In an effort to try to snap out of her depression, Tinajero sought out other pregnant women online, hoping the strangers would become friends whom she could ask the questions her mother could no longer answer.
The relief she felt after a first meeting over pizza — hours of talking and laughing and sharing all the worries and annoyances and bliss and confusion of a first pregnancy — led her to start groups for other women in Northern Virginia. She named it Mamistad, a combination of the Spanish words for mommy and friendship.
In a few years, membership has grown by word of mouth to nearly 1,000 mamis. For a small fee, Tinajero matches first-time pregnant women by location, due date and post-baby career plans. The dozen or so women in each group then plan when and where to meet and talk and vent. Tinajero has watched women form such strong friendships that they timed their second pregnancies together, and their children are now best friends, too.
Maybe it has struck such a chord in the Washington area because so many people have left homes, friends and families behind for careers in the capital. Or because Tinajero has poured so much into it. She tells the stressed-out, overwhelmed soon-to-be moms not to worry so much: “Don’t miss the miracle.”
Being unable to communicate with her mother sparked the idea, and her mom’s lifetime of helping others made her want to share it with other women feeling as alone as she did. “I think I needed an outlet for all the passion and love my mom taught me,” she said.
And, in a small way, she hopes it helps ensure that Guadalupe Tinajero and all her lessons are not forgotten.
Tinajero’s first memories of her mom are of her going to church, praying the rosary, and taking care of her own mother, who was sick. She remembers grabbing her conservative, ladylike, tiny little mother to dance cheek-to-cheek with her to make her laugh.
Guadalupe Tinajero grew up in Amarillo, Tex., where she became an elementary school teacher, stern but loving, and later a principal at the Catholic school her children attended. She seemed to know everyone in Amarillo — her students and their families and at church, Cynthia said.
Guadalupe spent so much time helping her children, her mother, and others, Cynthia’s twin brother, Carlos Tinajero, said, that she almost seemed to need it — cooking chicken mole to bring to someone, or hurrying to the hospital to pray at someone’s side.
“I learned to give and to love unconditionally because of my mother,” Cynthia said.
Trying to be better moms
Like most of the women, Christina Perez Bass found Mamistad when she was looking for help on how to be a mom. Her mother died when she was very young and she didn’t have any friends who were about to start families.