A mother’s sage advice: ‘Savor the moments’

Patricia Gallegos

Originally published in Taos News

Patricia Gallegos is the credentialing specialist, administrative assistant and mentorship program coordinator for NonviolenceWorks. She is married to Donald Gallegos and is also the proud mother of three: Stephanie Francisco, who also works at NonviolenceWorks as an intake coordinator, Ariana Gallegos, a sophomore at Questa High School, and Miguel Gallegos, a freshman at the same school.

Gallegos admits that, when there are several siblings, they all tend to think that someone else is the favorite.

“The truth is that each of them is a favorite, in their own way,” she said. “Stephanie is special because she was my first born. She was the only one for nine years so we became really close, we were always together. Ariana, the middle one, resembles me more closely. She is a go-getter! When she wants something, she goes ‘vamanos’ … And Miguel is my only son, my little sunshine boy.”

Gallegos, who doesn’t really have a favorite, spreads her love in equal parts among all members of her family.

“She composed songs for all of us,” said Stephanie. “She would sing them every night since we were babies.”

Maybe that is the origin of Ariana’s artistic talent. She sang the national anthem at the University of New Mexico’s Pit on March 13.

The kids speak

Here’s how the Gallegos children described their mother in short sentences:

“She loves to joke,” says Ariana. “And she is very supportive … My mom shows up every time I sing, no matter where or when!”

“She always drives me to places and takes care of me,” says Miguel, somewhat shyly.

“She makes the best breakfast fried potatoes in the world!” says Stephanie, adding, “But she loves to clean! Too much!”

They even have a joke about the cleanliness issue.

“My mom is going to invent a 410 cleaner because 409 is never good enough for her,” said Ariana.

Sweet mementos

Gallegos has kept mementos from all her children’s early years — a box filled with clothing, toys, first teeth and more. A letter to the tooth fairy has an answer on the back.

She also saves the postcards and notes that her children have given her throughout the years. They form a love collage that decorates a wall. Among them, a huge card made by Miguel stands out.

And a word of advice

The most difficult part of motherhood, Gallegos said, is not always being able to help her children when they hurt. The best part is when they all get together, for no particular reason, simply to enjoy each other’s company.

I ask her for advice to new mothers, or women who are planning to have kids.

“Savor the moments,” she said. “Don’t busy yourself with too many things. The house will always be messy and something will always need to get done. Enjoy the kids now, because they grow up very quickly.”

Gallegos tells her children that if they never have kids of their own, that is their decision to make.

“But if you do, then, and only then, you will know how much I really love you,” she said.

Up to now, there are no grandchildren in sight for her. Their place is taken by Stephanie’s spoiled Chihua-hua, la Sophie.

“Your life changes completely when you become a mother,” said Gallegos. “The love you give to your children, and the love you get back, is amazing. This is the toughest job you’d ever love.”

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About dovalpage

Teresa Dovalpage was born in Havana and now lives in Taos, New Mexico. She has a Ph.D. in Spanish literature and teaches at UNM Taos. She also freelances for Taos News, Profile, Hispanic Executive and other publications. A bilingual author, she has published eight novels, six in Spanish and two in English, two collections of short stories in Spanish and one in English. Her English-language novels are A Girl like Che Guevara (Soho Press, 2004) and Habanera, a Portrait of a Cuban Family (Floricanto Press, 2010). Her collection of short stories The Astral Plane, Stories of Cuba, the Southwest and Beyond was published by the University of New Orleans Press in 2012. In her native Spanish she has authored the novels Muerte de un murciano en La Habana (Death of a Murcian in Havana, Anagrama, 2006, a runner-up for the Herralde Award in Spain), El difunto Fidel (The late Fidel, Renacimiento, 2011, that won the Rincon de la Victoria Award in Spain in 2009), Posesas de La Habana (Haunted Ladies of Havana, PurePlay Press, 2004), La Regenta en La Habana (Edebe Group, Spain, 2012,) Orfeo en el Caribe(Atmósfera Literaria, Spain, 2013) and El retorno de la expatriada (The expat’s return, Egales, Spain, 2014). Her short novel Las Muertas de la West Mesa (The West Mesa Murders, based on a real event) is currently being published in serialized format by Taos News.
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