My mom shares with me a decent amount of Mexican folklore. Things like, you can tell how much a mother loves her baby by how deep his belly button is. I tend to listen to the stories but never fully believe.
My mother told me that when I was born, my maternal grandmother flipped me over to check out my butt, to see if I had a blue spot. My mother explained to me, while I listened dubiously, that Mexican babies, particularly indigenous babies, have blue spots on their lower back or butt when they are born. It goes away shortly after birth, usually within a few weeks.
I believed this was lore until I was 16 years old and working union organizing farmworkers. At one of the workers’ camps I saw a mom with a naked new born baby in her arms. The baby had a blue spot that looked like a bruise on his butt—however, it wasn’t a bruise. My mom was right. I never really understood it. Whenever, I think about that baby it makes me smile.
I recently read the book Apples are from Kazakhstan: The Land that Disappeared by Christopher Robbins (The book was amazing, I laughed out loud multiple times, I couldn’t book down the book at all and was sad when I finished…I’ll write up a review later.)
I was stunned when I read the following excerpt in a section discussing Kazakh pride and fatherhood:
‘All Kazakh babies are born with a birthmark at the base of their spine, like a purple bruise,’ my friend told me. ‘This disappears in a few days. Korean, and Japanese babies have this too, but not Chinese. Strange, huh?’
This made me chuckle! It was enchanting, mystical, and uniting in its historical narrative.
I went home and emailed my Kazakh friend AiDana. Her response was that although only some Mexican babies were born with the spot, ALL Kazakh babies were born with it. She was so proud that all Kazakh babies had this spot. Another Kazakh friend, Adlet, laughed and said, yes it was true Kazakh babies were born with this, it is one of the things that make Kazakhs so special. I asked him why did he think that Mexicans and Kazakhs had this spot, he laughed hard and said “I think it means God loves us Kazakh and Mexicans more.”
I am sure there is a different reason, a scientific one. I’ll google it and research it later. For now, I wanted to blog about it, while it was still magical to me. A Mexican connection to Kazakhstan, with a special temporary birth mark.