Tag Archives: family

Family at the Mexican border

Photo I shot at Nuevo Laredo, Mexico.

While interviewing him, this man worked on construction structures. These structures hold cement columns, and also seem to hold the survival of this family.

After giving me permission to take portraits of him working and of his son, he explained the hardships of living in such conditions. This place was (and still is) at the outskirts of Nuevo Laredo.

Nuevo Laredo is considered an international trade hub, where goods and people pass through from the US into Mexico and vice-versa. Because of its strategic position it has attracted the best riches can get and the worst poverty can summon. This the dark side of this city and the whole of the US-Mexico border. A couple of miles from this place the United States begin.

When I presented this at my university in the American side, they were baffled and even incredulous that such scenes could exist on the other side of the river where they live, work and sleep.

If you’re interested in Mexico and inequality you should look into my novel, Till Stars Shut Their Eyes.

Family at Mexican border. Copyright 2006 Miguel Omaña.
Family at Mexican border. Copyright 2006 Miguel Omaña.
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What is to be a father?

By Miguel Omaña.

Now that the whole Father’s Day upheaval has settled down we can really ponder with clarity of mind what a father is. Not that we are not able of talking about it days before or during our day (me being also a father), I’ve found things become more real and steady after such celebrations, very much like New Year’s.

So what is to be a father?

Perhaps the answer I’ve come up with may be so simplistic and perhaps bland. Still, after my mind has gone over it several times and based on personal experiences (good and bad) this is what I consider it to be. A father is one that’s there, no matter what.

Pretty broad definition, huh? Well, I thought so at first. But you see, when you think of it, we’re all sure what a mother is — one that brings into life her child, feeds him/her, and the such. This applies to adopting moms, or even gay couples — you gotta grant me there’s a mommy figure. Nowadays many moms work or earn money, so that 1950’s idea of mommy at home and daddy at work is not only undoable but preposterous for many out there.

We need good fathers in a time where society has grieved and suffered too much.

But the concept of what is a father can be sketchy at best. In an era of high divorce rates and destroyed families, we better come up with a good idea of what a father should be. We need this, in a society that’s seeing too much grief and pain because of a bad family environment — a problem not only endemic to inner city communities but also to suburban areas.
There are dads that go the extra mile, and those that don’t. Don’t mind the latter.

A father is one that’s there, no matter what. This means that someone (anyone) that stays along their kids, her partner’s needs, and present in family issues is a father. I may be criticized for being to lose on such an important figure of a family, but believe me — for a man to do that is way too much in these days were fathers are prone to split away and never look back. There are dads that go the extra mile, and that’s worthy of note. But… and here’s the ugly but… many dads don’t tend fully commit to a family they formed in the first place, to a partner they chose to begin with, in a life they knew they were getting into.

The just ones pay as sinners.

Here we have a saying that says “Justos pagan por pecadores” roughly translated as “the just ones pay as sinners”. These means just because fathers in general have a bad rap it doesn’t mean all dads are spineless weasels that don’t care about their family well-being. Newsflash, there are good dads out there, more that you can imagine. And still, the bad apples may outweight what we good dads may be trying.

Dad, start from the little details. No biggie.

Being there for your family doesn’t only mean physically but also in state of mind. One that is worried about how your little girl is doing in Math, or when the new movie your wife wanted to see comes out. Details, people! Such details count in a life of a family. Yes, there are also bills to pay, errors to mend, and bad habits to control. But what if we start from details only to build up to the bigger issues?

Common ground on what a father should be.

I’m not religious, I’m not left or right winged, but I have found based on personal experiences there is a common ground on what a father should be. Don’t worry what a father should not be, focus on what a dad can do to make a better life for their kids and wife/partner.

Please explain to me… why a father can’t fill mom’s shoes?

“It’s the 21st century”, a liberal might cry.

One would expect a father to be there, and if not he may be slammed about it. That’s what we are fed by the media and our societal mindset. Nobody applauds a father for being careless, abusive, or absent. And yet, when a father is readily present at their children needs I’ve noticed people tend to push them back. Wait a minute, if mom couldn’t make it to school meeting, dad can be there as well.

If mom’s not there, dad can be.

This falls into the whole issue of gender roles — which this two-faced modern society still abides. People expect mom to be there for their kids, and sure, that’s great. But what of dad? If mom works, has fallen ill, or is simply absent (oh yes, moms can leave as well), then dad can and may step in. Society sees this oddly. Can a teacher explain a father the deficiencies of his child at school? Yes they can… but for what I’ve seen it can be hard for them to build rapport with a father. Really hard.

“It’s the 21st century”, a liberal might cry. And he/she may be right, though the point is not merely that. Its simple math and ease of logistics — if mom’s not there, dad can be. That simple! No need to invoke bumper-sticker tag lines.

Colophon.

I wonder how this plays for gay couples — father and father for instance. Whatever the circumstances, I guess being an involved father can have its perks (of course) but also its hurdles.

Please explain to me. Copyright 2015 Miguel Omaña.
Please explain to me. Copyright 2015 Miguel Omaña.