I always wonder if mixed race people identify more with one side of their racial makeup than the other. I also wonder if you become influenced by how you identify yourself based on how you look, mostly because that’s what other people see first – your outward appearance. I’ve written about my identity confusion growing up, but my struggle wasn’t about race or ethnicity, but rather, nationality. My girls are undoubtedly American (as I am too), but I wonder if they’ll ever feel confused about what race or ethnicity they “belong” to. Will it matter by then? Does it matter now? They have stronger ties to their Korean heritage than their Russian, Norwegian or Italian side and that mostly comes from being around my side of the family more. Like many families, this centers mostly around food. We always joke that while Mia may be the whitest looking half-Asian kid ever, you can tell she has Korean in her strictly by her love of Korean food (I mean do you know any other kid that can snack on those tiny dried anchovies, right out of the bag, fish head and all, like potato chips? Yeah, thought so). Claudine, who looks more Asian than her sister, doesn’t stray at all from her typical kid diet of Mac & Cheese and other carbs.
But I’m reminded every time we do go up to visit Mark’s uncle and father upstate, that the girls have another ethnic side that we don’t really address here at home, except for these trips to visit family (we don’t really ever learn much about Mark’s Norwegian side of the family in Washington). When we do go upstate, we hear stories about how Mark’s grandmother had a pot of mushroom soup and pierogies waiting every time any grandchildren came to visit.
Mark’s uncle’s house is full of family treasures like the Russsian eggs. The girls like to try and spot Mark, as a child, in all the old family photos hanging up around the house. I’m realizing how important it is to show the girls this side of their family history too. It’s nice to think that they will have fond memories of driving up to Uncle Mike’s house, where a bowl of soup and a plate of pierogies, always await them.