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No, I’m Not the Nanny

I pushed my daughter on the swing on a warm afternoon. We played a little game where I act like I’m going to tickle her as she flies towards me. She absolutely loves this game. As I lift my hand to reach for her little belly, she squeals, No, mama. No, mama! No tickles! Even though she’s protesting, she’s smiling and laughing her head off.

On this particular day, a woman was pushing another little cutie on the swing next to us. We exchanged smiles, as you do when you’re an adult at the park. Then she engaged in a conversation with my daughter. It was the typical conversation… What’s your name, how old are you, etc. My daughter babbled incoherently and we continued our little game. After a while, the lady began to speak to me. She asked me if I work nearby. Because I did work in a hospital in the area, I said yes. She complimented the relationship between me and my daughter by saying Wow, you two are very close. Then, she hit me with the question that stopped me in my tracks.  How long have you been her nanny?

No, I'm Not the Nanny | Houston Moms BlogPhoto Credit :: Caitlin Feltman Photography

I won’t lie when I say that I was extremely annoyed but this wasn’t the first time that I’ve been asked this question. My daughter is biracial. I’m black and her father is white. With that being said, she is obviously a few shades lighter than me, and a few shades darker than him. As a mother, it’s irritating enough to hear that your child looks nothing like you. To completely disconnect me from being her mother is {occasionally} soul shattering. In this particular moment, I laughed it off. I told her that I was her mother. She apologized and that was the end of our very awkward interaction.

Because we are an interracial family, we obviously get occasional stares and questions. Socioeconomic status and societal stereotypes come into play when we’re being questioned. Because we’re young, we are constantly asked if our daughter is our child. Because my husband is white, he has been asked who she belongs to. Because I’m African American, I’m usually asked if I’m the hired help. Some days it’s funny, but some days it’s a buzz kill. I see families where the members don’t necessarily look alike, but because they all have similar skin tone, no one ever questions their familial bond. That makes me a little jealous.

If you haven’t noticed, the question has given birth to insecurities. Insecurities that I didn’t even know that I had until I birthed my little biracial beauty. Will people always assume that I work for her? When she’s screaming in Target because I won’t let her drink my coffee, will people assume that I’m harassing someone else’s child and report me? When I’m dragging her out of the store because I’m embarrassed of said tantrum, will people think that I’m kidnapping her? Will my insecurities and society’s constant questioning affect her self-confidence as a biracial child? These questions may seem silly or as though I’m thinking too hard, but they are appropriate for our family.

Parents of multiracial or adopted children get asked questions like this every single day. Questions like, Are they yours?, Are you all together?, Who do these kids belong to? {even though the parent is clearly standing there}, Are they all related?, and They aren’t the same ‘shade’ … do they have the same father?. The list of questions goes on and on but do they truly even need to be asked? And if that person simply can’t hold in her question, isn’t there a more appropriate way to ask it? Honestly, these families don’t owe an “explanation” of their family dynamic to anyone. As a parent of a biracial child and a curious person in general, I get it. I appreciate the {sometimes backhanded} compliments. To an extent, I understand the {sometimes inappropriate} questions. 

Are you the nanny?

It’s a harmless question. I could almost take it as a compliment because nannies work their butts off to take care of other people’s children. But no, I’m not the nanny. I’m the woman who carried that baby for 10 months. I swore off almost every food that was considered harmful. I didn’t even drink coffee! I’m the woman who changed every single diaper Monday – Friday and didn’t get to clock out or get a paycheck for it. I’m the woman who sacrifices her time, entire body, and mind to provide the best of the best for that baby. She has my eyes, my nose, and my sass. So, no, I am not the nanny. It may be hard to see but I am 100 percent her mother. So ask me that question next time.

No, I'm Not the Nanny | Houston Moms BlogPhoto Credit :: Three Little Chickadees Photography

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19 Responses to No, I’m Not the Nanny

  1. Cassandra July 17, 2017 at 8:02 am #

    I’m married to a Filipino & aHispanic man but am Irish & German myself. Both of our children are darker than myself and one is lighter than my husband still. They both have big brown eyes instead of my green eyes. One looks Filipino and the other looks Hispanic. I’ve been asked twice if I’m the nanny. I’ve tried not to take it personally but it definitely hurts to have it so blatantly pointed out that my children look nothing like me.

    • Erica N
      Erica N July 17, 2017 at 11:02 pm #

      I’m sorry that you have to go through this but you’re not alone. You would think with all of these beautiful multiracial families in the world that people would just stop asking silly (and occasionally hurtful) questions! Just know that you ARE definitely their mother. You put in the work every day and your heart bleeds for those kids. No one can take that from you- even if their questions are silly! Sometimes, in small moments after a comment like that, I try to find the beauty in our differences and also find similarities! For instance, my daughter has ALL of my sass, my nose, and my hair! Find what your children have in common with you! And thank you so much for reading, Cassandra!

    • Tara July 18, 2017 at 7:56 pm #

      My husband is Filipino too. My beautiful 5 yr old son looks just like him while my younger daughter has blue eyes and looks just like me. More than once people have gushed over her while either ignoring him or asking if he is mine too/where did I adopt him from. It used to be just irritating, but now I get angry since he is old enough to understand their questions and see they are treating him differently.

  2. Me too July 17, 2017 at 8:34 am #

    I’m white and my husband is Indian. My older child is dark complected and we dont really look anything alike. Yes, I got asked if I was the baby sitter by a stranger. Its a running joke in my family. But hey- at least the kid has my blood type!

    • Erica N
      Erica N July 17, 2017 at 10:59 pm #

      Totally love your positive attitude about it all! Thanks for reading!

  3. Destini July 17, 2017 at 12:32 pm #

    Absolutely beautiful! ❤️

    • Erica N
      Erica N July 17, 2017 at 10:58 pm #

      Thank you, Destini!

  4. Katherine July 17, 2017 at 1:31 pm #

    This really hit home for me. Reminds me of when my white grandfather was accosted by a man who swore I was being kidnapped by this “white man”. I was about 8 & very confused. At the time I had no clue about color so this was both scary and sad. Love this article! Great job Erica!

    • Erica N
      Erica N July 17, 2017 at 10:58 pm #

      Thanks for reading Katherine! I always fear my children will have the same experience but hopefully the world is changing!

  5. Leah July 18, 2017 at 8:17 am #

    I think she’s beautiful and looks so much like you! I’m not sure how anyone could miss that.

    I’m white and all of my children are as well. But I remember taking the oldest two it when the we’re pretty little. We made it through the store-me pushing a toddler and preschooler. When I got to the cashier she said-Oh they must look like their Dad because they look nothing like you. And laughed. I shouldn’t have cared but it hurt my feelings and I thought it was so rude. I still remember it and they are 16 and 18 now. 😊

    People can just be obnoxious!

  6. Elizabeth Scher July 18, 2017 at 8:44 am #

    This has happened so many times. I’m Mexican and my husband is white. Our children are both light skin, light color eyes and light color hair. The only thing we have in common is our curly hair. Like you said, it’s a bit soul shattering.

  7. Mary Bogenschutz July 18, 2017 at 11:21 pm #

    As someone who definitely knows how sassy you are, and also how warm and loving you are, this story on your blog disturbed and disgusted me on so many levels. My heart truly hurt for your beautiful little family. As a woman who will some day have biracial grandchildren I can’t even imagine what I would do in this situation and how broken hearted I would probably be. Each and every day just when I feel that we have progressed as a society when it comes to racial issues I’m woefully reminded of human ignorance and intolerance. My only hope is that more people like you will continue to shed the light as beautifully as you do on the sad state of our society when it comes to racial issues so that my grandchildren will benefit from your insight and courage.

  8. Mal July 21, 2017 at 10:39 pm #

    I can’t say that I’ve ever had this Happen to me but my oldest daughter looks nothing like her father. When she Das in first grade she had white hair, white eye lashes and eyebrows. Her skin is so white and her eyes are an ice blue. Her father, dark hair, dark skin, dark blue eyes. I say she’s my Casper. Lol anyway her father took her to school with cupcakes for the class. The school had never met him or knew what he looked like. He was standing in a classroom with this white Casper child all by themselves and the teacher walked in. She never asked who he was and what he was doing in the classroom. She didn’t say anything to him and walked out leaving him alone in a room with a child who looked nothing like him… We were both upset at this.

  9. EfabulousHB July 22, 2017 at 6:26 am #

    This happened to me soooooooooo many times when my Future CEO was a baby. I understand all too well. And even now as divorced parents we still trade notes on how society tested our interracial Modern Family. Eventually humanity will catch up to our mature evolution. That’s what I keep telling myself. I am a proud African-American with wonderful dark skin and my co-parent is a very Nordic looking European-British guy. My Future CEO looks a lot like your Baby E.

  10. Stephanie N July 24, 2017 at 11:38 pm #

    It is nice to know youre not alone with these situations. I’m white dad is black baby is a olive color.. I don’t even see it I see my wonderful baby girl.. But the first thing every one ( strangers or not) comment on is her color or her skin tone or where that came from. I’ve resorted to simply commenting obviously not me (as I’m super super fair). It bothers me as I’ve never been one to differentiate at least consciously and I worry how those comments will affect her. I hope not at all but I wonder. Anyways, the article is way appreciated and it’s nice to know when you’re not alone.

  11. Chelsey July 25, 2017 at 12:18 pm #

    Loved your post, Erica. I’ve had similar encounters. I’m black, my husband’s white, and our son is even fairer-skinned than my husband. Usually, it’s long, confused stares when it’s just me and my son out and about. Then the uncertain approach to conversation. When I notice the “starers” now, I just refer to myself as Mama more when I speak to him (to help clarify things). 😉

  12. Lauren July 27, 2017 at 11:28 pm #

    I am biracial and my husband is white. We use to live in a predominately white community. We have 6 children and let me tell you, I could cut their stares with a knife. It bothered me so much when we were younger. Now that we are well into our 40’s I don’t even give it a second thought and neither will you. You will be too proud of your beautiful little Miss to care. God Bless you and your family!❤️

  13. Diane July 29, 2017 at 7:45 pm #

    My son is blonde hair, blue eyed, my daughter in law brown hair, brown eyed, and my grandson, blonde hair, blue eyed, actually the clone of his daddy. Many times she has been asked if she is the babysitter. She has taken to saying she was the incubator. Your daughter and you are beautiful!!

  14. Kelly Helmers July 29, 2017 at 9:52 pm #

    My oldest daughter is biracial. Her father was black. I say was because he passed away when I was still pregnant with her. It was a little unnerving when she was little with all the stares and little stupid remarks. Like I didn’t hear them. I laughed it all off and look at her now. All grown, happy and with a child of her own. People’s opinions mean nothing.

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