I realise there is nothing unique, original or majorly interesting about our set up. Our trio of colours. Our family of shades. Had we started our family in London, we would have been as normal as the next family. But we are raising our family in Spain, in the south to be precise, where families of different colours are rare, maybe even a little curious and definitely exotic.
Malaga City, our nearest city, is a stunning place, a university city besides the sea that welcomes people from all walks of life into its fold. But we are not in the city, we are 25km on the outskirts, in a small mountain town where its residents don’t say the last few letters of any one word and traffic hold ups are generally caused by goats.
It is summer now, so little man with his nice new tan is the darkest he has ever been. His lightness had been a source of confusion. When he was first born, some could not work out how I came to be pushing him in his pram. Was he stolen? Was I his nanny? Was I looking after him for a friend? I soon put them right, although I fear they were disappointed. A black mum and white dad for parents is not as exciting as getting the chance to help the police in the case of a stolen baby. Their concern and curiosity was touching, as were the interactions with them.
Now when we are out, his feet are tickled, his hair ruffled, his nose tweaked, by complete strangers and locals alike. This would never have happened in the London I left behind. We go to our local supermarket, where the shop assistants know his name and know that his teeth are still struggling to come through. Our closest neighbour knitted him the most beautiful blanket, which is far nicer and more of a comfort to him than any of his other mass produced ones and which he will have as a keepsake for years to come. This also would never have happened in London. Not the part of London we lived in anyway. I loved when I was pregnant that I was treated like a queen (and why shouldn’t I be?!). Shopping bags carried to the car, permission to jump queues in the supermarket, so many seats being given up that you could choose where you wanted to sit. When my best London friend was heavily pregnant she frequently had to ask for someone to let her sit down on a crowded tube, as there were rarely any offers.
It’s not London’s fault, it’s just they way it is. Cities are cities and city life can be shitty (I did’t mean that to rhyme, by the way). We did not know our neighbours at all. We knew the man down the hall played the drums and the woman next door loved frying food, but we didn’t know their faces or their names. Don’t get me wrong, there are days that I miss London, her culture and her coolness and the endless possibilities and opportunities. Days when I wonder what it would be like bringing up a child there. I know there are many people who do exceptionally well there with their little folk, they enjoy what London has to offer and probably couldn’t imagine having a child anywhere else. That’s the beauty in everyone being different.
But for me, despite all the confusion that a black mum, white dad and brown baby may cause for people who have only known families of one shade of colour; for the detailed explanations I have had to give as a result; for the goats that don’t let your waiting come between their feeding; and the locals who do not speak Spanish the way I learnt it in school… I would still take all of this over London, where our trio could have passed through life having had very little interaction with the community around us. Sometimes it’s the little things like these that need in our lives.