In 2008, a writer’s strike shut down the television industry and most of the city of Los Angeles. I was sent home from my TV show “Numb3rs” that I had been playing in for two years as Megan Reeves. While most of us thespians feared we would never work again, I had an additional phobia about being at home.
My life had recently been overtaken by my then nine-month old son. He was a joyous gift in my life, albeit an overwhelming one. However when he was taking a long nap one Saturday afternoon… his sister was conceived. Being pregnant, again, in the same year as my last pregnancy was not my plan, especially since this was still my first year of marriage. And then this sister split herself in two – making me pregnant with twins.
I am not the kind of woman who defines myself by marriage. Or motherhood. I’m an ambitious, workaholic, recovering beauty queen. Yet, at thirty-seven years old I was fast on my way to having three children under a year and a half in age. I would have to quit Numb3rs. And give up my breadwinner status to become my children’s primary caregiver and my husbands…bitch. And I was practicing my bitchyness all the time – for more reasons than just the mountain of diapers I was about to step into.
Because all this family time would also put me into more regular contact with a family that I recently married into – who did not want me. And I still had a lot of “big” feelings about that. As an actress I knew that those feelings were going to bubble over. And not just onto that family but also, my new marriage. And even worse, I knew that if I didn’t find some way to deal with all the emotions brought on by a war between love and race in my husband’s family when it came to me… those feelings might hurt, harm or smother my children.
So I started writing.
Two years earlier when Seung and I first began dating I began asking questions. I started casually, with friends in mixed-race relationships. I wondered how multi-cultural couples put up with, ignored, addressed or openly battled their parents or in-laws about their significant other. I filled and emptied many coffee cups, delving into the darkest moments of long-term, multi-colored unions – to see if I could handle what might become of mine. Just as these conversations gave me enough confidence to move forward, Seung asked me to marry him. My immediate “yes!” was followed up with months of disquieting concerns. Now I had bigger queries that stretched well beyond my circle of friends. I was willing to accept council from anyone who was brave enough to openly discuss raising bi-racial children in America today. I wanted to know what these uniquely beautiful young people were learning from the nosey lady at the supermarket and the ignorant person on line behind you at the DMV, from their invasive questions or comments. I wanted full disclosure on what it feels like for a white mom holding a black child in the waiting room of the doctor’s office today. I worried what a brown dad dropping off an Asian daughter in the school carpool lane was forced to explain. I also wondered what all these children were learning from the grandparent who did not approve of mom or dad when they were just a couple. I needed a clear picture of how a child is treated today by their fellow Americans – including Americans in their own family – because they are a mix of more than one race. Because what I really needed to know, is if I should bother bringing any more into the world.
These inquiries were no longer suitable for coffee talk. They required appointment times and tape recorders and explanations about what I was going to do with each family’s most ungracious and embarrassing behavior. From these discussions I also, accidentally pieced together some of the most epic love stories I have ever heard. From these inspiring tales, my children and this book were born.