"i feel it in my heart"
This is the response I’ve received a number of times in the past two weeks as I’ve engaged in another round of in-depth, informal interviews with children in my study families. These interviews have usually been conducted over the treat of their choice (which has been either ice cream or pollo "Tip Top" - basically the Nicaraguan version of KFC), and I’ve used them to try to explore in more depth children’s emotional experiences of their mothers’ migration. Needless to say, these interviews are incredibly challenging, especially when children’s eyes well up with tears, and I feel inept to help them in any concrete way. I console myself by feeling that just the act of listening is of some good - but I also recognize that for the most part, these are kids and preteens who are coping incredibly well with the absence of their mothers, with the economic poverty in which they live, and I am conscious of not wanting to dredge up feelings that they otherwise are managing to deal with on their own. I observe the children in their households and barrios as they play, smile, obediently help their grandmothers and tías around the house, do their homework, and generally go about the business of being kids. Nonetheless, in my interviews, children have repeated that they feel the sadness of their mothers’ absence "en mi corazón". I find this a powerful metaphor of loss, and of the consequences of transnational migration for children "left behind". (pictured here is 8 year old Selso Alberto, whose mother is in Costa Rica)