Some months ago, I was scrolling through my Instagram feed and I came across the account Abby & Izzy, ‘Sisterhood of the Travelling Ankara’. I loved the name and their photos were so joyous! I reached out to their mum for an interview to talk about their mixed heritage family life. This is Amy’s interview.
The Motherhood Journey
TTT: Tell us a bit about yourself?
AM: I am a Nigerian born Texas raised wife, mother and physician who absolutely loves my family, travelling and photography!
TTT: How has your motherhood journey been so far?
AM: My journey to motherhood has been a roller coaster. I always envisioned getting married and immediately having a baby every year until I had 6 kids. Unfortunately, life doesn’t always go as planned and I quickly learned that the hard way. I suffered through multiple rounds of infertility treatments, miscarriages and infant loss.
During my last pregnancy, I spent 4 months on complete bed rest in the hospital. I had to lay completely flat that entire time to save my baby’s life. When I was admitted to the hospital at 22 weeks gestation with only a cerclage preventing me from delivering they cautioned me that I could deliver any day. I was absolutely terrified that I would lose another baby but I made it to 36 weeks to deliver a healthy baby girl! The years of struggling to become a mother have made me appreciate every single second with my two miracle daughters.
Mixed Heritage Family
TTT: What is the racial mix of your children?
AM: My daughters are half Nigerian and half Swedish-American but born in the United States.
TTT: Do your children speak about being mixed race? If so, what does being mixed race mean to them?
AM: My oldest daughter frequently surprises me by asking very insightful questions about the interplay between race, ethnicity and society. She knows she is biracial and is proud of both sides of her heritage.
Being mixed race means my girls have a worldview derived from two rich and beautiful cultures that gives them a unique perspective and ability to easily navigate an increasingly diverse world.
TTT: Do you think they identify with one part of their heritage more? If yes/no why do you think that is?
AM: My oldest daughter identifies more with her Nigerian-American heritage because we live in the same city as my extended family and she is immersed in the Nigerian-American experience on a daily basis.
My husband’s family don’t live nearby, so, my daughters only see them once or twice a year. As a result, the Swedish-American experience is not a large part of their everyday life.
TTT: How do you ‘celebrate’ your family’s heritage in your daily life?
AM: To help my girls appreciate my heritage we eat a lot of Nigerian food and listen to Nigerian music on a daily basis. Both my girls have Nigerian middle names and many of my family members call them by their Nigerian names.
My husband’s family is of Swedish descent but they have owned farmland in Iowa for several generations. My girls love getting updates from their grandparents about the day to day activities on the farm. Frequent FaceTime calls have helped them understand small town life in the Midwest of the United States where corn and soybeans reign supreme.
TTT: Are any of your fears for their future due to their ethnicity? How do you manage with your fears?
AM: I fear the emotional burden my girls will eventually experience when they realize that some people will judge them by the color of their skin and not the content of their character.
I manage this fear by teaching them that they cannot control the actions of others but they can control their response to those actions. I am affirming their worth daily so that they will be confident women that do not allow discrimination against them to cause self-doubt or despair.
TTT: What is your biggest wish for your children?
AM: My biggest wish is that my girls become responsible global citizens who love traveling the world in search of adventure, community and a deeper understanding of people and culture. I hope they remain kind, always pursue their passions and cultivate their talents to make a positive change in the world around them.
My daughters are currently both in Spanish Immersion school so they are fluent in English and Spanish. My husband and I are comfortable speaking Spanish but have a deep desire to improve our language skills. We plan to leave the States when it’s safe to do so and move to South America for a complete language immersion experience for the whole family.
Our ultimate plan is to raise our girls with a wide range of cultural experiences, so that they truly become citizens of the world and know that they can go to the ends of the earth to reach their dreams!
You can find Abby & Izzy on Instagram. Their mum, Amy, manages the account.
I hope you enjoyed this interview. What’s it like in your mixed heritage family? Please comment below, I would love to hear from you.
If you have missed the previous interviews, pop over to the blog Family page and you will find them all there.