New to The Tiger Tales is a series of interviews with parents to mixed race children across the globe. Each week throughout August into September a new interview will be posted. It is my hope that by sharing our stories, we help each other find ways to fuse cultures, navigate with family politics and societal prejudices, as well as, empower our children to live their best lives. I hope you enjoy the series and look forward to reading your comments.
Our first interview is with Trinidadian expat Rayan Martina, mother to three boys. She currently lives in England.
Rayan On Motherhood
TTT: Tell us a bit about yourself?RM: I’m a 29 years old mom of three boys. I was fortunate enough to put my career in Green Technologies on hold to spend time with my children. I’m an ‘introverted outdoorsy’ person, who enjoys nature, animals and science. Travelling and exploring different cultures, cities and food is a passion of mine. However, the other side of me is quite simple. Equally, I love being at home with my family, relaxing and having a good laugh and eat together.
I would say I am a very down-to-earth person who loves conversation. Dressing up, playing with makeup and trying out different DIY skin care recipes are some of the ways practice self-care. Overall, I am a very easy-going person who has a passion for adventure, food and laughter
TTT: How has your motherhood journey been so far?
RM: Wow, motherhood has brought on so many unexpected changes for me on an emotional level. These emotions came during and after pregnancy and really took me by surprise. From treating my post-partum anxiety to finding my unique style of parenting (and not caring about who had a problem with it); I had to fight a few battles before gaining the confidence that I have now as a mother.
One interesting thing about my journey so far is how my life has continued and blossomed with having my beautiful children and not stopped as many had told me that it would. It wasn’t something that came easily at first and to be honest, it still isn’t easy.
My husband and I had to put so many things that we were passionate about on hold in order to grow our boys and we have no regrets. At the same time,we discovered that staying true to ourselves and adjusting our lifestyle around them was in fact exactly what seemed to fit their little, feral personalities.
We still manage somehow to explore and take simple family trips. We manage to do our foodie things (as you can guess, toddlers in a food market is chaos!) but we somehow often succeed and end up with amazing memories. We still manage to teach them about different cultures and people in very honest and basic ways. From seeing them dive into a river to struggle to eat with chopsticks, from learning how to walk and then talk in different languages; this journey hasn’t been easy but it has so far been indescribably beautiful. We are growing and learning as they are learning and growing.
Mixed Heritage Family Life
TTT: What is the racial mix of your children?
RM: I’m Afro-Trinidadian and my husband is White Italian. We call them Trinitalians (insert drum roll here.)
Leone is four, Maceo is two and Nikko is 10 months old.
TTT: Do you ‘celebrate’ all your family’s heritage in your daily life? If so, how?
RM: OK so embarrassingly, the answer is not really. Though, in our defence, my husband and I aren’t exactly traditional. My husband has spent most of his life outside of Italy and I have personally never really followed family traditions. I remember when my first son was born, I gave my mother headaches for not doing the traditional Trinidadian ‘after baby’ routines. Luckily for me, my mother is always opened-minded and was extremely supportive in helping me explore ‘modern motherhood’ techniques.
Though the funny thing is though, traces of our heritage do come out on a day-to-day basis unexpectedly. The day my son put pineapple and ketchup on his pizza, it nearly gave my poor, Macerata-borne husband a heart attack. Also, my boys have this thing when they just can’t hear music without dancing as if they were in a Carnival show.
TTT: What’s it like raising mixed race children as an expat parent in England?
RM: Actually it has been quite a good experience so far. Maybe because they are so many mixed-race children here. My kids do not really stand out physically and I think this makes it easier for them to fit in. They personally haven’t experienced any prejudice on that part so far. – At least not obvious enough for any of us to notice.
Hopes For The Future
TTT: Are any of your fears for your children as they grow older related to their ethnicity? If so, what are they and how to you deal that fear?
RM: Yes I definitely have fears. My children are seen as ‘cute, little boys’ with black features who would grow up to be MEN with black features. It seems like the perception of ‘cuteness’ of black children in Europe grows into the ‘fear’ of black adults. I think of my mixed kids as black, so I often wonder if/when they experience racism how they would react to it.
I have experienced my personal discrimination as a black woman living in the UK. However, I really hope that the equality that they experience so far as children follows into their adulthood regardless of where they are in the world. Maybe the new generation is bringing on change. Though, it really depends on the people that they would encounter in life and their awareness and desire for equality.
TTT: What is your biggest wish for your children?
RM: I wish so, so, so many things for them. Contentment, fulfilment, wisdom, kindness, equality and the list goes on and on.
Their dad and I wish to see them grow up and follow their dreams, no matter what they are. We’ll always be on the sides cheering them on.
There was a time Leone and Maceo walked up to a kid who was standing by himself at the playground and offered him a piece of their snack. They ended up playing together and when it was time to go home, my boys and their new friend briefly taught each other how to say goodbye in the languages that they spoke.
I wish they never stop doing this!
I hope you enjoyed Rayan’s open honest interview as much as I did. You can find her over on Instagram .
Please comment below, I would love to hear from you. Feel free to share you own experiences.