teens

“She’s not your mum!” A friend of my son's couldn't believe I was his mum. I burst out laughing.

I love running into people in the supermarket. I’m a weirdo, I know.

In our little community it’s unavoidable, so I figure I might as well embrace the chance to meet my kid’s classmates, or teachers, or other school parents.

And if I can embarrass my son, 12 year old Winston, at the same time, that’s a bonus.

This week, we saw a school friend, Emily*, when we were at Woolies.

Things people say before having kids. Post continues below. 

I’d heard a bit (all good things) about Emily, so being the complete tragic mum I am, I insisted we stop for a how-were-your-holidays chat.

Which meant Winston needed to introduce me.

“This is my mum,” he told Emily.

Her response wasn’t exactly expected.

“Oh Winston, you’re always making things up as a joke, she’s not your mum!”

I burst out laughing, knowing exactly why Emily didn’t believe him.

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You see, Winston and I don’t look how people expect a typical mother and son to look – at first glance.

I was born in Australia, but my parents are Indian, and so I have brown skin. My son, however, takes his pigmentation from his dad, and, especially in winter, is almost fluorescent in his whiteness.

In fact, I used to think there’d been a mix up at the IVF clinic, but as he grew up and developed a cheeky personality – and extreme good looks – I knew he was all mine.

But seriously, his features are identical to mine; he’s just not brown. At all.

Which is why his friends often don’t believe him when he tells them he’s half-Indian. It bothers him, because no child wants to hear their identity questioned like that, but I can understand that for many kids, it’s just a matter of their experience of what families look like.

The thing is, we get this sort of attitude from adults, too.

 

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There was the time I lost Winston in a shop, when he was two years old. As I was heading to the front desk to get his name called out, they announced they had a child waiting in the manager’s office.

But when I went to claim him, they wouldn’t let me see him.

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“He’s not your child,” the manager told me.

I remember looking around and thinking, well, no one else is claiming this kid, and I have a missing kid, so…

“Please let me see him,” I implored.

“This child is not yours,” was the repeated response. “He doesn’t look like you.”

Almost hysterical by this point, I darted into the office – and of course, there was Winston.

Another time, when Winston was about five, he flew off a flying fox. I was consoling him in the dirt, letting him wipe his snotty nose on my top, and a random dad came up to ask Winston directly, “Where’s mummy? Do you want me to find your mum?”

Seriously, dude. Do you think I’d be sitting in the dirt letting some kid’s bodily fluids smoosh into my shirt if I wasn’t legally obliged to do so?

There was also the time when we were checking in on an international flight and despite our passports, the airline lady insisted on calling her supervisor right in front of us and explaining her concern that we didn’t look like mother and son.

That was one of the scariest experiences of my life: our relationship being questioned like that when we were travelling. I was so worried they were going to call the authorities; luckily, the supervisor was satisfied by our passports.

But to be honest, the damage was done. Winston was old enough at the time to understand what was happening, and it’s something he’s never forgotten, either.

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He was also old enough to understand when someone asked me at the shops if I was helping him find his mum, and when a waiter in a restaurant asked if I was his nanny.

He also remembers the time a lady who sat next to us at the movies, asked if he was adopted – and I answered, “no, but he’d be even more treasured if he were.”

And this, my friends, is where Meghan Markle and Archie Harrison Mountbatten Windsor come in.

When Meghan (who is biracial, in case you have not seen or read any news at all for the last two years) announced her pregnancy, I rejoiced not only for her (because motherhood is incredible) but also for the future.

I tweeted: “Trust me – the Duchess of Sussex pregnant with the seventh in line to the British throne is doing more for diversity and acceptance in the world than we realise.”

Meghan’s marriage, and her baby, are history-making. They have changed the British royal family forever.

And hopefully, because of them, more people will accept that, especially in 2019 and into the future, family isn’t defined by pigmentation or superficial appearance, or race.

So please, next time you see a family that doesn’t look like the ‘typical’ family, take a moment to think of me and my son who may not at first glance look like I made, but whom I most definitely did.

I even have the C-section scar to prove it.

*Name has been changed for privacy reasons.

Nama Winston has had a legal career (paid), and a parenting career (unpaid). She uses her past experience as a lawyer to discuss everything from politics, to parenting. You can follow her on Instagram: @namawinston and Facebook: @NamaWinston.

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