How Cute!
Is He Yours?


How Cute!
Is He Yours?

When Nicole Blades married a white guy, she knew that if they had a kid, that child’s skin color would be lighter than hers.

Nicole & Scott at their wedding

Nicole & Scott at their wedding

Nicole & Scott with their son

Nicole & Scott with their son

What Nicole didn’t count on was people questioning whether their son even belonged to her. In this episode, Nicole talks about what it’s like to repeatedly be mistaken for the nanny. By people of all races.

Plus, find out the perfect quippy comeback that Nicole came up with to battle the “Is he yours?” question—and whether or not it worked.


Read Nicole’s writing on race & motherhood
Nicole has written a lot about what she calls being “nannied” by strangers. Read her articles in the New York Times’s Motherlode blog and xoJane, as well as her own blog Ms. Mary Mack, where she writes about race and motherhood, among a wide range of parenting topics.

What’s YOUR trigger question?
As parents, we all seem to have questions that set off immediate inner rage. What question sets you off, and have you found a comeback that makes you feel better?

Wedding photo: Kathryn Le Soine

62 thoughts on “EPISODE #33: How Cute! Is He Yours?

  1. This podcast is amazing, first and foremost. The ‘trigger question’ episode was very close to my heart. Not in regards to race but simply the assumptions strangers will have about my life or my child.

    I am currently pregnant with my second child and I will be scheduling a c-section. Happily. With my first I had a traumatic labor that ended with a healthy child via emergency c-section. I was devastated and felt that I had somehow failed. All the happy ‘natural’ ‘unmendicated’ delivery posts I was seeing in my birth group didn’t help to make it feel any less like a failure. If anything it made it worse. 2 years later and I am making the decision to have a happy stress free schedule c-section. I feel no shame and no guilt about this choice. I’ll be spending the rest of my pregnancy simply happy about the new baby and NOT about weather or not I’m going to have to go trough the same trauma as I did with my first.

    When people find out about this pregnancy they ask me, “So, you’re going to try for a VBAC right?” As if it something that I should be STRIVING for. As the possibility of a ruptured uterus is something that I should face in order to have a ‘natural’ ‘unmedicated’ delivery. Why? Why would I want to put my life and the life of my child through that? When I say, “No, it’ll be a scheduled c-section.” They will tell me about a doctor they know of who specializes in VBAC. Again, assuming that the c-section is not my choice but the choice of my doctor. They will then push to find out WHY I want to have a scheduled c-section. There is just too much to go into and I don’t feel that my choice is something that I need to discuss with strangers. It requires every ounce of self control to NOT shout at the person that I almost died and my daughter almost died the first time and I will not put my family through that again so I can achieve some kind of imaginary mom status.

    In the end I feel like I’m having to defend my choice for my life and my child’s life. With all the stress of being pregnant with a toddler and the normal stress of preparing for a new child why is it OK for people to ask these kinds of questions that are so obviously filled with judgement and condemnation.

    Emergency and scheduled c-sections are shamed in the media and in private communities. There are hateful groups aimed at making those of us who have had them feel like less of a ‘success’. I’m tired of it and the next time someone asks me about going for a VBAC I am going to happily use Nicole’s retort, “Why do you ask?” Thank you Nicole!

    1. this is EXACTLY my story!!! traumatic first birth that ended in a c section (T incision.. sounds like you had that too).. must have scheduled c section the second time around… every person i mention that to apologizes to me when it’s brought up and i’m not even pregnant with #2 yet. NOPE i’m pretty excited to have a quick surgery that doesn’t end in an extended NICU stay, thank you.

  2. In the past, I’ve been asked if my daughter is “mine” or if I’m the nanny. I’m half Japanese yet my daughter has lily-white skin and blue eyes.

    I remember being really taken aback when I was stopped in Trader Joe’s during her first year and asked if I was the nanny. But I think like what Nicole went through, people are eager to make sense of what they see and mixed race kids/ people don’t always look like or act like what people expect. So gently “educating” people becomes part of the unofficial job description that I’ve found as a Hapa (mixed race Asian) myself. Usually it’s just naivety or lack of experience that drives questions like that. I have still heard in 2015 some people call Asians “Orientals” (esp in rural Virginia where my in-laws are from) which makes me cringe. But right there is a chance to help someone understand the difference.

    Now my daughter looks more like me as a 5-year-old but when she was 0-18 mos, it was a stretch.
    Pic of us when she was 16 mos: http://media.broowaha.com/images/article/38431.jpg

  3. My trigger question is similar, but about me. I am mixed white and Filipino, but with very fair skin. And growing up, people always thought my mother was my Nanny, especially because she insisted I call her “Nanay,” which is Tagalog for mother.

    I always get enraged when people figure out I’m mixed and tell me I don’t “look” mixed or Filipino or whatever. I always think, “Why would you discount my entire life experience? Why do I have to fight to prove to you who I am?” And let me be clear: this is almost always coming from white people.

    So I created the response “Maybe you need to update your expectation of how mixed people look.” And when I FINALLY got to use , it worked! But here’s the thing – it worked because the person I was talking to is a man in a mixed Asian-white marriage, starting a mixed family.

    Growing up, I didn’t know ANYONE else who was mixed. Now MOST of my friends are in mixed relationships and raising mixed kids. So the question actually doesn’t come up as much. I haven’t even been challenged in the last 10 years… it’s kind of awesome not to have to fight to prove who I am…

  4. My trigger question is “Who’s the dad?” I’m a single mum and I used donor sperm. I don’t feel like I need to single-handedly to educate people on how a single woman can get pregnant. Plus it’s none of their business. If I say I used a donor then all the dumb questions… how did you choose etc. etc. with no thought for how personal it is and how difficult it was for me to get to this point. and then being told how brave I am. So patronising.

  5. I will admit that I have asked the question, “Is he/she yours?”. And my curiosity was rooted in a desire to connect with another mother. If the answer is “yes, he/she is mine”, then I assumed that I could ask mom-related advice-seeking questions designed to help me be a better parent. If I had gotten a “why do you ask” response- I would have said, “because I’m a new mom and I’m curious about how other moms are navigating the learning curve!

  6. While I was on maternity leave, I went to a nearby park with my wee babe and there was a older woman there with a toddler. We chatted a little, and I asked if he was hers. She replied that she was his grandma — now I hope she wasn’t offended! She seemed to be in her 50s, but you just never know!
    As a mixed-race person, I get asked, “where are you from,” all the time. I’m a quarter Japanese, the rest of a mix of European heritage, but mainly German. I have almost black, very curly brown hair, and pale skin. Sometimes I explain this, sometimes I just say, “oh, I was born here.” Usually I get asked this by someone who is also a minority. White people just assume I’m white.
    I married a man who has mostly German heritage as well. He was blond as a baby, and has darker brown hair now. I am so glad my baby has dark hair — at least she looks like me there! Otherwise she looks just like my husband.

Say Something

Commenting Guidelines Curiosity and spirited discussion are welcome; personal attacks are not. We reserve the right to reject comments for any reason.