A Love Letter to My Cowgirl Superhero Immigrant Mother

Dear Mom—

In 1994, you were my magic portal into this universe—my human spaceship.

Three years later, you emigrated from Brazil with me as your baby sidekick. You knew it wouldn’t be easy as the single mother of a young child but your resilience allowed us to persist.

Like many immigrants, you traded your lifelong passion in order to survive in America. I never knew you as the equestrian-training, cross-country-racing cowgirl rebel. Instead, I’ve known you as the resilient, independent badass mom who defied all odds and made a home for us in a foreign country.

You raised me while navigating a new culture and language, never allowing me to forget my roots. You made us both citizens and worked your ass off to provide me any opportunity I wished to explore without question. You encouraged and made possible my every childhood obsession—from theater to basketball, and even my short-lived fixation with competitive baton twirling.

When I said “I want to be a Disney animator when I grow up”, you drove me to our town’s community art center the following day and offered to clean the studio in exchange for drawing classes.

My lunch was never a PB&J, but because of you I got to introduce my school friends to pão de queijo and brigadeiro. And though you may not have taught me how to do my makeup or hair, instead you encouraged self-expression by letting me wear whatever I wanted (even all those Spiderman t-shirts from the boys’ section).

When I was a teenager, you’d drive me and my friends to every concert no matter the distance (your own love for the Jonas Brothers was no secret). And when I got older, you supported my decision to drop out of college and encouraged me to follow my heart and forge my own path - just like you did.

Even though I’ve left your nest, I still feel your support from miles away. I love the inspiring text messages you send me when I’m struggling and all the care packages filled with Brazilian treats when we’re quarantined apart.

Every year, Mother’s Day falls a week before my birthday, allowing me to reflect on the monumental endeavor that is birthing (and then raising) a whole person. I know lots of people do it, but damn, you did it well.

Happy Mother’s Day, and thank you, to my superhero.

                                                                                   Written by, Ariane Martins

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