VP-Elect Kamala Harris Has An Amazing Family Story You Need To Hear

by Elizabeth Broadbent
Originally Published: 
Kamala Harris/Instagram and Dimitrios Kambouris/Getty

A lot of politicians have great stories about a rise through poverty, or a scrabble for a good education, or hard work well done. A lot of politicians have stories about amazing family support. A lot of politicians can claim a hand up from supporters along the way. But none of them can match Vice President Elect Kamala Harris‘s story for sheer familial love.

Yeah, everyone loves their family. No one has the monopoly on familial love— none of us love our kids more than the next person. But not all of us go to the same lengths as our Vice President Elect. Not all of us have shown the same generosity of spirit. And not all of us have the gift of her upbringing.

In other words, here’s why our VP Elect Harris rocks, and we’re claiming her as a Scary Mommy.

VP Kamala Harris’s Family Story Begins With Her Parents

Both her mom and dad were immigrants from former British colonial powers who met at Berkeley during the height of the American Civil Rights movement (talk about an American tale!), says The New York Times. Shyamala Gopalan was a five-foot-nothing woman from India who often dressed in saris, and Donald Harris a Jamaican. They met at a talk on racism. Talk about a great American family story.

But the beginning of that great family story doesn’t stop there. Kamala’s mom gifted both her daughters with strong South Asian names. According to The List, “Kamala” means “lotus flower” and is another name for the Hindu goddess Lakshmi, the “goddess of prosperity, good luck, and beauty.” Her middle name, Devi, is Sanskrit for the Hindu mother goddess who “encompasses womanhood completely” and “is a nurturing force” who both creates and destroys whole worlds. Her mother told The Los Angeles Times, reports The List, that “A culture that worships goddesses produces strong women.”

It Keeps Going…

This great family story just keeps on going. When our VP Elect knew she wanted to marry her husband, Doug Emhoff, there were two “complications”… his two kids from a previous marriage, Cole and Ella. VP Elect Harris says in Elle that as a child of divorce, she was very aware of how fraught the first meeting could be. So she brought a tin of cookies wrapped in a ribbon to the seafood restaurant they’d planned for their first date.

But, she says, if she’d fallen in love with Doug, Cole and Ella “reeled me in.”

She’d never been a mom before. Cole was a senior in high school, he tells Glamour, and Ella only fifteen. Cole says, “I think for all of us, it was love at first sight… I got to know her first on a much more personal level—her music tastes, her cooking, how she interacts with Doug, which was hilarious… It was perfect.” But this family story doesn’t stop. The kids loved her. She loved the kids. And she and Doug married in 2015.

Even More, This Family Story Tosses The Word “Stepmother”

The kids didn’t like the word “stepmom.” Neither did VP Elect Harris. Not that there’s anything wrong with the word; it just wasn’t for them.

So, as she told Elle, they picked the name “Momala.” It’s flat-out perfect: Parents points out the Doug Emhoff, Cole, and Ella are all Jewish, and the name “mamaleh” is a Yiddish term for “little mother,” something kids often call their moms. Who knows if the kids had that in mind when they picked the name? For the sake of this blended family story: Black and South Asian and Jewish all rolled into one— man, we hope so.

And VP Elect Harris uses “Momala” all the time. Out of all the famous titles she’s earned— Parents names California U.S. senator, California attorney general, district attorney of San Francisco, and of course Vice-President Elect— she says her favorite title so far is “Momala.”

Okay, we just melted.

Nic Antaya/Getty

Getty Images

This Family Story Includes the Ex-Wife

Doug and ex-wife Kerstin divorced amicably, Marie-Claire says, and VP Elect Harris says that sometimes their “modern family is almost a little too functional.” Kerstin volunteered for Harris’s campaign. Harris calls her a “dear friend” and says they bonded at Ella’s swim meets, where they were both cheerleading in the stands.

In Elle, she calls Kerstin “an incredible mother.” Seriously, this family story is real. “Kerstin and I hit it off ourselves and are dear friends,” she says.

VP Elect Harris is living the epitome of the modern family story. It’s blended. It’s multi-racial. Everyone gets along. Someone needs to hand her a TV show that’s a mix of Modern Family and The West Wing. And it gets better: the day Biden knew he’d be elected president, he said the Harrises were now “part of the Biden family, there’s no getting around it.”


This modern family just got even more modern.

So here’s to Cole, and Ella, and Kerstin and Doug, and all the people surrounding our VP Elect who make up her family story. We here at Scary Mommy couldn’t be prouder of our Momala.

Vice President Elect Harris, welcome to the Scary Mommy family.

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