The Bennus Family
Courtesy of the Bennus Family
Jamyla: We met 13 years ago on a street corner in New York. The next day we saw each other again in Brooklyn Heights. I was on roller blades...

Pierre: ...and I was sitting on a bench, writing in my journal. As she passed by, we gave each other the "Wait, aren't you—?" look. She sat down, and we talked for hours.

Jamyla: Six months later we moved in together.

Pierre: And within another five months we were married.

Jamyla: I was 23, Pierre was 25. If I met a young couple like us today, I'd say, "Aww, look at them, so in love." But I'd also think, "What are you kids doing?!"

Pierre: We were young. But we waited ten years before we had kids. We gave ourselves time to be selfish.

Jamyla: It wasn't selfish. There's a certain amount of ego in having a kid, wanting to procreate and—

Pierre: Create somebody who looks like you—

Jamyla: And who will eat up more resources on the planet. I was a child-free adult for a decade and didn't consider myself selfish for being so. Now we're adjusting to having two kids—one of whom is a baby who needs to be held constantly. That's fun and cuddly when he's 8 weeks old. But now it's like, "I've got to get back to work!"

Pierre: And we recently learned that our older son has a speech delay, which was tough at first. There's no way to not feel like you broke your child.

Jamyla: We've had to step back and say, "Okay, he's fine. He's learning at a different pace, but he is learning." Not that we don't have our moments of impatience. I'll say to Pierre, "I tried to explain this sentence and he didn't get it, and now he's crying, and I just want an amaretto sour." But those are always the days when Pierre has a story of triumph, like "Today Osei drew a truck and wrote TRUCK! Go look at it while you have your amaretto sour—it'll make you feel better." So I do, and it does.

Pierre: Sometimes our friends roll their eyes at us: "You can't possibly have been together for 13 years and still be this happy...."

Jamyla: Or they look at us and say, "I want that!" Our response is "Don't want this—want yours."

Pierre: This here is tailor-made.

Jamyla: It's couture, baby! It ain't off the rack.

Pierre: I used to be on the down-low with my joy, keeping my happiness in the closet. But J taught me not to be ashamed of it.

Jamyla: It's more socially acceptable to complain—about your weight, your hair, your relationship, your kids. But if someone says our family is awesome, I'm not going to downplay what we have. Why disparage it? A happy, intact black family isn't an image we get to see all the time in romantic comedies or sitcoms or commercials or on billboards. Saying, "Hell, yeah, it's friggin' awesome!" is how we give thanks for the blessing.

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