Daily Archives: June 20, 2010

Place in my heart

With thanks to Frume Sarah’s awesome hosting of the Haveil Haveilim this week I stumbled on another blog, and read a blog post that resonated really well with me.

Please read what Ima2Seven wrote:

“You have seven kids? Wow! That’s a lot… I only see six. ….Oh? He’s your stepson… so he lives with you? …………….No? Oh, so you have six kids of your own………..”

“You have seven kids?! What’s the age range? …………………Oh, so one is your stepson. So you really have six kids, then.”

I cannot tell you how many times I have heard comments like these, or countless variations on them.  Almost all of them are conversation with well meaning, kind, good people. I am certain that if they knew how hurtful and upsetting these comments are, they wouldn’t dream of saying such things.

I am an “Ima” to seven children. The first, my stepson, who I love and who yes, does not live with me, chose the name of this blog. So, yes, I am an “Ima” to seven children.  My relationship with my stepson is different than my relationship with the other six of my children. My relationship with each of my children is different. I have one child who has another parent, another house, another way of doing things. It is different. Not less, not more. Different.

I could write a long post about the credentials that give me the “right” to say that I have seven children, although I did, yes, give birth to six, and I do, yes, have six children living in my house. I could regale you with tales of cleaning up vomit, wiping tushies, midnight peepee accidents, holding hands during scary stuff, scheduling and logistical gymnastics, school meetings, laundry, flexibility on every tiny detail of life, etc. I could talk about tailoring meals, trying to build character, discipline and learning from as well as teaching to this child. I could, in short, tell you the story of 11 years of parenting.

I could tell you that I would jump in front of a bus to save seven children without a moment’s thought. I could tell you that stepparenting can take more time, more energy, more patience than parenting a biological child living in your home.

I could also write about how adopted children are “counted” by strangers as our children. Children who go to boarding school are “counted”. Neither womb dwelling nor number of days living in one’s house each year constitute parenting.

There are women with children who have addiction problems (G-d forbid) that they are not in touch with, or barely see. There are women who don’t even have a speaking relationship with their children. And I seriously doubt that someone they just met would suggest to them that they need to edit or clarify the number of children they “actually” have.

But I don’t think any of that really gets to the point. The bottom line is that when I say I have seven children, I have seven children…..because if you could shrink yourself and get teeny tiny and crawl inside of my heart, you would find special little spaces that have grown in it. Spaces that weren’t there before, spaces that have caused me growth and pain and joy and  limitless capacity for love.

And there are seven of those spaces.

The next time you meet a mom and she tells you the number of children she has, and she mentions that one/some of them are stepchildren, I hope you don’t qualify her numbers for her.  I hope you don’t ask if they live with her. I hope you smile.

I really cannot presume to know how much this does or does not bother all other stepmoms. I also cannot, however, believe that it is just me.

I could not have put it better myself, Ima2Seven. The truest part of this whole piece that you wrote was this “The bottom line is that when I say I have seven children, I have seven children…..because if you could shrink yourself and get teeny tiny and crawl inside of my heart, you would find special little spaces that have grown in it. Spaces that weren’t there before, spaces that have caused me growth and pain and joy and  limitless capacity for love”. Kol Hakavod Lach!!

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Spending time with a friend

The following is a letter from a reader, the subject – a friend’s weight loss and the reader’s difficulty in spending time with her since the weight loss. Our reader wonders why she is having this trouble hanging out with her friend.

Dear Mama H,

Recently a close friend of mine lost a lot of weight and looks great. She’s not an overly gorgeous girl, but definitely looks better now. Plus her newfound confidence shines out of her.

I haven’t really seen her lately due to our schedules – ok, let’s be honest – I admit I have made up excuses not to see her or hang out because of her recent weight loss.

I’ve been struggling with my weight for a very long time, most of it genetic and nothing I can really do other than be as careful and healthy as I can. I eat right and I work out. I do what I can.

However this is something I know she feels amazing about, and for some reason we’ve always had a bit of a competition- but mentally, nothing that is really publicly known or acknowledged between us or anyone else.

I’m not jealous of her loss, however until I lose a little, and until I feel even better about myself and my looks, which is something I’m working on at the moment, I don’t want to really hang out with her alone or in a group.

We also have had a lot of drama over the years during our friendship. However I’m curious if me not wanting to see her in person and spend time with her due to her weight loss was something I am being weird and crazy about or if it’s just a woman thing.

Please advise.

So readers, what do you think? Does the reader’s reluctance to spend time with her friend make sense to you? Is she jealous, even though she says she isn’t? Can you identify with the way she is feeling? If her own self-image was better, would she be able to just be happy for her friend?

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Happy Father’s Day

In honor of Father’s Day, I share the link to what I posted two years ago. Lessons of the fathers.

Last year I posted For the KoD on Father’s Day.

Happy Father’s Day to all you men out there who step up to plate time and time again to do what’s right, and to be awesome role models for your children.

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