I finished my Rose Bowl jog, feeling rather accomplished. I had beat the heat and managed to keep my one-year-old daughter content in her stroller. I stooped down to tell her how proud of her I was, and it was then I noticed that she had only one shoe on.
After a frantic search, it became obvious that she had chucked it somewhere during the 3.3 mile stretch.
I braced myself to begin what would be a very warm and inconvenient search. Thankfully, I was saved the ordeal by the timely appearance of a kindly stranger.
She waved the shoe in the air as she ran up. I was super grateful, but she blew off my thanks; she was happy to help. She gushed at how sweet little Noé was. But when I smiled and thanked her, she frowned in surprise; “Is she yours?”
This wasn’t my first encounter of this kind. The first time it happened, I had blinked back innocently, wondering, “Who else’s would she be?” But several ignorant inquiries later it now took a lot of restraint not throw the shoe back at her sweet perplexed face.
I am aware that not everyone understands or can relate to the world’s current melting pot of racial diversity (which I for one think is wonderful), and there’s nothing wrong with a bit of curiosity. However, said curiosity should never be prioritized above the privacy and feelings of others. I recently had to comfort a friend devastated by careless comments over her adopted son of a different race. The concept of family is more than skin-deep.
“Yes, she is,” I answered the lady with a plastic smile. But here’s what I really wanted to say:
“Dear well-meaning but offensive stranger, it is clear that the shade of my skin is a lot darker than my biracial daughter’s. However, since I did carry her for 10 wonderful and grueling months, birth her into the world, and am committed to raising and protecting her with every fiber of my being, I do believe I qualify as her mother (just as I would even if she were adopted). And your shock, and insensitivity is, to put it mildly, off-putting!”
I must admit that it happened again a few days later; “Oh my gosh is she yours?” I had had it! I geared up to educate the kindly stranger with a few choice words, but she quickly followed with “You look so young!” Now that’s a comment I can get behind. 🙂