When a mother and daughter look different ... and match!
In her heartfelt piece “I’m her mom, not the nanny!” Rose Arce reveals how issues of race, class, and a sense of belonging spring up in a water park in Manhattan, and beyond.
Arce and her daughter are forced to battle stereotypical assumptions about the roles of Latinas in the US.
Her six-year-old daughter, Luna, wants to understand why she doesn’t look like her darker mommy (Luna is fairer than her mother with straight, light brown hair). She also wants to understand why everyone assumes that because her mommy has a “Latino” appearance it makes her a likely candidate to be her nanny.
“Children need simple explanations, and there are none,” attests Arce in her article, first published by CNN.
I don’t have a simple explanation to offer but I do have a short story. It’s about a mother and her daughter who look different, but match.
The story, titled “We Match!” and written by Karen Welser, was first published in the book on motherhood, Purple Leaves, Red Cherries, which I created and edited with Andrea Katzman.
While Welser’s circumstances may be different to those of Arce’s, I hope “We Match!” can offer comfort to parents in similar situations.
My husband and I have three children. Our first two we call “home-grown” – biologically ours, they look startlingly like us.
Our third child was adopted from across the seas. Her skin is a different color from mine. Her thick black hair falls in luxurious waves, while mine curls up tight.
Now three years old, she says to me, “I love you, Mama,” and I tell her I love her also.
She says, “We’re exactly the same. We both have two eyes. And a nose, and a chin, and cheeks . . . .”
She goes on to name our bodies, identifying part for part, until she gets to her favorite line: