If I had to limit myself to a single identity, I’d say that I’m a mother of twins above all else. Sure, I’m also a business analyst, a blogger, a divorcee, a permanent resident of the US, a holder of British and Bangladeshi passports and a former US Army wife. My most important role right now is to be my daughters’ mother, and my 7-year-olds’ twinhood is one of the most salient aspects of their identity.
My parents were born in what was then Pakistan, and were college students when their nation of Bangladesh was born in 1971. They moved to the UK for graduate school, and I was born in Oxford, where my father taught chemistry. When I was 8, my parents moved to Bangladesh and I spent the next decade there before emigrating by myself to the US for college.
I know that when people see me, they see someone with brown skin. My daughters’ much lighter skin and lack of my prominent South Asian nose has occasionally prompted questions, but we are fortunate to live in an area where many children come from complex racial backgrounds. Adults are the ones who ask questions regarding the legitimacy of our family. My kids’ friends mostly accept. My daughters have never, to my knowledge, been questioned about their race, although they are sometimes put on the stop regarding their identical twinhood.
Living in Texas and still carrying my ex-husband’s last name, Rodriguez, I am often assumed to have Mexican heritage. My daughters’ paternal grandfather’s family has roots in Mexico. Their grandmother’s hails for all over Western Europe. While those facts are interesting, they have nothing to do with my daughters’ own sense of identity. As my daughter, Jessica, once put it, “I’m a twin and my grandmother lives in England and my grandfather lives in Bangladesh.” To my daughters, these are simply interesting facts, like the fact that I have a mole and Daddy plays the saxophone. Having lived around the world has given me a wonderful perspective on what matters, but I don’t identify with ethnic, national or racial labels. I’m glad to live in a country where we’re actively seeking to look beyond that sort of label.