When I talk on the phone with relatives, the girls like to say hello.

“I’m talking to Daddy,” I often tell them.

“Are you talking to your Daddy or our Daddy?” the girls ask.

Good question. I love seeing how they learn.

A few weeks ago, I was driving the Junior Executives home from day camp and preschool. I sparred with afternoon traffic as the girls told me about their day. At a stop light, Nadia asked:

“Where is your Mommy?”

“She’s in heaven.”

“Up there?”

“Way up there.”

It was at this point that I wished we were not having this conversation in the car. Such conversations require a lot more than I can offer while driving. The afternoon drive home continued, and then Nadia launched another question from the backseat.

“What color was her skin?”

I was silent for a moment as my mind exploded with questions. Why does she want to know that? Has someone been asking her about the color of her skin? What four-year-old asks about the color of somebody’s skin? I should ask her. No, I shouldn’t. Just answer the question. I try not to ask too many questions when I am talking to the girls, because I want Simone and Nadia to feel comfortable telling me anything. I figure there will be plenty of time for interrogations when they are teenagers.

“Why do you want to know the color of her skin?”

“Because I want to know, Silly.” Nadia ends a lot of her sentences with the word “silly” these days. One day I will confess to her that I really did feel silly for asking this question.

“Well, it was a lot like the color of your skin.”

With that, the conversation was over. I’d like to say that when we got home I pointed out a picture of their Grandmother and we talked about her for awhile. No, that didn’t happen. We arrived home, fell into our nightly routine and no one said another word about Grandma or the color of her skin. A few days later, I pulled out a picture of Mom and showed it to the girls. The moment, though, had passed, and they didn’t make the connection to the conversation we had a few days earlier.

Maybe next time. There will be a next time, and I will delight in telling Simone and Nadia all about my Mommy.




6 thoughts to “Where Is Your Mommy?

  • Melissa

    That’s a lovely photo–what a sweet smile. You must miss her a lot.

  • Nikki @ Blasian Baby Notes

    Interesting story. I often wonder what kids think about when asking certain questions. I hope I handle being caught off guard with these types of questions when my son starts the Q & A’s

  • b.

    Your mom is beautiful and you look just like her.

    I wonder if your daughters were trying to figure out whether you had parents of two different colors as they have. That’s just speculation on my part, though.

    Even now, I wish I didn’t have to ask quite so many questions (and gather inferences) about my family tree. Knowing these things (IMO) foster a sense of belonging, of community…an anchor. I’m glad you will continue to show your little ladies more about your mom. Thanks for writing this blog b/c it gives me food for thought.

    • Honeysmoke

      I hadn’t thought about that. That’s a good point. They are teaching me so much.

  • taliba

    Your Mom was absolutely lovely. What beautiful expressive eyes, and yes, you do look like her…but then I haven’t seen your Dad. Some people will say I look like my dark skinned Mom (because of our color) until they see my very light skinned Dad (who I look like except for his skin color).
    Anyway, your girls have a beautiful grandmother.

  • Blanc2

    The moment didn’t pass and I’m sure your daughter made the connection. About age 4 was when our kids became very “color-curious.” Probably it is a response to their observations of the families of other kids in their preschool. What I realized, though, is that the curiosity is just that. It’s quite objective. Kids are much more perceptive than people give them credit for. They quickly perceive that adults place more significance in skin color than in, say, whether your Converse are red or blue, but they’re not sure how to order that significance in their own minds. So they ask these kinds of questions. I think the best thing you can do as a biracial couple is to show via your lives how ordinary color truly is.

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