During the day it’s difficult to spend too much time on my favourite blogs, but Emma and I were at a photo shoot for Destiny magazine and I had a bit of ‘down-time’. In order to put things into perspective let me tell you what the shoot was for. Destiny Magazine is doing a feature on WOMEN OF A CERTAIN AGE doing UNLIKELY or EXTRAORDINARY things…I think I’ve got it right.
As much as I love the opportunity to tell the story of Emma I was a little taken aback by the ‘women of a certain age’ thing. I know I’m nearing the big 4 OH, but in my mind I’m still thirteen, which according to some therapists I actually am, hence all the drama that follows me around. When I was younger and forty seemed a lifetime away I swore I’d age gracefully. I’d embrace the grey hairs and refer to my wrinkles as ‘laughter lines’. I wouldn’t look at my lhoobs (low hanging boobs) with any regret nor I would consider plastic surgery of any kind. That was then. Now things are different. Young boys that would have been keen to shag me just a few short years back call me ‘ma’am’. Those pesky pamphlet distributors on the side of road happily hand me ‘retirement home’ brochures and when I ask people to guess my age I see fear in their eyes. The very real fear of getting it wrong!
What I also found odd was that adopting Emma, to some, seems extraordinary or unlikely. I’m not sure why. Surely I am not the only one that has done this. There are for more extraordinary people out there than me. And far more people doing extraordinary things.
Anyway, so Emma and I were at the photo shoot and I scanned through some of my unread blogs and came across this one – http://joumaseblerrieblog.blogspot.com/2011/10/pissing-ourselves.html . I loved it, for so many reasons. The heading grabbed my attention immediately. The fact that it’s from one of my favourite bloggers also made me inquisitive to read more and by the time I had finished I was teary eyed and in awe.
I am amazed and inspired by every day people facing extraordinary ‘challenges’ and I love that moms are open and honest to discuss their deepest fears, their niggling insecurities and their very-real-for-them doubts when it comes to their children. This post spoke to the doubts I had a few weeks back about us, as white parents, raising a little black girl. The world is a difficult enough place and I felt that we were now adding another obstacle in the way of a child the world already sees as different, simply based on the colour of her skin. I suddenly found myself questioning my motives for adopting, my ability to empower and enrich the life of a very precious little soul and my resilience in a world that is known for its cruelty.
I know Mark and I are good parents and I know that we love Emma to the moon and back. But one particular day after I saw a little girl remove Emma’s sun-hat, touch her hair and say ‘eeeeuw’ I suddenly started questioning my decisions and my ability to arm Emma for the world around her. How do I prepare her for a world I know nothing about? As a white woman how do I even begin to understand what a black person goes through on a daily basis? Thankfully Mark, Emma and I share a sense of humor that is slightly twisted at the best of times, macabre at others. I’m very unPC and most of our friends call Emma ‘Chocolate Connor”. I lovingly refer to her as my Oreo Baby, which normally has her responding with a ‘yum yum’. To Mark, she is his ‘chocolate button’.
I suppose the only way for us to get by is to take one day at a time and to evaluate situations as they come up. We need to take a step back and ask ourselves how will we feel about this tomorrow, in a week or in a month. We need to honestly assess whether comments, remarks or behaviour towards our daughter affect us more than her. And of course how we react to things people say will without a doubt influence Emma’s response in the years to come.
Having said all this I think Emma will be fine. As her mom I will sit back and watch her blossom and evolve into a beautiful, compassionate, intelligent woman, who with her experiences, will undoubtedly make a mark on this world that we cannot even begin to imagine.
Until then I need to find a way to break the news to her that Mark and I are not black…