Wednesday, March 7, 2012

My latest post for Mamiverse....Military Families

Hello Everyone!

I am very pleased to announce that I have recently started writing for Mamiverse! I can't believe the company I'm in-even Daisy Fuentes writes for them (which reminds me, I must tell you my "Daisy Fuentes" story at some point). One thing I really like about my new gig at Mamiverse is that it pushes me to tackle topics I wouldn't necessarily cover here at Nacho Mama's Blog. My first post was about Culture Clash and the "book ban" in Tucson, Arizona.
Yesterday they published my piece about Latinas in the military, not only the mamis, the sisters, the wives and daughters, but the women who are themselves actively serving. There was one interview that didn't make it into the final piece, due to time constraints, but I wanted to share it with you here. And of course I want to say thanks to all our military families for your sacrifice and strength!

Here's my interview with military wife, Carmen Grant.
Carmen Grant or Spouse Sprite
NM: First of all, what branch of the military are you in and for how long?
CG: US Navy EOD (Explosive Ordnance Disposal) - 7 Years - If you have seen The Hurt Locker or the show Bomb Squad Afghanistan, then that is what my husband does. In a nutshell, he takes bombs apart. 

NM:  Are you a mom and/or wife?
CG: Both! Mother of 2 boys, ages 4 and 5, and married 8 years - though together for 12.
NM: Have you connected with any other military moms either personally or through facebook, etc.?
CG: Yes. At my husband's first command I made very strong bonds with other spouses. It was a unique experience to meet people from the command.  My boys were little then, and traveling with them wasn't very fun. I ended up getting involved with the Family Readiness Group where I met more spouses and made some life long friends. When we transferred to Italy, I knew people before I got there because of a Facebook group for spouses living in Italy. It was amazing to have that much support. I was overwhelmed and so thankful. The funny thing is that no matter where I get stationed, I always end up bonding with the Latinas on base. The first Latina that I met in Washington is the Godmother of my two boys. She is Spanish and Mexican, her husband is Mexican and Puerto Rican. When we moved to Italy, the first thing any Latina ever said was "Hablas espanol?" or "Eres Latina no?" To that I would answer "CLARO! Mi madre es Mexicana y padre Nicaraguense, peru yo naci en California. Tu?" The more mixed up we could get our Latina group the better. We had a Puerto Rican, a Colombiana, a Peruvian, a Domincan, a couple Cubans, and myself. It was an awesome group. Salsa dancing was the BEST with these ladies. 

NM: What's been the greatest sacrifice you've had to make as a military family?
CG: There have been a lot of life experiences that were difficult because of the military. For instance, having my boys with no family around, or having my second son one month after my husband deployed to Iraq. My oldest was only 15 months at the time. 

But the hardest part really is being away from the family. They drive me INSANE when I am around them, but it makes me sad that while all of my cousins are raising their children together, my kids won't have as many memories of their blood relatives. We have to make up our traditions as we go. It is almost like I don't know how to be me without my family. My FAVORITE family tradition is Christmas tamale making time. Chains of gossiping women washing and drying corn husks while they talked about the newest nuera of my Tia Carmen. Then passing them over to plop on the maza while my Tia Eva talked about how her husband still had the libido of a 14 year old. That's the secret to tamales after all: good ingredients, physical labor, love, and gossip. 

You know the saying "If I could only be a fly on the wall!"?…well, I say "If I could only be a tamale in the assembly line." THAT's where you hear the real chisme. Those little tamales hear EVERYTHING. 

NM: What's been the most rewarding aspect of being a military mom?
CG: Of being a military mom - words can't describe it. When my son Eric was born while my husband was on deployment, I was taken care of by my military family. My mother didn't come out, nor could any of my aunts, so I had to literally rely on the kindness of strangers.  My friend Kim had gone through the EXACT same thing. Her husband deployed one month before their second was born, and it was amazing having that support. I never once felt alone. 

Now with my boys growing older, I tear up when they say the Pledge of Alegiance at school. It makes me sad though, because when I was growing up in Monterey, CA, I never thought about the sacrifices that military families have to make. Hearing their little voices pledging allegiance is bittersweet for me. On one hand it makes me proud, on the other it makes me angry that they have to sacrifice so much at such a young age. 

NM: How do you feel your "military" family compares to your own family?
CG: Really it is like comparing apples and oranges. Nothing can ever replace my blood family. Nothing. But if I need to vent to someone about my day to day life, I HAVE to call someone in my military family. Only they will understand my sarcastic and snarky jokes about the military. Nothing compares to my military family. I even chose a couple in my military family to baptize my children. They are also Latinos. 

Now one of the best things in my life currently is being stationed in San Diego where my cousin is stationed with his wife and 4 kids. Neither of us have EVER lived close to family.  Having a blood relative so geographically close that you are emotionally close to and share both blood and experience is more than anyone could ever ask for. Now our boys play soccer together and I feel like I finally have the chance to raise my boys amongst their blood relatives and their military family. I never want to leave - but I know we will have to in about a year. Perhaps THIS upcoming move will be the hardest. Leaving my primo hermano again after feeling like I lost him to the military 11 years ago.

Thank you Carmen for your candor! You can check out Carmen's blog at Spouse Sprite.

Wishing you love with extra cheese-
Nacho Mama