We were sitting and chatting as sisters do and we realised there are some things, we want you ladies to know about us. We are what we say we are, there are no fake components, hidden agendas or covert intelligence in OY. We seek mentorship over bulls**t and so our culture is both within this club and comes from this club, meaning our growth is infinite not finite. Why the brutal honesty, because we can not ask you to strip away your hurts and trauma, expose your vulnerabilities or celebrate your wins by sharing with us, unless we are doing all of that and then some!
Family means a lot to us and we are very proud of our fruits! To the untrained eye, our immediate families would appear to be very different, but we are going to show you how similar they really are!
What is a Mixed Relationship?
Despite the ever popular idea that a mixed relationship just means different races, it's actually not. The dictionary defines mixed relationships as "a marriage between persons of different racial, ethnic, or religious groups, as between a Black person and a white person or between a Christian and a Jew." (www.dictionary.com)
My other half is a 6 foot 3, broad shouldered, Viking looking white man. Woooaaahhh!!!! I know, it can be taboo, trust me, I know. Would it be the same if we were the other way round....nope. The looks and stares have been plentiful. The unwanted and I must say unwarranted opinions have been rife and yes I'll openly admit it has caused us some relational issues. Getting him to recognise that just because he knows black people it doesn't mean that his opinions or those of his loved ones (including the black ones) are not racist. I too have had to adjust to; football behaviours (song singing, telly shouting and prioritising schedules based on matches), bringing mates home with no prior warning, asking him what certain things meant (e.g. a Ruby? Err what, apparently this is curry - whole saying is Ruby Murray) and getting used to the great outdoors, we've been fishing, walking through woods, and actually left the sanctity of our home to go out in the snow. Despite these things, our house is filled with laughter, playfulness and respect. Our on off relationship has caused all of us traumas which - when all is said and done - were probably unnecessary, but they were not because of our colour.
Going forward, we remain honest with each other and strive to show a united front especially where the kids are concerned. I've in the past, really hated always being the bad guy as I'm generally stricter than him, but that's true for most parenting relationships I have come to discover. Dad is out most of the day and I was never raised with the "wait til your father gets home" kind of conversation. He's struggled with insecurities regarding our intellectual differences, but he's come to realise that's a him problem, and as such asks more questions and credits me (and the boys) with making him smarter. The boys will chow down on rice and peas, macaroni cheese and fishcakes as well as love a good English roast at Grandma's. Their language is a mix of common as muck, Caribbean statements and street like most little British kids these days, and they are comfortable in most environments, being their whole, bold, authentic selves.
We both have to work on staying committed to the things we say we're going to do, exercise, tidying etc. Overall though, we want the same things for our kids and for our relationship...Shalom. A complete wholeness with nothing missing and nothing broken...can I get an Amen. We've looked at the areas where we differ and have honestly broken them down into 3 categories;
I like this and want to learn/adopt it
I don't like it but I accept it
Ah hell no!!! You cannot do that round me
Our biggest commitment has been to each other and that has given us both a level of security that makes the obstacles, tribulations and generally annoyances easier to battle. This in turn, has created a security blanket for our kids, knowing that their castle is manned by Queen and her King.
I am a Bajan and my partner is a Nigerian and we've always been that. First date to date, our ethnicity has been brought up in conversations in jest, when questioning a process, or just as a reminder that we do some things differently. The awareness of culture has strengthened how we carry ourselves amongst 'our people' as we say. It has made situations like gatherings and partying easier to navigate with one of us being the protector of the other, to enable us both to enjoy the experience. This may sound like hard work to some but when its a active response rather than a reactive response, it grows respect and empowers both of us to be confident in the next and the next and the next situation!
As parents we have nothing in common and yet we talk about our childhood and there are so many similarities. We put this lack of commonality down to culture. What is expected of Yoruba children (in his experience) feels harsher than I have experienced being raised in a Bajan household. Our girls are very much expected to carry themselves in a manner that feels maturer than their age and yet when they choose to do things that are for older children that is not acceptable. A contradiction in terms you might be thinking, trust me I have felt this on many occasions too, but then I see my children with our Yoruba family and friends and I am bursting with pride; they greet their elders appropriately and they speak and respond in Yoruba in comfort. The love, generosity, warmth and prayers they receive are fitting of queens in the making. On the flip side we, Bajans, (my experience) are filled with banter and rough housing and believe me, they know how to jump in here too. They are equally loved and praised and they enjoy their lives, especially going to parties with daddy lol!
Our family is not conventional by any means of the word and this phased me for a long time. However, the challenges our relationship has faced have mostly been cultural conflict. So what we've learnt is the energy and time we would put into making each other feel comfortable, empowered and included outside of the home we would invest more inside of our relationship. The priority isn't to lose our cultures or even merge the two, its to know we are more than culture to each other.
10 Things We have BOTH Learnt
Relationships are relationships and they all take work
Men can be total a**holes
When you love your man and he knows how to love you; his colour, culture or religion is actually irrelevant
'Any man', 'all man' need to feel needed and wanted
Be honest with your wants, needs & boundaries
There are ways to say 'i don't eat dat'
My time is his time, but his time is his time, unless his time is my time because if you didn't know my time is his time!
Knowing cultural norms are a necessity
The children will choose the culture that works for them at the time
There are some places and spaces that are not accepting of our relationships 'we do not care'!
Grandma's Garden: 'People in glass houses should not throw stones'!
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