Why #royalwedding2018 Was So Important for our Black or Mixed Race Children

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Tale of a Mixed Race Royal Wedding

There has been a lot written about the royal wedding since it aired on over 30 million television sets across the globe. Most of it is positive- even dramatically praiseworthy. Meghan’s dress, her poise, Harry’s nervousness, Prince Charles walking Meghan down the aisle and of course, who could forget Rev Curry’s poignant yet dramatic address. The day was filled with elegance and style but perfectly choreographed to pay homage to both sets of cultures uniting as one.

I watched William and Kate’s wedding with interest seven years ago, having never watched the amazing performance the Royal machine puts on during one of these affairs.

And yet, this one stood out, not just because it incorporated the same pomp and performance that is behind all of the Royal Family events. But because of who it involved.

These six images below captivated my little ones’ faces.

For the same cliche reasons that many black Americans and Brits have been going on about. Let it not be overstated. This was history in the making.

And representation matters. Meghan shook up an establishment that is centuries’ old where black faces are/were rarely seen. (“They were coming out of every stockroom the BBC could find!”- one of my family members joked.)

And to have so many front and centre- to see a ‘princess’ (and I say this knowing that she will not officially get the title) who is biracial and PROUD! marrying into such an old, white and stodgy establishment. Well, what an absolute mind blower.

I cried and laughed for the same reasons  that most others did watching. But I also cried for my children- because IF this is how the Royal Family wish to go forward, they have made a statement of intention that is both progressive and welcome.

Our children will grow up knowing and seeing a woman part of the royal family who is a feminist, an ambassador for growing up mixed race, proud of her black roots and most of all, willing and able to push against even the most stubborn of barriers.

It was a day that will go down in the history books and one that I’m certain my three daughters won’t forget. When they looked at Meghan and commented, “she’s mixed like ME!”, I knew it was a moment to remember….

Next step is for Meghan to wear her curly hair natural!

If you’re wondering whether multiracial families are the new ‘normal’, read on…

 

17 Signs You’re Planning to Have More Kids

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Family Planning Getting You Down?

A lot of Mums these days are able to definitively say “I’m done”- after having their first, second or even fifth child. If you’ve never had that feeling and you’re undecided about whether you might have another one, there are some telltale signs you probably will go for the third…

If you’ve said yes to five or more of these, you might as well keep your old baby clothes!

  1. You’re still hanging on to your now 4 year old’s onesie.
  2. You have all girls but you find yourself reading the brochure about circumcision in your doctor’s waiting room.
  3. Your youngest is a boy but you insist on buying neutral everything.
  4. Your husband’s suggestion he get a vasectomy falls on deaf ears.
  5. When looking for houses, the ‘spare’ bedroom is secretly you’re future child’s.
  6. You can take the sleepless nights because you’re resigned you’ll do it differently next time.
  7. You love playdates and lift shares because you get to practice handling more.
  8. You’re not all that fussed about losing all the baby weight because you know you’ll just pack it on again for the next one.
  9. You still track your ovulation cycle obsessively ‘just in case’ you organise a romantic night in.
  10. The first set of school fees shock you because you’ve already multiplied it times 3 in your head.
  11. You make sure you don’t use all your favourite names for your first child ‘just in case’.
  12. You make sure you don’t reveal to friends and family what the other contenders were for baby names ‘just in case’.
  13. You turn into a sloppy puppy every time you see or hold a newborn.
  14. You recite in your head your kids’ and ‘future kids’ names to see if they go together ‘just in case’.
  15. You drop not-so-subtle hints to your hubby about ‘if’ we were ever to have another one, I would definitely do….
  16. You buy a people carrier when you a sedan will actually do.
  17. Finally, you notice how helpful your kids are when it comes to little babies. Who wouldn’t want another one?!

 

 

 

Where is ‘Home’ in an Intercultural Multicultural Marriage?

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Are you in an Multicultural Marriage / Relationship?

Ten years ago I would have bet my left lung that we would never  move to Nigeria. Sure my husband is Nigerian but we met in England and his whole family was here at the time. ‘Home’ was here in England and the idea of settling anywhere else just a nebulous reality.

Perhaps that’s the clincher though for people in an multicultural marriage. When you marry someone who originates from somewhere else, the concept of ‘home’ represents different things to you and your partner and moving back always remains a possibility.

Finding Home in an Intercultural Relationship

Three years and two kids into our marriage, my husband started to get those itchy feet that many of his friends and siblings had already succumbed to. The desire to return ‘home’ again, to embrace his identity and show his own children where they come from. The economic opportunities were nothing to turn your nose down to either. So off we went. Sure, it wasn’t my home but I was all for an adventure. I just didn’t have a clue what I was in for.

Where is Home in an Intercultural/ Multicultural Marriage?
Soon after we arrived in Nigeria

We moved to Nigeria in 2013, full of hopes of better opportunities in  what was (at the time) a growing economy and a supportive extended family waiting for us.

The latter proved more than I could have asked for. The former, much less promising and harder work than we’d anticipated.

With two young children in any relationship let alone an multicultural marriage/ interracial relationship, it was tough.

I had been used to being quite independent over here. Although England isn’t my home country, it was similar enough to Canada that I’d been able to find what I needed, had formed a community around me and could function, for the most part, independently.

In Nigeria however, I felt very out of my league. It’s not that I hadn’t travelled before. In fact, I’d lived in Ghana for six months, years earlier following my undergraduate degree. But this seemed different. It wasn’t just me anymore, I had kids to take care of, a husband to consider and in-laws living in close proximity. None of this was a problem in itself, but the context was so different, I remember feeling so alone.

My husband was busy jump starting his business and although he was supportive, he did need to be at work- that was the whole point of us being there. As I contemplated each day’s activities for the children, I was struck by how helpless I actually felt. You couldn’t just look up the local playgroup on the internet, there were few parks and open spaces where you could hang out (and even if you did, the height of the afternoon was too hot and the malaria-carrying mosquitoes were often a concern). In any case, much of what I wanted to do I couldn’t because it either wasn’t safe (Nigeria is plagued with many security issues and going out as a foreigner with little knowledge of where I was going and by myself would have been a recipe for disaster), too far or it was too hot to go there at that time of day.

I began to get swallowed up into that hole of despair, uniquely identified as stage 3 of the culture shock pendulum.

I blamed my husband for everything that went wrong. When the temperature hiked to plus 40 degrees, when the rain flooded our compound so we’d have to drive through water that came up to our side mirrors, when my girls got mosquito bites and we thought there was a threat of malaria, when they got a runny tummy, when the driver left and started sending us threatening texts asking for more money, when we couldn’t recruit another so I took to driving myself (which, if anyone knows anything about Lagos driving, is tough), when we found rats had somehow found a way into the car and had chewed holes in the girls’ car seats, when I couldn’t find a school for my daughter that wasn’t insisting that two year olds should be able to count to 100… the list went on…

I was frustrated, angry and ‘stuck’, feeling as if I’d never find happiness over there and it would never feel like home. I knew something had to change or I’d lose it and for the sake of my relationship with my husband and for my kids, I had to make a change.

I realised that in moving to a different country and one as different as Nigeria, I was still comparing it to England. And for that, I was paying the price. It wasn’t my ‘home’ but it could be.

Slowly, with this realisation, I stopped trying to compare my life in Nigeria to my life in England. I began to appreciate what Nigeria could offer me instead of what it couldn’t. Instead of crying over a £12 punnet of strawberries, I began to buy local fruit and relished the sweet organic taste of fresh watermelon, pineapple, papaya, mangoes and oranges.

In our multicultural marriage, ‘home’ began to take on a new meaning.

Crucially, I met a group of women who became my lifeline. They called themselves Nigerwives: foreign women married to Nigerian men who’d found in each other a sense of sisterhood for the very reasons I’d described. They recognised that they weren’t expats and they were far from local, even though some could have traced their roots back to Nigeria at some point in their gene pool. Instead, all these women had in common was the fact that we all identified with being foreign and were married to Nigerians. But that was all we needed.

In them, I found an outlet for all that I had been feeling towards the country and its differences. They not only understood my feelings but most of all, they were able to offer me community. Eventually, I found a couple of local parks which we frequented almost everyday and playdates became our daily dose of fun. I learned that to find something, it was really through word of mouth so I had tapped into a local community of knowledge. I was now, never lonely.

Eventually, I found a part time job at my daughter’s school. This too, gave me great solace and a community which was my own. When you move to one or the other’s country of origin, it’s hard for the foreign partner not to feel at a disadvantage because nothing is ‘theirs’ so to speak.

In my job, I had my own friends, community and even a little extra money in my pocket so that I could buy those strawberries and not feel guilty. I had made my new ‘home’ a reality.

Eventually I settled into life and discovered that Nigeria’s people and its social life were its main attractions. Not its tourism industry or the cuisine you might find at the local market. It was the people. Our social lives were crammed with invitations to birthday party after birthday party, each one topping the other for the outlandish display of fun for children of all ages. Invitations to weddings, baptisms, engagements and birthdays flew in.  It didn’t matter if you knew the bride and groom or not; so long as you knew someone close to the family, you were free to come, bring as many as you like, eat a good meal and dance the night away.  Our family was happy.

The experience for us in our multicultural marriage has brought my hubby and I closer, not just because he knows that I can live in his country and survive but because I got an insight into who he is, his family and a lot of understanding into his ‘isms’. I know exactly what he means when he talks about home.

When you meet your partner abroad, it’s easy to think you know him/her because of who they are when they’re in that country. But inevitably, when your partner returns home, another part of them emerges. It’s not to say that my hubby became entirely Nigerian, his experience was fraught with frustrations as well, having lived abroad for almost 20 years and this being his only experience living in his home country as an adult. But it is and remains where he calls ‘home’.

We have no regrets, only broader minds, lifelong friends and a deeper desire to ensure our daughters know their Nigerian home. For me, it highlighted the fact that we are a family of many cultures and no matter where we live, Nigeria is definitely one more place we can authentically call home.

Read more from Mixed.Up.Mama below!

How to Survive in an Intercultural Relationship

 

Tips for parents thinking about Child Modelling

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Thinking about child modelling?

Did you know the most googled parenting topic is child modelling? That means every other mother and father next to you also secretly thinks their kid is the cutest kid out there and needs to be seen.

With mixed kids, the look is unique and online retailers are increasingly realising their advertising should reflect the world their customers live in. Children and babies litter online and retail advertising.  So inevitably, child models of colour have been included in their search.

I have been meaning to write this post for a while to shed some light on these elusive but highly sought-after opportunities that many parents might hope (secretly or otherwise) their kids could land.

I say secretly, because there are many dilemmas that parents will go through thinking about child modeling and its impact on their kids, what it means in our society and what we are teaching them by suggesting that looks matter. On the other hand, it can offer opportunities for children to save towards their futures and it can be (not always though) a glamorous, enjoyable scene for children. As long as it’s genuinely the child who wants to do it.

Many children, my oldest included, enjoy being in the spotlight. They love being filmed, photographed and performing and even love trying on different clothing. I never engendered that into my dd1, it’s just the way she is. And so, it may not seem far-fetched to try your luck and see if child modeling is for them.

Of course, it’s not always so glamorous for parents. It takes time getting to and from castings and making sure there is childcare for siblings- often at the last minute. Although agencies and clients will try to schedule these out of school hours, it can still be a big commitment to travel across the city with only a day’s notice straight from school.

It’s not just cherubic looks that can score your darlings a paid gig, companies will have set criteria for what they are looking for- ranging in age range, different races, ginger hair, blonde hair, black hair or curly hair, the list goes on. If your little one is not what they are looking for, no matter how cute they are, they are not going to be called back.

So auditions or castings, as they call it, can be disappointing. Agencies will call you and say a particular company is interested. You need to show up, take a few photos and it may turn out that your child is not what they are looking for. You don’t get compensation for those hours of travelling to and from different auditions.

So what about the money? Earnings for babies and tots begins at about £50 an hour (or £300 per day) and rises with age to about £70 an hour for a 16-year-old. Money must be put into an account in the child’s name or in a trust fund for the child so forget about that dream home. Laws ensure the money is for the child. It can be a perfect opportunity to teach your child about the value of money and that earning can be fun.

Knowing that child modeling is not as easy as it may appear, you should also know it’s not always as glamorous either. Child models also need the right temperament to cope with the camera. A friend of mine recently told me about her experience on the client side working for a PR agency that had requested child models for their advertising. The shoot was going well but, inevitably, a 4-year-old girl began to fuss about wearing glasses. Although photographers, agency reps and the girl in question were all familiar with and understanding of the challenges that go along with working with children, at the end of the day, the job needs to get done. Luckily, the child’s parent stepped in and declared she’d had enough. This parent knew that the priority for her was that her daughter continued to enjoy it. As soon as it became a chore, she called it quits.

And that’s the most important thing to remember. If your child loves performing and has a cute face to go with it, being in front of the camera for a couple of hours may be something you’d like to try out. Just make sure it’s for them, not you.

For more parenting tips and shares, read on about Teaching Our Children to Manage Their Emotions. 

 

 

New Englishisms I Learned From Being a North American Mum Living in the UK

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I’d lived and worked in the UK almost 7 years before we had kids, so I thought I’d pretty much mastered the lingo I needed to get by in British circles. But becoming a parent in England has often made me feel as if I’ve just stepped off that plane starting out on a journey I thought I’d mastered all those many years ago.

No, Dummy it’s a nappy!

Learning the names of baby items is a steep learning curve for any Mum, let alone someone who is not native to England. But there were some I just thought were universal or at least familiar enough to be used interchangeably. Nope. Tell someone your baby uses a pacifier and most Mums will do a double take. Why the name dummy anyway? Nappies, prams, buggies and pushchairs. Why do we need 3 words to describe a child’s mobile chair? And really what is the difference from diapers, strollers, playpens and bassinets?

Dress for confusion

Once my daughter became old enough to go to preschool, her confusion multiplied when I asked her to put on her pants and a sweater. She told me she already had her pants (undies) on and this is called a jumper. Too many times I’ve been the butt of the joke referring to my pants getting wet and needing to change. Don’t laugh, it’s embarrassing.

The class divide

Who knew the age of entering school could be a whole new set of learning that we have to master? Brits do love their acronyms- after all, none of these seem to require any explanation if you’re a regular reader of the Guardian: EYFS, KS1 and KS2, GCSEs and A levels. And don’t get confused by the fact that public schools are actually private schools, state schools is an umbrella term for anything not private and you’re left to figure out the rest of them from community, voluntary, religious, grammar schools or academies…I could go on.

Accentuating our differences

With a Mum who says, “waaader” to a Dad who might say “watah” and living in a country that pronounces it “woortah”, our poor daughters are confused.

Potty talk

I’ve always gone to the bathroom where you do a pee. Now, I find myself asking my daughter if she needs to wee or, if we’re alone ‘wee wee’. No matter what, I always feel silly.

Questionable Subject matter

How is ‘maths’ plural but ‘sport’ is not?

Sesame Street anyone?

I thought Sesame Street was universal until I started singing the ‘Rubber Duckey’ song to blank stares from my fellow Mums. It seems I’m out of the loop when it comes to remembering child’s programming. I’ve never actually watched Blue Peter or Top of the Pops – so if you refer to an episode growing up, it’s pretty much guaranteed I won’t get it.

Hokey what?

Songs for kids. I thought these were universal. Especially when you hear the familiar tune and words to the wheels on the bus. But which clever person decided the bus should go all through the town instead of all day long?? Who decided that the spider should be itsy bitsy instead of incey wincey? And really what difference does it make if we do the Hokey Pokey instead of the Hokey Cokey? If you’re going to make a change, make it worth it people!

The rest is child’s play

At the end of the day, we have more in common than I’ve let on. Somersaults might be called roley poleys and popsicles are ice lollies but my daughters are products of their multicultural living. Some things change but a lot remains the same. Pancakes are still thick and fluffy and costumes are not swimsuits. It’s the little things that count.

As featured in the Huffington Post…

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