Dripping River Water


Because it has been too long February 10, 2014

Filed under: Uncategorized — Maceo Cabrera Estevez @ 5:54 am

Was August really the last time I posted something here? 

It is February and the months have passed by like busy bees.  I am writing again.  My goal is one sentence each day.  I figure if I commit to just one sentence it would be out of pure laziness that I’d fail.  I was lazy yesterday.  Not lazy, just filled the day with running here and there, tending to my kids and trying not to focus on my lack of sleep.

I am trying to form a writing habit again.  I am trying to take myself seriously again.  I was depressed for so long.  I look back and I could see the heaviness that took a hold of me each day.  That it is not there seems a bit of a miracle.  I broke through.  I am thankful.

Writing fills me, it clears my mind and heart, words dance around me.  Everything is a story.  Right now I am just taking it all in.

I am not sure if this blog is something I want to still keep.  Maybe I should start fresh and build another one.  There are stories I want to share, there are subjects I want to research.

I am a late-bloomer.  Almost 39, so not too too late.

the end. 


Are you still a writer when you stop writing? August 1, 2013

Filed under: life,writing — Maceo Cabrera Estevez @ 5:56 am

A couple of months ago I started to have visions of a story. I wrote and the page came to life. I felt normal again or should I say I felt like myself again, my old self who wrote everything down and dreamed big. I took the kids to the babysitter; I took my computer to a cafe and I sat and wrote while I drank coffee and a ate bagel. It was just like the old days in Brooklyn. It was the first time I took the kids to the babysitter to write not to take one to a doctor’s appt, not to go to work, not to clean the house. I took them there to write and I wrote and then…my computer crashed.

I didn’t even cry.
I just stopped writing.

Am I still a writer since I don’t write anymore? I am not sure if this counts. It’s the first time I have written since my computer crashed two months ago. I know other writers have gone longer not writing but how does one go back to writing?

I will tell you the truth.
I am scared.

What if the words dance on the page again and there is a flow and something bad happens, even worse than a computer crashing?

What if I can’t produce anything?

What if I write junk and I think it is beautiful?

What if I just write?

I love being a mother. I just don’t know how to be a writer mama or a mama writer. Which one is better?

Before I went to grad school for writing I checked out other grad programs.
Social Work
Non-Profit Management
And probably something else extremely boring.

I was too scared to just do what I love to do: write.

Since I’ve become a mother I have considered other careers:
Life Coach
Therapist for women with perinatal depression
Urban Farmer

Why don’t I just write?
What is wrong with me?

I am almost 40 and I am wondering how long I will struggle with this.


It is the holy month of Ramadan. For the past three years I have not fasted because I was 8 months pregnant with Omar, then I was breastfeeding Omar, then I gave birth to Azalea. I am still breastfeeding but I am fasting this year. It is humbling and wonderful and I love Ramadan. One of the things I love about Ramadan is that with 16 hours of fasting I have plenty of time to appreciate all that I have, all the gifts God has given me and my family, all the time I get to spend with my kids and less time thinking about myself in a negative way. Sometimes I fail and when I do I pick up the Qur’an and there is always something to read that will remind me of what is important.

It feels like I have been working on myself for my whole life and I have just realized that I will probably die working on myself. That in itself is a blessing and that I am able to write about is even a bigger one.

I guess I just answered some of my questions.

the end.


That Type of Mother March 29, 2013

Filed under: Uncategorized — Maceo Cabrera Estevez @ 4:21 am

I was a sickly child, colds with high fevers.  Mami cut garbage bags into shirts to make me sweat it out.  She also made circles to put over my back and chest out of big brown paper bags; she rubbed Vicks VaporRub on them like her mami did.

I remembered this as I put blankets on my son after he fell asleep.  As I was reading him a book he asked for more medicine.  He either has a cold or bad allergies; I had already given him Claratin and Chinese herbs.  I then remembered the Vicks VaporRub, a staple in any Caribbean Latino’s home.

There are things that are so different with my kids than how I was raised.  We live in a house for one thing.  I let my son play by himself in the backyard.  I watch him through the window as he sits in his plastic jeep without a battery contemplating life.  He waters the garden and comes in to play.  I let him get dirty; I brush off his knees when he falls; I dare him to not be scared and he isn’t.  We have books and instruments and we spend lots of time in the kitchen cooking and baking.  I let him stir and pour ingredients.  When he acts out I ask him if he needs a hug.  He says, “lo siento” and I forgive him.  My kids watch my husband and I kiss.  They see love between us sometimes they see us argue-I would like to stop that one.

The things that are the same is the lessons taught in manners and ways to be.  I sing them the same lullabies my mami sang to me.  We talk to our family, we eat rice and beans.  I teach them about Cuba and have started to tell them about my childhood.  My mami was the first person to teach me to pray as I have taught my children.  It may not be the same prayers or in the same ways but I am building their love of God just like my mami did with me.  There are hugs and kisses and I love yous.

When I look into my children’s eyes I see their love for me.  That look reminds me that being a mother surpasses any other occupation I’ve ever had.  I sometimes don’t feel the same when I clean or do their laundry or change their diapers but when I hear their laughter and play the drums with them I feel content.

I was a lonely child.  My mami swept as I told her stories but she didn’t listen to them.  When I find myself absorbed in my own thoughts or what I am reading on the internet while my child is talking I stop myself.  I know I can’t be perfect but I don’t want them to remember me not being there for them.  I want them to know I go through various emotions but I don’t want them to think they have a crazy mother.  I want to be stable and loving and someone they could trust and turn to.  I want them to think I am beautiful.  Maybe I am being vain but I want that.   I want to teach them about life and have them understand me.  I want to not judge them or hold them back or be resentful of their mistakes and choices.    Maybe I could do that.  Maybe I could be that type of mother.

the end.


After heart surgery March 28, 2013

Filed under: Uncategorized — Maceo Cabrera Estevez @ 8:45 pm

My daughter is home now.  She acts like nothing has happened.  There is a scar down her chest.  Not such a straight line from her collarbone to beneath her nipple line.  Each time we changed the dressing in the hospital they told me it looked good.  I didn’t believe them but then thought it could be worse.  There could be puss or blood or who knows what.  Azalea sits at the kitchen table eating black beans and gnaws at some broccoli.  She pretends that she didn’t spend five days in the hospital, a couple of them drugged up on morphine.

It is surreal.  I check her breathing constantly.  I am waiting for something to happen.  It won’t, inshaAllah.

I started writing stories about asking the world to pray for her.  I never finished them.  I didn’t have time before her surgery.  I asked everyone who I knew; everyone I spoke to; I even asked the two Jehovah Witnesses that came to my door.  You never know who’s prayers God will listen to.  Even the people who don’t pray and just have positive thoughts, I asked them to share their positive thoughts with my daughter.

Azalea smiles a lot and even laughs at my baby jokes.

I slept most of the nights at the hospital.  My son, Omar, had to adjust to not have me in my bed to cuddle up with when he woke up in the middle of the night.  One morning I came home right around fajr; I prayed and crawled into his bed and held him in my arms.  I still hadn’t been able to hold Azalea with all the tubes and wires coming from her body .  He woke up and said, “Mami.”  His smile and eyes showed his surprise.  I missed him.

I am with my kids everyday.  They are part of me now.  I am unsure how to be without them.  I lost a part of myself and then gained so much more.  I wonder what kind of mother I will continue to be.

the end.


Azalea’s heart January 10, 2013

Filed under: Uncategorized — Maceo Cabrera Estevez @ 11:02 pm

I read recently of a mother who took pictures of her daughter’s chest before her first open heart surgery.  Azalea’s skin, unblemished, no bruise or cut in sight will have a scar down her chest.  She will be sewed or bonded; I am not sure what they will do.  I wonder if I should take pictures of her chest as well to show her how she looked like before…

When she is sleeping I feel for her heartbeat.  Sometimes I can’t feel it.  I think it’s my imagination playing with me.  I press harder.  Then I make her move.  She doesn’t wake up but her arms or feet move from side to side.  I think all mothers do this to their babies.  I do it because she has a complex heart and I wonder if one day it will stop.

At this time a week from today she will be out of surgery, inshaAllah.  She will have the Glenn procedure.  Azalea was supposed to have it at the end of November but my stepdaughter came to visit us and she was sick; she gave it to my son who got bronchitis and he gave Azalea a cold.  Alhamdullilah.

I told my friends and they felt bummed for me.  I wasn’t disappointed.  I was grateful.  During that time I took a tincture to help my milk flow and it worked.  I started exclusively breastfeeding for a month but then she never gained weight so I am supplementing with formula.  I finally gave in after reading about another mother in a similar situation who was told that formula was first created for medical purposes and this is definitely a medical purpose.

Azalea, Nov 2012 Ardenwood

Azalea, Nov 2012 Ardenwood

Now Azalea is almost 6 months old.  She is small.  People comment and I want to tell them she has a heart defect but then there will be that awkward silence.

When I have a chance I read blogs by other moms of “cardiac babies”.  These babies and their acronymed heart defects.  So many of them.  It overwhelms me.  I can’t get it all straight sometimes.  My writer’s mind wants to block out how a heart looks and functions.  I just know how it feels.

Azalea has a single ventricle heart defect and a grand transposition of the greater arteries.  But she looks fine.  Anatomy changes and every time we go to the hospital for an echocardiogram I imagine that the technician will bulge out his or her eyes and say, “I can’t believe it!  Her heart is normal!  It’s a miracle!”  That never happens.  I don’t get mad at God.  I keep on praying for help.

My husband is taking an online biology class.  He told me that he was studying birth defects.  Her heart didn’t form the way a “normal” heart forms around the time she was 5 weeks in gestation.  I think back to that time.  What did I do wrong?

Maybe I am just too self-centered.  Maybe I am making it all about me.  But I wonder if there was something I did or did not do that made her heart complex.  I wasn’t ready to be pregnant with her and I was angry about it.  I feel guilty about that.

She lies beside me kicking her feet on the floor, smiling and cooing.  I love her.  When she is on my lap pushing herself up to stand while I hold her hands, I look deep into her eyes.  I want to hold that moment forever.

the end.


On mothering and not falling apart September 15, 2012

Filed under: Uncategorized — Maceo Cabrera Estevez @ 12:24 am

A few weeks ago I wrote a post that took me an hour to write.  I wanted to link a video and I somehow erased it.  It was Azalea’s birth story.  Maybe one day I will write it again.  For now I will tell you that I had a VBAC (Vaginal Birth After Cesarian)  now known as a TOLAC (Trial of Labor After Cesarian).  Why they changed the name, I don’t know.  I will tell you that it was fast and easy.  Alhamdullilah, God answered all my prayers during labor.  It was painful.  Not Azalea trying to push out but the terrible back labor I was having.  It was like something was trying to take my tailbone out without any mercy.

She was not blue, not her skin but her eyes-the color of blue slate.  She was born beautiful.  Black hair.  She doesn’t really look like me.  She looks like my husband.  Both my kids do.  MashaAllah. 

Azalea spent the first 8 days of her life at Children’s Hospital.

I never got that 40 days of rest.  It’s ok.  I hated it at the moment but it’s ok.  I had to walk from the car to the hospital, up and down the hospital to make sure she had insurance.  I hardly got sleep and it was weird not having my daughter home. 

I have a daughter with a complex heart but she breathes.  Her heart beats.  She smiles.  Azalea loves the water and lots of sleep.

There were mothers who were not able to hold their babies at the hospital.  I was there all day holding her.  I am thankful for that.  I am also thankful for speaking English, for being educated, for knowing that I have to be on top of her healthcare.  You can fall through the cracks.  Translations aren’t always true.  You may want the best for your child but not know how to ask, how to demand it.  These mothers were fierce.  They stood beside their baby’s incubator wearing purple gloves touching fingers and toes.  I never saw them cry.

I couldn’t imagine living in another country and going through this.  I couldn’t imagine how it would be not to be a fluent speaker, not to have my closest friends or family around, nor an understanding of how to navigate the system.

I am blessed.

Azalea’s brother, Omar, will be 2 in 2 days, inshaAllah.  He loves the baby and gives her too many kisses.  It is difficult for him to share my milk.  He thinks he owns my breasts and I have to keep on telling him they are mine.  It makes me think of how I have to raise a boy just right to always respect women and not feel a sense of entitlement.

I want to be constantly writing but I am constantly just trying to keep up.  I am trying to stay focused and positive.  Azalea will have surgery at some point, inshaAllah.  Maybe in a couple of weeks, maybe in a couple of months.  My family talks about miracles.  That makes me cry.  I don’t want to ask God for too much.

I want my daughter to feel all the love around her.  I want her to explore this world and have a deep connection with God.  I want her to be grateful.  I don’t want her to worry, nor self-pity.  I want her to be strong.

Sometimes I am not strong.  There are days that sometimes is often but that is changing.  My kids can’t have a mother that falls apart.

the end.


Azalea Approaching July 20, 2012

Filed under: Uncategorized — Maceo Cabrera Estevez @ 12:44 am

I am counting the days now.  My due date is the 25th.  I wonder why I am counting since it may be more difficult when she is out of my my womb.  Azalea does odd dance moves and her head makes pressure on my pelvic bone.  I practice yoga before going to sleep; loosening my hips and lower back with each position.  I am scared.  I must be honest.  I can’t fully remember my labor with Omar, just that it was long and I felt out of control.  Almost two years later I feel less of a need to be in control.  I know better now.

My friend’s heart is broken and I texted her yesterday to check-in.  I know all about broken hearts.  She was grateful I thought of her even though I am dealing with a lot of tests in my life.  Tests?  In that moment I did not feel tested.  I was grateful to have that reminder.  When I first found out about Azalea’s heart condition I felt tested.  Now I feel at ease.  I just want to be a good mother to her.  That is one of my goals: to be a good mother.  My life has changed so much.  I still want to work on my book, I still want to perform but now I just want to feel the accomplishments of being a good mother.  No one will write an article about that.  That is ok.  The newspaper clippings about my work are stuffed in a box in the closet.  They do not come close to the smiles of my children when they feel my love and belief in them.

Ramadan is almost here, inshaAllah.  I am sad that I won’t be surrounded by my friends during iftars.  I am sad to not fast.  It will be a different Ramadan for me but that is ok.  Whatever it will be like is how it should be like.  I am glad she will be born in a time when there is so much awakening and love surrounding her, inshaAllah.  I am looking forward to meeting her whenever that will be.


the end.