For the first 50 years of my life, my perfectionist self mistakenly believed it was all about knowing more, getting it right, planning, attempting to prevent bad things from happening, and keeping all of my chicks in a row. It took me this long to discover that the JOURNEY is all that matters. This quote from Gilda Radner sums it all up:

"I wanted a perfect ending. Now I've learned, the hard way, that some poems don't rhyme, and some stories don't have a clear beginning, middle, and end. Life is about not knowing, having to change, taking the moment and making the best of it, without knowing what's going to happen next.

Thursday, October 16, 2014

Beautifully Blended

When I was dating my husband back in 1982,  I remember holding hands, walking down the street in Hartford and noticing not-so-nice glares from older women passing by.  I also remember eating pizza in downtown Burlington and hearing people commenting about us in the next booth.

When we were married in 1984,  it had only been 17 years since the Supreme Court decision to legalize interracial marriage in all states (many states had legalized it earlier than this).

Our differences didn't matter to me.  Other's reactions didn't bother me.
Vance was 2nd generation American.  His grandparents were born in Japan, but as far as I was concerned, he was as American as I was.  My grandmother had immigrated from Poland and spoke little English, and my mother's grandparents had come from Ireland.

When we had children,  I don't remember thinking anything about their mixed race.  Their developing identity would include aspects from both cultures.   There were many times when I was with my children without my husband when I was approached by strangers inquiring where my children were adopted from.  It was understandable and didn't really bother me.

We live in a small town where there were very few children that were not caucasian, and very few biracial children.  As far as I could see, they were accepted by the other children and teachers with no racial bias.  It just was not an issue.

Vance's cousins all married caucasians, so the children of his family had a similar look to ours.

I see features from my family too.  The dimples from my mom.  Adam's smile and angular jawline are my dad's.  Annie looks very much like my sister, Lori. 
And Kerry very closely resembles my sister's daughter, Hali.

The kids are all grown up now.

Multiracial families  have become more prominent in the U.S. in the past few decades.  The U.S. Census reports that the percentage of interracial couples grew by 32 percent between 2000 and 2010.

The faces of mixed-race America are in politics, business, sports, movies, TV and advertising.

Yet while our nation is increasingly diverse, there are still factors that can leave kids wondering where they fit in.  One of my children struggles when faced with the choice of "Asian" or "Caucasian" on standardized tests, and feels uncomfortable when asked "What are you?"

I have always thought of my children as both Asian and Caucasian.
But in reality they are neither.
They are not really Caucasian and not really Asian.  

I don't believe the question, "What are you" is meant in a derogatory manner.  It used to be the norm that you could identify a person's heritage pretty easily.  Biracial features disrupt our expectations.  We can no longer slot people into familiar categories.  We are not used to seeing those eyes with that hair or nose.

I've read that as biracial children get older, some identify more with one race than the other, often due to which side of the family they are closer to or where their loyalties lie.  Some cannot identify with either cultures.  Many, though, celebrate their mixed race heritage.

Growing up,  I always felt there was a big difference between my mother's very Irish family and my father's very Polish family.  I know that I have characteristics of both and I have never felt torn to identify with one more than the other.  Is it so different for my kids? 

It may be hard on my kids sometimes, and I hope they come to terms with their heritage in their own ways.

I look at my kids, though, and know only one thing.
They are beautifully blended.