By Elizabeth Guillen
My dad was brought to this country against his will when he was only 10 years old. As a result, he has never let go of the “machista” (male-centered) ideologies that most Mexicans believe in. So, you could just imagine how he felt when he found out that his eldest daughter was pregnant and was not getting married.
My dad always bragged about how he married my mom when she was a virgin and, obviously, did not have children until after their marriage. He expected the same for me.
I was a month away from turning 21 and was preparing my speech that I was going to give my then boyfriend about how we wanted different things. That did not go as planned because two weeks before I talked to him I found out I was pregnant.
My dad was not happy at all when we told him.
“You better marry her,” he told my son’s father. “It’s the right thing to do.”
So he proposed, and, as expected, I reluctantly said yes. In a sense, my dad forced me to stay with a man I could no longer stand. Otherwise, my dad would have disowned me.
If my dad’s reaction wasn’t bad enough, now I had to stay with this guy that I wanted nothing to do with.
I knew I wasn’t alone. According to a 2004 study conducted by Kelly Raley, T. Elizabeth Burden and Elizabeth Wildsmith for the Southwestern Social Science Association,
“Mexican Americans are most likely than Anglos to conceive a child premaritally and this is an additional factor that promotes early marriage.”
This was non-negotiable for my dad. I had to get married. I was miserable but that didn’t matter, I was doing the “right” thing.
For a year I was a single parent even though technically I was engaged and lived with my son’s father. He did not help me at all, emotionally or financially.
I got tired of it and broke the engagement.
I co-parent my 2-year-old with my ex. I am busy 24/7 and am tired ALL the time. But, I wouldn’t change any of it because I’m happy.
To this day my dad reminds me of my failed “marriage” even though I never married my ex.
“No aguantaste (you couldn’t handle it),” he tells me now and then.
But my child isn’t the only one with a non-traditional family. According to a 2014 report by the Pew Research Center, “Fewer than half (46%) of U.S. kids younger than 18 years of age are living in a home with two married heterosexual parents in their first marriage.”
I tried explaining this to my dad, but he didn’t care.
My son, at this point in my life, is the man in my life. He wasn’t part of my plan, but has become the reason for all the decisions that I make.