son looks completely Asian and my daughter looks mixed. Just a few days ago he asked me why me and his dad look so different and I told him we are from two different ethnicities, different parts of the world. He said he wished he was only Mexican and looked like mommy  it’s hard because my family is all he’s ever had. We try to visit his family but they always say they are busy. Being in a interracial relationship has been so hard for me. It’s been so draining they even encouraged him to cheat in the beginning of our marriage. I’m drained, don’t know how much longer I can do this for. I know this is not the case for all interracial relationships but it’s been hell for me.”

Ricky Martin And Jwan Yosef Welcome 4th Baby To Their Adorable Family

Entertainment

Ricky Martin And Jwan Yosef Welcome 4th Baby To Their Adorable Family

ricky_martin / Instagram

Ricky Martin seems to be living his best life with his husband, Jwan Yosef, as they welcomed the arrival of their fourth child into their growing family. In an Instagram post on Tuesday, Martin shared a precious photo of Renn Martin-Yosef, who is seen sleeping, bundled in a pear-printed swaddle, and held by a smiling, overjoyed Martin. 

While accepting a Human Rights Campaign award for his LGBTQ+ advocacy last month, Martin announced that the couple was pregnant. “My husband Jwan, I love you,” he announced from the podium. “My beautiful twins, Valentino and Matteo, they’re also here, I love you with all my heart, you’re my strength, you inspire me every day, you motivate me to keep doing what I’m doing and you guys are amazing kids. You guys are amazing. I love you.” Then, the news: “And by the way, I have to announce that we are pregnant. We are waiting. I love big families.”

Wait no longer, fam! Renn looks like the angel the Martin-Yosef family deserves.

Credit: ricky_martin / Instagram

Nuestro hijo Renn Martin-Yosef ha nacido,” Martin captioned the Instagram share, which means, “Our son, Renn Martin-Yosef was born” in English. Yosef shared the same image and captioned it, “Our baby boy is here.” Friends, family, and even celebrities like Mario Lopez have shared their congratulations via social media. Lopez commented, “Felicidades amigo!” Now, the Martin-Yosef family is a family of six. Here’s the whole story.

Martin started his family as a single father in 2008, after welcoming two twin boys by a surrogate mother.

Credit: ricky_martin / Instagram

After Matteo and Valentino were born, Martin took two years off to completely devote himself to raising the children. The twins have always known how they came into the world, though it started with one of them asking Martin if they came from his belly. It was clear from the beginning of Martin and Yosef’s relationship that Yosef was just as obsessed with Matteo and Valentino as Martin was. Yosef has often publicly thanked the twins (on social media and otherwise) for being the light of his life.

Martin and Yosef started dating in April 2016. Five months later, they announced their engagement on the “Ellen Degeneres Show.”

Credit: jwanyosef / Instagram

When you know, you know, as they say. Yosef is a painter and artist, and is of Kurdish and Armenian descent, though he maintains citizenship in Syria and Sweden. The lovebirds were married less than two years after they met, in January 2018. By the end of the year (December 31, 2018), they announced the birth of their daughter Lucía Martin-Yosef. 

They kept baby Lucía out of the spotlight for the first 7 months of her life, and then, this precious photo graced the Internet.

Credit: jwanyosef / Instagram

Earlier this year, Yosef shared this stunning photo of Lucía pondering the meaning of life, while held in Martin’s arms. He captioned the image, “❤️We are beyond happy to announce that we have become parents to a beautiful and healthy baby girl, Lucia Martin-Yosef. It has been a special time for us and we cant wait to see where this stellar baby will take us. Both her beautiful brothers and me and Ricky have fallen in love with Lucia.” Martin captioned his own post of the same image, “La luz de mis ojos,” which means, “the light of my eyes.”

At the Human Rights Campaign awards ceremony last month, Martin also gave a shout-out to Lucía, who stayed home with her grandma, and called her “the light of my life.”

The couple plans to have “many more kids” together.

Credit: ricky_martin / Instagram

It’s clear that fatherhood is a vocation for Martin, having taken years off his career to raise the twins by himself, he’s not stepping back from family anytime soon, if ever. Ahead of the 2019 Golden Globes, Martin shared a photo of him “#Multitasking Getting ready for the @goldenglobes,” with baby Lucía. Then, on the carpet, Martin told People, “I want four more pairs of twins. I would love to have a big family, but there’s a lot going on at this moment, a lot of work. It’s a lot going on so we’re going to put things in order first and then we are going to get ready for many more kids.”

Raise your hand if you’re ready to put yourself up for adoption to be part of the Martin-Yosef family. 🙋🏽‍♀️

READ: Ricky Martin Introduced His Baby Girl To Fans To Ring In The New Year