Usually the first thing strangers say to my daughters upon meeting them is, “Wow, you both have beautiful blue eyes.” If my husband isn’t around, this never causes confusion. I have blue eyes so it seems logical that I’d have children with blue eyes. If my husband, who is Mexican, is around, that statement is followed with one of two things: the question of “how did you get so lucky?” or a statement of “your mom must have really strong genes.” Either way, their intentions are to compliment them, but the undertone is “If he’s your father, you really should look differently.”
When my first daughter was born, family and friends would visit. Naturally, they’d look her over and try to determine who she looked like. She had dark brown hair, a jaundice tan, and blue eyes. After spending several minutes in the birth canal, I have no problem saying she looked a little morphed. How anyone could determine, at that point, who she resembled is beyond me. I let the banter go back and forth without paying much attention. It was new, and the responsibility of raising a bi-cultural child hadn’t yet set in.
“I let the banter go back and forth without paying much attention. The responsibility of raising a biracial child hadn’t yet set in.”
When my second daughter was born, she also had dark brown hair, a jaundice tan, and blue eyes. With three years under my belt as a parent, I knew what would follow. This time it was a little different. Everyone was shocked and perhaps a little happy that she, too, had blue eyes.
After the jaundice tan dissipated, the debate of whether they looked more white or Hispanic followed, as though they needed to pick a side. Recently, my oldest daughter was told by a classmate that she couldn’t be Hispanic because of her blue eyes. Children sometimes get things mixed up. I don’t hold any blame to the child who told her this. In fact, this classmate was saying what people are thinking when they comment on my strong genes or ask how they got so lucky.
“The debate of whether [my daughters] looked more white or Mexican followed, as though they needed to pick a side.”
Do I think my daughters have beautiful blue eyes? Yes. Do their eyes define who they are? No.
After the comment from the classmate, I was reminded of the responsibility my husband and I have to equally represent our children’s heritage.
While the outside world may be confused about who they are and where they come from, we know it’s our job to make sure our daughters aren’t confused.
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