How I Parent: A Mom With a Mixed Race Family Reveals Her Fear of Being Mistaken as the Nanny

Name: Khristine Wilcox
Location: Piscataway, NJ
Occupation: Occupational therapist
Family situation: Married for two years with a 6-month-old son named Clark. Both mom and dad work. I stay at home two days a week, grandma watches Clark two days a week, and my in-laws watch him one day a week. Dad and I have the baby to ourselves on weekends.
Parenting “philosophy” in a sentence: Like any good working relationship, you have to make compromises that benefit the whole family. 

What was your journey to having the family life you have today?
My journey has stemmed from how I was raised. Growing up, I always knew I want to get married and have kids. I wanted that fairytale life. I grew up in a very close-knit family so I always envisioned my life being somewhat similar to how I grew up.

I’m 75 percent Filipino and 25 percent Chinese. My husband is mostly Scottish and Irish. My family was very accepting to the fact that I would have a mixed-race family. My older brother always dated different races so my parents were pretty used to it. They just wanted to make sure my partner was a decent man and was going somewhere in life.

My husband and I try to blend our cultures together to reach a happy medium. We’ve had very different upbringings and we can see the differences when we make decisions together. As a result, we’ve learned to respect each other’s traditions and morals, and we try to learn about each other still to this day — and we’ve been together for seven years. Both of our families are very involved in child care as well so each side brings something from each culture, whether it’s food, language, or activities.

The one thing that’s surprised me is that honestly, I expected my baby to look like me. We used to joke around that the Asian gene is strong but sometimes, I feel like my baby doesn’t look like me. It sounds crazy but I have a fear of being mistaken as my baby’s nanny. I have cousins that have husbands of different races and people don’t always believe they are the moms to their kids. But overall, I know everything will be fine because family is family. We love our baby and each other all the same. Love is love!

As of now, I don’t really worry about my son embracing both identities because he’s learning both as he grows. I do worry that being mixed may make others question him. I don’t want someone to tell him, “Oh, you don’t look Asian or you don’t look Caucasian.” I don’t want him to think he needs to look both. I just want him to know that he’s unique and there are billions of people in the world and we don’t all look the same.

I feel better about things because nowadays, mixed families are becoming more and more common. I do recall making sure that we named our child something that wasn’t too Scottish or something too Asian so our son didn’t feel the need to be identified as one over the other. As long as we keep raising our child to recognize the beauty in diversity, I know he’ll be okay.

How did your upbringing influence your parenting style?
I use a lot of the same techniques my parents, aunts, and uncles used when I was younger. In my mind, I always knew that’s how I wanted to be. My baby just turned six months old so I haven’t been able to apply many of the techniques yet since he’s so young but I hope to be a regimented mom who is strict but flexible when need be. In that sense, I feel like the way my family has brought me up is already showing in how I’m developing as a mother.

What’s your favorite thing about parenting?
My favorite thing is that my baby knows that I’m Mommy. I know it sounds selfish but it’s so different when they actually look for you. It’s nice to be needed and to always be wanted by him. You’re always the No. 1 person they’re looking for and it’s kind of nice to feel that way.

What’s the hardest part?
For me, it’s not being able to figure out what’s going on. There are times when I don’t know what the issue is. Why is he upset? What’s wrong? Why can’t I fix it?

My baby also has a lot of allergies. He’s been sick on and off and he can’t catch a break. He’s only six months old and this poor kid can’t sleep because he’s itchy all the time. I don’t always know how to stop it and I hate that I can’t take his pain away.

How do you find time for yourself?
My time to myself is when I’m in the shower. Sometimes, I’ll stay in there for , like, 25 minutes. It’s fantastic. Work is also a place where I can take time for myself. I know it’s still work but I’m not tending to somebody else all the time. I can eat my lunch in peace.

My husband and I will take turns to run errands, or just bring the baby. But I think that as long as I’m willing to ask family or friends for help, I can find time for myself. Maybe people aren’t as trusting or they don’t have help available so it can definitely be hard, but if I need to do the laundry, my parents or in-laws can be in the living room playing with the baby. When it comes down to it, parenting needs to be a group effort in order for everyone to get some peace of mind.

What’s the best advice you can share with new parents?
Every baby is different and you shouldn’t be ashamed that your baby isn’t doing the same things as the other.. Sometimes I hear that my friend’s babies are sleeping eight hours a night. Mine only sleeps two. Then I think, what am I doing wrong? The key is to remind yourself that your baby is different and there’s nothing wrong with that.

How do you embrace the most unpredictable moments of parenthood?
I get very anxious and I have to admit, I have had panic attacks over my fears. Last night was very unpredictable. My son was spitting up all of his medications for the first time and I was crying. During those moments, I know I have to try and put my feelings aside so I can take care of my baby and make him feel comforted. I can deal with my own problems later. In the end I sometimes get super anxious because I bottled it up for too long so I’m trying to find a balance. It’s not easy but I always want to put my baby first.

What would you want your kid to say about you as a parent?
I want my kid to say that I love him so much and I’ve showed him the world. Also, that I did everything to give him a good life and he can turn to me for anything. And that he can’t live without me. That’d be nice. Maybe that I’m cool, too.  

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