June 09, 2020
I often say that people who decided to reproduce after November 2016 are either the most hopeful, optimistic people ever or just really freaking dumb.
You came into our lives planned and so wanted. The son of a Latina and a white man, both immigrants to this great country.
The conversations we, your parents, have had about race and heritage in the ten years we’ve been together have been plenty. How can we not talk about it when it’s one of the most glaring realities we live with every single day?
We are fortunate to live in a country that even with its imperfections and mistakes, is safe for us as a couple and has allowed us to thrive. So much so, that we decided to bring you along and share life with you.
In recent years, as I started to think more seriously about becoming a mother, I used to fantasize about how our potential baby would look like. To me it always felt weird to think about the reasons why I wanted you to look like your father. Was it because I wanted to see the person I love reflected in you or was it because deep down I wished you inherited his whiteness?
Your father’s kind eyes remain the second most beautiful eyes I’ve ever seen. Their piercing blue is probably the reason why I remember them so clearly as the first thing I saw when I met him.
Once I got pregnant and you started becoming more real with every single doctor appointment, the wondering of course increased. Would you have my eyes or would you have your father’s eyes? I always felt the color of your eyes would settle the question of who do you look like very quickly: brown eyes would make you look like me and blue eyes like your father. There was almost no room for grayscale unless of course for some random genetic oddity you came to us a green eyed baby.
Yes, I really wanted to see your dad’s eyes in a little baby, but I was also very scared knowing that if you had them, some people might be led to believe I was your nanny and not your mother. Every time I thought about the prospect of frequently experiencing incidents like those broke my heart.
There was also my Mexican family’s expectations and pressure. Our internalized love for whiteness (and rejection, possibly hate? of everything else) was glaring every time they hoped and prayed that you inherited those beautiful blue eyes and güero hair. It was the golden ticket, one that cashed correctly was as valuable as a blank cheque.
There we were, on a Thursday afternoon after 11 hours of labour I pulled you into my arms and placed you on my chest. Your eyes curious and wide open.
Brown.And it was settled, you looked like me.
The following week was gruesome. Your feeding schedule left me hollow and sleep deprived. I hadn’t had a chance to catch up in energy and my emotions and anxiety were running high.
And then on June 26, your grandpa’s birthday of all dates, I saw something that I think will probably stay in my memories forever. I had you latched on, I was feeding you and holding your head while I was browsing my Instagram feed (will you even know what Instagram is when you read this?.) Suddenly the cover of the NY Times appeared, showing a picture I saw for probably less than one second. Oscar Alberto Martínez and Valeria, a Salvadoran father and his daughter, who had drowned trying to cross el Río Grande. Their bodies floating on that river in the United States.
I will never forget the pain I felt seeing her little head full of brown hair just like yours floating on that water. I started sobbing uncontrollably and scared your father. I couldn’t even speak, it took all of me to say that I was ok and that I would explain later. I cried and cried holding you against my chest, a chilling and painful cold running through my body with a devastating reality: people who look like us are dying. They’re getting killed in the United States under an administration that not only cashes on hatred but actually inflames it.
Many times people have told me that I shouldn’t be so worried about immigration issues in the United States because I’m not “affected” by it. What they mean with that is that your father and I are documented immigrants in another country and carry a privilege that protects us.
While that’s absolutely true, I really can’t help but worry whenever I see how things are there. I live with the certainty of knowing that the hate that’s spreading around from there will reach us, that if things get worse there’s no distance, status or degree that will protect us. Do they think nazis spared people's lives when they had the right immigration status and postgraduate degrees when they knocked on Jewish doors? They did not.
The world we live in today seems too harsh sometimes and that is the world we decided to bring you to. I’d like to think that it’s because we’re hopeful (and not dumb.) Because we trust that the love that we have for each other will nourish you with the best that each of us has to offer. So you’ll grow to be a person of courage and kindness and take every chance you have to fill this world with more of you and the most beautiful eyes I have ever seen. With more of us.