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My tribe

Rato Mariposa

manuelita otero

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Do you like to give or receive advice? I do! I started appreciating  tips when I became a mom. Even though I enjoy receiving advice, it’s not as easy as it may seem. It takes a lot from me to make a phone call to a friend and simply open up and ask for help. I don’t know if it is pride, laziness, or maybe I just don’t want to “bother” someone with my issues, but each day I am learning to value and appreciate more these words of knowledge.

I am also trying to share more of my own experiences. Advice is so valuable when we give it or receive it with an honest heart, simple and to the point, without giving the illusion that our lives are rosy and we have everything under control.

Some years ago,  a very special friend gave me some great advice when she found out I was pregnant. She said that once I became a mom, I needed to always separate space for me and for my marriage. She wrote me a beautiful letter called “From mom to mom” and everytime I think about her advice, the word “movie” comes to mind. I felt this word summarized everything she wanted to tell me: “Whatever happens, always take time together, as a couple. Do something, even if it is just going to the movies.” And today, seven years after I received her advice, I keep going to the movies.

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That same friend, some years later after my baby was born told me: “Make time for you, even if it may seem impossible as you are taking care of your baby”. When I received this beautiful advice I thought: “Of course it is important to separate time for me, and it doesn’t have to be difficult, it’s just a matter of making schedules, and sticking to them period” and I must confess that it has taken me a long time to implement it. I started two years ago. One day I called my little one, who at that time was five, we sat down and I told her that mami was going to start taking some time just for her, to read, sleep, watch TV, talk on the phone, or do whatever. I asked her to help me make a name for that special time and without much thought she said: ‘Mami, let’s call it “el Rato Mariposa” (Butterfly time). I loved the name because it expressed so clearly what I needed to feel: some freedom as a woman and as a person, even if I was a full time mom.

Finding a name was the easy part, but applying it to real life has been difficult. I did it a couple of times and I loved it, but seeing the great opposition my daughter had every time I would tell her I was going to enjoy my “Rato Mariposa”made it too difficult and slowly I let it die last year.  I tried everything: choosing one day a week, a certain hour, or no schedule at all. Nothing worked. Nevertheless, this year I made the decision that, even if my daughter gets upset for a little while or for a whole day, I was going to have my “Rato Mariposa”. I had to bring it back because it’s important, because I miss having my time, because it’s healthy for me and for my family. I kept remembering my wise friend’s words: “If you do it for yourself today, she will do it for herself tomorrow. She will see your example and will understand its importance.” After several failures in past years, this year I chose Wednesdays as my special days and I am so happy. It’s the type of happiness that costs you, because it comes with all types of challenges, which is why sometimes my “Rato Mariposa” turns into “Reto Mariposa” (Butterfly Challenge). But some things are worth fighting for.

Today, I just want to say a big thank you to my special friend. Thank you for daring to give such great advice, which sometimes may be harder than it seems. Thank you for not keeping wisdom to yourself and for sharing what you knew would help me. Thank you for not judging and for not giving up.

Good advice can change lives, it can save families. I don’t know if you need your own “Rato Mariposa”. I don’t know if you need to go to the movies more often, but I do know that beautiful things happen when you give with love what you have and receive with humbleness what others have for you.  

Ana