Sometimes, Mother’s Day is the most miserable day of the year.
When your mother has died and grief consumes you, hearing about families getting together with their mothers, cooking huge dinners, buying flowers, planning outings, sometimes, you just want to hide in bed and not come out until everybody is back to taking their mothers for granted.
Living in Mexico for more than ten years after my mom died, Mother’s Day was a day to crawl under a rock.
Mexico celebrates on May 10, as does Guatemala and El Salvador, and on that occasion, the country comes to a standstill. Most Mexicans don’t go to work, and if they do, it’s only for half the day. It’s the most sacred day of the year.
“The whole family gets together, not only with our mothers but also our grandmothers. Last year, my father hired mariachis to serenade his mother,’’ said Fanny Cosio, who is living in the United States for the first time, somewhat perplexed that the holiday comes at a different time in the U.S. “I’m a bit nostalgic.”
But today, there’s another side to the motherly joy in Mexico, where 50,000 plus people who have died since 2006 when Mexican President Felipe Calderon declared war against organized crime.
These include thousands of orphans, thousands of daughters, sons, sisters, brothers, mothers-to-be, mothers whose children have disappeared, mothers whose daughters were found dismembered, raped, beaten, unrecognized.
Today, in Mexico City, hundreds of mothers are marching down Reforma Avenue toward the famed monument of the Angel of Independence demanding justice for their missing loved ones. Joined by dozens of human rights organizations, these mothers from several Mexican states, particularly along the border, have nothing to celebrate.
It’s likely that today the sicarios, thugs and corrupt police behind the crimes that have broken so many hearts are taking the day off, serenading their mothers and buying them opulent gifts.
It’s unlikely that today, there will be much, if any, drug violence in Mexico, because mothers are sacred.
Like Argentina’s Mothers of the Plaza de Mayo who brought international attention to their missing children during the military’s dictatorship of 1976-1983, today Mexican mothers are at the forefront of the movement against violence.
“Give us back our children,” they chant in Mexico today. “We want them back alive.”
These mothers are not crawling under rocks.
(Photo by Susana Hayward Soler)