The Writing Mamas Daily Blog

Each day on the Writing Mamas Daily Blog, a different member will write about mothering.

If you're a mom then you've said these words, you've made these observations and you've lived these situations - 24/7.

And for that, you are a goddess.

Wednesday, November 07, 2007


Looks Just Like His Father

It happened the first time I ventured out alone with my first baby. “What’s your husband?” the lactation consultant asked as she scrutinized my two-week old’s face. “Huh? Oh, um. . . Chinese,” I stammered, wondering what this had to do with breastfeeding.

“Oh, mixed babies are so beautiful!” She went on to tell me how her cousin married a Japanese woman and they have the most exotic-looking children. Sleep deprived, I just sat there, nipples burning, with no idea how to respond.

As I left the appointment, the woman at the front desk took a peek. “Oh, he looks just like his father,” she commented. Since she’d never meet my husband, I was a little confused. By the time I got home, my initial confusion had been replaced with sadness. Would navigating insensitive comments become as much a part of my new mothering experience as sleepless nights and painful nipples?

The comments happen everywhere – the park, vacation, at preschool, restaurants, the pediatrician’s office, and waiting in line at Starbucks. There are the well-meaning strangers, who without even saying hello, ask, “Where did you get him?” like my child is a miniature horse in a 4-H exhibit. Other questions I’ve been asked include, “Is he Oriental?” like he’s a rug, and “What’s his nationality?”

Then there are the comments about the supposed special beauty that “mixed” children share. If I was to approach a random Swedish mother and gush about how beautiful Swedish children are, she’d round up her kids faster than you can say “creepy.”

I have become proficient in the smile-politely-and-change-the-subject routine. However, there is one question that always gives me pause.

“What is he?”

Yes, I really have been asked this question. It happens infrequently enough that I never remember to answer, “A hyper Labradoodle.”

Strangers don’t see the ways my son is like me. His toothy smile curves to the right just like mine. The similarity of our hair color and texture amazes our hairdresser. We gross out Daddy by wiggling our double-jointed thumbs. We share a passion for books with interesting characters, dark green treasures and baking (and eating) “yummy stuff.”

It doesn’t matter that strangers don’t see these things. What’s important is that I navigate the inevitable questions confidently and help my son build a healthy self-identity. But, I think it will be awhile before ethnicity becomes an issue. For now, I’m just trying to convince him that boys can play with pink toys.

By Maya Creedman


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My kids are toe-heads and I hear the "Swedish" comments a lot, and how they look like their daddy. Even my own mother says it. I don't feel they're being insensitive, though. I listen more for the spirit of the comment -- how really someone just wants to gush about a little one and they're picking a characteristic that charms them or is easy.

Thought-provoking blog, Maya.

Hi Maya!
Loved the blog. Yeah, it's amazing how we have to weather the stupid comments - no matter how well meaning - and deal with them in a way that makes our kids feel really good about themselves. It happens to me with our daughter all the time - they see me with her and say "oh, Mom's day off?" And then I have to say, "No, every day is a Papi day." "Oh, her Mom works?" "Her other Dad does." At that point I usually get to move on to another topic (or just get to leave the grocery store!)
And like you said, I can't let myself get annoyed, as annoying as it is! Maybe we should think of it as a gift we can give our kids, every day, to show them we're proud of who they are and how they came to be, and to feel great about themselves.
Oh, and for the record, your kids ARE beautiful.
with a big HUG,
Our son is Chinese and Anglo, and my mother remarks on the mix all the time. While it doesn't bother me -- as our baby's features seem to change every day -- I'm so aware that people like to label and put one another in neat compartments. Boy or girl? That was always the first question I got. I vowed that I would not find out first thing after he was born, but just take in the sight of this wonderful being and love our child. It's a lifelong project!

- Li Lovett
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