This Mother’s Day, I’m taking a moment to reflect on becoming “Momala.”
I have had a lot of roles in my life, but the one I’m most proud of is being a stepmother to Cole and Ella.
You can read my note below on our family and being Momala. But first, I want to wish everyone a happy and restful Mother’s Day.
Thanks for all that you do.
— Kamala Harris
“Sen. Kamala Harris on Being ‘Momala’”
Elle Magazine, May 10, 2019
When I met Doug, the man who would become my husband, I also met a man who was a divorced father of two children, Cole and Ella, named after John Coltrane and Ella Fitzgerald. As a child of divorce, I knew how hard it could be when your parents start to date other people. And I was determined not to insert myself in their lives until Doug and I had established we were in this for the long haul. Children need consistency; I didn’t want to insert myself into their lives as a temporary fixture because I didn’t want to disappoint them. There’s nothing worse than disappointing a child.
So, we took it slow, and Doug and I put a lot of thought into when and how I would first meet the kids. And that meant waiting. As we waited, anticipation grew. When the day finally came, I had butterflies in my stomach. The plan was to go to a seafood hut off the Pacific Coast Highway called the Reel Inn, a favorite of the kids.
On my way to meet Doug, I picked up a tin of cookies and tied a ribbon in a bow around them. I took a few deep breaths. I was excited, and I was nervous. I rehearsed what I would say. Would the kids think the cookies were really nice or really weird? Was the ribbon too much? (The ribbon was probably a little extra, but over the years Cole and Ella have spared me by not telling me that.)
Cole and Ella could not have been more welcoming. They are brilliant, talented, funny kids who have grown to be remarkable adults. I was already hooked on Doug, but I believe it was Cole and Ella who reeled me in.
To know Cole and Ella is to know that their mother Kerstin is an incredible mother. Kerstin and I hit it off ourselves and are dear friends. She and I became a duo of cheerleaders in the bleachers at Ella’s swim meets and basketball games, often to Ella’s embarrassment. We sometimes joke that our modern family is almost a little too functional.
A few years later when Doug and I got married, Cole, Ella, and I agreed that we didn’t like the term “stepmom.” Instead they came up with the name “Momala.”
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