I’m obsessed with Astrid. To me, she is a perfect angel here to bring me love and pure joy. If you know me, you have to know her and LOVE her—can’t have it any other way. I mean, HOWCANYOUNOT
It’s a bit shocking, to myself included, that there was a time I ever saw anything else but the radiant light of her being.
Astrid was born when I was 11 years old. Our mom, a single mom, worked so much that it was often just me and her sharing various tiny apartments around north Edmonton. I hated it. Lack of space made it impossible for me to avoid the sleepless nights with a newborn. I grew to resent the responsibility of washing and feeding this child when I was still a child myself. As a teenager, all I wanted was to stay out late with friends in public parks and underage-drink. This was barely ever an option for me because of her. Eventually my mother was able to work her way into more decent cleaning jobs with somewhat reasonable hours, my older sisters were able to pitch in as well. I took this opportunity to indulge in my first serious relationship, first serious heartbreak, first serious rebound and that absurd moment around 22 when I decided to move out of the house to finally be free of the constraints of my immigrant family (I hate myself for ever feeling that.)
I came crawling back and found myself sharing a slightly bigger space with a teenage Astrid. I found a girl in love with her culture: the language, the music, the food, the people, the everything. She inhabited her Latina identity with so much pride and I could do nothing but watch in awe, hoping to learn just a little bit. So much of my life in Canada had been about feeling too ethnic for anything outside of my mother’s house and too “white” to remain inside. Astrid’s warmth, honesty and acceptance built a bridge for me. She welcomed my queerness, my weirdness and my smelly dog. She just loved me. It’s who she is.
Astrid is one of my best friends and I feel so lucky to witness her life unfold. She has already began working on a career and is now a mother to the cutest baby I have ever seen (after her, of course). Here’s your chance to get to know her better. You’re welcome.
Photos and interview by Karen Campos Castillo
What did you want to be when you grew up?
A teacher but I didn’t want to upgrade. That’s what happened
You didn’t like school?
No. You know what’s weird? After high school when you go into what you want, you really like it. When I went to college, I loved it. No skipping like in high school. I studied.
What do you like about working in health care?
I really like working with seniors. I think it’s interesting learning about them. I really like helping people. And they’re so thankful, it’s really nice.
What went through your mind when you found out you were pregnant?
I was scared. I was worried about what the family would say because you know how they are. At the same time, I knew I was gonna have her. I was excited. I knew that my life would change completely but I didn’t know everything, you know?
Was pregnancy like you’d expected?
A lot of people say that pregnancy is the most amazing thing you can ever experience but it’s not that great.
I didn’t like being pregnant at all. Like, the first 3 months I couldn’t eat anything because I was nauseated all the time. I lost weight in the beginning. I was really hot all the time. My things would sweat, it was disgusting. I was just always sweating. I didn’t like that at all. I didn’t feel it was heavy, you know what I mean? LIke some people think it’s heavy to carry a baby but just your back hurts a lot. It wasn’t fun.
Were you scared?
I was scared for when she was gonna come out. I thought I would die.
When you were in labour, did you still think you would die?
How did it feel when you saw her though?
I know this sounds cheesy but I fell in love with her. She’s so perfect. She was perfect from the moment that I saw her. I really really love that she wasn’t crying, she was just staring at me. It was really nice. It’s something that I can’t explain. I think just a mom can understand.
It was the most amazing moment of my life.
Stop—I’m gonna cry.
Do you think people judge you for being a young mother?
Yeah, when I would go out when I was pregnant, people would give me these looks. You can just tell what they were thinking. I know I don’t even look like I’m 20 but still being 20 or 19 is young to be pregnant. People just judge all the time. It was really annoying. And now if they see me in the mall with the stroller, people still look at me.
Whatever, people are always gonna judge.
It didn’t hurt you?
It just annoyed me. I don’t know.
Why do you think people are like that?
It’s kind of like our family. They don’t want to see us ruin our life. It’s not that we are ruining it, we are just holding back. We have more of a responsibility with a kid. We can’t do things that we wanted to at the time that we wanted to. If I didn’t have her, I could do my LPN sooner. There’s no problem with that. Other people, older people…I guess it affects them.
I think there’s a lot of pressure from older people to not make the mistakes they did.
Older people see it as a mistake sometimes but it’s really not. I don’t mind waiting.
I have her. I will do anything for her. I love having her and taking care of her.
Tell me about Estela.
She means the world to me. She’s my life. I would die for her.
What hopes do you have for Estela?
I just want her to be successful. As long as she…I just don’t want her—you know how our family is so pushy? About like school and stuff? Like “you have to do this.” As long as she’s happy, you know what I mean?
I’m not gonna be like how they were to me and push her to do something that makes a lot of money even if she doesn’t like it. I just want her to be happy.
What hopes do you have for yourself? What do you want to accomplish?
I just want to be the best mom I can be to her. I want to have a car, a house with 3 bedrooms. I want to be an LPN. I want to travel with her. I want to go to a lot of places. I want her to see El Salvador and Colombia. And other places.
What kind of other places?
Some place like Cuba. And Toronto with my little family.
I’m dying to go to Bora Bora. The Kardashians went there.