All posts tagged: All in the family

Broken tree - DNA word cloud

Divorce: Repairing the broken branches of the family tree

As a child of divorce, I’ve always felt that there are many things that I missed out on due to my parents’ separation, especially because it was across two countries. Mom moved us all to Chicago, while my Dad stayed in our house in Puerto Rico. On the list of things I missed, there was of course said house, the country and culture I knew and loved, and even though there was four of us siblings—tight-knit four that we were—we also missed out on family. It wasn’t that I didn’t have one. I had cousins in Puerto Rico, and I had cousins in upstate New York where my Dad’s siblings lived, but most of their parents were divorced too. Most of them, like my siblings and me, lived with their Moms and had few ties to their Dads (my uncles) resulting in no ties to us. The branches on our family tree were broken. Back then I wished for the automatic and easy friendships that came with cousins, and envied the huge family gatherings my friends were forced …

Siblings and I in a rare no-fighting moment

Nothing like a little sibling rivalry

“We found you in the alley and felt so bad for you, we decided to adopt you,” was the line my siblings and I used on each other regularly as we were growing up.  No one actually believed it, yet the person who was being told they had been adopted always responded, “Shut up, no I wasn’t” in the whiniest possible voice. That line was representative of our dynamic.  “We found you in an alley…” spoke of our dreams being the only child, and “…and we felt so bad for you we decided to adopt you,” was our way of saying I love you and I’m glad you’re by brother/sister. That’s the way it is with siblings: the deepest of love, the strongest of rage.  We can fight, screaming at the top of our lungs or give each other the silent treatment for days on end (Mami preferred the silent treatment), yet let an outsider mess with any of us, and the rest of us were front and center on the battle line, ready for war. …

When tradition is a four-letter word

I had no intention of putting up any holiday decorations this year. Though I’ve had my apartment since the beginning of August, I still only have what I could carry by myself when I moved in. Most of my other stuff (the little I have) is in storage. So to say my place is bare and un-lived in, is an understatement. During a trip to Walgreen’s this afternoon I wandered into the Christmas aisle. I looked around, and quickly walked away filled with an unexplained sadness. As I wandered the rest of the store looking for the items I needed I thought to myself, “Why so sad?” A few minutes later, as I walked by the aisle again, it hit me: I missed having the holiday spirit I grew up with and had no idea where it had gone. Yesterday was Thanksgiving, and as has become my tradition, I spent it at home. I wasn’t sad, in fact I was thankful for the time to myself. But spending the day alone wasn’t always my tradition. …

The hair twins

“We’re hair twins!”

My nephews and niece are in town for a few days. At 5 years old, my niece’s thick mane of hair is almost to her waist, just like her Tia’s. I couldn’t get past how adorable she is in all of her sweetness and I grabbed her and said to her, “We need to take a picture together because we’re hair twins.” She smiled and ever-ready to strike a pose for a picture, she complied. The next day we went to the park. We left the boys playing a game of kickball behind and walked hand-in-hand towards the playground. As we were walking she looked up at me, smiled and said, “I have beautiful hair.” “Yes, yes you do” I replied. “You do too, Titi. We’re hair twins.”

Too cool?

I have five nephews and five nieces. Only four of them live in Chicago. The two oldest—in their 2os—and two boys, ten and 8. Ever since I returned to Chicago from Puerto Rico (about eight months now) I’ve been heartbroken at the fact that Michael, the 10 year old, no longer wants me to kiss or hug him. He has deemed himself too “cool.” Because I understand his pre-teen need to be cool, I try to resist torturing him with hugs and kisses in public, though it’s a different story when we’re alone or with just family. But it doesn’t matter if I catch him and am able to plant a kiss, he immediately wipes it off and though I know it’s not personal, it stings a little. I have a 24 year old nephew and a 22 year old niece so I’ve been through this pre-teen to-teen-too-cool-for-my-aunt stage before and I should be used to it, but I probably never will. Last night my brother arrived with his kids, two nephews and a niece, …

Out of the mouth of babes

I got to spend time with two of my favorite people today: my nephews Michael (10) and Jacob (8). To say that I love them and they make me smile would be an understatement. They never cease to amaze me with the people they are becoming. Case in point, our ride home. Today was report card day and as we got in the car to leave the playground they said, “Wait Titi, don’t go yet you have to look at our report cards.” (My family subscribes to the “It takes a village” style of parenting and we’re all involved in all of the kids’ lives) I took their report cards, reviewed them, made some comments, asked some questions and then let them explain the details of their grades. As they shared how they had improved or how they planned to, Michael made mention of the fact that our Chicago mayor’s name,  Richard M. Daley’s, was on his report card. The conversation, strangely enough, led to a discussion about our new mayor, why they didn’t want …

Juan Luis Guerra sings the themes to all of my days…

My first few months in Puerto Rico were spent being forced to wake up each morning when my dad woke up. He went out to the marquesina (driveways in Puerto Rico are generally used as TV/entertainment rooms) to turn on his old stereo, which was always set to his favorite station, Radio Oro 92.5. Easy listening in español. He would then head to the maca (hammock) or to his favorite chair on the front porch, turn on the closest water fountain and sing away. He knew every word to every song and entertained the neighbors, or so he liked to think.