An Interview with Maritere Rodriguez Bellas, An Immigrant, Dual Language Parent, & Acclaimed Author
Always find something that nourishes your body, mind and your soul.
How have you tried to help your children understand both your Puerto Rican heritage and their American one?
My children grew up with three cultures: Puerto Rican, Greek American and American. My husband is second generation Greek American. We ate turkey with mashed potatoes and arroz con gandules (rice with pigeon peas) at Thanksgiving, pernil (pork) or roasted pig and pasteles (tamales) at Christmas and roasted lamb and grape leaves on New Year's Eve. During the year, we alternated between all the cuisines and food was a big part of teaching culture as was music, books and cultural events.
What have you learned the most from balancing being a successful writer and a parent?
That perhaps I could have started writing my books a few years earlier. But, being there for them and doing the fundraising events, the carpooling to school and sports, heading the PTA, being a room mom and helping at the library? I wouldn't trade those years for anything! Parents wear many hats at the same time. We all do our best. Now that my children are young adults, I try to find a balance between my writing, my family life, my friends, my volunteer work and my me time. So important for any mom. Always find something that nourishes your body, mind and your soul.
Please tell us about your mission through your books.
When I became a mom I was alone. I had no family near me from either side as my husband's family was in the Midwest and mine in Puerto Rico. And, when I try to find information that would help me, I found very little information for immigrant parents raising children in this country. I decided then that I would write for those parents like me and it became my mission to impart knowledge and help their parenting journey.
What do you hope people take away from your books?
I hope parents think of my books as resources and that they would think of them when they need the answers they are looking for as they try to find a balance between the culture they left behind and the culture they have adopted. Both books are filled with stories, suggestions and advise, easy to read and apply.