When I was pregnant with my first daughter, I gritted my teeth through many conversations where people guessed what my baby would look like. Mind you, they weren’t curious about whose nose she would get or what shape her eyes would be. They were trying to guess the color of her skin.
Would she have the privilege of sharing the complexion of my Dutch-English-Canadian husband or would she be stuck with my Pakistani brown skin? They didn’t use those words, of course, but I could hear it in their voices just the same.
I tried to say that it didn’t matter to me what she looked like as long as she was healthy, but the conversations just went on without me. People will exoticize everything, including fetuses, if they can.
I was naive to think that it didn’t matter, though. While it may not matter to me, it certainly matters to the rest of the world.
Last summer I was out at the park with my girls. They were pretending to play “store,” selling each other piles of wood chips in exchange for small rocks. Another mother, who was White, came over with her son. They played for a while near us. When she caught my eye, she asked, “Are those your kids?”
“Both of them?”
Strangers have come up to me demanding to know if I am the nanny, as though they have a right to this information.
I knew what she was thinking. It certainly isn’t the first time I’ve been asked. Strangers have come up to me demanding to know if I am the nanny, as though they have a right to this information. I am supposed to offer up these details on my children’s lineage and my relationship to them.
It wasn’t until my second daughter was born that I realized the difficult conversations we were going to have in our future.
My first daughter takes more after me. She has my complexion and dark curly hair.
My second daughter, on the other hand, does not take after me. Right after she was born and the nurse placed the goo-covered…