Deja de Llorar y Ponte a Limpiar: The Latina Mom’s Guide to Curing Anxiety and Depression

I notice that amongst my generation and especially immediate circle of influence--mainly second generation, college educated, “woke” Latinas, there is an epidemic of anxiety and depression amidst circumstances and privileges that our mothers literally risked their lives to give us. We have more than anyone before us has ever had, so why are we so unhappy?

Are we spoiled little bitches?

We went to college. We took birth control. We dated white guys (to be discussed at a later date). We lit fire to so many traditions and expectations and carved ourselves into these big, bad, liberated cabronas with a lot of feelings and maybe a little too much time on our hands.

When I renounced my duties of women’s work (as I perceived it)--raising children before I was ready, feeding constant hunger, and cleaning up other people’s messes--I thought I had cheated death and could forever float down the lazy river of my own arrogance, because I was educated. I was smart and capable and modern and I should be spending my time and using my talents towards things bigger and more important than making rice and mopping floors. Fast forward through many confused, unsatisfied years before I realized that birthing children, feeding loved ones, and maintaining the home space, are the absolute most essential, life sustaining functions anyone could ever dedicate themselves to.

As a woman, you can rip up your contract that says you have to do this work, but that just means that you will have to pay another woman to do it--because it still needs to get done. And what are we really doing with that saved time? Waiting for a text back from a scrub. Scrolling Instagram wishing for a different body. Binge-watching Netflix.

I in no way intend to romanticize the limited choices and back breaking duties our mothers endured. But despite having less opportunities and resources, I would guess that instances of anxiety and depression were possibly drastically lower in their generation than in ours. My mother is an actual mental health professional, so she’s an exception, but I know plenty of senoras, tias, abuelas, who literally do not know what anxiety is because they maintain themselves occupied with the good work of cuidando la casa. Literally, caring for and nurturing lives. There is no time to be sad because there is always work to do.

Maybe you hate your boss, and you can’t immediately change that, but there is a sink full of dishes that have been piling since last week that are probably making you feel like that much more of a failure. Ponte unos guantes, play some cumbia, wash the dishes, and put them away.

Maybe you feel completely lost and can’t find the point in anything, but your bed is unmade and there is dust all over your muebles. Wake up an extra 15 minutes earlier to arrange your pillows and make your bed. Grab a trapo and wipe down your dresser with that lemon scented wood spray that your mom used to use. Because when we treat these minute facets of our lives with care and attention, we aren’t just cleaning up our physical space, we’re clearing our minds. We are literally eliminating problems (albeit small ones) and surrounding ourselves with order, peace, and beauty.

Use Fabuloso to wipe away the footsteps of your cheating ex. Ponle Windex on the bathroom mirror that you pick yourself apart in. A consistent practice of limpiando la casa is an act founded in self preservation and respect. It is a commitment to doing the daily work of making the best out of what can sometimes be an otherwise bad hand--the diligent chipping away at the mass of problems that accumulate as a woman and adult. It is a form of sculpture: the elimination of unwanted build up so that something beautiful, comforting, and inspiring can be revealed.The luxurious gift of a swept and mopped floor or a clean bathtub are at the same time free and invaluable. They are an affirmation that we deserve comfort, clarity, and order, and that the power to give ourselves this is literally in our hands.

With Love,

The Feminist Housewife






Adriana Canizales