Vanessa Gonzalez Kraft tries to balance her traditional Mexican-American cultural heritage and Catholic identity, personified by her grandmother La Lupe, with her roles as a young wife and mother.
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Trusting Sin City
There may be a lot of things I would question about my husband: his taste in ties, his organizational skills, his ability to shoot a basketball. But I would never for a moment question his faithfulness to me. Socks making it to the hamper are one thing but when it comes to the “important stuff” Brandon is a rock solid husband. This is why it was strange to me that La Lupe — my grandmother — would doubt this.
When I was eight months pregnant, one of Brandon’s college buddies was having his bachelor party in Las Vegas. It never crossed my mind to worry about them doing the whole “Sin City” thing. I knew they were just going to play blackjack, eat at cheap buffets, and drink beer as one last hurrah. Nevertheless, I thought it was a funny story to tell – me almost due and Brandon gallivanting off to Vegas – so I would bring it up in conversation often. It was good for a few laughs.
When I told my mom about it, instead of a laugh I got a puzzled look. “Why would they want to do that?” she asked. To my parents, spending time with family is the utmost priority. Thus, my parents don’t do girls’ night or guys’ night with their respective friends.
Both my parents have seven siblings so I understand how family is such a priority to them. There was always so much family around to keep them busy that a monthly night out with the guys at the local pool hall never found its way into the schedule. My dad has even turned down baseball tickets to see his favorite team because they didn’t have an extra ticket for my mom. Likewise, some of my mom’s friends from work asked her once if she wanted to go out with them, my mom joked, “Why would I want to see more of you guys? I see you all day. I want to see my family.” Fair enough.
Not learning from this interaction with my mom, I told La Lupe about it. I started to chuckle until I saw her face get serious and concerned. “You never know what the diablitos (little devils) are going to get Brandon to do,” she warned. She was truly worried that Brandon would fall into temptation and sin. I was surprised by the grim reaction.
La Lupe was born and raised in a small town in Mexico where the stereotypical Mexican machismo prevailed. Back in that time I don’t want to say that it was common for a wife to have to overlook her husband’s indiscretions but it was not a surprise to anyone if it happened. La Lupe has seen other wives fall victim to their spouse’s infidelity and has seen what it can do to a family. It makes sense that she was truly concerned for Brandon and did not understand why I would agree to such a trip. I assured her that Brandon was a good man who I completely trust. Being the good abuela that she is, La Lupe dropped the subject, asked me what I (and the baby) wanted for dinner, and reminded me that I better give the baby a name she could pronounce.
Generationally, our experiences with men are different. La Lupe knew her husband’s friends and would not have allowed this sort of trip ever. My parents are obviously very committed to each other so my mom trusting my dad and his friends is not an issue. My dad probably would not have wanted to go on the trip in the first place if my mom couldn’t go. Me, well, I was not worried about my husband who watches Star Trek and gets excited about new toll roads and whose friends once had a guys’ night where they built Lego cities all night.
So off Brandon went to Vegas and off I went to spend the weekend with my parents and La Lupe came to keep us company. While La Lupe and my mom had their reservations about the trip, they were impressed at the number of times Brandon called that weekend to check in on me. Every time he would call, La Lupe would pretend to not notice but couldn’t help but raise her eyebrows and nod her head up and down a little. I could tell that Brandon had won this battle but he’s still got some work to do to completely win her over.