Kamala Harris is proving herself to be a formidable politician at the moment. Despite being slightly newer to the game than heavy hitting presidential hopefuls like former Vice President Joe Biden and Sen. Bernie Sanders, the California senator is making her voice heard throughout the country. Because here's the thing; Kamala Harris has been working her whole life to prove herself to be the kind of person who not only rises to the challenge, but keeps on showing up. Keeps on rising. Some might think this is training she learned as a mother, but those people wondering how many kids Kamala Harris has might be surprised... she is a proud stepmother to two children, and so she understands a little something about proving herself trustworthy to people.
The former Attorney General and senator from California has been married to husband Doug Emhoff since 2014. When she married Emhoff she became stepmother to his two children, son Cole Emhoff (who graduated from college in 2017) and daughter Ella (a senior in high school, according to Heavy).
Becoming a stepmother to two nearly grown children when you are heavily immersed in your own career as a civil rights activist 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. This history helped to better inform the way she dealt with her soon-to-be stepchildren. As she wrote in 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.
Once Harris met the children, she wrote that she felt it was "Cole and Ella who reeled her in" to her marriage to Emhoff. "They are brilliant, talented, funny kids who have grown to be remarkable adults." Harris also credits their mother with their upbringing, noting that "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."
Harris also wrote about the difficult decision to spend less time with her stepchildren, who call her "Momola" instead of stepmom which is honestly brilliant, to move forward with her presidential campaign. She admitted she agonized over the decision, but got some wonderful advice from a colleague on the subject, Sen. Maggie Hassan, according to HuffPost.
Kamala Harris might not be Cole and Ella's biological mother, but she sure makes one heck of a Momola. She earned their trust by taking things slow, she's been consistently supportive of them, and she's also teaching them that ambition is not a dirty word.