Why Kamala Harris is the ‘momala’ of her blended American family

Published November 9, 2020, 2:17 PM

by Paola Navarette

She might be known as the Democratic vice president of the United States, but to her step kids, Kamala Harris is “momala”

Image courtesy of Kamala Harris/Instagram

Kamala Harris, who on Saturday became America’s first female, first black, and South Asian vice president-elect, represents a new face of political power.

A lawyer and former attorney general of California, she’s become even more of a household name this year. Her love story with her husband of six years, Douglas Emhoff, however, is one of our favorite aspects of her bio. 

Harris herself didn’t have children before marrying Emhoff, but after they met, she became a stepmom to two kids, Cole and Ella. Here are some things we found out about the relationship between Harris and the children.

Harris was careful about meeting the children

In a 2019 Elle Magazine essay, written just a few months after announcing her bid, Harris shared when she and Emhoff met, they decided to take time before she met the kids.

“I was determined not to insert myself in their lives until Doug and I had established we were in this for the long haul,” she wrote. “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.” 

She is stepmom—or “Momala”—to her husband’s two children

But after a long wait to meet one another, her now step-kids, both of whom are now in their early twenties, could not have been more welcoming.

“They are brilliant, talented, and funny kids who have grown to be remarkable adults,” she said. “I was already hooked on Doug, but I believe it was Cole and Ella who reeled me in.” 

When Harris and Emhoff got married, she had a conversation with the kids about the best way to refer to her. “Cole, Ella, and I agreed we didn’t like the term ‘stepmom,’” she shared. “Instead, they came up with the name ‘Momala.’”

Ella paid tribute to her Momala in August this year

During Harris’ acceptance of the vice presidential nomination at the Democratic National Convention, Ella praised her Momala. “To my brother and me, you’ll always be Momala, the world’s greatest stepmom,” she said. “You’re a rock, not just for our dad, but for three generations of our big, blended family.”