When Doug Emhoff and Kamala Harris married in 2014, the vice president-elect gained more than a husband — she gained two "brilliant, talented, funny" kids — Cole, now 26, and Ella, now 21 — from Doug's previous marriage with Kerstin Emhoff (née Mackin). Although Kamala's stepchildren keep a relatively low profile, they recently opened up about what their blended family is like in a New York Times interview. Ahead of Inauguration Day, we finally get to hear what life is like in the Harris-Emhoff house.
Cole said living in the public eye is surreal as Kamala gears up to become the first woman vice president, the first Black vice president, and the South Asian vice president. "It feels completely unprecedented for us because we haven't really been around politics our entire life," he admitted. "We're still kind of getting used to it." For Ella, the reality of their new reality really hit on Election Day, when her parents were surrounded by more people. "I think the idea of sharing our parents with the world is kind of insane," she explained. "Like, it's a really cool thing to wrap your head around — because you get to share all the great things — but it's also like, Huh?!"
Although Cole and Ella are still getting familiar with publicity at the forefront of the political world, they're used to living up to high expectations from their "Momala" and Doug. Their extended family is full of "the most confident, strong personality people, a lot of them being women," Ella said, which means they've been exposed to "different, really strong opinions." And with two lawyers as parents, there's little room for small talk; Kamala and Doug want to get down to business.
"I was a senior when they got together, and I remember I saw a tweet that someone did," Cole said. "It was a photo of Kamala at the Kavanaugh hearing, and someone tweeted, like, 'I'd hate to have to look at that face and explain why I'm late for curfew.' And I was thinking, 'I've literally had to do that.'"
Even though Kamala and Doug come off as "strong" parents, Cole and Ella know they just want the kids to be "intentional" and "have a plan." As a couple, the parents are actually "vomit-inducingly cute and coupley," according to Cole — so much so, that Cole and Ella wonder if Kamala and Doug are stuck in an eternal honeymoon phase. Life has surely changed since Kamala joined their crew (Cole admitted she definitely improved Doug's cooking skills), but they're grateful for their blended family and the changes that have "brought [them] closer," Cole said. Ella put it perfectly when she said, "I think it is a good model to show that you can have this [dynamic] and this isn't weird."