Most people consider it a bit taboo to ask questions about an interracial relationship like mine and Irving?s, but I do get questions sometimes. Is it hard? What about the kids? What are the differences you have to face?
The short answer is that interracial relationships aren?t necessarily hard . . . it?s the cultural differences that are challenging! I have little doubt that if Irving had been raised in Canada, we would be far more similar than we are. BUT, even if he had been raised in Canada, I doubt he would see things my way anyway, because I didn?t have a very standard childhood, what with homeschooling, traveling and such. There will always be differences between couples, no matter what the color of their skin, but coming from very different countries has accented those differences quite a bit.
Truthfully, things were just peachy until we had children. We handled our differences pretty easily before that, because what was the problem? I did things my way, he did things his way, we compromised on stuff we had to share. And then along came Dorian.
Guatemalan methods of raising a child are so extremely different than Canadian methods that we instantly ran into issues. I put Dorian up on my shoulder to burp him, Irving had been raised to believe that this was dangerous for a baby and could make his soft spot cave in. I stood the baby on my lap and that was ten times more dangerous, because he could also develop bowed legs. Dorian tended to power puke, hitting targets up to a meter away, which didn?t phase me because I was the same way as a baby, but it really freaked Irving out. In short, we clashed on everything.
Poor Dorian was the guinea pig for our childrearing skills. Irving has changed so much since Dorian was born. He was anxious and fretful early on about the way I handled the baby, but we compromised on some things and on others, he bit his tongue and waited to see how it would turn out. By the time Dante came along, Irving was defending our parenting style to his family and by the time Dominic showed up, everyone decided we apparently could keep kids alive for half a decade, at least, and mostly left us alone.
With Dominic, Irving isn?t scared to hold him upright or take him outside without a hat or leave him in a onesie on a hot day. These are huge steps for someone who was raised to believe that these things could kill a child!
Kids have been our biggest challenge (aren?t they in any relationship?), but food was another problem. Irving wanted Guatemalan food, I tended to cook Canadian style cuisine. I would cook carrots and he would tell me he hated carrots. His mother only cooked them one way, mushy and he didn?t like that. When I made some lime glazed carrots one day, way back at the beginning of our relationship, he tentatively tried them and he liked them. Since then, he?s eaten my carrots, no problem.
Another issue was the fact that I don?t eat much meat. I lived with a vegan for two years before moving to Guatemala and while I wasn?t vegan myself, meat just isn?t a big part of my diet. I?m not terribly fond of it for the most part. Irving liked to have some sort of meat or poultry at least once a day. He was also quite accustomed to eating the same things on a daily basis, tortillas and beans for lunch, for example. He couldn?t bring himself to eat eggs with his beans at lunch, but eggs with supper or breakfast was fine. Again, it was just what he was used to! He liked to have sweet bread with coffee after supper or even FOR supper, but I could never make the coffee the right way.
Since we have almost always lived so close to his mom, Irving would frequently go eat at her house. I tried to master some Guatemalan recipes, but the truth is, I wasn?t that good at it! Not until we had our maid, Mirna, who taught me how to cook properly. Since then, Irving has enjoyed some more traditional meals that I make, but his tastes have also expanded and he likes to eat a wider range of food than he did when we first met.
If you?re thinking that it sounds like Irving is the one who has compromised most . . . you?d be right! The guy is a saint. His entire world has been turned upside down because he fell in love with someone from another country. Poor guy!
If there?s one thing I?ve learned over the past 9.5 years of being with Irving, it?s that compromise is the key to a multi-cultural relationship. It?s tough, but you can make it work! On top of the usual personality and upbringing differences, you have entire generations of beliefs and ideas from each side, clashing together in the middle, but with a little effort (ok, sometimes a LOT of effort), you can turn the clashing bits into a nice mosaic of cultures that work for your family.