A funny thing happened on St. Patrick’s Day. I realized with a jolt of happiness that my kids are comfortable in their individual ethnic identities. It was such a benign thing – sweet thing – funny thing that was happening for my girls that at first it didn’t register. But before that, let me digress.
As a Blended mom I often worry that I am not striking a balance of celebrating and encouraging each of my girls’ individual ethnic identities. If I celebrate one cultural holiday for my oldest child, did I celebrate a cultural holiday for my youngest? When I encourage the beauty found in my oldest daughter’s dark skin, did I encourage the beauty found in my youngest daughter’s light skin? Back and forth I go, often a ping pong of worry and wonder at whether my girls are growing to value themselves and their diverse heritage. Does this resonate with any of you?
But there I was at a St. Patrick’s Day Party and my girls were having a great time. They wore green, ate corned beef and cabbage (well maybe not the cabbage), and even prepared for the event by listening to some traditional Irish music. Smiles turned to giggles as I watched my youngest, who is Irish, turn to the guests one by one and say, “Kiss me I’m Irish.” My almost five year old was brazen! That’s when my oldest daughter decided to follow suit. She turned to the guests and said, “Kiss me someone’s Irish!”
At first everyone laughed hysterically as we witnessed this shameless pursuit of kisses from family members. It wasn’t until later that I realized that it wasn’t just a funny incident, but also an expression of acceptance on my daughter’s part. In a sense she was saying that take note, she isn’t Irish, but her family is and that is to be celebrated. In a similar way I can think back to recent events and realize that my youngest daughter is present and participating in her sister’s learning of Korean from her Korean friends. She may say things like, “I’m not Korean, but sissy is and that’s good.” When we eat Croatian food for dinner my oldest daughter will say things like, “I’m so glad there is Croatian in our family, because the food is so good!” Likewise my youngest daughter will listen with rapture to her sister’s recent Reggae find and compliment her on how she is wrapping her hair. They know who they are. They know who the other is and accept and celebrate one another.
Balance. So hard to find, and yet I realized in part due to St. Patrick that the balance is there and it shows up in places I may not expect – I just have to pay attention.