California Senator Kamala Harris is having a bit of a moment. This week, she was named as Joe Biden’s vice-presidential nominee, making her the first Black woman and the first South Asian woman to be nominated for the post.
While Kamala has definitely demonstrated that she loves her job and that she’s dedicated to working for and with people, there’s another role she also loves: that of stepmom. Her husband, Doug Emhoff, has two children, Cole and Ella.
Last year, Kamala wrote a moving essay about what it was like to meet her stepchildren and how the blended family worked together to strengthen their bonds.
Kamala said that her own experience with her parents’ divorce weighed heavily on how she approached Doug’s kids.
“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.”
She said that they decided to take things slowly. That approach definitely works for some parents, and it seems to have been a good choice for Kamala and Doug:
“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.”
Kamala said she was nervous, and she even bought a surprise for 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?”
Luckily, her future stepkids were totally onboard with meeting her:
“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.”
Kamala also knows that Cole and Ella’s mom is a huge part of the reason why her stepchildren are so exceptional:
“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.”
Ella and Cole love Kamala so much that they even came up with their own name for her. Now the two refer to her as “Momala.”
The family has even established their own traditions:
“Our time as a family is Sunday dinner. We come together, all of us around the table, and over time we’ve fallen into our roles. Cole sets the table and picks the music, Ella makes beautiful desserts, Doug acts as my sous-chef, and I cook.”
Kamala’s high-level job as a senator has meant that she has missed out on some parts of her stepchildren’s lives. She had to miss Ella’s high school graduation when it was scheduled for the same day that FBI Director James Comey testified before the Senate Intelligence Committee.
“I agonized over the scheduling conflict and ultimately took a deep breath and called Ella from D.C. She could not have been more understanding when I told her I wouldn’t be able to make it back in time, but I still felt awful about it.”
Her job has also meant that she definitely relates to a struggle many working moms have faced: finding balance between your work and your family. “I believe you don’t have to be a U.S. Senator or a candidate for President of the United States for that to ring true. Time is precious, and so many of us understand the struggle to seek balance.”
Happily, Kamala did make it home in time to celebrate Ella at a family dinner that same night.
“They are my endless source of love and pure joy. I am so thankful to Doug, to Kerstin, and most of all, to Ella and Cole.”
Kamala’s husband, Doug, is a lawyer and “represents large domestic and international corporations and some of today’s highest-profile individuals and influencers in complex business, real estate and intellectual property litigation disputes.”
He’s also pretty excited about potential future jobs he might have.
Kamala and Doug met on a blind date and ended up getting married only a year later at the Santa Barbara courthouse. Doug seems to really love posting about Kamala; he has a pretty active presence on Twitter and spends a lot of his time doing exactly that. In fact, his bio reads: “dad, @kamalaharris hubby, lawyer, wannabe golfer, advocate for justice and equality.”