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Tamales and Needles

A letter to the best person I know

By ElsaPublished 2 years ago Updated 2 years ago 4 min read
Tamales and Needles
Photo by guille pozzi on Unsplash

Dear Ma,

I must confess that Christmas of 2002, I put my hand in the tamalera (a big deep pot for tamale making) and the tamales came out raw (pintos) because of me. It was my fault. I'm sorry, I did so even with all your warnings, but my cousins dared me. That day we all laughed at the mishap and all the aunts scolded us kids asking who had dipped their hand in the tamalera. (It's an old Mexican superstition, the person who puts the tamales in the pot is the ONLY one who can put their hand in before they start cooking, if someone else does, the tamales will not cook. Silly I know, but it's a thing.) Again Ma, I'm sorry.

While we are on the subject of apologizes and confessions. I must confess something else. I really thought that you were Superwoman when I was a kid. Really, I'm not just flattering you Ma because it's Mother's Day. I really thought you were. You raised us four kids on your own.

I know, my dad was there but not really. Every other weekend or once a month visitations don't count. We won’t mention my sisters’ dad, that rat bastard. How did you manage to take care of us by yourself, especially after the girls got sick? It is true what they say. That moms have superpowers and super human strength. I saw that everyday with you. Taking care of four kids, two of them sick, on your own.

I remember the cries coming from the kitchen. Back then, the nurses would come to the house to give my baby sisters their treatments. I would hear their wails as those rookie nurses jabbed them with needles, poked and pricked my sisters trying to find their used up little veins. I remember you kicking them out, with your broken English. Yelling at them to leave the house and to come back with someone who knows how to find a vein. Shouting at them to stop hurting them. Throwing the needles away in frustration. Finally, a nurse that actually knew what she was doing came to the house and found their veins on the first try. She saw your exhaustion of dealing with the constant revolving door of medical professionals. She asked you if you wanted to learn how to give them their medication yourself. You said "yes" without hesitation.

For the next ten years you were the one giving them their meds, until they were old enough to inject themselves. Your constant battles with insurance providers, medication changes, physical therapist, and firing multiple doctors, how did you manage to still give us the perfect childhood? You took us on many vacations, we were in swimming lessons, soccer matches, ballet, ballet folklorico, and in an insanely clean house. You were and are still, SuperMom.

When I was a kid, I didn't notice your exhaustion. I only realized it now as an adult. You always hid it from us, how tired and overworked you were. I am sorry that you didn't have the support you deserved. I recall not too long ago you pulled me aside and asked for my forgiveness. I was so confused as to what you were talking about. I asked you what you meant and you said "I am sorry that all my attention went to your sisters, I feel I neglected you and your brother when you were kids." I sat there just staring at you thinking "WTF?" Ma! I never once felt neglected and neither did my brother. You were and still are the best mom. I remember joking with you and you forcing me to practice my times tables while you prepared my sisters’ meds at night. I remember you cooking my favorite meals or getting my favorite tres leches cake for my birthday. I remember you taking us to the movies to have movie night with you. I never once felt neglected. I understood the severity and I agreed, they needed your attention more. I had the best childhood and so did my siblings. Thanks to you.

Ma, thank you for being the best ma out there. Again, I am so sorry for dipping my hand in the tamalera.

Te quiero mucho,


immediate family

About the Creator


Teacher, traveler, fur baby mom, reader, and writer. I enjoy writing historical fiction stories, fiction, poetry, true crime, and nonfiction.

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Excellent work. Looking forward to reading more!

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