Monday, August 23, 2010

Going Out - Navigating the World as a Multi-Racial Family

I used to like going out - just wherever - the park, the Mall, a walk down the street. I still do. Usually. I have learned that I need to "prepare"though. Get my "game face" on.

It always takes me by surprise though. I'll be all set for a dumb or mean comment (like, "Do they have AIDS?" Yes, I have really been asked that!!@###!!) & none will happen & then I'll be just in a moment of living & BAM! I'll get hit with a "comment"! Ahhhh! 

Yesterday, it happened when we were at Luke's soccer game. We were just arriving & trying to figure out which field we were assigned, when Luke came up to me, called me "Mom", and a nearby stranger shrieked, "Mom!!?!!", as if it was a bad word or some freak show event. A sliver of panic shot through me as I looked to see if my sweet son had registered her reaction. He didn't. Apparently. Phew! I addressed her, "Yes, this is my sweet little boy." Done. Moving on, getting away...didn't slap her...good job...

Honestly, most people are nice, polite & some are even downright supportive. Some ask questions & that is OK because they are kind, interested & respectful. 

It's easy for me to become guarded though. Even insecure. Ugh! Hate that! If we are out in public, I try not to "read into" others glances. Do they think we are a family or that I am babysitting? Do they think the kids' skin looks too dry? Their hair? I get so many comments about their hair. So many women, all strangers, feel compelled to give me hair advice - use this brand, this method... shock - that I might be doing it kind of right (so I feel good - ah - approval...why do I even care - this is a complete stranger?!) or condemnation - "That hair is WAY too dry!" (shame on me - bad Mom!)  

Or, it could be..."Are these kids yours? Are you their Mom? Are they brothers?" (pointing at my African kids) I answer, "Yes, they are all brothers." They'll say, "No, I mean 'real' brothers",  as if they are somehow not 'real' because their skin is a different color. "Yes", I'll say. "They are biological brothers, but of course, now they are all brothers." (My attempt to educate) 

Yes, I am venting. Thank you for listening & understanding & not commenting that I need to not care what others think (I already know that.) Thank you for just loving me & my precious kids that I feel protective of. I need that love & I really appreciate it. 

At the end of the day, I think I am OK. The boys are OK. I am so very thankful for our family & I love that we are just who we are , differences & all. I vow to keep my attitude good (with God's help) & to keep answering as politely as I can, to try to kindly educate as best I can. I will continue to do my best to protect the boys, to attempt to protect them from feeling like they are on display & the subject of  gossip.

Thanks again for listening to my thoughts, my venting, my emotion. This is just a glimpse inside my head...

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