Raising Mixed Kids 101: A Concluding Letter to My Mommy

Dear Mommy,

Today is Mother’s Day, which also marks the end of the series where I’ve offered your wisdom to people who have, or will have mixed race children. It’s been a very interesting writing process– sharing some of our most private moments (thank you for allowing me to reveal our story with others, btw).

As you texted me yesterday, my childhood was, indeed, a journey. There was a lot of shouting, crying, laughing, and, most importantly, talking. And as you reminded me in yesterday’s text, when I’d ask you questions you didn’t know how to answer, there was also silence. The silence was your way of telling me, you needed some time to reflect on, or research the answer to my question. Maybe that was one of your greatest skills. You never thought you had raising a mixed child all figured out, and you weren’t afraid to ask for help. You were wise enough to build a community who served as your support, and you’ve always been one who sought out knowledge. You seemed to be on a continuous mission to become a better parent, and were constantly seeking ways to improve your parenting skills. You took raising a child who you knew would experience the world differently from you seriously. You were continuously trying to ensure that you prepared me for the black and white world we live in, while ensuring I knew about my rich, and complicated identities. Sometimes, you’d say something, or make a decision you later thought wasn’t right, and would apologize, and talk to me about it. I wonder how many other parents do that…

Do you know what else I find amazing? Some of the parenting maneuvers you pulled were so skilled, so remarkable, and they were done in tough circumstances. We didn’t have a lot of money, some of our own family members were rooting against us, there were times when it felt like bad news was constantly raining on our lil’ ol’ apartment, but you still equipped me with an armor of self-love, pride, as well as amazing experiences. You equipped me with an education on self-identity that even my private schools couldn’t offer, and you did this, again, with little resources.

Do you realize how brilliant , and resourceful you are? Thank you, mommy.

Thank you for

1. Educating yourself, so that you could educate me.

Thank you for

2. Talking about race, so that I knew about my ethnicities, and thank you for preparing me for how people were going to treat me.

Thank you for

3. Having Black friends. Plural- there was never any of this “Token Black Friend” silliness.

Thank you for

4. Learning how to do my hair, and for always doing it with love.

And last, but definitely not least, thank you for

5. Defending me—particularly when I was faced with racism. These moments were probably some of the strongest acts of love I remember you showing me.

I love you; I am in awe of your ability to self-reflect, and love with intensity and selflessness.

With Love and Humbility (my made-up word for extreme humility)

Kirsti (“Boo-Boo”)

XOXOXO

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