I’m cranky these days. Must be the steroids that I am taking that are not doing diddly squat for this back pain. But people, some people, lately are really ticking me off.
I am always trying to figure out the best way to introduce myself, especially in an environment where being a mom is respected and applauded. Most people don’t really want to hear more than a short sound bite, so I generally say – I am a mom, my husband and I have seven kids. (It’s true. I have 4, he has 3, together that is seven). When asked the age range, I give it – 8-15. Yes, sometimes people look at me and wonder, but 9 times out of ten, they just wish me luck and we move on.
I am not interested in telling everyone my life story. That’s why I have a blog! But recently I was talking with a new acquaintance and she asked me if there were any multiples amongst this gigantic group of children that we have. I said no, in fact we are a blended family. There was a distinct change in attitude from the person I was conversing with. Oh well, it isn’t so amazing then that you have seven kids. Three of them aren’t even yours.
Them’s fighting words!! Life would probably be much easier if they were all “mine”. The blended family dynamic, especially when there are other parents involved and other homes where children live some of the time, is much much harder than the biological family dynamic. Just because they are not “mine” biologically doesn’t mean they are not “mine” emotionally. I love the KoD’s kids so very much – they are a part of him, how could I not? They are part of our family, just like mine are. I have a place in my heart for each and every one of our children. Whether they were born of my womb or not, they are OUR children…
Look, I don’t need kudos or awards or anything like that, I love being a mom and a step-mom and that’s reward enough for me. But don’t dismiss my mothering as “less than” because I only birthed four of the seven of our offspring. I am sure this person would not have dreamed of saying something similar to an adoptive parent – that would just be wrong, correct?
I dunno, it just sticks in my craw. Pass the grumpitol….
I remember the weekend after my ex remarried. The kids had spent Shabbat with him and his new wife and her kids. They came home, and we sat together talking. The little one, who was five at the time, said to me, “I am so lucky, I have two mommies now”. I understood his sentiment, and was glad that his new stepmom was someone he liked, but boy did it hurt to hear him say that. It felt like a knife in my heart, even though he totally had not intended it that way. I couldn’t stop the tears from welling up in my eyes, even though I tried to smile through them. I had to leave the table to get busy with something so I wouldn’t break down.
Squiggy, who was all of ten then, decided to take his youngest brother to task. He reminded him, none too gently, “THIS is your mother, Ima is the one that carried you in her belly for nine months, this is the woman that gave birth to you, this is the woman that has raised you. Don’t you dare forget that!!!” So many emotions coursed through my mind at that moment. Pride in Squiggy that he defended my honour, so to speak. But I felt bad for the little ChatterBox – his intent was not to hurt me. He was just telling me he was happy – what more does a mother want for her child?
Once I had regained control of myself – it was a rough time emotionally as I am sure you can understand – I sat down with the both of them. I explained to the older one that he doesn’t have to choose sides or show more loyalty or anything like that. He can like his step mom without it hurting me. I explained to the little one that I am glad that he likes her and she is nice to him, because that’s very important. I explained to all the kids that there is no choosing one over the other. They live with me, they know who their mother is, but that does not mean there is no space in their lives to like or love their step mom. She is now a part of their family, and as such they have to at least respect her and treat her right. It was tough to explain to small children, who have a fierce love for their mother, that liking their step mom doesn’t discredit me in any way, shape or form.
In the years since then, the kids have learned a balance that has stood them in good stead. They adore the KoD, their step dad, and are not conflicted about loyalties. They understand that they can love him AND their own father at the same time. My children are so fortunate in having so many people to love and who love them. At the end of the day, they know who has raised them, they know from whom they learned their values and principles. But I also know that each of us who spend time with the children have had a hand in forming them into who they are, whether it’s a big hand or a small one, we have all contributed.
Posted in Blending Families, divorce, family, how to be a good ex spouse, kids, marriage
Tagged blending families, divorce, loyalty, remarriage, step father, step mother, step parenting