Thursday, October 12, 2006


You know, visibility is a funny thing. When you are in Wal-Mart and your child is having a fit, there are those who see you and those who don't. Those who don't generally just don't want to humiliate you further. They are what we call PC. Those who see you fall into one of two camps. Camp one are the sympathetic mothers who are generally just grateful that they aren't suffering the same dilemma. They come with a close lipped smile. Camp two are the self-righteous, generally judgmental group. I have an opinion about this group, but at risk of offending, I'll keep my stereotypes to myself. After all, I don't want to be accused of being in that camp in reverse, now do I?

So last weekend I was in the South. Again, don't want to stereotype, but just to be clear, in case you don't know, my family is multi-racial. In the South this can sometimes make for interesting interactions. Actually, I've had fewer and fewer of these interactions in the last six years. Those that I have had were not particularly ugly. I consider this a good thing. Mostly I pretend that I am invisible. Being as how I am invisible where I live, it is pretty easy for me.

(Actually, I'm sure I'm not invisible, but it is so rare that I get a pointed look or a comment, that I'm forget that I'm highly visible. I'll have to tell you about one of my very visible days here soon.)

So I walked in to my family reunion and my kids scattered to play with the cousins. I and Princess were standing at the porch fixing something (jacket zipper, I think) and an Aunt that I haven't seen since my family profile changed came up to me, hugged, talked, asked about my family, etc.. I don't remember saying anything offensive. (That doesn't mean I didn't. I do fail in this area.)

I believe we talked one other time during the day. I believe we had some sort of discussion that went something like,

Her: You only have the two, right?
Me: No, I have three. My eldest is running around here somewhere.

And then we all took family pictures so everyone could really figure out who all the kids belonged to.

So, day ends. Aunt circles through the nieces, hugging, saying her farewells. She gives pointed advice to my sister. I dreaded being next, because I expected similar advice. (I do have a growing number of children, after all.) Aunt darts out the space between my sister and I and goes around behind me to hug and farewell with some of the other Aunts. Aunt swings back into the circle of nieces and hugs the rest of them. Aunt darts out the hole between me and other niece and hops on her Harley and pulls out.


I actually pondered for a very few moments if I said anything to offend her. Couldn't think of a thing and shrugged. Put it out of my mind. Figured it was an oversight. Considering said Aunt and I never had a close relationship, it didn't really matter.

And then I awakened the next morning. Fretting. What did I do? She hugged people I'd never met before. Surely it wasn't that she just didn't feel comfortable hugging me because we weren't necessarily close. And it hit me. I stained the family. Heaven forbid we include melanin.

I became invisible. I no longer exist. (Between you and me, I barely registered on her radar long before any of this took place.)

Personally, I think our family is much more interesting for its composition. And I can't think of a better reason to be invisible. Much, much better than having the same child have a fit in Wal-Mart.

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