I didn’t believe things could get much better until I became a mother. That is, until Matthew, my son, was born. When one turned into two. Throughout the pregnancy, everything was perfect.
My sister-in-law took the ultrasound photos, which revealed a completely healthy and lovely newborn boy. With a great deal of hair. We had no idea that her hair was RED!
Yes, you read that correctly. The color of your hair is red. I couldn’t believe it, and the nurses couldn’t believe it too. That was the furthest thing from my mind as an African-American woman!
“Oh my God,” was the first thing I heard when he was born.
‘Oh my God’ is the absolute last thing any woman wants to hear, especially one who has just spent 11 hours delivering a baby.
Although I am aware that Naval Medical Center Portsmouth is a teaching hospital, the nurse continued, “He has RED HAIR!” before I could fully fear. I had a 10-second wait before responding, ‘no, just wash him a few times.’
“No Mama, you’ve got a little ginger,” the nurse stated after she had cleaned him three times.
Everyone was awed by him.
Partly because he was very lovely, but mostly because an African American lady had just given birth to a white red-headed kid. Believe me, I was astounded as well.
I’d forgotten about the hair color after they’d placed him in my arms until someone mentioned it. I still do, despite the fact that he is now six years old. He was visited by nurses and doctors from all around the OB floor. It was unlike anything they’d ever seen before.
Of course, there was speculation, and I can’t tell you how many times I’ve had to clarify that he wasn’t adopted, my stepson, or albino. I was his mother, not his aunt, Godmother, or nanny.
No one believes he’s my son. If they do, the next presumption is that ‘Oh, he must have inherited his father’s red hair.’ In order for a child to have the MC1R gene, both parents must have it.
The feedback has been largely positive. His hair usually astounds people, especially when we’re together.
Normally, every stranger I encounter tells me about their redheaded ancestors. Their siblings, uncles, cousins, and brother all had red hair. I just grin and pay attention.
I don’t mind it most of the time, except when I’m in a rush or when I’m stuck in the middle of the grocery store.
Everyone enjoys stroking his hair. It used to irritate me because who just walks up to someone’s child and touches them?
But I’ve come to the point where I gently request that they don’t. “They just can’t help themselves,” says the majority of them. And, to be honest, Matthew enjoys the attention.
However, there will always be negative and disrespectful people.
One day, my two boys and I were in line for pizza when a lady asked if I enjoyed being the nanny. “I don’t know, I’ve never thought about it before,” I said, because what she said didn’t really register with me at first. “Well, aren’t you their nanny?” she inquired.
“No, they’re my boys,” I told her. “Maybe him, but not the tiny white guy,” she added, looking at Adam, who had olive skin and dark brown hair. It enraged me greatly. “I don’t have to explain myself to you, ma’am,” I said as I took a big breath and placed my pizza order. She became enraged, grabbed her pizza, and rushed out.
I received cheers from the people in the lobby after she left. One woman approached me and stated, “That is not how I would have handled it. You’ve done well.”
However, there was a period when I was treated unfairly. At Walmart, I was removing Matthew’s shoe from the front of the cart when it slipped off. I tried to put it back on, but he thought it was a game, as small boys do. I couldn’t get it back on because he started kicking his feet.
Another girl my age noticed and offered assistance. Of course, I was grateful. I thanked her after we were able to get his shoe back on. I went away with my son as she turned around to talk to her buddy. When an elderly white woman saw me walking away with him, she dialed 911.
She mistook me for the mother of that woman’s child!
The police interrogated me. I had just returned from the doctor’s office and had brought his birth certificate with me. The cop didn’t believe me at all.
When the young lady who had assisted me realized what was going on, he was preparing to call child services and arrest me. I’m not sure what would have occurred if she hadn’t been there to assist! It was the most horrifying event I’ve ever had.
The time when Matthew came home crying because the kids on his bus told him I wasn’t his true mother since I was black and didn’t have red hair was the most painful. To a five-year-old, no less! He questioned every red-haired woman whether she was his mother for almost a week.
It was the most painful and humiliating experience of my life. I was at a loss for what to do. My mother advised me to wait and pray. Also, to sit him down and give him the best explanation I could. Not to become enraged. To simply take a deep breath. That’s exactly what I did. Even if it worked, it was still painful.
My oldest kid had a brilliant idea: “Why don’t we tint our hair red like Matthew?” Instead of saying, “Let’s change Matthew’s hair to look like ours,” he said, “Let’s change our hair to look like his!” It really struck my heart. Coming from a seven-year-old, that was such a noble effort!
‘Now you look like me!’ Matthew exclaimed as soon as he saw the unveiling. It made me feel better than I had in a long time. One of the biggest thrills of my life was seeing something so simple make him so happy!
We have tried to trace our family’s lineage back five generations on both sides and have come up empty-handed.
On neither side of our family, no one has ever had red hair. There isn’t one. My next step is to have both the boys and I do an official Ancestry and a 23andMe test. I’m determined to find out so that I may finally answer the question, “Where did he acquire his red hair?!?”
Having mixed-race children is difficult.
I wonder if my oldest son will have a harder life than his brother because of the color of his skin when people question you at every turn, look twice, murmur. Matthew also attracts the most of the attention due to his red hair. Adam has mastered the art of making himself known.
When a stranger enters the room, “”Oh my God, you have gorgeous red hair!” he exclaims quickly. “Yep!” he adds. And I’m a dark-skinned woman!, “he said, pointing to his curls Every time, he succeeds.
I try to remember all of the good things and blessings that have occurred in our life. I set up an Instagram account for them and am trying hard to get them involved in modeling. They’ve only recently begun cub scouting and will begin gymnastics in the spring.
I was apprehensive about having two children within a year of one another, but it turned out to be the best decision I’ve ever made. They’re bonded to each other at the hip. The best of pals. My closest companions.