Em shares her experience with mom guilt, having a baby during COVID (OMG), racism and the beauty of combined cultures to confront racism (and polite, comfortable society). It’s a beautiful story, check it out…
Pregnancy was a rough one for me. I had always looked forward to becoming a mom, but once I got pregnant I felt so disconnected with the entire process. It was hard for me to want something that I had been looking forward to, but then feel miserable in the process. This was my first time getting to be a mom and I was looking forward to everything. My husband and family being there, baby shower, all of it. I didn’t get a lot of that because of COVID. I even spent a good chunk of my 3rd trimester away from my husband because he was working in an ICU unit.
I think mom guilt is a real thing, but I think it’s important to know that it can happen even before your child is in your arms. You know how much you love your child and how excited you are for life once they get here. However, there is a period where you can feel so miserable in pregnancy. For moms that are pregnant and giving birth during COVID, there are a lot of firsts that they are missing out on. COVID takes away so many of the firsts for us moms and you never get to be a first time mom again. It will always be a bittersweet memory and almost brings tears to my eyes that some people had to go through labor and delivery without their spouses.
Life in an interracial relationship
My husband and I have always wanted to be people that push ourselves outside of the standard box that society puts us in. For me I push myself by asking questions and find true self-awareness. I had to look within myself and ask why I had so many hard feelings about certain subjects like AAE (African American English), babies getting their ears pierced, church/religion, etc. Were my beliefs actually important to me or was a societal norm that I had grown accustomed to?
At the same time my husband was doing the same thing for himself. Is this something from his culture that he wanted to value or just something his culture told him he should do or should believe.
For us it was about digging deeper. No person, no community, no culture is perfect. However, for me as a white female it is about recognizing the white privilege and black oppression that is fully present and has been for years. Our relationship pushes both sides, it can make both black and white people “uncomfortable.”
But we knew what we were getting into. We knew culture differences would be harder than those choosing to date/marry in the same race. We knew the challenges and hardships that come from this and we both were here for it. When we look at the world we want to create for Lorelei, we believe it’s important to break this barrier. For ourselves, there is a sense of peace that comes from joining our cultures. Peace in knowing that our love/relationship has broken down walls. In my wedding vows to my husband I quoted Maya Angelou’s:
“Love recognizes no barriers. It jumps hurdles, leaps fences, penetrates walls to arrive at its destination full of hope.”
That is what we long for. We wanted to push those around us to reflect on their culture, to reflect on why they think something is okay or not.
Was it just something they had grown to be comfortable with or was it truly something they believed in? Those lines can be blurry and we are the magnifying glass that makes some of those things clearer. I feel like that is why interracial relationships can make some people uncomfortable, it is shining a light on things they might not feel comfortable seeing.
As far as raising our almost 4 month old multiethnic daughter…
We have been very aware of the hardships and have definitely made racist micoragressions come to light a lot more for me. This looks like constantly saying how pretty my daughter’s skin is, or constantly obsessing over mixed children’s beauty. This is a stranger asking a white mother if she is nannying her own child or if they are adopted. This is the waiter at a restaurant asking my tall black husband if he plays basketball. This is even if you have friends or family that use the saying “my best friend or family member is black” to justify a racist comment. If you feel like someone said something kind of racist, but don’t think they meant any harm in it you are letting racist microaggressions be seen as okay. Even if they didn’t mean any harm it is good for you and others around them to know when something seems racist.
For example: If someone says your daughter is so beautiful and her skin is glowing. That person might not mean harm, but I can respond and say thank you she has been so good at learning to crawl or she is so smart and alert all the time. I try to always follow up with a characteristic that she is good at that isn’t always about her hair, skin, etc. If the situation always comes back to her hair, skin, etc. I say “Yes, she is beautiful but she is more than that.” Honestly, I think it is interesting and frustrating that so many people look down on colored women for embracing their beauty or flaunting it when they are only complimented and obsessed over being beautiful from a young age.
Even before we had kids the people that would come up and tell us “you are going to have beautiful children”. Literally, my stomach would turn. We know the stigma that gets placed on mixed children, that beauty is almost the only thing that people will see. (As her parents we get it…she is beautiful!) However, we want her to be seen for her kindness, determination, intelligence, and so much more than just her skin tone. She is a product of love from 2 cultures and she should be seen as more than just her beauty.
We are also aware of the struggle of self identification that can be extremely hard for poc in general, but in particularly mixed children. The first thing I noticed was when I went to do her pediatrician registration they needed me to select a race. I had to pick either white caucasin or african american/black. In this decision I already felt like I had to categorize her to one area and was immediately upset. My husband just nodded and said “this will be her whole life”. She will have to choose for herself or just go with the race the world will see her as.
As any young kid in high school/college tries to figure themselves out and become their own person, I never had to think about how my race will factor into my identity. This is a privilege. With my daughter coming from 2 separate cultures, she is going to see the differences in the two and feel like she has to choose what she identifies with. This breaks my heart. My hope is that we raise her to be who she wants to be. Not stereotypical one or the other. If she wants to play basketball that doesn’t make a stereotypical black child. If she decides she wants to play lacrosse that doesn’t make her a stereotypical white child. She is a child, just like yours and she is choosing things she loves to do.
We want to thank Em and Darius for sharing their story and helping us understand what it’s like to face the world we live in. Em has graciously offered to answer any questions or continue the conversation about race and motherhood. Find her on Instagram @kindofintoit.