Updated: Apr 14, 2022
The year had to be about 2000’ and I remember mi Dominicano viniendo a la casa, creeo que por la primera vez. Mami had made a Puerto Rican dish and the food was ready. I was tired from the day’s work as a teacher and hungry my damn self. Ve a servirle a tu novio mija, él tiene que comer primero. I remember shooting my eyes at her like a knife cutting into a platano, peeling the hard shell back. My eyes quickly moved to him and he knew where I would go with this. You see, we had this convo before and that look wasn’t foreign to him.
During our courting days, I made my expectations quite clear and so did he. Shit was crystal clear like I like it to be. I didn’t want to be like my Mami in those ways. In our household, although daddy was, Americano, Mami worked from home, these are things that were determined by HER, what she felt made her out to be a good wife. Serving him, cooking for him, washing his clothes, cleaning the house and the list goes on. Seems like it was passed along through generations, but I wasn’t with that. The way I managed myself in the kitchen, wouldn’t determine if I'd fit the "good wife"mold. What I know or the lessons taught to me, wouldn’t determine my self-worth. Hell no, I was more than that! Worth more than what I learned in the kitchen.
Mami tried to instill these views in me, un hombre no quiere una mujer que no pueda cocinar. I would often hear. Another one I would here was, La clave del corazón de un hombre es a través de su estómago. Nah, the hell with that shit, that wouldn’t be me. Busca un hombre con dinero y que pueda cuidarte was my all time favorite. I would clap back with, Tendrá que pedirme dinero y elegiré dárselo si quiero. Yo haré lo mío eye roll and sucking of the teeth all included. What can I say, I was always that liberal, that black sheep who didn’t want to roll with that traditional mass shit.
Rewind to those courting days, all of it was ironed out back in 1996’ when the relationship first made its imprint on East New York soil. We took the time to know and learn one another and share what we wanted our relationship to look like, what it would be. Real clear, No soy tu madre ni aspiro a serlo. I come into this relationship with love, commitment, loyalty and as myself. We will be in this together and work as a team. Our cultures might be slightly different, but mofongo and mangú are created from basically similar ingredients, the platano. That strong foundation, rich soil, uprooted suckers, nourished by love, water, and sunlight, which is never easy. That was us! With uniformity and fertilizer de amor to lift those roots up, nourishment would enable us to establish ourselves. All this sums up our relationship. So when Mami came with her lingo about "aprendiendo los caminos de la cocina para mantener a mi hombre" what she didn’t know was that our relationship had harvested, a good 9-12 months before we knew where we stood en la cocina y en todas partes de nuestra relación. Esa lección no se aplicaría a nosotros porque implementamos lo que funcionó para nosotros, no las tradiciones y lecciones transmitidas por Mami.
Eileen is a Domini-Rican who has worked in the New York City Public School system in Brooklyn since the tender age of twenty-one. She is a freelance writer, wife, and mother of two boys. She has contributed to various online publications throughout the years and heavily involved in social media. Eileen is the founder of MommyTeaches.com where she shares her love of blogging about her pride in teaching, parenting, reading, and the blessings and trials that life have to offer. A circle of Moms Top 25 teacher Mom, nominated for Best Latin@ Education Blogger, Hispano Blogger Award and The Social Revolucion SXSWi 2013 award. She’s been featured in El Diario in 2014, sharing her experience as a mother and educator. She graduated with honors from New York University with a Master’s in Early Childhood Education. She is state certified in Early Childhood Education from Birth-2 and grades 1-6. A children’s book collector from a young age, Eileen loves cooking all types of food, reading and being arts & crafty with her boys. Born and raised in Brooklyn, NY from a Puerto Rican mother and American father. Eileen is married to her Dominican high school sweetheart for 18 years. She now resides in Orange County, NY and likes to share that she is a city girl gone country. Follow Eileen on Twitter @EileenCCampos, @MommyT3aches and on Instagram @eileenccampos