My name is Ingrid, I am 42, and I have nine chickens. This is kind of how I start a conversation in efforts to be social. Let me start at the beginning. I grew up in Chicago and my early years are a blur. I lived with my immigrant Guatemalan family, in a three bedroom apartment in Uptown (neighborhood in Chicago) with nine other family members. I shared a bed with my parents until I was seven! I went to nine different schools before starting high school. My parents moved me around from school to school because they struggled with childcare. With all the moving around, you’d think that I am an expert at making and keeping friends. I would say, I give myself a generous 6 of 10. I spent a lot of time in daycare until I was in 8th grade. Like many Latino families, my parents were strict! In all my years growing up, I only had one sleepover with a girl who’s mom was single.
I have always had a lot of time alone; I have two younger sisters who are eight and twelve years apart from me. In many ways I was a second mother to them—especially with the youngest. My relationship with them has had to evolve to what it is now. We now have more of a sisterly relationship than ever before. I remember having to be house manager while my mom worked six days a week. I was in charge of cleaning the house every weekend. My sisters were supposed to help me; however, they often ignored my pleas. I think back to that time, I didn’t have to be responsible for their chores. That was the only way for me to go out—if and when the chores were done, the grades were in and everything was smooth. I was allowed to go out every other weekend. “Don’t want to get carried away.”
When I did go out, I hung out with my best friend Mayra. Twenty-five years later she is still my bestest friend! I appreciate her sticking around all these years. Let me apologize now for the fact that I haven’t always been available to everyone I call my friend. For those of you that still invite me to witness moments in your life and can accept my availability, I am truly grateful. This includes my cherished sorority sisters (shout out to my line sister Ivette). Yes, it’s the same sorority as the SLBLatina co-founders. They let me pop in and out however I can participate and I appreciate that so much.
Why do I give myself a 6 out of 10 to make and keep friends? I have three kids! One in college, she is 18 and two at home, a 17-year old and a 12-year old. I got married at 24 and by 26 I had two kids! I was overwhelmed and anyone can understand that. However, I am also a Special Mother. This is what many of us with kids with disabilities call ourselves, at least in the small circle I know, who also don’t have time for one another. Our availability is often even less than the “average” mom. My 17-year old has Down Syndrome so I can’t leave her at home to watch her brother. My husband and I wake up every morning by 7:30 am. She needs daily medication for her epilepsy—everyday, at the same time. She still needs supervision so when she’s up, so are we. I often have to say to social invitations, “no sorry, I can’t go” or “maybe next time.”
It doesn’t mean that we don’t know how to have fun. I am not a party poopasaurus. I have completed relay races with my sorority sisters and ran 200 miles with little to no sleep as a BREAK from life. I often participate in sisterhood retreats and dinners. My husband and I party with Mayra and our long-time friends from high school. We even trained for a marathon to get some quality time together. Equally, my husband will go with his buddies and enjoy some time away. We also take vacations just the two of us and do double dates. As a family, we go to amusement parks and watch movies together. We have been soccer parents, volleyball parents, baseball parents, Special Olympic parents, and we do our best. Every Sunday I host breakfast for my parents and sisters and their families to protect and work on our relationships.
I’ll be honest with you, since I have moved to the ‘burbs like in the last blog, “Long Term Love” by Selena, I haven’t made those solid friendships. I’m friendly but nothing really sticks. I have been in this area for fourteen years. I will say, I do try a bit harder now, I’ll go to the parent/team hangout events and I don’t sit all by myself on the other side of the field. I have preconceived notions that I won’t be welcomed. A lot of people around me grew up here and have established friends already. I won’t and never have been one to be fake. Maybe that’s my problem, being Ingrid too fast. When I do meet people the question is always, “what do you do?” Well, I am a stay-at-home mom, but that sometimes sounds so boring and I am more than that. I help my husband with our small business, PasTence, that may mean one day I am a wood shop helper, another day I do deliveries, I help clean up, or even help with marketing. However, my favorite thing to say is I am a farmer, which has some follow up questions and once I say I have chickens, I’m in! Hahaha! My gardening hobby is so extensive and fills me during long periods away from my friends and family. My next approach to making friends is to join some volunteer opportunities that I am interested in. For me, I plan on signing up for some prairie restoration through the forest preserve. I recently put my name down at a farmers’ market and hope to show up at a milkweed monarch group. It sounds so random, but if you knew me, you’d know that’s perfect for me. Me, Ingrid, who has nine chickens.
INGRID MARTINEZ, GUEST BLOGGER
Ingrid is a wife, a mother of three, a farmer, a gardener, a former Chicago resident, a proud Guatemalan, a small business owner, a wood shop helper, a supporter and reader of the Sex, Love, and Being Latina blog, and much, much more.