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.
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.
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.
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.
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