Politics

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Kamala Harris Is A Proud "Momala"

"My family means everything to me. I've had a lot of titles over my career ... but being Momala will always be the one that means the most."

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Before becoming our Vice President-elect, Sen. Kamala Harris has proven that she's knows a little something about rising to the challenge. As a politician and as a stepmom to two adult children. But of all the roles she has had in her life, it's clear that the kids in Kamala Harris’ life hold a very special place in her heart.

The former Attorney General has been married to husband Doug Emhoff since 2014. And when she married Emhoff, she became stepmother to his two children, 26-year-old son Cole and 21-year-old daughter Ella. Becoming a stepmother to two nearly grown children when you are heavily immersed in your own demanding and public career must have been overwhelming for Harris. But, as she wrote in a Mother's Day essay for ELLE, she took her time to find a way to make things work. As Harris explained in her essay, she was a child of divorce herself; Harris' parents divorced when she was just 7 and she and her sister were primarily raised by her mother.

As she gets ready for her historic move to the White House next year, here's what you need to know about the family the Vice President-elect adores.

She's A Proud "Momala"

Harris' own family history helped to better inform the way she dealt with her soon-to-be stepchildren. As she wrote for ELLE: “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.”

Cole and Ella have been calling Harris “Momala,” a name they chose themselves for years, according to Medium. They apparently didn’t like the term “stepmom,” and Momola has the dual advantage of rhyming with Kamala as well as being a Yiddish term for “little mama,” a nod to Emhoff’s Jewish heritage. It’s a term of endearment the stepmother has earned by taking some advice from a colleague. As she explained in that same ELLE essay, “It was Maggie Hassan, the senator from New Hampshire, who offered me some sage wisdom. ‘Our kids love us for who we are and the sacrifices we make,’ she said. ‘They get it.’”

She's Also An Inspiring Auntie

Harris’ stepkids aren’t the only ones she has been helping to raise and inspire; the future VP's niece Meena Harris recently penned an essay about her aunt’s influence for ELLE as well. The mother of two wrote of her aunt’s ambition and how it shaped the way she saw the world, writing, "As I've gotten older. I've come to realize that not everyone sees ambition the same way my family does. In the Harris household, ambition means courage. It means living your purpose. But to a whole lot of other people, ambition — women's ambition, that is — is code for taking up space that wasn't intended to be yours."

Meena Harris is herself a lawyer, children’s book author, and the founder of the Phenomenal Women Action Campaign. Clearly following in her aunt’s footsteps.

And She Loves Doting On Her Great Nieces

Another little member of the Harris clan with big plans to follow in the Vice President-elect’s footprints is Meena Harris’ 4-year-old daughter Amara. Just recently, Meena Harris captured her aunt on video having a deep chat with her little girl about what she wanted to do when she grew up. As Harris herself waited for the votes to come in to confirm she would indeed be the first woman of color to be elected Vice President, she sat with her great-niece on her lap while Amara told her “I could be president.” Harris explained she could be president, after she turned 35. Her response? “I could be astronaut president.”

Harris is a great aunt to Amara and Meena's youngest daughter. Harris is also a godmother to her friends' children.

Beyond her own family, Harris is inspiring countless others. But, even as she takes on her role as Vice President of the United States in January 2021, it's clear she will always prioritize her family. As she said in August at an event as President-elect Joe Biden announced she would be his running mate, "My family means everything to me. I've had a lot of titles over my career, and certainly vice president will be great, but being Momala will always be the one that means the most."

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