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Sunday, August 9, 2009

I'm His Mommy, Not His Nanny!

Hello, out there!, I'm finally getting around to posting (thanks to Nikki for inviting me) and am sorry it took me so long. I used to blog quite often before I had my son, but now that he's a toddler and asserting his independence, I'm allowed the odd moment to myself.

I am the half Korean/half black mother of a 2 year old boy. My son's father is Scottish and Assyrian. My son is a delectable mix of us both and his heritages show on his beautiful face.

After weeks of complaining, I finally sucked it up and bought a "She's My Mommy, Not My Nanny" t-shirt from Swirl Syndicate for William. I live in a predominantly melanin-deficient area of NYC where most of the non-white/namely black-and-brown faces you see belong to either home caretakers or nannies. Nevermind that grew up here- that I have lived in the same place for 30+ years of my life. This is all irrelevant because people just can't imagine that I could possibly live here, or that my son, who incidentally looks just like me, is my son.

I've had more than a few incidences that got my blood boiling. One of my favorites (and the most recent) happened about a month ago. I was in the playground with my son and was supervising him as he climbed on a structure. There were many kids climbing too. This woman comes over with her son and starts saying to me, "Oh, I know his parents" as she gestures to a child who, of course is not my son. I just say, "Oh...okay...." and go about my business. Then she says, "Are you with him?" - meaning the little boy. I tell her that no, I am with him, gesturing toward William. I assume that she'll "get" that William is my son, being that he looks like me and all. She asks me if he has a brother and I tell her he doesn't, thinking that's the end of the conversation.

A few days later, we're in the same playground. This time my husband, who is white, is with me. I sit down on the benches (William had broken my toe...!) and William and my husband play together about 2 yards away from me. The same women ambles by with her son and starts talking to my husband. It went something like this (some paraphrasing, but this is the jist):

Woman: Oh, I saw him the other day (meaning William). Does he have a brother?
Husband: No, he doesn't.
Woman: Oh- there's a little boy who looks just like him. I was talking to his babysitter the other day...
Husband: Maybe you mean his grandmother...? (He'd heard the story from me already and knew where this was going but was trying to give her the benefit of the doubt)
Woman: (insistent) No, no...his babysitter...

...and me, sitting about 2 yards away on the bench. So not only am I the babysitter, but I'm the faceless babysitter.

Some people don't get my outrage about this. They don't understand how annoying it is when people think that your child, the one that you birthed with your own body, is not your own. It's hurtful, angering and frustrating.

If you're not the mother of a biracial/multiracial child/non-white child, then try to open your mind and your eyes a bit before you comment.


Nikki @ Blasian Baby says:
at: August 9, 2009 at 12:40 PM said...

Ugh, how could she be so clueless and nosey! I hope your hubby set her straight during the convo. I swear we need to get t-shirt that say "not the babysitter"

JaelCustomDesigns says:
at: August 9, 2009 at 9:51 PM said...

* Popping over from

I can relate to this post! I'm Jamasian. My family is Jamaican & Asian. We are all so culterally diverse.

People are clueless!

Emily from TheMotherhood says:
at: August 10, 2009 at 8:27 AM said...

Oh, it's just awful what people will say and do. I feel your pain. What a terrible thing to go through time and time again. I'm sending ((hugs)).

at: August 10, 2009 at 11:18 AM said...

That stinks! For some reason, I expected more from New Yorkers -- aren't they suppose to be more worldly? Maybe, I need to get out more and watch less "Sex and the City".

Yakini says:
at: August 10, 2009 at 2:55 PM said...

Reading that story just made my blood boil. How intrusive and outright RUDE of that mama. *smh*

Although it's not nearly the same, I feel a bit of that irritation when folks comment on my son's complexion, being that he is quite a bit lighter than me. He looks just like me, features-wise, but many ppl look at him, then look at me, and then feel the need to ask: "Where do you think he got his complexion from?" Ummm, black folks vary in complexion, and you never know what genes are gonna pop up. Duh! It bothers me to no end.

Im sorry this happened to you. Great post, thanks for sharing.

at: August 10, 2009 at 3:42 PM said...

OMG- this happened to me too. I am black my husband white and my daughter is an obvious mix from completion to facial expressions. This woman told my daughter when she was only 4 months and was with me and my husband, to tell her "nanny that it's OK for you to cry". I was furious and speechless. My husband on the other hand was not speechless. He put her in her place. This lead me to design shirts and other things for mixed-families. Check out my stuff at

DLo says:
at: August 10, 2009 at 3:44 PM said...

I'm a new mommy to your site, but just found this article and while I can't relate because it hasn't happened to me, I have plenty of friends who it has happened to because they are Latinas like me with white husbands (most are blond with blue-eyed) and so their kids came out looking like dad, yet mommy is tan, black hair, dark eyes (like me) and they've been approached at the market or parks asking if they were the nanny! Unbelievable that people don't realize how many multi-racial families there are today! And we make such cute babies :-)

Nicole Feliciano says:
at: August 10, 2009 at 10:19 PM said...

And my sitter looks a lot like me...people assume when she is babysitting the baby is hers. It just goes to show you what assumptions will get you.

lvlc says:
at: August 11, 2009 at 11:01 PM said...

Oh! I feel your anger and shared it as I read! ugh!
People just don't get it! I know some people don't do it on purpose, but DON'T MAKE ANY ASSUMPTIONS just because!
I am puertorican, meaning we have all the mix you can imagine! :) We even have a phrase that goes: "And your Grandmother, where she is" meaning that every puertorican has their black, indian, white, spaniard, arabic, all roots all over in the blood and it will reflect in any of our kids! :)

Niqnaq23 says:
at: August 13, 2009 at 12:52 AM said...

All of my kids look different (7 of them) from their skin tone brown to light. Some with straight hair, wavy, natural curls, or even coarsed. I haven't really been bombarded with are they mines... However when all together, I have been asked do I have a daycare....

JamericanSpice says:
at: August 14, 2009 at 3:28 AM said...

Oh I get this alright because I've had similar experiences and usually I just take my kid and walk away. It's usually talking to people and they are speaking to my husband and the child as if I"m not there! Oh hell no!

It is very hurtful.