i used to see race in everything. i used to hear culture everywhere. i used to talk about tradition all the time – just ask S. at some point, i learned to compartmentalize race/culture/tradition into a special place in my head and move on. at some point, i was able to stop being frozen with frustration. at some point, i was able to hear it and store it away. i’m not sure how or when this happened. it just did.
the other day, i was pushing O on her new bike down the street to the gym.
we received many smiles, waves, hellos – the norm for whenever i’m out with this cute little girl. (i mean, really. just look at her.) we passed by 3 people who were just sitting on the sidewalk. they said their hellos, awws, and so cutes. as we walked away, i heard one of them say, “she must be the nanny” – to which the other two agreed.
i think most people who aren’t dialed into the race issue would think, no big deal, maybe it’s because i look so young or so good that i couldn’t possibly have had a child with this hot bod. right. ha.
but for me? i walked away a little bit crushed. because i’ve forgotten how innate and ingrained race is in our world. i forgot how hurtful this issue is. i forgot that even if they didn’t intentionally mean to offend me, they did. and it matters. because no. i’m not her nanny. i’m her mother. i wanted to turn around and make them really look at us. see our matching eyelids, our matching noses. hear her call me mama. see her turn to me when she’s hurt or when she’s looking for reassurance. see her huge smile that i swear is extra big just for me.
she’s my girl, and i’m her mama.
at an early age i knew i was different – and not different in the sense that everyone is different. but different in the sense that my family is different, we look different, we tan differently – just like how we pale differently, we eat different foods – that smell different, we show love differently, our thought process is different. we were always seen, as different. for as long as i can remember – i was always different. it was like i had a mask – the one that i put on when i went to school. the one that was ashamed of my hand-me-down clothes from Taiwan, my lunches, my non-upgraded home, my no art on the white walls bedroom, my parents who didn’t like to speak english unless necessary.
i so don’t want O to ever feel ashamed of her multi-race background. it’s taken me a really long time to be proud of where i’m from, who i am, and how i was raised. i want O to be proud from the get-go. i want her to be confident in where she is from, be proud of her chinese half. her caucasian half. be proud of someday, speaking two languages and understanding the nuances of both cultures and traditions.
this is my hope. i pray that she falls in love with the differences – in a way i couldn’t. i pray that when she’s hurt she trusts in the one and believes that she is beautiful just the way she is.