Croatia has been on my mind for years. It’s on my list of places I must visit. However, Hubby is less enthusiastic and unsure what it would be like for our family to visit. When stumbled upon Ireti’s Instagram account I followed instantly. When I reached out to her to share her motherhood journey as part of The Tiger Tales’ mixed heritage family life series, she was happy to take part. This is Ireti’s interview.
Ireti on Motherhood
TTT: Tell us a bit about yourself?
Ireti: Well, to try to make this as short as possible; hi I am Ireti Telenta. I was born and raised in Texas. My parents are both from Nigeria. I am first generation Nigerian American. Travel is a huge passion of mine and it seems to be something that has been passed down from generation to generation. So, surprise surprise, I now live in a totally different country. I live in Croatia where my husband is from with our two girls.
TTT: How has your motherhood journey been so far?
Ireti: My motherhood journey has been interesting. I was “ready to be a mom” before pregnancy. Let me just say, I hate being pregnant, but the amazing life that comes from it is worth it. No matter how much you are ready to be a parent you will never be fully prepared for everything that comes along with it.
For me, the kids and their predicable unpredictability (if you have kids I think you will know what I mean by that) was pretty easy. The part that rocked me was the postpartum imbalance and society’s outlook/unsolicited advice on what I “should” be doing as a mom. There are so many things to dive into around these subjects but I’ll leave at that.
Mixed Heritage Family Life
TTT: What is the racial mix of your children?
Ireti: My children are 50% Nigerian and 50% Croatian but because I was born and raised in the US, they are also US citizens. When they speak English, sometimes they have a bit of a Texas twang.
TTT: Do you ‘celebrate’ all your family’s heritage in your daily life? If so, how?
Ireti: Since we live in Croatia and his family is close by that side is day to day. But Yoruba heritage is not on a daily basis. I talk about whatever I know, believe in, and love. I don’t think much of it is predominantly Nigerian. I feel it’s just who I am and how I was raised somewhat. I want to make sure they have access to their heritage so they have tri-citizenship. We speak with my family who live all over the world as often as possible, I encourage my mom to speak Yoruba to them(unfortunately I don’t speak Yoruba fluently). We plan to visit Nigeria often(we are currently in Nigeria so while we are here it is our daily life).
Additionally, thinking about names, my name is part Nigerian and part Croatian by marriage. Ireti is Nigerian and Telenta is Croatian. My maiden name, Ogun is Yoruba. My daughters’ given names are also from both parts of their heritage. Lori-iya’s name means Upon a river in Yoruba and Maya’s middle name means god of earth. So, their names are part of their heritage and will for ever be with them.
Living in Croatia
TTT: What’s it like raising mixed race children in Croatia?
Ummmmmmmm….. I don’t know what it is like raising children anywhere else but it has it’s pros and cons. A con is not having all my friends and family just down the street, but even if we lived in Texas where I grew up that’s not where ALL my close friends and family live. A pro is having all my husband’s friends and family to help support.
Con is not having access to whatever I want/need anytime I need/want it. Growing up in a big city of “convenience is 24 hrs” then moving to an island with a population of the high school I went to has proven to be a bit more of a shock then I thought.
Pro back to the basics, not as distracted with always needing to do something/be somewhere, being able to be more present with my growing family, not worry about them running around outside, etc… That list goes on for both pros and cons but the pros are a much longer list that aligns well with my growing family values.
Thinking About The Future
TTT: Are any of your fears for them as they grow older related to their ethnicity? If so, what it is it and how to you deal that fear?
Ireti: Fears of all the unknown things I haven’t foreseen and have not prepared them for. This is a wide statement and really can be the thought of any parent. However, with mixed race children not fully Nigerian or Croatian and in a totally different lifestyle than I was raised in, it really is a whole new world.
Anyway, I am doing the best I can with things that come along doing my best to ask questions, give my experience, and mix what I’ve learned to find what’s right for them.
TTT: What is your biggest wish for your children?
Ireti: I want them to remain curious, have an empathetic heart, humbly wise, and take action with confidence.
I truly appreciate Ireti taking time out during her family trip to Nigerian to take part our online interview. No matter were we are in the world, there a some experiences and feelings that all mothers share… and Croatia is still firmly on my list. You can find Ireti on Instagram.
Please comment below to let us know what you thought of the interview. Perhaps you want to share a memory, please do. What is your mixed heritage family life experience? We would love to hear from you. To read the previous interview from the series CLICK HERE.