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On my mom 50th birthday
(Citizen Illegal 37)
“On my mom 50th birthday” is an interesting poem from this both funny and sad poetry book from the poetry book called “Citizen illegal” written by José Olivarez. Graduated from the big Harvard University, José Olivarez, through this amazing book of poems, let each reader discover the life he experienced growing in the United States. By using several technics of writing, he makes the book both, sometimes funny and amusing, and sometimes sad nay dark. On this poem “On my mom 50th birthday” which is actually one of my best, the narrator makes readers feel the careless behavior of his mom of 50 years old, too focused of her look for a party the night of his birthday at some point to ignore all her family. I’ll discuss this poem and approach the subject of the independence of women by comparing this poem to “Mexican Heaven” which have a similar level where José Olivarez describes all Mexican women as being lazy and careless, and then I’ll have an observation about this negative image of Mexican women and even the serious issues of raising kids on “on my mom 50th birthday”.
Indeed, I find very unfaithful how the independence of women is rushed sometimes, because from my analysis, in his lines, the author, kind of blames his mom who was on the verge to go out with her sisters the night of his birthday, “i am removing my mom from our house/ “i am removing my mom & placing her in a club in Guadalajara with her sisters” (José Olivarez 14/17). I’m not pleading the fact that his mom went to a club instead of celebrating her birthday with her own family, however, I would seem more normal in some part of the world if the dad have done the same thing. I’m not saying so, but put the dad in the place of his mom, and for some people it would sound way better. An unfair reality which some women live in some cultures of my country, cultures which considering men as the kings of his house.
Yet, the narrator steps in a part where his mom was ignoring all her family and responsibilities because of her birthday which was the most important for her to focus on that night, by adding, “my mom is not my mom, nor does she know any children, tonight kids cry on someone else’s bed, she is not married. / so for the next few hours she will not worry about me & my brothers. / so for the next few hours all she will have to worry about is the color of her lips and the handsome men admiring them. (37, 38)” Those lines of José Olivarez give a huge slap to Mexican women image. Personally, it’s absolutely negative for both parents, dad or mom, to not worry about their kids. Of course, those lines give readers bad impressions in regard to them.
However, José Olivarez continues to portray Mexican women in his poem “Mexican Heaven” which is a bit similar comparing the poem “on my mom 50th birthday”. In “Mexican Heaven”, he’s is denouncing, this time, some refusals of Mexican women, he notes: “all the Mexican women refuse to cook or clean/ or raise the kids or pay bills or make the bed or/ drive your bum ass to work or do anything except/ watch their novelas” (José Olivarez 1/2/3/4). Reading those words, some people would easily conclude a careless nay selfish and lazy behavior from Mexican women. Looking at those words from a wider perspective, I would say they’re just breaking those traditional female stereotypes. Do only women supposed to raise kids? I disagree, for sure they didn’t make it by themselves. Why would they cook or clean? Why would they make the bed? That’s funny. Were those women the ones who were laying in those beds? Just to show that the cliché that José Olivarez expose and which Mexican women destroy is maybe the thing that makes automatically readers assume a negative point of view of the narrator toward Mexican women.