I don’t want to have a black mommy.
As I was handing my daughter her salami and crackers for lunch, she casually uttered these words. The tone was the same as if she were asking me for water or a special treat or fruit snacks, but this statement sent a ripple through my spine and my heart immediately fell into my stomach.
The last thing I wanted was for her to feel like she was in trouble or that she’d done something wrong, and I was hoping this would be the start of a conversation I clearly saw we needed to have.
What made you say that honey? Did you hear that somewhere?
She shrugged as she folded her salami into a tiny triangle and stuffed it in her mouth. I asked again gently and she said that her feet told her. That, of course, was followed by uproarious laughter on her end.
I, on the other hand, was using every bit of self-control I had to keep my composure and not allow the tears to fall. Especially as she continued.
I just want my mommy to be white.
The pit in my stomach grew and I had no words. I sat at the chair beside her and watched intently as she finished her meal. Her beautiful caramel complexion and features that are identical to her daddy’s.
My gosh she is gorgeous.
When she was done I asked her to come with me to the bedroom. We sat down, just us girls and talked. I don’t know what I expected to hear from her 4 year old mouth, but I let her know that this was a safe space and I simply wanted her to be honest.
She didn’t have much more to say, but shrugged a few times and said that she didn’t know why she said it and she just wanted a different mommy. Then she mentioned her feet again and told me she was pretending they could talk.
I told her that her words hurt my feelings but that no matter what, I loved her very much.
I prayed with her and we thanked God for making us so beautiful and so different. We talked about the people in our multiracial family and how we are ALL wonderfully made. I stared into her pretty brown eyes and told her that my brown skin is beautiful. My black is beautiful.
And I told her that her white daddy is handsome and that she is stunning in every way.
I said she should be proud that she is a mixture of her mommy and daddy. I told her how amazing it was that she’s a reflection of God and her parents, and like crayons in a box of Crayola there are so many different combinations but they all make beautiful pictures.
I told her how important it is to rejoice in who God created her to be.
Children say all sorts of things I know, but I’ve yet to be able to remove the pit from my stomach or the sting of the pain her unintentionally hurtful words left.
My daughter is brilliant, inquisitive, observant, and kind. We’ve been visiting with my husband’s side of the family where she has blonde haired blue-eyed cousins, and cousins who are biracial like her but their mother is white. Perhaps she noticed her mama was different than the other mommies she’s seen, and that’s ok.
It’s ok for her to ask questions and notice differences but it is not ok for her to ever believe she has something to be ashamed of.
Our kids are not colorblind. We as people are not colorblind. Our eyes are wide open and we notice everything. Some may want to deny that, but it’s the ever present truth.
We notice the color of each other’s skin. The varying textures of hair, freckles, moles, height, weight, eye color, facial features. We notice it all.
We notice it and it’s OK to admit that we see it. Talking about it is a necessity.
Whether you’re raising that brilliant redheaded cutie or your exquisite child whose skin is dark as night, it is your duty to tell your daughters and your sons that there is no shame in the beauty God gave them. And there’s no shame in the beauty God gave others. And there is no shame in the beauty God gave you.
To be honest I’m still reeling from this conversation, and as I write these words the pit remains. I’m processing and that’s fine. But there’s one thing I know for sure.
I have to love myself, and we as parents have to have those conversations that lead our precious gifts into to the knowing that they are so incredibly loved in the skin they are in.