One mom reflects eloquently on how her children are growing up oblivious to the fact that their multi-racial family would have been frowned upon in a time not so long ago.
When Brandie asked me to contribute to this series, I said sure, there must be 1,000 families just like us! Then I realized that’s not what she meant (insert face palm here). Then I wracked my brain for an angle to start with. The foolish guilt of being a family with “first world problems?” Statistics on multiple births and multiple babysitters? Balancing working at home and parenting? I wrote and rewrote and asked my husband for his opinion, until I realized why I was so stuck—I didn’t think we are that special as a family.
Every family is special and different (which 1,000 Families illuminates), yet we are socialized to lower our chins in modesty and insist we are just like everyone else. Moreover, we are all too busy focusing on our own lives to spend time comparing ourselves with our friends and neighbours. But these days, change is the only thing that stays the same, and we teach our kids the ironic importance of mass individualism.
The other day, while eavesdropping on a radio news story about racial tension in the United States, my four-year-old twin boys, Milan and Duncan, asked me to elaborate. They were shocked to discover that some people treated others differently based on the tone of their skin, the shape of their face, or the way their body moves. It had never occurred to them, because our family is diverse and inclusive.
My husband and I are first generation Canadian, his parents emigrating from India, and mine from England. Our children have an increasingly commonplace look that strangers cannot quite place, their features geographically vague enough to be from Spain, Kashmir, or who knows? They are the new breed of cultural mutt, colour blind and innocent of the world where my husband and I may not have been able to marry in our grandparents’ time.
Ever since our sons learned to talk we discussed with them the important of respect for all people. (Of course, that respect never seems to apply to crawling into bed with Mummy all the time!) We have family members who are paralyzed, and others who are athletes. Some are wealthy, others have been homeless. We have liars and leaders, the autistic and artistic, and those who are spiritual and spirited.
In addition to our children’s genetic cocktail, we are lucky enough to have an extended family of friends and babysitters from around the world. It is said that you can’t choose your family. Well, we have. We can choose how and who we define as family, which is possibly one of the greatest gifts we can give our children.
Ultimately, every family is unique, and it is our differences that we respect and value.
My sons concluded, after Race Relations 101 in the car on the way to preschool, that everyone should be treated equally, but that green skin such as Yoda’s or Kermit’s was due special treatment, understandably.
This is #1000families post number 99. Do you have a family story of your own to contribute to the 1,000 Families Project? Or do you know a family that might want to do so? Learn more about how the series got started and how to get involved here. You can find all of the #1000families posts here.