A few nights ago I confessed something to my husband that I hadn’t previously verbalized.
See, he stopped wearing his wedding ring several months ago for numerous reasons: The job, the gym, and fat fingers. It used to annoy me. You’d better watch out for badge bunnies! But it doesn’t bother me anymore. I realized I was dealing more with the insecurities I have when taking my ring off.
I don’t worry about men hitting on me (HA!) but people judging me. It all came out over a (very rare) discussion we were having about race.
“If I go to the grocery store and the kids are acting up and I’m not wearing my wedding ring, I’m going to get disapproving looks and people shaking their heads at ‘another baby mama with more kids than she can handle’,” I told him. “I don’t get the benefit of the doubt, or adoring looks like you get when you’re out with them.”
He didn’t argue.
This isn’t a realization as much as it is an awakening of sorts now that both of my kids are exiting toddler hood and approaching adolescence. I’m more hyper-aware of reactions they may receive.
When people look at my kids right now, they see two happy, adorable bright youngsters smiling back at them. That’s what I see (most of the time), but as I watch my biracial children grow older, my worries for them, and how people see them grow as well.
I hope strangers look beyond any preconceived notions and see the smart, jovial, kind, thoughtful, amusing people they are.
But will they see my son’s fro and darker skin and subconsciously think he’s a troublemaker?
Will girls tell my daughter she is too dark to play with them? Or will other girls say she is full of herself because her skin color is lighter than theirs? Will my daughter be confident enough to pave her own way despite outward appearances?
Will my son be able to play with his friends’ toy guns without causing alarm? (We don’t and won’t have them at our home).
A long, LONG time from now, when my children are old enough to date, will their friends at church bat an eye at the prospect of dating someone outside of their race? Will some people still see our family as less-than?
Will people assume my kids claimed some sort of handout because of their minority status, or will they believe my kids when they say they earned their way into a competitive college?
And then there’s the tiny voice in my head that tells me I’m worrying for nothing. Is this just my insecurities talking? Will any of this even be an issue in the next decade or two, or am I just concerned for no good reason? Is that tiny voice my optimism, or a likely reality? Maybe I shouldn’t allow these worries to marinate too long.
Maybe it’s time I lead by example, own my confidence and let go of my insecurities. Let go of what people may be thinking, and relish in the knowledge of knowing who I really am.–Even as I wait in the checkout line with two kids on my hip and my wedding ring back at home.