Sage Steele’s Blog: No, I’m Not the Nanny

I’m pretty sure I’m the luckiest girl in the world. Healthy, happily married, mother of three crazy awesome kids, and blessed enough to have achieved my very specific childhood dream of being a broadcaster for “The Worldwide Leader in Sports,” ESPN!

But as you may have guessed, being a mom is the most important thing to me in the world. Hands down, my proudest accomplishment.

My kids are now ages 13, 11 and 9 — two vibrant, strong-willed girls with my sweet, snake-loving boy stuck in the middle. Yes, someday I’m convinced he will make a fabulous husband.

Over the last 13 years of mommyhood, I have learned so many priceless lessons, but at the top of that list is my ability to handle uncomfortable situations with grace.

Unfortunately, the most common uncomfortable situation involves race. As a proud product of a biracial marriage myself (my mother is Irish/Italian and my father is African-American), I have always felt the stares — from people of both races.

But I now know that one tends to feel the stares a bit more when YOU’RE the parent trying to protect your children from our big, ugly world.

I’ll never forget my first outing after giving birth to baby #1 … Nervous, yet overwhelmingly proud, is the best way to describe how I felt carrying her on my chest!

But when two middle-aged women approached me and asked if I was the NANNY, it turned that special outing into an unforgettable moment.

Now, full disclosure, all three of my children have VERY light complexions. Along with being half white myself, my husband is 100 percent Caucasian, so if you do the math, they’re only “a quarter dark” as I like to joke. They also have bone-straight hair that refuses to hold a curl — crazy considering my naturally curly hair is … CURLY! (By the way, for all of my curly-haired friends out there, trust me when I say Mixed Chicks products have been life-changing!)

However, for someone to blatantly stereotype me — on so many different levels — just because my kids don’t look like me, and then choose to verbalize it, is proof that prejudice and stereotypes will always remain.

The words spoken by those women devastated me on that June day in 2002, and rendered me speechless and teary-eyed.

But in the dozen or so times that I have been asked that question since, my go-to response is quite simple: “Am I the NANNY? Nope. I actually carried her for 9 months and pushed her out myself!”

You should see the looks on their faces after that!

So, as much as my natural instinct is to lash out with some choice words, I have found that I tend to feel much better afterwards by subtly, gracefully putting clueless people in their place, while hopefully setting a good example for my children.

— Sage Steele