University of Southern Maine
November 30, 2004
Hola, Me llamo es yo es toy Josefina Hebert, me vente y nuevo anos. My name is Jen Hebert, I am twenty nine years old. I am Mexican third generation, living in the United States. Let’s see, where do I start? Let’s go back to my great grandparents. I am lucky enough to be here in the United States because my great grandparents, which would be Juanita and Santos Herrera came from Mexico to Texas. When my great grandfather was twenty years old he decided that he wanted a better life for him and his wife, they didn’t have kids at the time. He came across the border from Mexico into Texas to find a job and he got a job working as a baker. He started to work and later went back and got my great-grandmother and her sister. They came and wanted to have a better life in the United States. They started having babies and they had six. My great-grandmother was a traditional Mexican woman who stayed home and took care of the family and cooked meals, and just took care of her husband. He worked making the smallest amount of money. They ended up meeting God, where in my culture of being Mexican the religion is Catholicism, but they met somebody who was very kind to them and the owner of the bakery, who were Christians. They converted into becoming Assembly’s of God Christians, which are very Pentecostal. When people think of religion and Christianity, those holly roller kind of people is what happened to them. My great grandfather ended up becoming a pastor and district leader in a Spanish community in the Spanish churches in the southern states of the US.
They had my grandmother, who later had eleven children and my mother was the fourth to the youngest. I’m just talking about one side and that’s because I only know that side of the family. I am born because my mother met my birth father and got pregnant with me. They dated for like a year, and then when she got pregnant with me, he left, they weren’t married. I don’t know that side of the family but I do have a lot of history in growing up on my mom’s side. That is, I guess what made me who I am today. My mom was fourth to the youngest and she was married once before, so I have an older brother whose five years older than me. .His name is Roger, my mom’s name is Consuelo. But she goes by Connie, she was married before and had my brother and then when he was two, she got divorced. She got married right when she turned 18 and at 20 she was divorced and had me when she was 25. It was always just the three of us and so I always wanted to know about my other side of the family but didn’t have an opportunity to. My mom pretty much raised me alone for the first six years of my life. She told me stories about my grandparents, how they came over and stories of her growing up. My mom is a very strong,
Independent, Mexican woman. The culture changed for me because my mom was the black sheep of all of them. Where all of the woman stayed home and cooked and cleaned so all my aunts, my mom has 10 siblings so all of them were married to the same spouse and my mom was the only one who got a divorce. She was also one of the only one who was married to anyone other than a Hispanic man. My mom was kind of the crazy, wild disobedient child. When she had me, it was a lot of fun, but I also got to see a lot of her dealing between her and her sisters. Things like that. My mom kind of runs to a different note because it’s not about cleaning or taking care of a man, it’s about taking care of yourself and your family and just having a good time with your family and your kids and doing things like that. Those things I’m very, very happy that I got from her.
And let me see.. when think of my mom and I want to describe her some good qualities are, she taught me about having a good time, about spending time with your family and putting other people first, and also taught me that the little things matter but then they can also sit back and relax like if I need to get housework done or I need to have this project done, if something comes up and an opportunity comes up that I get to play with my kids and enjoy just people then put it aside because, “BIG DEAL” that’ll be there when you get back to it. That’s kind of how she is but on the other note she’s always the one to butt heads with people. Like she’s the only on who got a divorce and she’s the only one that isn’t, you know, she kind of went on the career track at a young age. Another thing is that she’s strong willed, so it’s her way or no way. She doesn’t care what anyone else thinks, whatever she thinks is it and that’s it. I got some of that too. So, that’s who my mom is. I’ve kind of jumped around from my great grandparents and shot to my mom.
Now my mom’s parents, were Fidelia and Ramon Martinez. My grandmother, which is my mother’s mother, which was one of the five children from my great grandparents, she got pregnant and married at the age of 13. That’s culturally different because I remember a long time ago people were having babies young but in Mexico one thing that I don’t like that still kind of exists today is that women are kind of nothing, they’re seen as objects. My grandfather Ramon, was I think like 20 years old and he met my grandmother who was 13. They got together and she got pregnant and they got married and that started one of more than 11 kids because she had triplets and lost all three and she had a couple of stillbirths and so she probably would have had 15 children but there’s only 11 today. Because she had babies so young, she had a rough life and by the time she was 18 she decided she didn’t want to have a family anymore She left all the kids and took off and then came back and left and came back, so my mom, I think a lot of the kids actually went with my grandmother and some stayed with my grandfather, and the older ones ended up living on their own and taking care of the really young ones who were like 1 to 3 years old. I think a lot of why my mom is the way she is stems from the fact she wasn’t raised with a mother who taught those things and she was raised by a man so, you know, being the homemaker type wasn’t who he was, so it wasn’t what she learned. They have a lot of stories in that life of just being raised with a man and not having their mother, but later on it all came round. In her teen years, my grandmother came back and they never remarried. My grandmother remarried so it was my grandmother who was divorced and remarried and my mother, out of her parents and 11 kids. Those were the only two and my mother was most like my grandmother and so by the time I was born, I didn’t understand what it was like to have, what’s it, like a nuclear family? I always wanted that. My grandmother was born in the United States in Texas, my mother was born in Texas and I was born in Texas as well. But we lived with an aunt and an uncle until I was just one years old and then we moved to California and that’s where I lived my twenty nine years, or twenty eight years because I’m twenty nine, whatever.
I was living with my mom and then it was me and my brother who has a father and I don’t and my mom shared with me about my real father when I was five years old. Growing up I thought that my brother’s father, which was (am I confusing you?) which my mom’s first husband, I had thought he was my dad until I was five years old and didn’t understand why he didn’t want to spend time with me or anything like that. At five years old, my mom sat down with me and told me that he was not my father, my real father, she had met him in church, they dated for like a year, and they got together and had sex and then she got pregnant and when she told him about it, he said that he would be there for her and everything and then, a couple days later, he was gone. She went to his work to find him and went to the church they went to and he was gone. It turned out that he was Hispanic, his name was Francisco but who knows if that was his real name. It turned out he was living in the United States, had his own family in Mexico and he came across and worked and wanted to have a life for his own family but through hearing from different people who kind of knew him, he actually had a family in Mexico and so they’re assuming he just went back. I don’t know anything about him. I don’t know if that Francisco is actually his real name or anything like that. I’m full Mexican because my real father is from Mexico and my mom is Mexican. But then again, I don’t know for sure, you know because people look at me and think that I look Polynesian, or Asian or you have a little bit of that mixed in but there’s no way because said he spoke Spanish and I was surprised that she would actually connect with somebody Hispanic because she didn’t really like Hispanic men or anything like that. That was my answer at five years old wondering where my dad was.
I did want to look for him. My mom has actually been married three times. She got married when I was six years old to somebody that was twenty years older than her, so when I was like thirteen, we decided that he should adopt me. He didn’t really want to adopt me, my stepfather. I just wanted it because I had a different last name than my mom and I didn’t like that. I wanted to carry her last name which was her new married name. So when I was thirteen, we hired lawyers and tried to find him for like two years because we needed approval. I don’t know if it’s a year or two years, I don’t remember. It could have just been six months but it felt like two years whatever the court system said to do it, you know that you have to search for him to get approval that I can be adopted by another father. During that search because I was thirteen, I was getting old enough to understand, I realized that he didn’t really want to adopt me, he wanted to be married to my mother but he had a hard time having young kids and so I changed my mind. I decided don’t want to do it. I don’t want his last name because, you know I think deep down I really wanted a dad and just to carry my moms name but it didn’t work out because he wasn’t comfortable. He was doing it for my mom, not for me and I think in the long run, looking back maybe I really did want somebody to step in and fill that role. That was tough but again I had this fun loving, crazy mom who filled both those roles, which was good. I’m really glad about that.
I guess, it’s funny because I’m Mexican, and when you think about the way Mexican women are supposed to be, these quiet kind of mousy women, who control the family as far as the kids and life, I don’t have any of that (mousiness) and that’s because of what my mom did and what my grandmother did to my mom and the fact that my great grandmother came across for my grandmother. There are some things that I did get and that’s I did learn how to cook, you know Mexican dishes. It’s not just Sheppard’s pie and quiches or steak and potato it’s chorizo, enchiladas, and arroz, arroz con pollo and tortillas and all the good stuff.
I don’t speak Spanish, I speak a little bit only because, my mom speaks Spanish and all my family speak Spanish but nobody in my generation wanted to learn Spanish. I only know a little bit from just growing up around it, I can fake it really good and I can use the accent but when I was younger we lived in a white neighborhood, predominately white neighborhood and it was lower middle class and I was the only Hispanic girl so I wouldn’t claim it. I said I was white. I wasn’t going to learn and so..um. I don’t know where to go now.
Because of my Spanish culture and the way my mom was raised is that any family member can discipline you. Right now, I’m married and that’s it. Me and my husband are the only two people that will discipline my children. Even if my mother or any family member is watching them and they’re having a problem with them, I would expect that they would call me and let me handle it or something but me growing up it was no, like any family member could spank me or anything like that. That’s what is was, it was spankings. We’d get, it was called the chunklah, you’d get the chunklah which is your shoe. You’d get spanked with a flip-flop, they’d take off their shoe and say, “I’m going to spank with the chunklah and they’d pick it up, they’d take their sock and shoe off and spank you, and you’d get a spanking. So, that I think is very different. I was disciplined a lot (LAUGHS).
I was always being disciplined and my grandmother remarried and she actually lived in California so in my younger years, we lived with my grandmother and my step grandfather. They disciplined me, aunts or uncles would discipline me and you either get a pop in the mouth if you’re being sassy, or you’d get the shoe or a spoon. And it was always a spanking, always a spanking. And when I was growing up it wasn’t like wait till we get home, let’s get it right now. I remember being in the car one time and my grandmother would pick me up, I think it was after Kindergarten and she had to pick up some medicine so we went to like a drive up prescription things, and you can drive and get your medicine. I was arguing with this little girl in the backseat, who lived next door to my grandma, and my grandmother told me to be quiet and I said “I wasn’t talking loud” but I talked back to her which was one thing too you know, you don’t be disrespectful to adults and so she got out of the car right at the front of the window, well there’s somebody, an employee behind the counter looking at us and she pulled me out of the car and she spanked me. She took off her shoe and spanked me right there and there was a car behind her and you know, you wouldn’t do that nowadays. But she didn’t care because you do not disrespect a person that’s an elder to you. I got that a lot. My brother too, he got spankings. Oh, we also got the belt. The belt, wooden spoon and shoe.
It sounds bad but I guess that was different discipline. Discipline to be home at certain times because we were around other family members that kept a lot of, some of the culture, or I guess just the way they were raised as there were curfews and there was expectations of no taking to boys on the phone because girls just don’t do that. But because my mom was always going against everybody, I had freedom to do whatever I wanted. From my mom. Growing up when your in elementary years you don’t really, your kind of under your parents thumb but as I got older, I was given a lot of freedom to do whatever I wanted and that caused a lot of conflict between my mom and some of her siblings because I lived with my mom and she wasn’t married and then she got remarried, it didn’t matter, and he wasn’t a parent to me, it was still just her that she gave me and my brother the ability to come and go and to have our own phones and play outside and just call her and say we were going to do what we wanted to do. That was really, that was a lot of problems for her but she didn’t care because she wanted us to enjoy growing up. It didn’t matter to her and she was going against all the tradition she grew up with in letting us gel into being the US and having our own life here.
The only thing different (about cultural celebrations) in Cinco de Mayo, we have that. That’s always a big party about independence. That’s the only thing we did different but as far as holidays and getting together for parties or events, that is very different because my family is very loud and kind of crazy. It funny because of my great grandparents meeting God and becoming Christians, the majority of our family are Christians and so, we don’t party like that. I just mean we’re not reserved and conservative, we’re just loud and kind of carefree. Holidays, if you think of Christmas time, you can think of, when I think of my husband’s family I think kind of conservative and having a good time and everybody has their little quiches and you know coffee and danishes and whatever. We always had this-it was always centered around food, it’s always tortillas and rice and beans and chicken, and you have your turkey but you also have dancing and Spanish music playing and everybody screaming and yelling and the kids running wild and games and bright colors decorated and like that. That to me, is a celebration of fun and holiday stuff. Now that I’m older it’s interesting to see the way other people are because I would just assume that that’s how everyone else is. New Year’s was the same, it’s just different because it’s different kinds of food and it’s a different way that you do things and coming from a lower middle class, you know, there’s not these big tables and buffet tables, everybody just grabs a paper plate and goes to the kitchen and scoops up their food and walks around and talks and have fun. I think for me, holidays and stuff wasn’t based on how it looked when you walked into a room with having things setup. I can’t say that’s the American culture, I can just say that’s what I know from friends and from my spouse, I can’t say that’s for everybody but I can just say that’s, it’s just different in that way. So that’s kind of my like my holidays but when I think about other cultural celebrations and traditions is, a lot of it’s based on my religion.
Now, most Mexicans, are Catholic. I don’t understand Catholicism a lot because I wasn’t raised that way. I do have friends too that have been raised in a Hispanic community and so when they get together for Christmas or holidays, it’s celebrating Jesus and Mary and they do that based on the rosary and they have every statue and things set up and they pray the whole time and I think because in my religion it was different but we do celebrate when it’s Christmas time and holidays and celebrate the birth of Jesus. As a family, we get together and talk about it and with the kids we include them and do stories and games and fun, so not only is it a big party and dancing but then there’s also a time to celebrate that Jesus came into our life and died on the cross for us and rose again so that we can be saved. That is one of the biggest things that’s part of our own celebrations too.
So, I don’t know, maybe now that I’ve brought up religion I can tell you about that. I apologize, I’m kind of jumping around. My great grandparents, Juanita and Santos Herrera, got saved. So they say, you know, they found Christianity. They raised their children in the same way. My great grandfather who was a baker became a pastor, and therefore out of his five kids all of them grew up and went to church. These are my great aunts and uncles, a couple of them would just say they have no religion, like two of them. They took a different path when they became adults. Three of them, one of them was my grandmother, carried that , I would say tradition but it’s also kind of a way of life cause it’s not just tradition. That’s another thing that’s different with Catholicism in the Mexican culture, is that a lot of Mexican Catholics would say this is our family tradition, this is our heritage, this is our religion and how we were raised. My great grandmother stepped away from that, which you don’t do that, because that is part of your culture. Really it’s about a relationship with God, and so my great grandparents taught my grandmother that and she taught my mother, who taught me. I grew up in church. I would say Pentecostal. In a community of Christian people and I loved it because I there was truth in that. And, not having a father, knowing that God was my father in heaven. I always knew that when I was little but as adult a I really understand that. When you think of religion , just a basic religion here in the States, there’s freedom of speech and freedom of religion and all these different ways and in the Hispanic culture, there’s Catholicism but my family stepped away from that. But, because we’re a strong family, we stayed together and celebrate in God like I said. For me, it is , I guess, part of my culture being a Christian.
In my teens, I stepped away from it because I wanted to have fun and kind of party and enjoy life but I always had that to come back on and then as I became a young adult, I realized that there was truth in what was given to me as a child. I realized that it was not, it wasn’t, how do I say this, it wasn’t what I can’t do or what was taught to me, it was that this is the way it is and this is my relationship with God and I don’t have to be perfect and I don’t have to be Mexican or Chinese as God made me because God loves me. My life is just to serve him. When people look at me, I don’t, I HOPE, I don’t carry this religious view, like a pagan view, but that I’m just a person living in this world who loves God and is very imperfect. That’s Ok because I’m not God, he is and I’m so thankful that my family has taught me that because I was lucky enough to be born into it.
When we get together we celebrate and that’s because another tradition, I don’t know what it’s called when something is kind of passed on in your family. My family is very musically talented and I would say that I’m not but everybody in my family can play two or three instruments and sing and song write and that’s one way we celebrate God, is by worshiping. Worshiping is just singing songs and playing instruments and dancing. A lot if it just is music in our family, I just play the piano and I don’t sing great but I like to sing and dance. Everything’s in relationship to music with us, you know, food and music. If I can put the two together then it would be a lot better. We celebrate God in that way and also just being who we are.
I would say that I’m more outgoing than other people in my family are. I made friends easily and my young teen years, my junior high years, I went to a private school and it was really small and I wanted to go to a bigger high school to play sports and also socialize more and just have a better experience. My mom let me go to a public school, a normal high school that was over 4000 kids. Right away, I made a bunch of friends and I was not the type that would sit and study, focus on books and school, I was the one out having a good time, driving around finding out where to go to next. I played three sports, I played basketball, softball and was a cheerleader. I was very involved in school activities. I went to all the dances and every prom, I went to. I was able to go to all four years of prom, I was on one of the homecoming floats. I had a lot of friends but looking back, two of them are still my friends, the other ones I could care less about. Not care less about, everything, friendship was so important to me then and only two that I had real friendships with even after school. Now over ten years out of school.
I had a lot of boyfriends, got a lot of attention from boys. That was hard for my aunts, who are now in California because they saw how women are supposed to be and I wasn’t that way. I know as an adult looking back a lot was brought up to my childhood because I didn’t have a dad. I can get into the whole, “I acted like this because of this is what happened to me as a child, I needed male attention” but growing up that’s basically it, kind of which guy I could get and who liked me and just that was kind of a focus for me, back then. Which was always a problem because my mom was always defending me and I was defending myself because my mom taught me how to express what I was feeling. I lots of boyfriends and I had a good time. I wish I didn’t do some of the things that I did. I had sex in high school. I wasn’t a drinker and wasn’t a smoker, that’s what I always told my mom. “I’m not drinking and I’m not smoking but I have boyfriends and that’s it”. I wish I wouldn’t have done some of those things because now that you’re married and an adult you wish that you would of waited but that was the path that I choose. I was at every party and maybe having a drink but I wouldn’t do that because of my religion I knew that it was wrong to drink and smoke. I also knew it was wrong to have relationships with other people when you’re not married but to me that one just didn’t seem that bad (LAUGHS).
I remember having a conversation once when I was fifteen and I had a boyfriend who was seventeen and he was over my house and we were in my bedroom and I had a video game setup in my bedroom, I think obviously, my mom overcompensated for me because of the life we had as a family. I had my own phone in my room and TV and we always had people over in my room. One day I had a boyfriend over in my room and the door was shut, my mom peeked in the door and said, “I’m going to the store, I’ll be right back.” or something and she closed the door and walked out. I was doing stuff at that time but I would never do it in my house because I respected my mother way more than that. We’re playing a game and one of my aunts walked in, flung the door open, and chewed us out and yelled at us and slammed that door shut, and then left. She slammed the front door and came back ten minutes later and came and yelled at us some more. I was bawling and embarrassed because she was saying that we should not be alone in the bedroom together. I said my mom actually shut the door when she left to my bedroom and she was calling me a liar and that I was disrespectful and how could I do that to our family because that’s not how we’re supposed to act. When my mom came home, I was bawling and I think my mom and my aunt had a different kind of relationship, but after that day they didn’t talk for two years.
We’d get together at family functions but they didn’t communicate and a lot of it was because she had a daughter too, and was two years older than me, in my sophomore year of high school, my cousin Stacey was a senior and Stacey had these rules to live by and talking to my cousin now, her and her mom would go back and forth and she would say, “Well, Jennifer gets to do this and she’s two years younger” which put the pressure on my aunt. My cousin was actually the one getting high and drinking, she kept her grades up but she was doing all that and I was always honest with my mom. If I was going to a party, I’d say going to a party and she would say no you can’t go and I’d say I’m going to go. I told her when I had sex because I wanted to be open with her. There were things I didn’t tell her but I think overall I was pretty honest with her about everything. I just had a lot more freedom. I think girls who were raised in Hispanic homes don’t have freedom to do different things. The friend I had was sneaking out doing everything, and getting in trouble, or trying not to get in trouble. Here I was I had way too much freedom and I don’t need to sneak out when I’m doing it. I enjoyed my teen years a lot. Looking back, I wish I would have done things differently. I wished I had paid attention is school and not messed around as much been able to give myself the education so I can go on and go to college. I didn’t take that road.
I felt a lot of pressure from my family, not my mother, not my immediate family but I felt pressure from outside family members on how I should behave and how I should sit. Like right now, sitting with my legs open on the couch but I would as a teen even stuff like how my posture was, I’d get yelled at from uncles and aunts to sit with my legs crossed and girls do not behave this way, instead of just being comfortable and being me. That was pressure from family members because that wasn’t me. That’s not how I was going to be. I think because my mom, like I said is loud and boisterous, I would do the same thing. I would argue with my aunts and uncles which would make me seem like the bad one because I was being disrespectful but really I was saying that’s not me. That was pressure. Pressure to be pretty and to be thin which was always not easy for me because all the food we ate wasn’t healthy or good, so that was bad for us. I felt pressure too from my religion. I don’t think it was pressure, it was knowing deep down that God wanted me to be respectful to him, to not go against what spiritually we were supposed to be. I think a lot of the pressure was in my spirit because I didn’t have a lot of pressure from peers or friends. I wasn’t afraid to say no, if people were drinking or smoking, no pressure to do it. I would just say no and nobody cared any different because it wasn’t a big deal to me to say no, so there was no pressure there at all. It was mainly from my spiritual thing and from family.
I wish that I would have had more pressure because I think that would have taught me too about discipline. I was not pressured in school, kind of carefree whatever. That gave me a lack of discipline which I still have today. I’m not disciplined to do certain things. Everything is just “whatever”. Whatever I want, this is great and life is good. You need to be disciplined and you need to be pressured to do certain things that you need to do. I think pressure is good, I think you just need to be able to handle pressure correctly. That was something bad that didn’t get from my mom because she doesn’t live with discipline either. She’s overweight, all of my aunts are overweight. I’ve put on weight and my mom doesn’t have an education and I don’t have an education. Yet, all of my aunts, you know she’s got eleven siblings, she’s got five sisters, all of them went back to school and got degrees except for her. I’m sorry, there is another one but she been working now for over twenty years in the corporate world making a lot of money. The majority of them and my uncles have gone to school and got degrees after their kids have grown. They’ve done it. Living here for over thirty of forty years, they changed and they realized they need an education and the US has this wonderful opportunity for them. They’re not retired at fifty or sixty, they’re busting their butt but they have the education and they use it to their advantage because they were disciplined and that’s something my mom doesn’t have and I don’t have. Now I’m an adult and I can change but I’m not disciplined to do it (LAUGHS).
After high school, I enrolled in community college because I didn’t know what I wanted to do with my life. I was enjoying being free. I lived by the beach and had a couple roommates and was just working. I was working at Disney World and minimum wage was $4.25 when I was younger but by my senior year in high school, I was making $9./hour, which was big bucks when you’re a senior in HS. Most kids were making minimum wage. I didn’t want to go to school that much because I was making good money because now I could pick up 30-40 hours. It was a good time for me, it was a lot of fun. It wasn’t really hard work to work at Disney World and hang out and talk to people and meet people. I signed up for school and that was one thing my mom told me, it was my senior year in HS, it’s up to you. I was missing a lot of school, I was just doing what I needed to do. My mom said it’s your responsibility because she didn’t understand the education process and how that works. I didn’t know anything about SATs, about meeting with counselors about which college I should attend. I didn’t realize the resources available to me. I just went to community college and then I was ditching classes left and right to hang out with people. How stupid of me, I’m ditching classes that I paid for. I went one semester and half of another and then I quit. I was working fulltime and started working as a nanny when I was nineteen, with the intention of going to school part time and deal with my studies when the baby was sleeping or something like that. But I never went back to school. I just enjoyed hanging out, that was important to me, hanging out with friends and having a good time. I was going to work and I was responsible, because I was responsible for this little kid and I love kids. I actually did that for five years.
When I was 21, I met my husband. I met him, he was in the Marine Corps. I met him through a friend that was dating one of his roommates. I was talking to AJ, his name is Aaron but he goes by AJ. I was talking to him on the phone, my friend was over talking to her boyfriend on the phone and when AJ came in, she put him on the phone. We start talking on the phone for a couple of weeks and then decided to meet one night.
Now, if I go back a little bit, in my teen years I was partying and having a
good time but when I was 20, I decided that God had always been calling me.
A part of my life even though I’m not walking with him or what I thought I
should be doing to walk with him, what that meant to give up that I never
committed to. About a year before I met my husband, I got into this great
relationship with God and understanding him as an adult. I stopped having
boyfriends. I decided I was just going to date. I wasn’t going to kiss, I
wasn’t going to be sexually involved with anybody. I did that for a year,
almost 2 years. I just dated, wouldn’t hold hands, wouldn’t kiss, nothing. I
was going on a couple dates a week. I knew that the next person I met would
be my husband, and that I would not do anything until I got married. That
was my intention. When I met AJ something happened and I let go of
everything. I ended up getting together with him. We met April 4th, was our
first actual meeting, our first date. We met in a bar, we played darts
together. We had set up that arrangement to met there. May 10th, I got
pregnant. A month later. He proposed in August and we were married in September. That was very fast and very backward but it worked out.
We didn’t know what we were getting into. I knew I loved him, I knew it was
different. I wasn’t going back to my past experiences, but at the same time
AJ was in the Marine Corps. He didn’t really want a girlfriend but we were
together all the time. It was good, we got married. I had to meet his family
and everybody for the first time, 6 months later when they came for the
wedding and here I am pregnant. My first questions I asked him, not knowing because he’s from the East coast, New Hampshire, have they ever seen a Mexican before? What are they going to say? Living in California, everything is so diverse, everybody is intermixed, at least my view of it was. That was a big scare for me, all these white people what are they going think? All these conservatives wanting to know what happened and does he really love this girl? We choose a difficult road to go down but I’m glad we did because now we have 2 kids. Nicholas who is 6 and Kaelyn who is 5. When you do it that way, it isn’t easy. We didn’t get to court or just be married for a
couple of years and experience being married. On our wedding night, we were on our feet all day doing the wedding stuff, I started bleeding so we called the doctor and she said no sex or anything for three days. The first three days we could do nothing. I didn’t want to harm the baby, here I am with my feet up on our wedding night with a pillow under my feet, freaking out wondering if we should go to the emergency room cause I’m bleeding a little bit. I’ll be sure to tell my kids all these stories, so that hopefully they’
ll wait. We went to San Francisco for our honeymoon. We got to enjoy
military life together but it was hard because this person that I’ve only
known for five months, and then married him and boom had a baby. My son was born in February which is only five months after we got married. That was a lot for us to handle at 21, 22 years old. There were times when we swore we weren’t going to make it and maybe separate and divorce but we didn’t do it. Thank God.
It was hard to be young and have a baby and be married. It was scary for my
because my husband’s parents have been married this whole time. They stuck it through. I came from a grandmother who left her husband and got remarried to my mother having two marriages that failed. I saw one of them. I have this thing, and I probably still have some of it, that no one will love me
or stay with me and everyone will let me down because my real father left,
my first stepfather didn’t love me. Then, of course in HS, when you break up
it’s like they don’t love me. I was carrying this weight, does my husband
really love me? Is he just with me for the kids? He is an excellent father, I mean, he’s my vision of a dad. People always tell me, “Man you’re so lucky because he’s so good to the kids and he’s such a good dad, so involved.” I’m thinking isn’t that how a dad is? I have ideas of what a dad is, then there’s the reality that they are not perfect, they’re men. They’re human. He’s the
closest thing to it. For me, that’s just how it’s supposed to be. For
everyone else, it’s how wonderful he is. That part of it (AJ being a good
dad), I don’t question. But the part about being in love and thick or thin,
sticking through it is great, that was a big part of it (Jennifer’s issues
with marriage). Having sex before your married is a big a part of it too
because of my religion it wasn’t a choice that I made as a young kid and it
was a big fun thing, I messed up in these areas. Now being married and
having the freedom, or the God given gift, to be intimate with each other, I
had a hard time mentally understanding this is how it’s supposed to be
without having guilt afterwards. I was married kind of feeling guilty
because I had done it in the past.
We’ve been married for seven years now and it’s been great. We never had a
courtship and now we’re able to do that. This is going to be a big shocker.
We are the best of friends but there was a time when we were trying to live
the life of being happily married and because of my lack of discipline, I
wasn’t the best at paying bills. These are things my mom didn’t do and I am
kind of blaming her but it’s not totally her fault, that I wasn’t good at
paying bills, we had bills stacking up, I was spending money left and right
on little things and we would fight all the time about money. He didn’t know
where it was going and he was working in the Marine Corps and I was able to
stay home. I had the luxury of staying home. I was always feeling fat, which
I was thirty pounds lighter than I am now, and I was questioning his love
for me. It wasn’t good. It was great, so we thought, on the surface but
internally I was afraid and felt alone. He felt alone too. We both felt that
we were the ones giving everything and nothing was being given in return.
Both of us were screwing up.
There was a very, very bad thing in our marriage that became a good thing.
It was something I swore would never happen to me and if it did, I was
history. I’m not going let any man, like my mother, run my life or control
me. When AJ and I were talking about separating, let me go back. We were
married in 97, in 2001 after 9/11,we were on the track to getting better.
Both were not walking with God, we were both kind of raised the same way but
both not walking with God, or letting him be in our life. We were trying to
do it on our own and you can’t. I believe you can’t do it without God. After
9/11, he got sent to go
to Hawaii and I packed up and moved back with my mom. That was when our
healing began, that was a big turning point for us because we were separated
across water. I’m in California and he’s in Hawaii. We’re having to heal and
fix whatever is going on. Everyone would look at us and say, “how great they
are and how in love they are”. We were, and we are, but we just couldn’t
figure out what was going on.
AJ had cheated on me a couple of different times in the beginning of our
marriage. He admitted to me and one of them I thought I knew, it happened
the first year we were married. He never admitted to it then. I think
because of my lack of trust in men, I never trusted him so he felt, “why
should I? She always accusing me, so screw it, I’m going to do it”. He came
from a history of a family of cheaters, that was really weird, that a lot of
people don’t know about. Part of me thinks it’s like a spiritual hold that
they have, because men are assimilated in other ways but it was more that he
choose some really bad things. Here we are, I’m in California and he’s in
Hawaii and we having to fix it up or forget it. We decided to fix it. I
think during that time of separation, it was our time to really think about
what we wanted. We both come from a family that doesn’t believe in divorce.
Obviously, my mom did but it was against her family to do that. Because we
were alone, it was our time to reconnect with God individually. That’s
exactly what I did, I didn’t care, I kind of let go of him in a sense to
say, “I’m done, I’m done worrying about him. I need to figure out what’s
going on with me.” It was during that time that God showed me a lot of
things that I needed to do in my life and to make right and that’s what
happened. I was working on it and we decide to fix it and get back together.
I let go of some things that I had about trusting him. Here I am now
trusting somebody with what anybody else would think a reason NOT to trust
somebody for. We’re both totally different people because of that.
That I can say is that absolute worst thing that happened to me, one of the
absolute worst. But I am so glad that it happened because had we not gone
through that, I wouldn’t spiritually be where I am today and we would not be
where we are. I think that we have something more than most people who are
married thirty or forty years together. I look at women who stay in abusive
relationships or whose husbands are cheating and I think, “How stupid, how
can they do that”? But who am I to judge, really what’s going on and every
situation is different. Was I going to lose something because of that
mistake and had we quit then, I wouldn’t have what I have now. I still have
a little bit of struggle but I can tell you honestly that I trust him
completely now and I didn’t back then. I know that he loves me, stuff will
and try to take away my joy but, that was a long time ago. He openly
admitted something that happened years ago, and initially I was mad because
I said, “How dare you, you screwed me because you didn’t give me the right
to make that decision back then”. Back then, I would have been gone. No
questions, no ands, or ifs. But we had starting working on healing
everything, and now I was in a situation where I didn’t want to leave. It
took me three years to get through to who you are and who I am today, and
this sucks because now I don’t have a choice whether to stay. But, I’m glad
I did. We do tell people about it and there’s not a lot of people we tell
because I don’t want them looking at him or at me (differently) because
there are things I did to him that were bad. I just think his was worse
(LAUGHS). We both were not in the marriage the right way and now we are
closer than ever.
Our life has been in chaos because we moved cross country , started new
school and new jobs. But we are tighter than ever and we are close and we
know that in the Bible it says all things are possible and it really is,
when you’re walking with him (God). This is great now we get to be examples
to other people and we already have to other people who have gone through
similar situations or girls with a past like mine, or my husband’s past. He
partied a lot and did drugs, he took a different road and his parents were
together. Together we’re able to pull all of our experiences together and
now we use them to talk to teenagers and kids. We used to be involved in our
church and get to say (to others) this is who we are and this is what
happened but it doesn’t hold us to it. Now, what you reap is what you sow.
There is a price to pay for the actions that we did but God has forgiven us.
It’s forgotten because it’s forgiven but we have to fix it. It’s not
something we’re going to hold against each other but it happened and you can
‘t change that. You have to use it for the right thing. We’re able to share
with people who don’t know God, that it’s not about you can’t drink, you can
‘t smoke, you can’t cuss, it’s about this wonderful, great relationship that
you have with God. He’s real and that regardless of what we do, when we go
to him, he’ll forgive us and he’ll help us. That’s what we tell people and
that we’re able to show that it can work, if you’re both willing to do it.
If not, it can’t. If he wasn’t in it, or I was in it, we wouldn’t be here
I know that we are still growing and changing because it’s a part of life.
Who I am today is because of what happened but it’s not going to be a hold
on me and what I can do. Now that I’m married and there’s two of us, I’m
learning a whole different way of life which I like. There are things that I
don’t like about my life and the great thing is my kids are going to benefit
from having the both of us. Some of
the life choices I made, I’m not happy about. But in a way I am, because I
was able to use stuff for the good. God is going to give me opportunity to
use it (her past) for the good.
When my mom got pregnant with me, she was a new Christian. When my dad left,
she decided to abort me. She had an appointment at the clinic and when she
drove up her Bible was next to her and she said, “if you don’t want me to do
this, you have to show me something right now”. She opened up her bible and
right there God said, “I created you and I’m the only one who can take you”
she felt that was a call from God to say don’t do it. That’s a cool story,
in HS, I was able to share that with two girls I knew that got pregnant. One
aborted and one didn’t. God has put me here for a reason, just like he’s put
every one of here for a reason. Had my mom done it, like my friend did it,
there’s no hold on them, we all make mistakes. Even if we do something, like
I’m going to tell my kids, it’s OK because we have a God that forgives us.
We have a reason to be here. What I’m going to give my kids and teach them
as I continue to grow and change, is that we have to be forgiving, and we
have to help other people, and we have love them for who they are because we
can’t change them. We can just look at ourselves for what we need to fix.
What I tell my son, if you’re pointing out something bad in your sister,
what are you doing? It’s really good because of the things I went through, I
get to share with them and openly share with them and teach them different
ways then my mom taught me. Now I have this wonderful other side of my
husband, that I can teach them stuff because they are half him, half me.
In talking about this, I realized I don’t teach them enough (about Mexican
culture). I don’t know why that is. I’ve just recently started teaching them
a little bit of Spanish. They have Spanish in school, they go to a private
school. I talk to them a little bit about our family. Being far away from
them, they don’t see them much. I can’t give them the history of it, I could
teach them about the history of the US, because I learned it in school.
There’s not a lot that I tell them, I tell them about family because that is
most important to us. That’s what I got from growing up, your family is your
family. You need to be connected to them. God gave us these wonderful
grandparents who fought to come here and have made it, in their own way.
They raised their family the best they could and that’s what I give my kids
from my side. I can’t really get into the history (of Mexico) because I’m
third generation. There’s a lot of things that changed my life, living here
but I don’t have the history, I only know my families history, not the
Spanish/Mexico or anything like that. But by doing this with you, it’s
something they need to know or I need to know. It’ll be
nice to learn more about it and then be sure I teach them.
For myself in the future, I see I’m going to continue to raise my kids and
be a good wife to my husband. It’s funny because I do love staying home,
like Mexican women do. I’m not a great cook, that’s one thing that I’m not
big at. But I will serve him and give him his plate and take care of him but
that’s because I enjoy doing it, and I like doing it not because anybody
tells me that’s how I’m supposed to do it. Usually if somebody tells me, I’m
not going to do it. I see in the future to continue to take care of my
family and tell people about God. To be there for teenage girls, that’s kind
of my volunteer service to communicate with teenagers about relationships,
about sex, about physical abuse and share with them, in my life what’s
happened to me and that there are other options. I’ve been doing that and I’
m going to continue to do that. I want to reach out to that part. In the
future, I’ll be serving God my whole life. To try and always remember, it’s
not about me. I think that a little bit every day, that’s it’s not about me.
That’s my future.
I’m not fulfilled yet. I don’t think I’ll ever be fulfilled in my life. I
think that the part of fixing my past is fulfilled, because I’ve let go. I’
ve let go of wanting a different life or wishing I had it this way or that
way. Being fulfilled is whatever God has in store for me. I’m not fulfilled
because I know there’s always more that he wants from me. That could just be
spending time in prayer or reading my Bible, or hanging out in a bar having
a drink with somebody that feels lonely, it doesn’t matter. I don’t feel
fulfilled when I’m not connected. I think I’ll always have that need to be
fulfilled because..(pauses) you’re not always on your best game. [end of