That doesn’t sound all that earth shaking to meet an ordinary Mexican family, but it’s actually not that common, especially for someone who is still language challenged.
Most of the people we gringos interact with are other gringos. We tend to be retired people with lots of time and, generally, a bit of discretionary money. We flock to yoga, language classes, the plaza for coffee, restaurants, and all things artsy.
The Mexicans we meet tend to be service people … doctors, vets, lawyers, taxi drivers, gardeners, house keepers, restaurant servers, people who make clothes or furniture or fix things around the house. Almost everyone here except the very elderly are working, and in their leisure time, they hang out with friends and family.
But, today I met a real Mexican family and had a chance to hear a little about their lives. The parents are care-takers on an estate owned by some Tapatios (folks from Guadalajara) and they have four children. The parents are education-oriented and their two older children are attending university, studying nursing. This is a financial challenge for the entire family.
Their day begins at 4:00 a.m. in order to get the older kids on the hour-long bus ride to Guadalajara at 6:00 a.m. After taking classes all day, they will make the return trip home in order to help their parents, care for the younger kids, and do their homework. On Saturday, the family sells tacos and on Sunday, they run a cosmetics stand and take English classes. I didn’t get a chance to meet the mom because she was cooking for a party hosted by their employers.
The entire family is driven by their purpose of helping each child get an education so they can get good jobs. There is little in the way of a security net down here except family. These parents are exceptionally dedicated to educating their kids, and, so far, they are making it. However, they are on a thin edge and an unkind wind could easily blow them off track.
The family I met is not only an ordinary Mexican family, it is very much like families all over the world. Some have it easier; some have it harder. My family had it a little easier, but like most post-war families of the 50s and 60s, they knew education was the key to a better life. No one in my family finished high school let alone college. I was blessed to have parents who supported education, just as these kids are blessed to have the parents they have.
I was also blessed to grow up in an era when college was inexpensive and government helped with affordable college loans and the GI bill. As a country, we believed in the importance of education ... affordable education. Seeing this family today, struggling to help their children, makes me sad for the young people of this beautiful country who will not be able to afford an education for a better tomorrow. It also makes me sad for my own country which seems to have forgotten how important education is for our future.