Mexican Moms Are Different

They are, every one of them, very creative
BY: CAMILLA FORD

When I first moved here, I was blind to the art being created in Baja.  I was looking for locally produced ornate pottery, Day of the Dead nichos and professional Mexican folk dancing.  The little art I did find here originated from the mainland.  I mistakenly came to the conclusion that people here just weren’t creative.  This limited perspective changed when my then four-year old daughter entered the jardin de ninos (kindergarten) in Los Barriles.  On the first day of school I was driving our beat up pick-up truck, while at the same time scrambling to wipe mango juice off Heidi’s hands and chin and run a brush through her hair.  When I got there, I saw that all the other boys and girls were dressed immaculately. The girls were clean, coiffed Picasso portraits. Their hairstyles were works of art with colorful ribbons and bows and straight parts with silky braids.  The boys were dapper with gelled short haircuts.  How did this happen? The moms. As school progressed, I saw amazing costumes and art homework assignments for events like Dia de los Muertos, and Dia del la Revolucion. I saw paper skeletons dressed like brides and mariachis, using jewelry, cloth buttons, and colorful tissue paper, obviously not done with a four-year-olds’  motor skills. They were made by artistic moms whose canvasses are their kids. 

Think about the preparation that goes into the numerous fiestas, birthdays, baby showers, weddings, baptisms, and quinceaneras (when girls turn 15).  Envision the delicious food, the decorations and innovative games.  At one baby shower we had to sit on a balloon until it popped.  We then had to do what the paper inside said like, “pretend you are giving birth” or “pretend you are a baby taking his first steps.”  What is Broadway compared to that?! 

People here are incredibly creative, especially the moms.  They express it through their lives, mainly their children.  They are not famous or rich.  Their art is nothing that reaches the far corners of the world, nor can it be preserved for the future. It all happens in the now.  For fiestas at the kindergarten (posadas, candelaria, Dia de los Reyes, Dia de San Valentin), moms make tamales, and cakes. They play games, sing songs and fill piñatas.  One mom even made lovely tear drop shaped violet and pink lollipops tied with delicate bows.

When you drive by the kindergarten in Los Barriles, look up and you may see moms painting murals (rosita fresita or strawberry shortcake.)  This writer even painted some of the leaves on the flowers.  In the States, moms raise money with bake sales and auctions.  Here, the last money raiser was a pelea de gallos (cock fight).  Moms sold tamales, empanadas, and burritos to make additional money.

the kinder may need computers, a copy machine, swings that aren’t broken and a roof over the play yard, but the beauty and creativity that is alive here is worth far more than these material so called necessities.  The jardin de ninos is a studio for the finest masters in the world: the artists of care, time, confidence, love, humor, patience, acceptance and life.  

Well, off to school to pick up Heidi, my own work of art.  I’ll be joined by other Picasso moms... Matisse, Rivera, Kahlo, Van Gogh, or rather, Hilda, Lilianna, Monica, and Carmen.