There is a family photo I took a few months ago, with baby, me, daddy, and some aunts and uncles from her dad’s side. My dad saw the photo and joked that I looked like the maid. It was sort of like a ‘what’s wrong with this picture?’ moment. I don’t see any of my features in baby. Everyone also says she looks just like my husband. Rarely do people say she looks like me. And I search and search her face for some familiarity, some part of me, and I can’t see it. She has brown hair, just like my husband. She has the long eyelashes and big eyes with the double fold, like my husband. She has his smile. Ok, she has my nose. But what my nose could be if it was surgically enhanced.
The maid comment reminded me of the conversation I had with a nurse who took care of me after I gave birth. She was Filipino, and her husband was Caucasian. They have two daughters. And she constantly joked that she was always mistaken for her kids’ maid as she trailed behind them walking in public. And I can’t help but think that it was just easier for her to joke about it. There’s always some pain with a kind of joke like that.
My husband has the same fear. That he’ll be walking in public holding this little Asian girl’s hand and people will think he’s kidnapped her. Of course, everyone laughs when I tell that story. But it’s true. You will always have that fear that people don’t believe your baby is your own. Honestly, I’ve considered keeping a copy of her birth certificate when we go out in public. It’s not just for air-travel anymore.
When baby looks at mommy, she sees her mommy. She doesn’t see a Chinese person. When she sees random Asian people, she smiles, laughs, waves hi. Even to Asian people on TV. I think it’s because they look like mommy. And I think it’s because she sees herself in them. I might be reaching too far when I think that, but I can only hope.
I never thought of how to raise a halfsie kid much, let alone how to raise a kid in general. It was something that I should’ve thought about more. Will she be taunted at school because she looks different? Will people ask her if her mother is the maid? Will they ask her if she’s adopted? Will I have to help her through all the racist comments, the bullying, the prejudices that I dealt with as a kid? If she’s last picked at dodge ball, will it be because she sucks at dodge ball or because she’s ‘different’? I really hope she just plain sucks at dodge ball, if I had to choose.
I’ve noticed that a lot of Chinese parents raise their kid with the belief that they are innately strong. Strong emotionally, I mean. They don’t treat them like fragile creatures that need to be coddled. They have faith and hope that their kid can succeed in everything, through perseverance and hard work. Now, don’t take what I said as a blanket statement; not ALL Chinese parents are like this, and just because I’m Chinese doesn’t mean I believe it’s the right thing to do. But I do believe that they are strong if we let them be strong. If we treat them as if they’re fragile, they’ll question their strength, and lack confidence in accomplishing something. Going with that logic, I’m hoping to raise an emotionally strong kid who can stand up for herself if needed. I hope she’ll be able to say something witty when insulted. I hope she isn’t afraid of confrontation.
But I also hope she doesn’t start confrontations, either. If I constantly prep her for the worst in people, she’d be ready to attack, play the race card, basically people will feel like they’re walking on egg shells around her. I need balance for her.
Then I realize that’s what she has already, within herself. She’s half me and half her dad. She will be balanced. She’ll see that we think very differently on a lot of issues, and very similarly on others. She’ll be strong emotionally (like me, most of the time), but even stronger because she’s not afraid of showing her emotion (like dad). She’ll have choices. She’ll be more open-minded from the beginning.
She’ll get the best of both worlds.