Wednesday, November 07, 2012

Expat Super Moms Of Mixies


It is with deep heartache that I dedicate this month’s blog post to a late, great War Bride of Japan (and my Mom) Yuriko. She came into this world many moons ago and left it over the weekend. Besides being a Super Mom eons before that term was even coined, she was also an accomplished artist (oil painter), woodcarver, writer of haiku, seamstress, quilter, traditional Japanese dancer and judo practitioner who was obsessed with sumo and other types of wrestling. But above all, her favorite hobby was cooking and she made all our family meals from scratch. She even made tofu from soybeans, whole wheat bread filled with flaxseeds, and her fresh apple and berry pies were legend. No ethnic dish escaped her skilled hands either. Whether it was Japanese sushi or Indian naan or Chinese eggrolls, that girl could throw down in the kitchen. Repatriating from Japan to the U.S. during a time when Japanese were loathed in America, she endured a lot. Please send a tender kiss to the brave and beautiful Yuriko and wish her well on the other side of Watermelon Sushi World.

Here’s another mother who also deserves our recognition. Maria Tumolo aka MsXpat writes a blog called Tiger Tales:

The mother of a Blasian boy, MsXpat takes her mommy role seriously, but with wry humor. Read all about this Hip Hapa Homeez below:

MsXpat's parents
Q: Who are your parents and how did they meet?

A: The details are a bit hazy as the elders in my family don't talk too much about their past. However, the bit that I know is my mom migrated to Trinidad as a young girl from St. Vincent. She lived with her mum and siblings in a working-class area named Laventille, which is in the capital Port-of-Spain. Her mum was of white and black mixed-race heritage and her father was a black Carib (descendant of a mix between an AmerIndian race called Carib and West African). My mum would classify herself as being black. My dad moved into the area as a young man and spotted my mum, or her legs as he would say, on one of her errands to the local shop. The rest is history. My dad's mother is of Native Venezuela Indian origin, but I don't know the official name of the tribe and his father was Portuguese Creole from Dutch Guyana, also known as Suriname.

MsXpat at 4
Q: How did you grow up?

A: My mother was 19 years-old when I was born. At the time, she was not married to my father. They married several years later when I was 10. In between that time, my mother and I lived with her mother and her siblings and their kids. So, I grew up in an extended family unit. The community had many mixed people as is reflective of the Trinidadian community as a whole--although I believe most people would consider themselves black, unless they have a totally Indo-Trinidadian background or are of Chinese or Syrian heritage. When my parents married, I continued to live with my maternal grandmother as it was the home I was used to. I continued to live with her until I emigrated to England at the age of 28.

Q: You write extensively about your family--who's your husband and how did you meet?

Angelo at 7 months
A: My husband is of Mauritian Chinese and Italian heritage. However, his Chinese heritage is dominant as he was raised by his Chinese mother. We were introduced to each other via a mutual friend whom he worked with and who I knew from back in Trinidad.

Q: What's it like being an expatriate in England?

A: I've always enjoyed my expat experience. I like the invisibility and feeling of a fresh start that it gives. Coming from a small island, it can be a bit stifling and limiting. Additionally, as I grew up in a relatively rough working-class part of the island, opportunities were limited because people judged you based on where you lived. I had to find creative ways to achieve the things I wanted to achieve. I'm not saying that the same limitations don't exist in England--as it's an island, too. However, there is a greater chance to obtain opportunities based on merit. However, now that I'm a mother I find being an expat a bit isolating.

Angelo at 22 months
Q:  What is Tiger Tales about, and what motivated you to begin writing it? (btw, I like the play on the words Tiger Tails.)

A: My son was born in the Chinese Year of the Tiger, so, his Chinese Horoscope is that of a Tiger. I was having a rough time adjusting to motherhood and then via a friend on Facebook I came across the blog Chocolate Hair Vanilla Care I thought that their family story was so beautiful, it got me wondering if there were any blogs that reflected my family. Then I discovered Blasian Baby Notes As it’s an American blog, I thought it would be interesting to explore the English experience and so Tiger Tales was born. In short, my blog chronicles my parenting experiences as a first-time older expat mum in a mixed-race family. However, I also post product reviews, recipes and activities I do with my son.

Angelo at 20 months
Q: What do you feel is the most important thing for mothers of mixed-race children to know?

A: To be honest, I don’t feel that I have a full picture for myself yet on what it means to mother mixed-race children. However, the one thing that jumped out at me, even though my son is still quite young at 23 months, is that you have to learn to manage your own insecurities. Whether you are insecure because your child doesn’t look anything like you, or that fact that all your children have different features, or people mistake you for the nanny, or wonder if you adopted the child(ren), whatever it is
that might make you self-conscious you have to manage those feelings in order to protect your child(ren) in the hopes that they will grow up to be happy and confident individuals.

MsXpat at 35 weeks pregnant
Q:  With your second child, a girl, on the way, how do you think raising her will compare to raising your first, a son?

A: Here again, it’s a bit blurry, as I don’t consider myself to be a ‘girlie girl’.  Theoretically, I envisioned it would be easier mothering a boy and, by and large so far, it has been. However, I didn’t realize that boys can be more demanding. From most accounts, girls mature faster and are more self-reliant. So, I guess you can say that I hope my daughter will be much calmer than her older brother. Additionally, it’s anyone’s guess which of her parents she’ll take after which will have an obvious impact on everything from her day-to-day care (i.e., hair type and skin sensitivity, size) to how she is ‘received’ and ‘perceived’ by the extended family and the world at large. 

Angelo on left, Daddy on right, both at 3 months
Thank you, MsXpat, for sharing your insights about rearing mixed-race children while living overseas away from your original home just like my Mom, Yuriko, once did.

Here are links where you can connect with Tiger Tales Mom:

And, here are some of ours:

Remember to join our Hip Hapa Homeez group page on Facebook for more discussions about being mixed-race, multicultural, interracially involved, transracially adopted or a culture crosser.

Until we meet again, I am and will always be

Your Hip Hapa,