A rare date night out photo 😉
Good morning friends! Today is a big day around here since it’s Zain’s last day at daycare. I can’t believe we have not only lived here for almost a year but that he’s also been at his daycare for a whole year. We love the teachers, staff and his little friends so I know it will be a transition for all of us. He has a ‘performance’ tonight which I can not wait to see and then we’ll pack up all his things. I’m trying to not make a big deal about it and have also been taking him by his new preschool so he get’s excited about the new environment, but we’ll see how the transition goes.
Zain and I will have the next two weeks off together before he starts his new preschool and I have my first day back in the schools. His new school runs on the public school schedule which is great since my work schedule does as well. I’m working on a little summer bucket list for us since we have some time off together, so if you have any suggestions send them my way!
As for today’s topic, it’s one I have been wanting to write about for quite a while but just hadn’t gotten to. For the past year or so, every time I post a Q&A or Ask Me Anything prompt on Instagram I seem to be asked about our interracial marriage. Since it was happening so often I thought I would expand on it a bit more here.
I want to preface this by saying this is just my experience and thoughts and I know everyone’s situation is different. I’m often not sure what people are most curious about but figured I would touch on all aspects that came up for us.
As far as my background, I’ve dated people in and outside of my race. More often out. It could partially be attributed to environment since I grew up in Kentucky and went to school here. It’s far more diverse now than it was when I was growing up but in general, I have always been inclined to date outside of my race. It’s actually a concept Trevor and I talk about often, what really creates the type of people you are attracted to?
Growing up as a first generation child of two immigrants there is a lot of pressure. Not only to succeed in academics (as the stereotype goes) but to live up to your potential in all senses. As a child you hear stories about what your parents went through to leave their families and attempt to build a better life for you. It’s beyond comprehension how much they sacrificed so making your parents proud and happy is always in the forefront of your mind.
I spent my childhood engulfed by an entire Indian community that I still consider family. We spent weekends at each other’s houses and were always a close knit group. We would travel to India during the summers to visit relatives, ate Indian food every night and my parents spoke Urdu and Konkani at home. The thought of someone from an outside culture or race coming in and feeling comfortable was far fetched to most, including my parents. I was told from a very young age of the expectation of marrying inside our culture and although my parents are very laid back on the Indian parent scale, it was still there.
My parents wed out of love (as opposed to an arranged marriage) and actually met as neighbors when they were teens. However, their journey to husband and wife was not easy. Marrying outside of your religion in India was not celebrated at that time and my father came from a moderately religious Muslim family and my mom a devout Roman Catholic family. Although we were raised Muslim, our family was never very religious in a traditional sense. We were always taught about moderation being the key to anything. However, in Indian culture so many of the traditions are intertwined with religion so there is a lot of overlap.
Growing up, I often resented the pressure to marry an Indian person. I would sit in my room and wish I could be like ‘everyone else’ I saw at school and on TV. I dreamed of the day I could have boyfriend’s around, get married in a white dress, blend in and go against my parents. We all go through phases but I often disliked the fact that I was different as a child. I would see other kids and wish I looked like them. I hated my full lips, big nose, abundance of hair and other things that made me feel different.
It’s so interesting that as you grow up and mature, the things you disliked most about yourself often become what you love about yourself. As I grew into adulthood, I loved that I was different. I didn’t want to blend in and I began to appreciate my culture more. It’s as if all those things I thought my parents were forcing on me, I now wanted. I didn’t want to hide that huge part of me from someone else.
A big turning point for me was after I got sick. Almost dying will do that to you 🙂 One of my greatest realizations was that I hadn’t been honest with myself or the people I was dating. I had always been trying to mold myself into someone who could work in another person’s life and that’s not who I was.
It became clear to me exactly what I wanted and it’s part of the reason I fell in love with Trevor. Not only was he my best friend but I was so completely and utterly honest with him about who I was, where I came from and what kind of future I wanted. Thankfully, he wanted all the same things. I can’t speak to interracial marriages as a whole but as far ours goes, it works.
Trevor loves Indian culture and is happy to incorporate that into our life and family. Little things like loving Indian food, speaking Hindi and Urdu in small spurts and loving my family enough to have my mom move in for months to help with Zain mean a lot to me. If he had been someone who was hesitant to absorb it and more importantly, enjoy it we could have never worked. Just like anything, your partner needs to understand why something is so important to you and be on board.
It doesn’t mean we don’t have our differences. We often have conversations about general perspectives, especially in today’s political climate since our experiences can be so different. He’s a white male and I’m a first generation Indian woman so we’ve never been seen the same by society. I think the fact that we both respect each other has helped us learn and grow from one another. Things that may seem so obvious to me or him may not be to the other and we’ve learned to listen and understand each other more.
As far as reactions we get from other people, most often the people looking at us in Chicago and Louisville are Indian parents probably wondering why I’m not with an Indian man. I think the assumption that someone has abandoned their race or turned their back on their own culture is far fetched. I have Indian girlfriends who are married to Indian men and don’t incorporate any traditions into their families and vice versa. The race of your partner doesn’t define you or them.
There are also times when I’ve been very aware of our races. I distinctly remember an instance when Trevor and I were first dating and walking through a festival in a small town in Kentucky. We were holding hands and I have never felt more eyes on me. I quickly realized I was the only person of color in the vicinity and immediately felt a tad bit shocked if I’m being honest. It was a reminder that we are different and not everyone in the world may appreciate that.
As far as whether I think it’s hard or not, not particularly. I mostly skipped the part of having to tell my parents about Trevor since he met them when I was sedated in the hospital. I had never introduced a guy to them and I guess I still technically haven’t 😉 After I was out of the hospital, things were just different. My parent’s loved Trevor and our engagement and wedding were never a battle. Trevor was also insanely flexible and happy to have an Indian wedding. Growing up, I always thought it would be me panicking to bring someone home to my parents but I think I was more intimated to meet and talk to Trevor’s parents about everything.
His family is very conservative and also devout members of the Southern Baptist church. Not only was that a new culture and environment for me, I suddenly felt what every boyfriend I had ever dated felt, “His parents are going to hate me…” After talking and getting to know them, I think the dust settled and although we still don’t see eye to eye on lots of social and cultural issues, we love each other. They are amazing people and despite Trevor and I not being religious we love and cherish both of our families.
I think at the end of the day the most important thing I learned was that before you can make any relationship work, you need to know yourself. I’m very lucky that I fell in love with my best friend and that we are able to mesh our lives, families and cultures together. Despite the tears, stress and sometimes difficult conversations I wouldn’t trade my little family for anything.
Also, a friendly reminder to not tell mixed couples ‘your babies will be so cute’ I think it get’s old and also, we know 😉