[Be]coming Dad

13 Mar IMG_3920

To the Father of my Sons:

You are the light in their life, you will be their role model, their friend, their disciplinarian. You will be measured as a man by the quality of men you raise. This job is so grand that many “men” shrink and avoid it; ultimately scared of learning that they never actually became men because it shows in their incapability of raising one. But you are different, you shine in their eyes and hearts. You become the playmate they call when mommy’s imagination isn’t functioning properly. You create memories out of fleeting moments. You get the chance to vicariously relive and outdo your childhood through these boys. You will teach them everything you’ve ever learned because they will always remember their “father’s lessons.” Your bond with each will be different but equally important; one is not more or less than the other because they will both need things from you that they cannot receive from mommy. You inform how they treat their significant others with care and love, you will show them how to love their mother by your love of her. You may not always have fun putting them to bed, force feeding, stopping fights and tantrums, or dealing with sick boys but being there and dealing with it is all that counts. These boys need you every day and every second of their lives, beginning in the womb to when they are men with their own babies in the womb. They will ALWAYS need you. There isn’t a day when you stop being a father once you’ve become one. You get the privilege of being called “Dad” and when you hear those words again and again your heart will swell with pride and you will never remember what it was like before that same heart belonged to other beings broken into pieces outside of yourself and still keeping you alive.



My father didn’t tell me how to live; he lived, and let me watch him do it. ~Clarence Budington Kelland




5 Things I Learned in 2014: How to be Free…

31 Dec IMG_2317-0

I’m literally full of life. Everywhere I’m surrounded by love and it’s overwhelming at times, sometimes I wonder if it’s real. You know how when things are so magical that they can’t be really truly real? Sometimes I get scared that something will happen, sooner or later, that will come to destroy this ethereal feeling, that will take away this happiness. I try not to dwell too much on this but when things are so perfect in your world and it hasn’t always been perfect you just sorta expect it to one day disappear so that you’re not forever jilted. So that you can adjust when you fall back down to reality, when gravity kicks in.

But the truth is I’m flying. I may not be exactly where I want to be with my career, finances or with my status but the things that truly matter, are exactly where I need them to be. This is what the year 2014 taught me:

1. Learning how to focus on a few individuals and invest all my energy into those rather than wasting myself thin trying to worry about everyone I was connected with whatsoever has changed my attitude. I am much happier when those closest to me are completely satisfied with my relationship with them. I’ve done away with the relationships I held onto for too long, and those that serve no greater purpose in my life. I thank my son for showing me the true meaning of how to invest my very small amount of energy when it comes to others.

2. Dreaming awake is far better than sleeping while you should be living. Granted there are limitations, but those are boundaries we place on ourselves. I only have this life and I should attempt to do whatever suits my desires so that I don’t wake up tomorrow wondering “what if?” Life is meant to be lived so keep calm and get on that plane, or see that show, or eat that dessert, and so on. I did things this year I would’ve never fathomed I was capable of doing IN ONE YEAR. I tried out for the Eagles Cheerleaders, went to Vegas (twice!), took a cruise to Bermuda with my son & family, finished my thesis and graduated with my Masters, published a chapter (soon to be released) and met and interacted with astounding people I would’ve only dreamed of being around. I could’ve never done this had i allowed my limitations to keep me from fulfilling a deeper purpose, one that pulls at my heartstrings, which is doing whatever I feel I am capable of. So aim high, because if you miss you’ll land among the stars.

3. You can only live well if you have wellness in your body, mind and soul. I made a vow after my son was born to maintain my health so that I could live my life to the fullest. I knew that if I was worried about having diseases or being ill that life would slip away from me, and that time would be unkind. I see so many people near and dear to me who suffer from illnesses and I just worry and keep them in my thoughts. I didn’t want to be one more person that people had to worry about and all my life I would get sick or injured and hated the feeling and wanted to better. This year I’ve been the healthiest in my entire life! By dedicating myself to exercising, eating right and even making bad decisions (like dessert) healthier than normal, I’ve successfully managed to not need one sick visit this year. By remembering the importance of exercise, I also managed to maintain a small four pack and build quads while breastfeeding a baby; all feats I thought were impossible for me to achieve. I’ve also been more focused on home remedies to avoid putting medicines in my body that may cause future illnesses. I stopped giving my son antibiotics he was prescribed every time he had a chronic ear infection, and he hasn’t had one ever since. Immunity is the key to a long life and I’m still learning and working towards a better diet, better body and better soul for myself and my family but the stones are in place and we just have to keep walking the path to good health.

4. I may not have learned this lesson in time this year but a mistake I will not make in 2015 is be fiscally irresponsible. Your financial reputation precedes you and in many ways it held me back, and I’m not good with limitations anymore. Despite not being paid exceptionally well, not ashamed to say PhD students take home a stipend of less than $20K a year with unpaid summers), I could’ve still accomplished more by budgeting better and prioritizing. I’m going to learn to live within my means while making my dreams possible. This means an emphasis on saving (keep your piggy banks for vacations, cars, house, new puppy, expensive dinner or new baby) and planning. By being responsible for your credit and your money you can learn to live freely without bad debts or a bad financial reputation holding you back. Too many people brag about money they don’t have, and not enough people are honest about their circumstances and how they manage it. I’m taking this one to heart in 2015.

5. Motherhood. When Mehky was born in 2013 we spent three months together before that year ended. Being a single mom alone during the holidays was rough but so damn worth it. My bond with my son is like no other. And though those days are distant memories (& he’s since become a walking-talking-thriving human creature) I still cherish how we created this relationship to be the way it is today. Every parent has different relationships with their children. But sometimes, as a mon, I still can’t believe I made a human being. This fuels how vital it is for his survival to teach him how to be successful, caring, sociable, loving, aware, smart and all the above. I never thought I would love motherhood as much as I do. But because it has become the major facet of my identity (I only exist as a mother because of him) it was only natural that I embrace this role for two. Adding to my family is important and learning how to balance life, love, career and family has been the fun part of this year. Sometimes I trip and fall but I always get up and spread my wings. Dreams only work if you do… And the freedom of flying is much more exhilarating than the fear of falling.

Happy New Year!




Saying Hello For the First Time

25 Sep

Those few weeks after he was born, I didn’t immediately fall in love. I don’t believe in love at first sight. We were learning each other; I could’ve never imagined his appearance, as I’m sure he wondered about mine. We studied each other’s eyes, noses, mouths and played with each other’s fingers, feeling what it was like to be “mother,” to be “son” for the very first time. The only way you can feel that way is in direct contact with the person who makes you that. You cannot be a mother without a child to call “son” or “daughter.” But from the minute he arrived and said “hi” back to me, I knew I belonged to him, he owned me, and that I would protect him with my life. I loved him the way a tigress loves her cubs, fearlessly and intuitively.

The “falling in love” came later… <3


The Fucking Irony of PhD-ing

25 Sep

In response to the statistic used in my PhD Mama piece, this is an ode to that number:

A 2012 Racialicious post, “Latina/os in academia: A look at numbers,” offers these overwhelming facts:

Americans (25 years or older and of any race) [who] earn a doctoral degree in the first place [are]: 1.5% of the US population as a whole in 2011. [Latinas] don’t even make up one half of one percentage point.

Yea. About that… It is what it is. I mean, statistics don’t really prove shit. Does that mean I’m fucking rare? That I’m like one in a hundred thousand? (I’m bad at math so I’m sure that’s inaccurate.) Why the fuck does it matter? Because women like me aren’t supposed to make it in an environment designed to be fruitful for those who have parents who can support them or for someone who can spend their life on their passion for “love” of books? This is my fucking job. If I don’t make it here, I’ll be nowhere. This is a platform to allow me to do whatever the fuck I want because I have the title, I am Dr. Estremera. Or will be. Hopefully, if I can get the fucking time and energy to finish my thesis AND dissertation AND the rationale before that. I’m the expert, I can go back to the hood and tell little boys and girls to do their homework because they can be like me someday… But what am I? And why would they want to be?

Maybe the statistic does matter then… The fact that people in my area still do not know what a PhD. is. It is mind numbing to explain it countless times to people who still won’t understand. It matters because there should be more Latinas like me doing what I am doing or whatever they enjoy doing but in academia, where we do NOT belong. It matters because women from North Philly shouldn’t have to choose between being a hood rat and a baby mom. That percentage doesn’t make me clap for joy to be a part of it; it saddens me that it is a low as it is. But then again I think…

I have friends who are making $30-$50K with just college degrees; they don’t have a “career” necessarily, unless being someone’s administrative assistant (doing someone else’s job without the title or pay) is a reputable career still. I live off of a stipend that can barely pay for my rent for a year. The fucking irony.  But I love learning and fostering that passion in others. So you’ll never have to work a day in your life if you love what you do, right?!

“Courage does not always roar. Sometimes it’s the quiet voice at the end of the day saying, ‘I will try again tomorrow.’”

La Femenista Presence

18 Aug

Hi Peeps!

Check out my full length article published by Feministing.com! Below is a brief glimpse of it… Further commentary to come!

Feministing.com Link

La Femenista Presence

July 3, 2014


By Cynthia Estremera


In college I was surrounded by white feminists and white feminism. I was co-President of our feminist group “The Third Wave” and made waves as a Latina who embraced the principles of feminism bravely. Yet every day I was “segregated” from the Latino Student Organization, and at every event I fought to unite these groups as I aimed to unite these facets of myself. It hurt to look for myself in the margins of research papers and textbooks, if I existed there. It was difficult to see the few women of color in my Women’s Studies class pour out their hearts about their differences and have theory and history laugh in their face. The Latina feminist remains illegible because of narratives and ideologies that are continuously marginalized by the dominant narrative, the mainstream form of feminism for white middle class women.

So when I found Black feminism in African American literature, I felt I belonged there more than I ever did in the Eve Ensler-esque world of women’s equality. I could not understand why my Latina hermanas, hijas, y madres were not as visible and important as the Lilly Ledbetters, the Jane Roes, and the Susan B. Anthonys. Black feminism taught me why women of color were invisible and ignored, “[it] emerged at the juncture between antiracist and antisexist struggles” (White 1). I was closest to Black girls growing up and while in school, yet when my language fluency was “discovered” our friendship waned; a fluency that seemed broken to me. In academia, I face the issue of wanting to study African American women’s literature, but when I express a desire to intersect Afro-with-Latina my research becomes “sub-genre’d” and there is no one who can help me. This is a critique of the dominant structures of my graduate programs, determining that my English degree is better suited with literature that doesn’t exhibit an alternate language or code switching, despite having to fulfill a language requirement for research purposes. My language exam that I chose to complete was, of course, in Spanish. Yet still Latinas occupy a unique space where we are more different than alike, therefore no carved out space exists for us instead we are forced to identify with what can represent us the most instead of what can represent all that we identify with.

So how can this representation of Latina feminists be accomplished? How can we exist in a space specifically designed to nurture us and ensure our survival? How can we become visible, how can our voices be heard? The most appropriate answer seems to be that we need to write ourselves and our feminism into existence.

I seek a space where I can exist in solidarity and in sisterhood. I seek a space where talking turns into doing, and theorizing turns into a movement; where they both create opportunity. I yearn for the chance to hear our mothers and aunts and grandmothers proclaim “yo soy una femenista” and have these words be significant to them. I want to take feminist activism out of the academic and privileged spaces and translate it for the world to see it, living, breathing and existing. I want it to be accessible. I want this for women, I want this for Latinas; we need it for us. This is not to say that this space does not exist yet; I see blogs, conferences, and advocacy groups that promote feminist values. I hear the stories written by women and written for them, documenting struggles and survivals. […]

Earth, Wind, Sea & Love

18 Aug

Love and trust should be one and the same, and I imagine that we could walk away from each other for a day without checking in with the other and reunite at the end of the day without a worry or a care in the world. That “friends” are really people that we appreciate and spend time with who genuinely respect our relationship and it not matter what sex they are. That faithfulness is not some imagined concept that we fail to understand but something that we recognize as real and possible. That distance is nothing but time and we’ve got all the time in the world so the distance is irrelevant. Nothing you say can discourage me from loving you and any mistakes we each make we’ll take on together for the world to see, a united front with nothing but acceptance and support. Communication is perfect like we can read each other’s minds. Jealousy is just a small reminder to hold each other a little tighter at night, but it doesn’t run rampant to ruin what we have. I can see this, it’s obvious we could make shit like this happen, and it could all be worth it.

You have been the edge of a building I walk under to shield me from the rain when I don’t have an umbrella. You have lit up my life with your bright smile and comforted me with your warm and knowing eyes. You have opened up to me in ways that are unimaginable, ways I didn’t think were possible. You have promised me that I would become the happiest girl in the world and I am ready to feel that way forever. I’m ready to show you what it feels like to be treated like a king on a throne (and maybe sometimes a slave in the bedroom) Your kindness, your quiet observance, your generosity, your forgiving soul, your spurts of random affection, your silly, silly sense of humor, your crazy laugh, your unique controlled ambition, your dreams… All this is what makes me love you so deep and will always be the reasons why I love you forever ‘til the day I can no longer be present physically on this Earth. I could say that I wish to be a bird to fly the skies and see the world in a whole new way, but if I were I wouldn’t have hands to caress your face or arms to hold you close. I could say that I wish to be a fish to swim in the vast oceans and live in the sea, but if I were I wouldn’t have feet to walk side by side with you on earth. I could say that I wish to be dead if you’re not here with me, but if I were I wouldn’t have the momentary chance of encountering you and all the memories I have will erase. I could say that I wish to be with you forever, but if I were I would be lying to myself since I would want to spend a thousand eternities in your embrace.

The Last Lovers Alive

10 Apr

Don’t worry about the world, our stars are too far for it to see us clearly. Our moon is brighter in the dark.

Don’t think about the oceans. Our wind is strong enough to carry us both through the sky, our mountain tops are too high to be reached.

Don’t dwell on the animals of the land. Our wings will take us to new heights, our fins can cross chaotic waters and seas.

We were an endangered species and we were never meant to survive. Forced to adapt to the changing world but now we are stronger inside.

You see, my love, the elements of you and me can survive extinction and everything in between.

Trust in our survival & we’ll thrive until the end of human kind. We’ll be the last lovers alive, you and I.



Brave(Soul)dier will be a blog of a combination about my travels in the Army, my personal travels and pretty much anything in between. I hope my readers enjoy!

One Lyfe at a Time

Living and learning one day at a time

Mamita Ascendente

Tales of motherhood, marriage, and the pursuit of happiness


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