I moved to the USA three days shy of my birthday in December of 2001. I had visited before, but this time was different. It wasn’t just a fun vacation, an escape, a temporary situation. I saw myself as an immigrant and I saw everything as “my new permanent.”
Thinking this way was really scary. I felt that my heritage, my traditions, and even my values were challenged. I felt that I had to choose between my world and this new world I lived in.
I constantly questioned whether I made the right choice moving to the United States, especially because it wasn’t “my idea,” and found plenty of evidence that I didn’t. I felt homesick, I felt like I didn’t fit in… I wanted to go home, but felt like I was “stuck here.”
With the years, and the help of two little creatures I birthed, I learned that I could have “the best of both worlds” and so we now live a multicultural lifestyle.
One of the aspects I most love from my culture, it is the cariño (affection) we show one another. In motherhood, I show cariño through food, family time, and faith, so I partnered with General Mills Honey Nut Cheerios to tell you more!
Showing cariño through food.
A child’s relationship with food is largely shaped by mom, so I am very intentional with the food we eat. I get a chuckle every time people have complimented me in “how lucky” I am because my daughters have been and are “good eaters.” So not the case! They have been trained to love wholesome food and to think of healthy food as delicious and as a treat. For example:
I don’t say “If you eat your vegetables, you’ll get a treat,”
I say “Eat your vegetable, they’re such a yummy treat!“
My daughters are required to eat “until they feel satisfied,” whether there’s food on the plate or not. They are
allowed encouraged to play with their food, too. And most importantly for my family, they are welcomed in the food preparation process! Elisha and Elyssa know how to cook anything or can figure it out, and Little Pige, my Eliana, already helps out in the kitchen in any capacity I think is age appropriate for a three-year-old (going on thirty!)
When we have cereal for breakfast, it’s easy for her to help- and she can practice her counting skills!
Showing cariño through family time.
In the U.S., statistics reveal that parents spend an average of 3.5 minutes of meaningful conversation with their children PER WEEK! Taking into consideration that each day has 1400 minutes, this number is alarming.
Since we homeschool, we devote plenty of time to chat, do our Scripture Study, and eat our favorite breakfast meals in the morning. I remember how frantic and chaotic morning used to be, but slowing down and enjoying a loving time together can be carved no matter your schedule, especially when you don’t spend hours cooking an elaborate feast and keep it simple, tasty, and nutritious.
And because breakfast is the most important meal of the day and we must not skip it, it is a great opportunity for meaningful dialogue with our children:
- Saying kind words, words of appreciation, words of praise. If you’re anything like me, you correct your children on a regular basis, so taking the time to say empowering words about your child’s past, present, and potential future, can help balance all the necessary disciplinary words we have the duty to say as moms.
- Not saying anything at all and just listening… making eye contact, being present and in the moment, so your child knows there is nothing more important than her in the world. Yeah, that means unplugging, which I know can be a challenge.
- Asking open ended questions that show you are interested in their feelings, their interests, and their opinions. I know that some kids may have a hard time opening up, but I notice sometimes we don’t make it any easier because we don’t ask questions that entice them to share. As I’ve become more intentional in this area, I’ve been able to enjoy a closer connection with my daughters, which is priceless to me, especially since I didn’t enjoy this closeness with my mother as a child.
I love connecting with my daughters and letting them know I care about them above other things that are important and even a priority. And in order to do this, it is smart to put it on the calendar, because if you don’t run our day, the day will run you.
Showing cariño through faith.
Faith is a HUGE part of my life. My grandma taught me to have faith in Jesus Christ and my father taught me to have faith in myself, and this has tremendously enriched my life and helped me through adversity, heartache, and pain. Teaching these values to my daughters creates a great bond with my daughters and honors my Hispanic heritage.
Our Scripture Study creates a setting where we are focused on being better and learning to live our family motto “BEcome ONE.” This sets the tone for our day – and the choices we make each day shape our lives.
As you can see, breakfast can be a meaningful time, and you can create it on your own terms, with what matters to YOU and your family.
I always say that, in motherhood, it’s not what you do that counts, it’s why and how you do it.It is the purpose that counts, and our purpose a moms is to show love, support, and affection.
When we realize that to a child LOVE is spelled T-I-M-E, we’re going to spend less time in the kitchen and more time at the breakfast table, showing cariño, creating memories, and finding joy in being a mom.
How do you make breakfast time a meaningful time? Share your cereal con cariño story with us in the comments below. Have a joyful day, darling!