3.12.2005

How we look is not who we are

A Hispanic mother and daughter, both well dressed with fabulous heals, on their way to dinner. An elderly couple - she in capri khakis and cool sandals. A young couple, maybe in their early 30s, pushing a stroller with a six month old. A frazzled mom in a navy windbreaker and jeans and easy ponytail, barking orders at three young boys who frantically followed her, one of whom was likely her son. A stunning Malaysian woman and a J.Crew model-type caucasian man holding hands, laughing. A man who looked a little too much like Moby, complete with retro glasses and silk screen t-shirt, getting out of his old but solid Volvo wagon heading to the supermarket. A woman with long, thick blond hair that she had trouble keeping out of her face as she walked two big lab retrievers. An adorable African American family - mom, dad and 2.5 kids - piling out of a minivan.

Within less than 10 short minutes, the world walked around me as I waited with Boo in our car while my husband picked up the take out we had ordered. It was Friday night, and people were going out (or getting take out as we did). These are my people. This is my town. I admit that one of my fears for moving to the Burbs is this horrible stereotype in my head of the all-Caucasian, blond hair, blue eyes, ponytail-full-makeup-all-the-time wearing, golf playing, SUV/truck driving, potluck-loving, Stepford suburban. It's horrible to stereotype, but let's face it: we all do it. Even though I know most stereotypes not to be true, I still fear being the only Asian American in this new neighborhood. And I fear my son being the only interracial child in our neighborhood. And I dread the inevitable "where are you from" question, to which I will only get a brief moment of pleasure from their puzzled and uncomfortable expressions when I answer "the Pacific Northwest."

I rarely think about the impact being an interracial child will have on Boo, because I rarely think of myself as being different in any way from anyone else. I grew up surrounded by Caucasians and Asians. My best friends from childhood were all Vietnamese. My friends were German, Vietnamese, Filipino, Hispanic, you name it. Yet the world my parents wanted me to grow up in was the world according to America, and so, to my own fault, I am often seen as being more Caucasian than Asian by both Asians and Caucasians. I don't have an accent. I don't speak Tagalog (very well). I don't follow a lot of the cultural traditions of my parents' heritage.

One of my friends recently told me she doesn't even think about me being Asian, that she just forgets because I am simply Me. While it was nice in sentiment, when people meet me for the first time, they see an Asian. When they've known me through emails and phone calls and then meet me for the first time in person, they often still look past me before realizing I am extending my hand for a handshake because I am the person they are meeting with; I took my husband's last name, which is not an Asian name, so more often than not I do not fit the picture they had in their head of the person who has been working with them. It's so weird for me to even be writing words like "interracial," because I don't even think of my husband and I as such, even though according to the world's dictionary we are.

But now, with Boo, I think it's time I start thinking about raising an interracial child. Yes, it is like raising any other child, but with some different challenges that I know we'll have to work through as a family.

I've dealt with racism, ignorance, complete stupidity and utter absurdity. It's often innocent, but sometimes very painful and disappointing, and a few times, frightening. I've experienced racism from people that I know, from people my family and extended family know, from strangers, from business associates, from bosses. It's everywhere, and it's ugly.

I must admit, that every time I travel, I tend to be more aware of who I am, how people see me, and how people may see me, my husband, and now our baby. I wonder when the day will come when I feel completely comfortable and safe to go anywhere at any time. Sadly I don't think that day will come in my lifetime, or even Boo's, and I wonder what I can do or say to Boo to help him feel confident in who he is and who he is to become. I can tell him of my experiences, and let him know the good and the bad, but I can't protect him from every embarrassing or hurtful situation, and ultimately that is what I wish I could do. Save him from the wolrd.

Boo is the most beautiful child I have ever seen, not just what the mirror reflects but what his soul speaks. Of course I would say that, he is my child. But I see so much in him that is complex, layered..I attribute most of that to the differences that both his father and I bring to him. My bouts of sudden frantic energy, his father's impatient yet calm demeanor - it's all there, in one beautiful, amazing human being. When it comes down to it, he is a mix of his father and me. I only wish when others see that mix, they will attribute it not to Boo being an interracial child, but to Boo simply being a child. Simply a child. Not Caucasian. Not Asian. Just Boo.

3.09.2005

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Sunshine

Global warming is messing up our planet, and messing with our heads here in the Pacific Northwest. It has been in the high 60s and sunny all week and is expected to be 70 or so by Friday and the weekend. How can we go back to the usual Springtime grey skies and rain that will inevitably return? We've seen the sun, felt the heat, and now we can't go back.

Thanks a lot Mother Nature. Or shall I say, thanks a lot, polluters and CFCs. I blame the greedy Bush administration too, but they are at fault for most of the country's woes today so I won't open that can of worms. Not today, anyway.

Today I will write about the sunshine. The natural and the metaphorical that bloomed today.

Yesterday our house hit the market. Tonight we received two offers. We accepted one. A lovely couple just starting out. Call me sentimental but I want to know that we are passing along our lovely and loving home to a lovely and loving couple who will share many happy experiences in it as we did as a young budding family. Since getting our home ready for sale, I have been hit quite hard by the sentimental bug. I love this house. It is a great, warm, beautiful Craftsman home with details you can't find in today's modern homes. It is our first house, where we have built so many beautiful memories. It has been so good to us. I have had seller's remorse - I just don't want to let go. But let go and move on we must, and it is a relief that we can breathe easier now and do so.

We are excited to watch Boo grow up in our new house. I've been told that we'll hate it out in the Burbs and that we'll be back. I've been told we're just not Burbs people, and that we'll be back. Oh I know we'll be back. We've already talked about where to buy in the city once Boo is grown up and our nest is empty. But for now, I am looking forward to our new house on a quiet street and our new life to come.

I'm forging new ground for myself at work too. I love being a mom, but damn I love my other job too. I have this renewed energy and optimism about work. I realized that I don't have to conform to any norms, that I can create my own future and craft my own professional destiny, and that if I follow my values and beliefs and my passion then whatever path I take will be valuable and fulfilling.

Being fulfilled at work has helped me be a better mom at home. I revel in time with Boo. He is expanding his vocabulary (he told one of our dogs she was "bad" twice and has said "tickle, tickle, tickle" a couple of times!) and also his diet (spaghetti today, bits of unbuttered/unsalted breadstick yesterday). He's playing games with us, and so active and mobile. He's so much fun! What a great joy to be a mom. it really is the best, best, BEST thing in the whole world.

Sunshine is everywhere these days. It's a beautiful world.

3.01.2005

Where are we?

There's too much happening right now. Too much going on. I love a constant buzz of activity but these days and nights it is non-stop GO. Go here, do this, organize that, take care of this. On and on and on. Sometimes I just have to STOP and the first question that pops in my mind is "Where are we?" I wonder where the light is at the end of the tunnel and I think it is sometime in the next two months, but that thought causes my whole body to tense up and my bones to crack from the pressure. Argh. Ugh. I'm tired (new mom, what's new, right? No, this is more than mommy tired. This is I-don't-know-what-is-going-on-tired-but-I'm-so-tired-that-I'm-an-energetic-spazz-ball tired).

To top it all off, Boo is going through a massive swirl of changes. His vocabulary is astonishing to me. I'm a first time mom so he's probably perfectly normal, but I swear he is having conversations with me and answering my questions. His babble is starting to take shape, and his inflections are so telling. Who is this little person and what has he done with my tiny baby?

Boo just does not want to crawl. He turned nine months old yesterday. Hooray! But why doesn't he want to crawl? He just wants to stand. To stand and walk with assistance. Or lunge himself onto something that catches his eye.

His eating schedule isn't the same every day now. Sometimes he'll eat six ounces in one sitting, and other times he wants eight or nine. Sometimes he'll scarf down his solid foods, and sometimes he just wants a few bites and he's done.

What is consistent still is his happy demeanor. He loves to smile at everyone. He loves to laugh at whatever he deems to be funny. He loves to try to get your attention so he can smile at you. We were renting movies the other night and the man behind the desk wasn't paying attention to Boo, yet Boo just kept staring at him with this big teasing smile, as if to say "Come on, I know you want to say how cute I am! Everybody does!." He likes to play games with us and see what he can get away with, the entire time donning that mischievous grin of his. He's the best.

With all of the madness that surrounds my happy little family these days, Boo is the happy calm that somehow keeps us sane and reminds us of where we are, what we are doing, and why we are doing it. I feel calmer just writing about him.

(Pause)

Now, it's back to the grind...