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Alma Aldana is the mother of Itzel, 7, and is originally from Chihuahua, Mexico.

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Alma Aldana
Mother of Itzel, 7
Spanish-English interpreter
Originally from Chihuahua, Mexico

“Everything about becoming a mom was a surprise, but especially how strong and thoughtful I became.”

Mothering traditions in your culture: The most important ones are sacrifice and abnegation. I grew up on the border, so my experience wasn’t the same as that of someone who lived deeper in Mexico. My mother wasn’t religious, and she emphasized education and personal growth. My father was an intellectual and an artist who read to us from National Geographic every night. We couldn’t afford to travel, but he exposed us to the world in that way. From them, I have learned to work hard and find my own path, and I encourage my daughter Itzzy to do the same.

Traditions you embrace and alter: I have modified the “sacrifice” concept. To me sacrifice has meant to reduce my workload to meet our basic needs so that I can spend as much time as possible with her. Money is important, but time is even more important.

Advice for new moms: Be very patient. You are going to need it. Follow your gut feeling, because it is usually right.

What you wish you had known: It is the hardest job ever. That the bonding between baby and mom is something that you may have to work on the first few weeks of your baby’s life, because it is not always instantaneous like it is portrayed in movies and shows, and it has nothing to do with your love for your child. And there will be times that you will ask yourself, “What did I get myself into?,” and right after that thought, you will feel guilty, because we as women are ashamed to even accept those thoughts. However, that’s a perfectly normal feeling, because that’s how we grow up or mature as moms.

What it takes to raise children well: Before they are born, make a list of things you want for your kid and try to stick to it. For me, they were to eat meals together as often as possible, to have the best education, to be multilingual, and to have a sports and arts formation.

What you want most for your child: I want Itzzy to be free to take risks — within reason — and explore. There will be times that she is going to fall and fail and that is OK. I want to keep her spirit as strong as possible so that she keeps trying regardless of the outcome. I hope that when she is grown, she will be a strong and independent woman who feels happy, free and accepted.

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