“Are they all…yours?”

21 Jul

One of these things is not like the other...

Since the day we became a couple, we’ve always gotten looks when we’re out with all of our kids.  We each came to the relationship with two: I have a son (15) and a daughter (8), he has 2 daughters (9 and 7).  Two years ago we added yet another girl to the mix.  We are a motley, mostly estrogen-driven crew of seven.  Some passers-by will look at us with pity while others smile knowingly about the joys of fairly large family. If you look at the kids, it’s obvious that we’re a blended family.   

Recently, in a guest post Café Smom, a BioMom listed her expectations on just how a stepmother should behave.  One of those expectations was the following:  “I am their mother. Don’t ever try and take my place! Be there for them but know your role and never introduce them as YOUR kids!” (emphasis added)

I take issue with the last part of that statement. 

I am well aware that I did not give birth to my stepdaughters and if you didn’t know us, it would be obvious by looking at us.  To the casual observer we either have two of my daughter’s friends tagging along, I’ve adopted two children or I’m their stepmother.  They look nothing like me, nor could they pass for being mine, but if someone asks me or DH “Are they all yours?”  We will both most certainly say “Yes!” 

In my opinion, saying something like, “Well, these three are mine, but these two, well, they’re my stepchildren,” does nothing for blending the family. Suddenly I can hear the old Sesame Street song “One of These Things is Not Like the Other” playing in the background.  That’s not the way I want any of the kids to feel.  I want my stepdaughters to feel like they belong even though we only see them every other weekend and I want them to know that we are a family even though their dad and I are not legally married (see “Unmarrieds: What do you call each other?”).

Oddly enough, in the midst of writing this post, I was at Costco with my two daughters and my best friend’s three daughters who were visiting for the weekend.  An older couple came up to me and said, “I just want you to know that you have a very beautiful and very well-behaved family.”  I loved that they assumed they were all mine and replied with “Two are mine and three are my best friend’s daughters.  I’ll let their mother know what a nice compliment you gave them.”  That made me think: should I be saying that about my stepdaughters?

I’d love to hear from EOW stepmoms who have been in the trenches five years or less:  how do you introduce your stepchildren?  Do you introduce them as yours or do you point out who belongs to which parent?  Do your stepchildren mind if you introduce them as yours?    

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11 Responses to ““Are they all…yours?””

  1. BNSM July 22, 2010 at 7:02 am #

    I always introduce them as my stepkids… I’ve been their stepmom for a little over a year now, and the older ones are quite obviously too old to be mine. The other day somebody asked me if I was the mom of those beautiful kids – I smiled and said stepmom – they have a good looking father! 🙂 Sometimes people will call me their mom, and depending on the situation, sometimes it’s easier to not say anything. But if I am directly asked I always state I’m their stepmom. Who knows, maybe a few years from now when things have been in place for awhile I may feel more comfortable saying otherwise 🙂

  2. Shauna July 22, 2010 at 8:55 am #

    I have one SD (3) and depending on the situation, depends on what I refer to her as. I usually refer to her as “ours” if we are together or “my little one” only because it is so much easier. If I am directly asked if she is my daugher, then I explain that she is my step-daughter. However, having to go out of my way to explain things seems so unecessary unless I am specifically asked. Also, SD does not see her Mother regularly. Sometimes it is tough though, because people refer to me as her “Mommy” when we are in public and I can tell that she is confused. So its tough trying to explain to a three year old that sometimes people think I am her Mommy even when I am not. However, it seems unrealistic to have the whole step-daughter conversation with a complete stranger when they are only trying to compliment “my” child.

    • BioStep July 22, 2010 at 9:45 am #

      “However, it seems unrealistic to have the whole step-daughter conversation with a complete stranger when they are only trying to compliment “my” child.”

      That’s exactly my point! There are BMs that would prefer that SMs never “lay claim” to THEIR child. But it seems ridiculous to have to explain it to someone you may never see again. I suppose you could, but then you’re treading into TMI territory. I mean, does anyone really want to hear your whole story when they’re just trying to give your stepchild a compliment? Probably not.

  3. Stepmom Central July 22, 2010 at 9:10 am #

    I also take issue with that biomoms expectations. I am a custodial stepmom thats has her step children 99% of the time and biomom as well.I always introduce them as, “These are my kids.” and name their names. If I get funny looks because they are blonde and redhead and I am brunette and of course I don’t look old enough to have them, I say after the questions or the funny looks, “These are my stepdaughters but my kids by choice or something to that effect.” So that my stepdaughters feelings are not hurt. They call me their mom when people ask them who their mom is and do the same thing, explain after the funny looks, they will say, “She’s my stepmom not my biological mom”. We are a family. Stepchildren want to feel accepted just as bio-kids do. My husband takes no issue with what I say, the BM gets bitchy, but than again that is a normal occurrence. Anything that I say or do, gets her upset so I stopped worrying about it a long time ago and just learned to be me!

    • BioStep July 22, 2010 at 9:52 am #

      I think that as a custodial stepmom, it would feel less awkward to introduce your stepchildren as yours than it does for EOW stepmoms. But I’m with you, regardless of custody arrangements, you are still a family.

      My two older kids could pass for DH’s (the daughter that DH and I have together look more like my two older kids than his kids). On the other hand, even a blind person could tell that my stepdaughters aren’t mine. We usually only explain when people say “Wow! You have FIVE kids??” I usually say, “We’re a mine, yours and ours family.”

  4. Victoria Starr Allen, aka Twink, T; ) July 22, 2010 at 1:56 pm #

    They are all mine! I have four adopted children and one birthed child. Many times people cannot correctly guess the birthed child. I frequently have neices, nephews or friends along with my five kids. Yep, they are still ALL MINE! Some I gave birth to, some I didn’t, some I’ve got on loan for awhile from my sisters or friends. People are curious and will boldly ask…”Are they all yours?” Large families turn heads. Well-behaved children in large quantity turn heads. It takes parenting, training, committment, LOVE in abundance to make any family run well.

    • BioStep July 22, 2010 at 3:05 pm #

      Twink, thanks for your comments. I love having the perspective of an adoptive mom on here as well. Honestly, I can’t remember which one of your kids you gave birth to. 🙂 You and I were raised with a similar “village-style” family where the lines of adoption, step, cousins, sisters, brothers are all blurred and it’s just a family.

      “It takes parenting, training, committment, LOVE in abundance to make any family run well.” I LOVE THIS!! Thanks for reminding us all of the basics. XXOO

  5. Victoria Starr Allen, aka Twink, T; ) July 22, 2010 at 2:12 pm #

    If I were a step mom it would take a LOT of personal growth to allow some other woman to call my children hers, especially in my presence. It wouldn’t be easy. I haven’t been there. I don’t know if I can have a valid comment. I am however an adoptive mom. I’m not sure how I would deal with a bio mom calling the child I raised as “hers”. Hmmm…I seem to be able to call children mine easily but allowing someone else to call my children theirs seems to be more difficult depending on who they are.

    • BioStep July 22, 2010 at 2:59 pm #

      As biomoms, we all have a tendency to get territorial and I think that’s perfectly natural. But when you’re out in big group with your kids and your nieces and nephews, it’s easier to claim them all as “yours” right? And there would be “no harm, no foul” as far as your sisters were concerned. Many times, that’s the situation when stepmoms (who are also biomoms) are out with their blended broods. There are very few people who want to hear anyone’s entire relationship history and figure out who sits on what bench—saying “yes, they’re all mine” is just easier (and much more loving, in my opinion).

      Many biomoms, including non-custodial ones who haven’t raised their children, take issue with that. The protocol is different for each family, so it’s great to hear many points of view.

  6. MJ July 23, 2010 at 2:48 pm #

    I introduce them as my husband’s children

  7. Sara Huizenga December 2, 2012 at 12:41 pm #

    Things would all be so much easier if parents were able to truly put their kids needs above their own wants – if it’s between making my stepkids not feel less than and through the grapevine setting of their mom by doing so – I choose the children.

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