We Don’t Deserve Our Immigrant Moms

3 Min Read

They are warriors, selfless human beings who are determined to give their kids opportunities they never had for themselves. There were willing to leave behind the comfort of family, love, and language for a shot: a shot at that dream we all talk about. It's not a lavish lifestyle but a dream. This dream is achieved through access to education, a good paying job, and opportunity. And it's all for you.

This is for you, the first-generation American citizen who was raised by an immigrant mom that we don't deserve.

Now, don't get me wrong, all moms are badass. But there is something special about those who cross a border, sacrificing everything they know, to see their kids live a better life. According to Pew Research, "more than 1 million immigrants arrive in the U.S. each year" and today, "more than 40 million people living in the U.S. were born in another country"

Among that bunch, is your mom, my cousin's mom, my neighbor's mom, and my mom. And the truth is, there is so much more that brings our immigrant moms together than what pulls them apart, even if they were all born in different continents.

It all began with packing whatever could fit in a few suitcases to prepare for a long flight, boat ride, or walk across the US border. In the suitcase are clothes, important documents, and photos of family. What doesn't fit is the one-stop-shop to learn the complex English language or the rest of their family. What they feel is hope and anxiety. But they do it anyway.

According to Pew Research, "more than 1 million immigrants arrive in the U.S. each year" and today, "more than 40 million people living in the U.S. were born in another country"

They are soon entering foreign territory. The only familiar piece of their life might soon become seeing the face of the love of her life, a partner in the journey. But they do it anyway.

Maybe they become a citizen. Maybe they are handed a rectangular beige card that has the word alien at the top. Maybe they live in the shadows⁠—undocumented. Your life is different than that of your American friends because of your immigrant mom who knows they will never be American enough.

You are a translator, in fifth grade or college, at doctor's appointments or parent teacher conferences. You first hear the word and not only can you not translate it but you also don't know what it means in English. But you learn. In that moment, you clarify, use hand gestures, and use several small words to explain the big word to make sure they understand. Because you are the translator, and your immigrant mom needs to understand.

You are a financial provider. You work at the fast food job, because you know there is only enough money to pay the bills. You apply for college scholarships, because there is no way you can ask them to co-sign for a student loan. Mom is working in a factory and is not eligible for higher paid jobs because of a language barrier and lack of access to acquiring new skills. But she doesn't complain even though she knows that she is sacrificing her body working the job that most Americans would never apply for.

Your life is different than that of your American friends because of your immigrant mom who knows they will never be American enough.

You are the one who will overcome adversity. Your mom has proven that there is no alternative. Because when your mom picks up and moves to another country without even knowing the language, your motivation is at its highest caliber possible. There's a certain pep in your step to achieve success. You will not only survive, but you will thrive.

Because you are the child of an immigrant mom: a mom who has shown you that being in this country and providing you access to opportunity is worth the repeated sacrifices.

Follow Theresa Agonia on Twitter or Instagram at @TheresaAgonia

This article was originally published January 29, 2020.

How to Learn Much More From the Books You Read

It is one thing to read and another thing to understand what you are reading. Not only do you want to understand, but also remember what you've read. Otherwise, we can safely say that if we're not gaining anything from what we read, then it's a big waste of time.

Whatever you read, there are ways to do so in a more effective manner to help you understand better. Whether you are reading by choice, for an upcoming test, or work-related material, here are a few ways to help you improve your reading skills and retain that information.

Read with a Purpose

Never has there been a shortage of great books. So, someone recommended a great cookbook for you. You start going through it, but your mind is wandering. This doesn't mean the cookbook was an awful recommendation, but it does mean it doesn't suit nor fulfill your current needs or curiosity.

Maybe your purpose is more about launching a business. Maybe you're a busy mom and can't keep office hours, but there's something you can do from home to help bring in more money, so you want information about that. At that point, you won't benefit from a cookbook, but you could gain a lot of insight and find details here on how-to books about working from home. During this unprecedented year, millions have had to make the transition to work from home, and millions more are deciding to do that. Either way, it's not a transition that comes automatically or easily, but reading about it will inform you about what working from home entails.


When you pre-read it primes your brain when it's time to go over the full text. We pre-read by going over the subheadings, for instance, the table of contents, and skimming through some pages. This is especially useful when you have formal types of academic books. Pre-reading is a sort of warm-up exercise for your brain. It prepares your brain for the rest of the information that will come about and allows your brain to be better able to pick the most essential pieces of information you need from your chosen text.


Highlighting essential sentences or paragraphs is extremely helpful for retaining information. The problem, however, with highlighting is that we wind up highlighting way too much. This happens because we tend to highlight before we begin to understand. Before your pages become a neon of colored highlights, make sure that you only highlight what is essential to improve your understanding and not highlight the whole page.

Speed Read

You might think there have been no new ways to read, but even the ancient skill of reading comes up with innovative ways; enter speed reading. The standard slow process shouldn't affect your understanding, but it does kill your enthusiasm. The average adult goes through around 200 to 250 words per minute. A college student can read around 450 words, while a professor averages about 650 words per minute, to mention a few examples. The average speed reader can manage 1,500 words; quite a difference! Of course, the argument arises between quality and quantity. For avid readers, they want both quantity and quality, which leads us to the next point.

Quality Reading

Life is too short to expect to gain knowledge from just one type of genre. Some basic outcomes of reading are to expand your mind, perceive situations and events differently, expose yourself to other viewpoints, and more. If you only stick to one author and one type of material, you are missing out on a great opportunity to learn new things.

Having said that, if there's a book you are simply not enjoying, remember that life is also too short to continue reading it. Simply, close it, put it away and maybe give it another go later on, or give it away. There is no shame or guilt in not liking a book; even if it's from a favorite author. It's pretty much clear that you won't gain anything from a book that you don't even enjoy, let alone expect to learn something from it.


If you're able to summarize what you have read, then you have understood. When you summarize, you are bringing up all the major points that enhance your understanding. You can easily do so chapter by chapter.

Take a good look at your life and what's going on in it. Accordingly, you'll choose the material that is much more suitable for your situation and circumstances. When you read a piece of information that you find beneficial, look for a way to apply it to your life. Knowledge for the sake of knowledge isn't all that beneficial. But the application of knowledge from a helpful book is what will help you and make your life more interesting and more meaningful.