Moving Day

Last week we became homeowners, and over the weekend we moved in to our new place.  I absolutely love our new home and have been busy organizing and decorating it the last few days (hence no new blog post this past weekend).

My favorite room in the house is Buggy’s room, where she can play with her toys during the morning or afternoon and rest peacefully at nap and night time cuddled up with the blanket her Nana knitted her while her white noise machine plays softly in the background.  I like her room so much that I set up my rocking chair in there so I can sit in her room to relax when she wakes up to nurse in the night.

What’s your favorite room in your house?  Does anyone else love how they decorated their kid’s room and secretly wish they could be a kid again so their room could be full of toys too?

julies room

I love watching my independent girl explore her new room!

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Being in the Minority

Someone recently told me I will never know what it is like to be in the minority. I agreed with them that I wouldn’t know what it was like to be Black (or any other racial minority group) in America, and I certainly don’t know what it is like to be them, but I do know something about being in the minority. I have been in the minority as a woman many times, and believe it or not, I have been part of a white minority several times in my life too.

I was inspired to write this post after my husband wrote this on his Facebook wall in response to the comment I received regarding me not knowing what it is like to be in the minority: “…She has a black husband and a biracial daughter so for all intents and purposes she’s a minority now. She has to deal with discrimination and racist comments that most people of both races black or white don’t have to deal with. I’m no stranger to discrimination but I haven’t had to deal with some of the ignorance that my wife has, no one ever tells me I don’t look like my daughter. That’s painful no matter what color you are. People just shouldn’t assume they know anything about what someone else feels…”

I couldn’t agree with him more.

As a child, I can remember several instances in which I was the only girl in the group. I am close in age to my brother and we shared many of the same friends growing up. For whatever reason, his friends always seemed to be at our house so we would all play together. I can remember a few of them teasing me for being a girl, and telling me I wasn’t as fast as them or as strong as them. It was kids stuff, but it stuck with me that I was different then them.

My soccer coach once said “nice shot, for a girl” after I scored a goal for the team. I remember being so mad because it wasn’t just a “nice shot for a girl” it was a great shot for anyone, and it helped us to win an important game! I think discrimination against girls and women is often overlooked and people do not think it is as harmful as racial discrimination. In my opinion, being told you cannot do something because you are a girl can have very powerful and long lasting effects, particularly on a child’s self esteem.  Later in life these remarks can even impact their abilities if girls start to believe what they have been told about not being able to do something because of their sex.

My first experience as a racial minority took place in 2010 when I took a trip to South Africa with my family for the World Cup. While we were in Africa, my dad and I decided to spend a few days in Zimbabwe. Upon arrival, I quickly realized that there were no white people. Anywhere. Even at our hotel, where there were plenty of tourists, we did not see any other white people. We were there about 5 days, and I think we may have seen about 2 or 3 other white tourists the whole time we were there. There just wasn’t anyone who wasn’t black. It was an eye-opening experience to be in the minority and to stick out so much because of my appearance. I felt very out of place the entire trip. My hair and skin color made me stand out. A few men followed my dad and I back from Victoria Falls and kept saying my hair was so pretty. I appreciated the compliment, but it made me uneasy because they wouldn’t stop commenting about our skin and hair. This was my first experience as a racial minority, and it was not a good feeling to be gawked at, pointed towards, and followed just because I looked different.  This was probably the most powerful illustration to me of how being discriminated against can make someone feel.

One of my first professional jobs was as the Indian Education Specialist for a fairly large school district in Washington State. I worked with Native American students helping them overcome cultural, academic, and social barriers to their academic success. When I would tell the families I worked with that I was not Native American I would get funny looks, and asked why I was working for the program if I wasn’t Native. I would simply reply that I enjoyed helping students overcome obstacles to success and that I attended professional development events to help me learn more about specific ways to help Natives in a culturally sensitive manner.  I did not like my professional abilities being called into question because of my race.

One time at a Native American Educators Conference, someone told me I shouldn’t be there because I am not Native. I replied that I worked with Native American students in a educational setting (so I am a Native American Educator, which was the title of the conference), and wanted to learn more about the ways in which I could help my students. It did feel awkward to be surrounded by so many people who had such strong cultural ties to their heritage when I do not, and it also isolated me because I had a hard time relating to some of the struggles that both my colleagues and my students faced as a racial group. However, I did my job well, and in my opinion my racial background should matter in my workplace so long as I can perform my job duties successfully.

As a minority in these and other settings, I have felt lonely, isolated, and irritated. I have been singled out because of my gender, the color of my skin, and my family’s background.  Furthermore, as the fair skinned mother of a darker skinned child, I have faced countless questions and comments in regards to my baby (many of these stories have appeared in previous blog posts), which in some cases may be racist or discriminatory. Although I will never know what it is like to be in the racial minority in this country, I do have an idea of how it feels to look different. I do know what it is like to experience something uncomfortable, and to look around and wonder if people are taking about me because of my skin color. I don’t pretend that I have experienced some of the blatant racism that my husband and black friends have experienced here in America, but that doesn’t mean I don’t know anything about being in the minority. I do not pretend that my experiences are the same as anyone else’s, and I am not trying to discount the racism that others most certainly feel on a daily basis. I am simply pointing out that unless you know me and have lived and breathed my experiences, you cannot say that I do not know anything about racism, discrimination, or what it is like to be in the minority.

Like Mother Like Daughter

As I was getting ready for bed last night, I rubbed my eyes. It is something I wasn’t even aware I was doing until my husband pointed it out to me. He said I must be tired because I was acting like Buggy, who always rubs her eyes when she’s ready for bed. I tried to pretend I wasn’t tired, but I am. I’m exhausted. We have had a busy few days, and Buggy hasn’t been sleeping as long at night since I started back to work. I think it’s a combination of missing me, and the dreaded 9 month growth spurt. Anyway, when my husband said we have some of the same mannerisms I got really excited.

Because Buggy looks so much like her daddy with her big brown eyes, curly dark hair, and dimples I often feel like I don’t see much of myself in her. But once my husband pointed out that we both rub our eyes when we are tired I started thinking about other mannerisms she gets from me. She can raise one eyebrow, a talent I inherited from my dad. She also shares my grin. The grin I get when I am really, truly happy. When we get upset we both start hyperventilating, and we can both cry huge crocodile tears on command.

I’m really happy that Buggy gets a lot of her personality from me. She is a very happy and active baby, and I just can’t get enough of her smiles and giggles as she cruises around the living room and crawls at lightening speed straight for any open door. My mom used to tell me that she thought I jumped rope with my umbilical cord because I was so active before I was born, and Buggy was the same way.  Neither one of us has slowed down since we were born, either!  She started rolling over at 8 weeks, crawled before 6 months, and is already standing on her own at just over 9 months!

The more I watch her the more like me I think she is. When I look at Buggy I see my husband’s physical features and my personality. I think she really did get the best of both of us, and I’m looking forward to seeing how her looks and personality develop as she grows and changes.

Here is a sampling of what Buggy has been up to recently – cruising around and hiding our remote and keys!

STANDING WITH BOOK standing

Modeling

Like many parents, I think that my child is the cutest baby on the block, so after much thought and consideration my husband and I decided that we might be interested in getting Buggy into baby modeling. I did some research and quickly found that living in a medium sized town in the south is not ideal for baby modeling (or any modeling really), so I contacted the only agency in the area that has baby clients and set up an appointment.

I had been warned that baby modeling wasn’t all that it was cracked up to be, but being somewhat naive about such things we went ahead and scheduled an appointment with the agency. We showed up to the building a few minutes before our appointment and could not figure out where the office was. We looked around and even asked other people who had offices in the building where the agency was located. Finally, we found the office! Yay! Except it was closed. Weird, we had an appointment and there was nobody there….

But there were people who were clients of the agency having a meeting and they were kind to us and took down our information, took Buggy’s photo, and even called the owner to let her know we were there waiting. She didn’t answer. We called and left several messages and did not get a call back or an apology for standing us up at our appointment. Weeks later I got a text from the agency asking us to come it because they got Buggy’s photo and were interested in representing her.

Later that day, with some reservations, I brought Buggy down to the agency and met with the owners. They told me that Buggy would probably have no problem getting booked because biracial and racially ambiguous children are in high demand for print modeling. (I also read this in an article online, so I thought it might actually be true) However, they wanted us to pay them a “small fee” (of over $200! No thank you!) to represent her and then they would take an additional 20% off the top of any jobs she booked. I said no thank you, that we were not interested after learning more, and left the office.

About a month later the assistant at the company called me and said he was following up with my question about my son’s photos appearing on their website. I said I didn’t have any questions about that and I have a daughter not a son and hung up. He called back a few minutes later and said the owner wanted to talk with me. She got on the phone and asked me what was going on, because my son had a photo shoot scheduled for a pool toy company. I told her I had a daughter, that I never signed a contract with them, that she stood me up, and that I found her agency to be unprofessional.

She looked through some paperwork and figured out they had called the wrong client. But then she asked for Buggy’s name and said that she was also chosen to be in the photo shoot for pool toys. I asked how that could be since they didn’t represent her and we never signed a contract. They thought we came in and paid the “small fee” so they had been submitting Buggy’s photo to companies wanting baby models. I asked if we could skip the $200 fee since Buggy was obviously going to bring them revenue because she booked for a job without even having representation, but they said no. They didn’t want to work with someone who called them unprofessional. Fair enough.

All in all, it was a terrible experience. They were unorganized and unprofessional and wasted my time on several occasions. I asked that they shred Buggy’s photo and stop submitting her since she was not their client and to please take me off their call list. As far as I know, they complied with my requests, but just to be sure I filed a report with the BBB.

bubbles

Buggy discovers bubbles for the first time! What agency wouldn’t want this little cutie to model for them?

When it comes to my baby, I want to be sure that we are being treated fairly and with respect. I tried to look at this negative experience as a learning opportunity, and to realize that although it would be nice to start a college fund for Buggy with money she makes modeling, it is much more important that we are all happy and I will not let anyone take advantage of us. I am sure there are plenty of other agencies or open calls that Buggy can work with.