We all have a type: tall, short, blonde, muscular, brooding. Mine is apparently tall, athletic and lanky – and white – who knew?!?
I’m a black girl (also mixed) who grew up in the thriving metropolis of The Northland. My Prince Charming turned out to be a small town boy from Elkhorn, Nebraska! We’ll skip past all the mushy boring dating stuff and get right down to it. Our union was not a big deal to either of our families or our close friends. When we got married, we thought life was great. When it came time to have kids we were all set. We couldn’t wait to have a family to call our own!
Then we became pregnant – that was when I first began to get nervous. We had dealt with some adversity in college, dirty looks here and there, a yelled taunt from across the street, nothing we couldn’t handle. I don’t think it was that, that was causing my fears or just irrational pregnancy hormones. I found myself obsessing over what color our nonexistent child would be. When we found out we were having a boy, I was down right panicked. I began to prepare my loving husband for the fact that his son probably wouldn’t look like him. I would throw out little comments like, “You know he’ll be darker than you are, right?” or “You know he probably will look more like me, right?”
I tried to hide my fears, but they just kept coming up. I was traumatized at the fact that my husbands namesake wouldn’t even look like him. I knew his parents were “fine” with me being black, but again, what about their lineage? Then our healthy bouncing baby boy appeared and no one prepared ME for what happened next.
Yeah so, he didn’t look like me AT ALL! Twenty-three months later, and we had another baby who didn’t look like me either. One of these things is not like the other, and IT’S ME! No one prepared me for what it would be like to not look like my children.
I wasn’t prepared for the looks we would get when we were out, or the looks I would get when I was manhandling my screaming toddler in to the cart at the store, or she was bolting from me yelling, “I hate you! You’re mean!” (Although clearly at that point, you could’ve just had her.) I even got the bad nanny look I at the pool when I told them it was time to go home, and they started crying. I wasn’t prepared to live in an area my whole life and then randomly feel like an outsider when I was in public with my white family. I wasn’t even prepared to fill out the stupid census because I had no idea what race my son was; there are seven different ways to be Pacific Islander, but nowhere on it can you be “mixed-race.”
Although it has been an adjustment for me, my own issue to let go of and get over, my husband and my kids don’t seem to have a problem with it at all. From the way my daughter once told me that she can’t wait to be “brown like mommy,” or my son truly not even noticing our differences until one of his friends came over to play in first grade, “Hey, his skin looks like yours! Did you know my skin looks more like Daddy’s?”
We don’t have the same skin, but we sure are family.