Her parents were from two different countries. Two different religions. Two different languages. Two different worldviews. "They gave me every opportunity," she tells me. "I experienced both of my heritage cultures. I participated in both. I wasn't pushed to one or the other."
And then she said, "Discovering my identity has still been hard."
Those words have bounced around in my brain for years. The reality is I don't want them to be true.
I want to believe I can make life easier for my kids. If I raise my kids bilingual. If I expose them to their U.S. and Guatemalan roots. If we visit their Papi's home country. If we talk openly about race, privilege, and heritage.
Maybe then they will slide effortlessly into a mature, bicultural identity. They can explain with clarity and conviction their connection to two worlds.
I want them shrug it off when people tell them they're too white to be Latino. That they don't "count."
I want them to identify with both of their heritage countries - as well as their own mashup version - with ease and joy.
Then words echo in my mind: "My parents did all the right things, and discovering my identity has still been hard."
And then I must acknowledge the process of understanding my own racial, religious, and cultural identity. Even as part of the majority culture in my context, discovering my identity has been hard.
It was painful to recognize injustices of the past and present. It wasn't easy to acknowledge the ways my own background influences how I see and interpret the world. And it's not always clear how to expand my cultural lenses and support others in meaningful ways.
The reality is that most of us - usually somewhere in our 20's - have a bit of identity deconstruction. And it's not really all that fun. And for multicultural kids, I imagine it can feel a bit lonely as their journey may look different from those around them.
As much as I want to, I can't necessarily make that process disappear for my kids. I can still hope that the tools we try to offer them - language, experiences, cultural fluency - will come in handy.
I am thankful for that conversation. It has truly been the best multicultural parenting advice I've ever heard, even if that wasn't the intention.
Those words "it's still been hard" have reminded me that there is no "perfect" way to raise my multicultural kiddos. There will be bumps and there will be questions they have to wrestle with on their own.
Part of life is working through the big questions. And though it may feel hard sometimes, I hope they know we are here to walk with them as they discover who they are and the uniqueness God has instilled in them.
Image credit: 55Laney69