My mixed race family – the good, the bad and the ugly

This post was written by a Guest Mommy Blogger: Aarielle.

I’ve been with my husband since I was 19 years old, so I think it was safe to say that I knew sometime or another I would more than likely be the mother of mixed raced children. But was I prepared for both what a challenge and yet a blessing it would be? The naïve teen I was back then would have been caught up in the concept of ‘cute mocha babies’. However, how innocently I underestimated the adventure I was about to embark on.

Jesse and Aarielle wedding

My name is Aarielle, an Australian citizen who is married to Jesse, a Kenyan national who spent quite a few years studying in Finland. We have two beautiful little ladies together, a toddler; Naimah Njeri and a baby; Amani Avard. Could our family get any more multicultural if it tried? I think not! Yes I have ridiculously adorable children endowed with the most stunning of Afros and a complexion to die for who are so far from their blonde haired, blue-eyed Caucasian mother. Regardless of this it’s not always as glamorous as one may think.

To begin with I had to learn to re-evaluate my expectations of marriage. Even though my hubby has very much succumbed to the western way of life. He is innately Kenyan and there are many nuisances of our relationship that are simultaneously, subtle but vastly different from the relationships some of my girlfriends have. At times I started to wonder if our relationship was broken and needed to be repaired. But after countless conversations with some dear friends who were also married to African men I came to see it was a cultural difference that needed to be bridged. After being together for almost 7 years now I have come to embrace our relationship and love that at times it is different.

Kenyan Party

Kenyan Party

My mother-in-law is a Kenyan mama. We all know that mother-in-laws can come with both love and drama. But I can assure you an African mama has the potential to trump all mother-in-laws. Don’t get me wrong I adore my mother-in-law, she is one of the strongest, driven and loving women I know. Although I’m convinced she thinks I don’t look after my husband well enough in her books and that look of shock horror proves it when I leave my husband in charge of the children or housework to dash off to class or catch up with the girls. She is currently staying with us and slowly seems to be coming to terms with the new-age, non-traditional life we live. Let’s just say, the disapproving looks are on the downward trend. But as I said my mother-in-law is truly amazing and she is worth her weight in gold – especially when we come home every evening to a house smelling of home cooked Kenyan cuisine. Even if I am pretty sure she has a plan to fatten me up by her constant supply of fresh chapati!

And there is the children – yes they are beautiful and yes I constantly am stopped on the street to be told so. To set the story straight though – no they aren’t adopted, I lugged them around for 9 months each and went through the pains of labour twice. You wouldn’t believe the number of times I have been looked as if I am the most charitable person on the planet and asked which country I adopted them from. And yes their curly hair is stunning but it is a hot mess of knots and if anyone was to offer to wash, comb and braid it on a daily basis I wouldn’t hesitate. Because just as it is adorable it is a nightmare to maintain and comes with toddler tantrums and screams – not what you want to deal with when trying to run out the door in the morning. Then there is the joy of trying to ensure that the children get the best of both words – that they speak enough Swahili (Kenyan national language) yet know enough English to function in Australia. Oh and what about making sure they try all the Kenyan cuisine that is offered to them but still have space on their palate for the humble Australian Vegemite. I am determined that both the girls understand their dual heritage and hopefully come to appreciate, be proud and love it. I know though I will have to work hard to do so.

African Dinner Dance

African Dinner Dance

What I do love is that I get to experience the rich Kenyan culture and have been so lovingly embraced by the Kenyan community here in Australia. I have sampled delicious cuisine, learnt (or should I say attempted) dance moves and picked up a few Swahili words. I have been shown that I have been blessed beyond measure and recognised the ridiculousness of #firstworldproblems because really our problems are so trivial to that of Africa. I am been humbled and come to see that my girls have more than enough and most importantly are safe as I learn of people’s stories of back home. I have had my eyes opened and have developed an understanding of how hard life can be. And been left with no words when I learn that amongst the tragedy people are still joyous.

I am incredibly proud of my mixed race family and the first to show off my gorgeous man and equally stunning Afro babies, not to mention the valuable life lessons I have been taught. However it’s not so glamorous as it may first appear to be sporting ‘mocha babies’ and is a whole lot of hard work (as most marriages and parenthood are). So spare a thought for that lady whose complexion doesn’t quite match her husband and children’s. Think of all the work she puts in to maintain both her relationship and children’s identity. And please don’t ask if her babies are adopted or if her toddler loves their curly hair – because the answer may be no. Instead ask her what nationality are her children and take a moment to learn about the other cultures amongst your community.

You can get to know Aarielle via:

Aarielle’s Blog– www.mrsmothermedic.com
Twitter – @mrsmothermedic
Facebook – www.facebook.com/iammrsmothermedic
Pinterest – www.pinterest.com/mrsmothermedic

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28 Comments

  1. stephanie graves
    2014-10-05 / 19:05

    Love this article

  2. 2014-10-06 / 16:40

    I really enjoyed your honest end engaging story. I think marriage and family is different for most people than what they imagined as teenagers. There is always real work that replaces the magical rosy overlay we imagined. There are also real benefits we never knew about then.

  3. 2014-10-09 / 04:35

    Thank you for your lovely comments ladies! Marriage is definitely far from what I dreamed it to be as a little girl. Far less glam but just as fun – throw in our two little girls and it is crazy but cute! xx

  4. Lauren
    2014-10-15 / 09:39

    Beautiful. Every marriage and every family has its challenges and they are unique. So happy that you are working on your challenges and loving the family you’ve created. X

  5. 2014-10-17 / 16:10

    I love that you love you family so and embrace their culture as you embrace your own. Certainly things may come up from time to time, but with love all things can be resolved. I really enjoyed reading this.

  6. 2014-10-17 / 20:50

    I really love this post for your openness and honestly. You have a beautiful family that clearly loves each other!

  7. 2014-10-29 / 18:49

    Your family is absolutely beautiful! I love your perspective.

  8. 2014-11-24 / 18:42

    My sister’s son is mixed race ( caucasian + Kenyan). It was hard on her at first, but now people appreciate her son and the family dynamic for its uniqueness and special story. Thanks for sharing!

  9. 2014-11-24 / 20:42

    Your family is beautiful. We are a biracial family. I am Puerto Rican and my husband is Greek and we have 3 beautiful children so I understand you, completely!:)

  10. 2014-11-24 / 21:08

    What a rich experience to know another culture so intimately. I have a German friend who married a Kenyan and there was definitely a learning curve. Thank you for sharing your wonderful story. 🙂 #blogitforward

  11. 2014-11-24 / 22:15

    What an awesome story, makes multi-culturalism not seem so scary. And while culturally, my marriage is more similar, in some ways it isn’t, good to keep in mind that different families come with different ideas of normal, acceptable.

  12. 2014-11-24 / 22:28

    You have a beautiful family. Thanks for sharing!

  13. 2014-11-24 / 22:31

    You have such a beautiful family! I’m glad you’re willing to go through all the challenges b/c you’ll have such a strong relationship because of it! Thanks for sharing 🙂

  14. 2014-11-24 / 22:36

    What a great post – I have a friend married to a Nigerian and she said she definitely thought things were broken at first but learned otherwise 🙂

  15. 2014-11-24 / 22:42

    I love hearing stories like this. It’s wonderful when couple can look past cultural differences and even work with them to build and strengthen their marriage.

  16. 2014-11-24 / 23:30

    I love hearing your story! I imagine there is a lot to overcome having such a culturally mixed family, but you’re obviously very proud of the family you’ve created!

  17. 2014-11-25 / 00:58

    Your family is beautiful, and so is your perspective. Love doesn’t see culture, race, or anything like that – and you’ve shown that here!

  18. 2014-11-25 / 01:03

    This is such a beautiful story you have, and so great that you are mixing both cultures for your girls! That is something they will cherish forever!

  19. 2014-11-25 / 02:04

    Thanks for sharing your perspective! I have a friend who recently got married and I think I’ll show her this article. It’s just nice to know when someone has been in your shoes 🙂

  20. 2014-11-25 / 03:37

    This is a great story. Enjoy your life and embrace it all, good, bad and ugly!

  21. Trinity
    2014-11-25 / 21:47

    Lovely post! I admire you for writing about this topic. My cousin is black and I’ve had a lot of ugly comments before from people who didn’t understand why we looked so different or thought it was strange! Thank you for writing about it!

  22. 2014-11-26 / 03:13

    Your family is beautiful! I’m sure it’s a challenge, but it seems like you’re doing well with the cultural differences and bridging the gap.

  23. 2014-11-26 / 04:17

    I’m Polish and married to a French Canadian, so our kids are also bilingual and we teach them too cultures as well, so I know what that means ! Thank you for this touching story !

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