By Ginna Sauerwein
Last Friday I shared a snippet regarding Cinco de Mayo and Mexico. Would you like to know the rest of the story? My husband and I went to Mexico with our four children and returned two years later with five children.
Do you remember in LPSP the concept of the “Shadow I Cast” and the “mood elevator”? Remember the bottom floor is depression, the top floor is grateful and midway up the ladder is curious.
Two weeks before our scheduled return to the United States, my oldest son, Logan, informed me Cinthia, a school friend who played soccer with my daughter, Adair, wanted to come home with us. I laughed and he responded with, Mom, I am serious. Cinthia’s dream is to play basketball and you know this will never happen in Mexico. I acknowledged reality as I knew he was right and even recognized this as a teenager. I told Logan to have Cinthia talk to me as I was curious. Cinthia told me her story which included not seeing or talking to her mother.
Cinthia resented that her mother had a new family and children that she spent time with. She also told me her father had a girlfriend and new baby, again not a lot of time for Cinthia.
She also said her father would support her dream. In that moment I said yes to Cinthia’s request. Departure day came and we arrived to pick-up Cinthia. I met her father for the first time in the driveway.
My Spanish was so-so and he did not speak English, however he presented me with legal papers relinquishing his rights to his daughter. I was now her legal guardian. We got in the Suburban to leave and my thoughts were very judgmental.
How could this man let his only daughter go with strangers to a foreign country? What was he thinking?
The school year started and Cinthia could not play basketball according to the UIL (governing body over sports) because she had parents. We traveled to the capitol to fight this decision and after a lost hearing in Austin, my only option was to send Cinthia back to Mexico, pay for a different type visa and enroll her in private school. This was an expense I was not prepared for and a hardship on my family. I was feeling sorry for myself for putting us in this position, but I was not going back on my word. A few years went by and Cinthia asked me to read her senior thesis. I was shocked as I read how frightened she was the day we departed Mexico.
She said she was so scared she almost opened the door on the Suburban to jump out, but I turned around from the front passenger seat and flashed her a big smile, and she knew everything would be okay. I wanted to cry. That smile was the shadow I cast and I did not even know it. My perspective on that day was how lucky Cinthia was and what horrible parents she had.
How could I have missed how frightened Cinthia was and how incredible her father was to recognize the opportunity and let Cinthia go to follow her dream?
Cinthia’s HS coach never gave up and was able to find Cinthia a full-ride to the University of Texas in Edinburgh. She had the highest GPA on her basketball team, graduated in 4 years and got into grad school, and eventually played for the Women’s Mexican National Team. She now works for Microsoft.
All these years later I am at the top of the mood elevator at grateful and realize how lucky my family was to have Cinthia in our lives. We got as much, if not more out of the relationship, than Cinthia. My fun fact is, “Did you know Mexico celebrates Mother’s Day on May 10th and not on the second Sunday in May like the United States”? Yesterday I received this note from Cinthia…. Feliz día de las madres! (Happy Mother’s Day!) which really warmed my heart with fond memories.