When a mass shooting hits too close to home

I'm an immigrant mom and I fear for my family every day

When a mass shooting hits too close to home

I come from an immigrant family. Both sets of my grandparents fled the war in Spain and Italy and settled in Argentina to give their families a safer future. My parents are immigrants themselves. We moved around my entire life, never living more than eight years in one country.

I always knew I wanted to move to New York city. As a little girl, I would repeat Frank Sinatra's lyrics, "If I can make it there, I can make it anywhere," over and over in my head as my dad played his CD for the millionth time on our way to the beach. When I was accepted to grad school at an Ivy League university, I finally made my dream come true and emptied my bank account and packed all my things into two tiny suitcases.

But when I moved to the United States, I didn't consider myself an immigrant. I was just here for a bit and then going back home. After all, I had a boyfriend, my entire family, and my friends back home.

My student visa turned into a work visa which eventually turned into a green card after I met my husband and got married. I have lost count of the number of times someone at the border has made a rude or insensitive comment to me as I come back into the United States.

But I didn't care.

One time a man heard me speaking in Spanish to my parents on the phone and yelled, "Go back to Mexico!" I wanted to stop and explain to him that not all Spanish speakers come from Mexico. In fact, there are 20 countries that have Spanish as their first language. I knew it was going to be pointless.

But I didn't care.

Then I had my son. And I started to care about these constant microaggressions.

We've been raising him bilingual so he can celebrate and belong to both cultures our family is made of. I speak to him only in Spanish and my husband only in English so our son can switch from one to the other without a problem.

Recently I was at the playground with him and I was counting the steps up to the slide, "Uno, dos, tres!" A woman playing nearby with her kid smiled and I thought maybe our kids could play together. They did and I struck up a conversation about toddlers being so wild, she looked at me confused, first that I spoke English, and second that I wasn't the nanny.

And I cared.

When I'm at the supermarket, someone does a double-take after hearing me speak to my son in Spanish. I see eyes staring at me at restaurants and playgroups. I'm in one of the most diverse cities in the world and yet I am reminded constantly that I am the odd one out.

And I care.

And then, this weekend happened where at least 29 people were killed in shootings in America. After having worked in the news for over a decade, I've become pretty desensitized to tragedies. It pains me to say it, but it's the truth. However, the mass shooting at El Paso got to me. The target was immigrants—people like me, and their families just like mine.

It is heart wrenching to think that I might be putting my family in danger by raising our son bilingual. That someone, somewhere, might see him as a threat or a target when he asks for "agua" instead of water.

So days like today, I can't just turn away and ignore the news to protect my mental health. Instead, I find myself scouring the internet for all the details so I can help prevent it next time, or make sure there is no next time.

As a mother, but also as an immigrant mother, I urge you not to turn off the news tonight and instead work within your community so all parents never have to fear for their children's safety when they leave the house.

Right now, I'm focusing on talking openly about this. Maybe it can help someone see how drastically different someone's experience can be, even living in similar circumstances. I'm also donating to help those families affected by the most recent shootings. It's not much, but it's what I can do from here.

Recently I read this quote from Fred Rogers, "When I was a boy and I would see scary things in the news, my mother would say to me, 'Look for the helpers. You will always find people who are helping.' I'm going to focus on both being the helper within my community, and also celebrating the helpers that are making a change. Maybe if we focus more on the good than on the bad we can make a difference. At least I hope we can.

You might also like:

In This Article

    These are only the vitamins I give my children and here's why

    It's hard to say who loves these more—my kids or me.

    When I became a mama five years ago, I didn't put too much thought into whether my son was getting the right vitamins and minerals. From breastfeeding to steaming and pureeing his first bites of solid food, I was confident I was giving him everything to support his growth and development.

    But then the toddler years—and the suddenly picky palate that accompanied them—came along. Between that challenge and two additional children in the mix… well, I knew my oldest son's eating plan was falling short in some vitamin and mineral categories.

    I also knew how quickly he was growing, so I wanted to make sure he was getting the nutrients he needed (even on those days when he said "no, thank you" to any veggie I offered).

    So when I discovered the new line of children's supplements from Nature's Way®, it felt like a serious weight off my chest. Thanks to supplements that support my children's musculoskeletal growth, their brain function, their immune systems, their eyes and more, I'm taken back to that simpler time when I was so confident my kids' vitamin needs were met.*

    It wasn't just the variety of supplements offered by Nature's Way that won me over: As a vegetarian mama, I'm the picky one in the family when it comes to scanning labels and making sure they meet our standards. The trick is that most gummy vitamins are made with gelatin, which is not vegetarian friendly.

    But just like the other offerings from Nature's Way that I've already come to know and love, the children's supplement line is held to a high standard. That means there's no high-fructose corn syrup, gelatin or common allergens to be found in the supplements. The best part? My two oldest kids ensure we never miss their daily vitamins—they are so in love with the gummy flavors, which include tropical fruit punch, lemonade and wild berry.

    Nature's Way Kids Mulitvitamin

    Meanwhile, my pharmacist husband has different criteria when evaluating supplements, especially when it comes to those for our kids. He appreciates the variety of options from Nature's Way, which gives us the ability to rotate the vitamins based on our kids' daily needs. By keeping various children's supplements from Nature's Way on hand, I can customize a regimen to suit my kids' individual requirements.

    Of course, high-quality products often come at a higher price point. But (to my immense gratitude!) that isn't the case with Nature's Way, which retails for a competitive value when compared to the other items on the shelf.

    Like all mamas, my chief concern is supporting my children's health in any way I can. While I see evidence of their growth every time I pack away clothes they've outgrown, I know there is much more growth that doesn't meet the eye. That's why, for my oldest son, I like stacking the Brain Builder gummy with the Growing Bones & Muscles gummy and the Happy & Healthy Multi. My 3-year-old also enjoys getting her own mix to include the Healthy Eyes gummy. And both of my older kids are quick to request the Tummy Soothe tablet when something isn't sitting right in their stomachs.* And I'll admit it: I've tried it myself and the berry blast flavor really is tasty!

    Although my current phase of motherhood may not be as "simple" as it once was, there is so much to appreciate about it—like watching my kids play and sing and create with their incredible imaginations. Along the way, I've eased up on some of my need for control, but it does help to have this range of supplements in my motherhood tool kit. So while I may not be able to convince my son to try kale, having the Nature's Way supplements on hand means I do know he's right on track.*These statements have not been evaluated by the Food & Drug Administration. This product is not intended to diagnose, treat, cure or prevent any disease.

    This article was sponsored by Nature's Way. Thank you for supporting the brands that support Motherly and mamas.

    Our Partners

    It’s science: Vacations make your kids happy long after they’re over

    Whether you're planning a quick trip to the lake or flying the fam to a resort, the results are the same: A happier, more connected family.

    Whether you're looking for hotels or a rental home for a safe family getaway, or just punching in your credit card number to reserve a spot in a campground a couple of states over, the cost of vacation plans can make a mom wince. And while price is definitely something to consider when planning a family vacation, science suggests we should consider these trips—and their benefits—priceless.

    Research indicates that family vacations are essential. They make our, kids (and us) happier and build bonds and memories.

    Keep reading Show less

    Cameron Diaz on having a baby at 47: 'You really have to work hard for it'

    "The only pressure for me now is I have to live to be, like, 107, you know? No pressure!"

    This is the decade that saw the face of first-time motherhood change. The number of first-time mamas under 30 is shrinking, while more and more women are becoming moms after 40.

    Cameron Diaz is one of them. The actress and businesswoman, now 48, became a mom in January at the age of 47. In a new episode of Naomi Campbell's YouTube series, No Filter, Diaz opens up about what it's like to become a mom in your fourth decade.

    "A lot of people do it the other way around ... they get married [and] have a family in their youth," says Diaz."I'm kind of doing it in the second half of my life."

    Keep reading Show less