Blended Family Rant

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….

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46 Comments

  1. shualah elisheva says:

    the grumpiness is completely legitimate. instead of being lauded [which you ought to be] for mothering children to whom you didn’t give birth, you’re somehow being diminished.

    ridiculous value system. would you get major kudos if you gave birth to 7 children but treated them with less.than.motherly.affection?

    i’d say brush it off, but i know it’s difficult. just keep in mind that it’s probably a reflection of the speaker’s priorities and values, and has nothing to do with how fabulous an ima you are.

  2. Judit says:

    well, in terms of KoD’s kids you are indeed sort of an adoptive parent. And you are right, such thing to say is rude. not even because of the content — although that is rude, too — but because your life — unless you choose to share it — is nobody else’s business.

    raising 7 kids, yours or not, i think is amazing. period. don’t believe anyone who says otherwise. moreover, in my view the definition of motherhood does NOT have anything to do with one’s uterus. it has to do with one’s heart, mind and soul. and from this perspective you are KoD’s kids’ mom. period.

    i feel sorry for the person who said this to you, because they don’t seem to know much about love. or motherhood.

    i sometimes am asked WHY i don’t have children — with a tone that implies at my age i’d better hurry or be ashamed for not having any — and by now i learned to say “because i don’t want to” — which is absolutely not true but makes it easier to avoid further interrogation by almost strangers …

  3. mekubal says:

    Personally I think mohering(or parenting in general) but especially mothering children that are not biologically yours deserves higher praise. Your own children you love, if for no other reason, because of a massive hormone dump when you birthed them. You didn’t really have a choice in how you feel, it was pretty much chemically predetermined.

    However in a blended family that choice does exist, and thus to make that decision shows quality of character.

  4. Paula Gray says:

    Do NOT get me started!! Ugh! I know exactly how you feel, so Im afraid its not your roids on this one… Especially with our 2 youngest being only 2 months apart, the kind people just smile and most assume they are twins. But yes we get that look at time, “Oh you’re that kind of family..” And Jody has full custody of his son so we have 4 kids all the time. I will tell you like Jody told me…. there are some mothers who dotn give birth to them that mean more, care more, and have more influence, than the birth mothers who have hurt(either physically or emotionally). Melted my heart, but the first thing Jodys son said when he found out we were to be wed was, “Yeah she can really be my momma now!” Mind you we have had the discussion that we will never replace the other absent parent for any of the kids… But after being the one in his daily like for nearly 3 years now, Its nice hearing that…

  5. sheldan says:

    Unfortunately, people can be so insensitive these days. I suppose if we changed the topic, people would say things that are equally insensitive.

    So apparently people can’t seem to accept any family arrangement that’s out of the ordinary. That is their problem. Keep on being the mother of 7 and hold your head high!

  6. I think how you do it is VERY appropriate and will benefit your step children TREMENDOUSLY in the future. I speak as one of those stepchildren. My parents never told anyone I was not of their union. HIS family would bring it up at family reunions and I wanted to crawl under a rock. Even today I am HIGHLY embarassed by it. I want to belong, be a part. I don’t have a relationship with my DNA donor so I don’t know if I’d feel differently if I did but I doubt it. My half sister, a distinction I have never ever used when talking about her, is currently mudraking and letting me know I am “other” – that I am not as good as she is because I don’t share the same father. It’s devastating to me. My dad? He says I am as much his as she is. That makes me feel a lot better but it still bothers me and probably always will. I applaud you.

  7. Annon says:

    I think if you share almost all details of your life online, then people have the right to question. Once you put out the information you put out over the years its fair game. If you dont like the questions or negative attention you get then perhaps its time to switch focus.

    • shualah elisheva says:

      this isn’t a complaint about people’s knowledge of her blended family – it’s a justifiable rant about the change in attitude she witnesses when people realize that her family is not composed entirely of her “biological children.”

      nu, perhaps it’s time for you to switch focus from trolling and hate.motivated commenting to logical, coherent, constructive responses. just a thought.

    • mekubal says:

      Hi Shoshi. Nice to see you can go after someone else for a change.

      To everyone else. Please don’t feed the trolls.

      • Judit says:

        well, technically Annon has a valid point. if we put our lives in front of the public there will be negative feedbacks, too. like his. i don’t think negative comments should be despised or ignored.

        • mrsmelissasg says:

          That wasn’t the point of the post though. She states in the post that she doesn’t like telling her story, meaning vocally, as she says immediately there after that it is why she has a blog. Hadassah isn’t commenting about people judging what she writes here at all, she is commenting about feeling judged for loving her step-children.

          • Judit says:

            That is true. However I didn’t say it was he point of the post, I just said that the comment DID have a valid point. I did not even say if I considered it positive or negative. Or if it was related to what HSM posted about.

            “Hadassah isn’t commenting about people judging what she writes here at all, she is commenting about feeling judged for loving her step-children.” — yes, I know, I read the post, but thank you for the insight :-) But telling people her story — written or verbal — IS indeed sharing it with (certain) public. And if so, there will indeed be people judging. I don’t agree with them, but that doesn’t change the facts.

            I am just saying that not everything that’s not a compliment is an offense and that negative reactions are as legitimate as positive ones. Even if we don’t agree with them.

  8. Ariela says:

    As a mother and as someone who has a mother I am HORRIFIED at the thought of someone claiming motherhood just because she married a child’s father. Sorry, KOD’s kids have a mother – and you are not it. You may be a step-mother, but definitely not a mother.
    I should not judge you, because I am not in a similar situation: I am happily married and actually am the mother of all my children. However, the thought of someone else ever thinking she had the right to call herself the mother of my children is frightening.
    You may love KOD’s kids, but you know them how long? In that time period, how many days have you spent with them?
    Teaching them table manners does not make you their mother.

    • KoD says:

      Ariela,
      You obviously missed the point of this post and its intent. And, your statement that you are ” horrified” is stunningly absurd. Did you not read the last paragraph? Why is it that you never miss an opportunity to attack my wife. I can’t help but think that your motives are less than honorable.

    • shualah elisheva says:

      teaching them table manners may not make hadassah their biological mother, but she’s certainly doing a better job with her positive, cheery attitude than someone such as yourself.

      i have a mother, too, so if that makes you qualified to pass judgment, then i suppose i can also, and i wish all of my friends who come from blended families had such a positive experience and positive step.mothering as hadassah provides.

      i’m in complete agreement with the k.o.d.: stunningly absurd.

    • mrsmelissasg says:

      Ariella, I am horrified that you could be horrified by a mother’s love, on any level. HSM admits that she is their step-mother, but the second half of that is still mother. They are still part of her blended family of seven children.
      Props to KOD for standing up for his queen.

    • Jess says:

      I’m with KoD on this. These children are lucky to have all their parents & siblings in their lives. Being in a step-family, blended family, whatever you want to call it just means that there is more people to love these kids and for these kids to love and with whom to share their lives and more love to go ’round.

    • Judit says:

      you will be really horrified once you actually read — and hopefully think — over what you have commented here. i think it’s very sad if you do think this way and i feel sorry for you. i really do.

    • Duvii says:

      Dear Ms. Horrified,

      The term is step MOTHER.

      Is that so hard to comprehend?

      Watching my wife with my kids I can tell you that it’s way harder to be a step MOTHER than a Mommy.

      You could try getting out more.

      Hugs.

  9. Rubyv says:

    Anon is obviously a troll with reading comprehension issues who missed the point of this rant.

    As a stepchild I thank you for the attitude you embrace. My dad is actually my stepdad, since age twelve. He and his family never made me feel as an other. It has created a loving extended family that my six year old gets to enjoy

  10. lady lock and load says:

    Hadassah, I think it is so wonderful that your love embraces ALL of your children. Of course you know that KoD’s children have a mother and you would never ever deny that. You are not competing for that title. I would think that she would be thrilled that you love her kids and are kind to them and show them love and care for their every need when they visit you. And that they are part of the family!
    They should abolish all these fairy tales like Snow White and Cinderella which teaches people that step mothers are evil. I say it’s time for another story about two wonderful people who are love seven adorable children (and may they all live happily ever after!) :)

  11. Ima2seven says:

    reprint of a post I 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.

    http://www.ima2seven.com/2010/06/on-behalf-of-stepmothers-everywhere/

  12. blog follower says:

    My bio-dad died when I was two and my step-father raised me from the age of 7 and always called him Dad as well as the fact that he adopted me. Unfortunately, I cannot honor his name when getting an aliyah.
    The point being that I hate referring him as my step-dad and at such a young age I did not know better.
    When speaking of blended families, all the parents are usually alive and there is no way that I would never expect my “step-kids” to call me Dad (or any variation thereon) nor can I parent them to any degree as this is not my place. I can be a guide, a friend, a counsellor, etc. but I am not their father, I am not their parent – at best I am a mentor, at worst I am their mother’s husband.
    People are usually taken off guard when they do the math on the age range, the number of children, etc. – Unless you tell them the family situation what do you expect them to think – they are not judging you, they are simply curious and sometimes what comes out of their mouths is not socially acceptable but I don’t think it should be taken in a negative way, in a naive way, yet but not harmful.

  13. Yonit says:

    Being a parent, whether it be mother or father, is an opt in role. Whether biological, blended, adoptive, a person can decide to act as a parent or not. Hadassah has opted in, and her children will benefit from that!

  14. loveheals says:

    You are the KoD’s children step-MOTHER. You give them a home filled with love and learning and laughter,not to mention delicious food. They are children of your heart and the blessings go both ways. Lucky children to have two Moms!

  15. Z! says:

    Keep fighting the good fight! The KOD’s children will thank you later in life for providing them with a shelter against the storm, a safe place to create a relationship with him and a place in your heart. Not to mention 4 brothers they can always count on!
    HSM’s boys will be greatful to have had a ‘father’ they can count on to give great advice, to be there for them and especially to be a great man who loves their Mom- which is what they’ve always wanted.

    • blog follower says:

      Hey Z – I certainly hope the way I read your comment is not what you meant. The way the last line reads seems to imply that their father cannot be counted on nor can he give great advice and is not there for them. The last part of a man who loves their Mom makes sense. Please tell me I am wrong in my interpretation…..

      • Z! says:

        I just meant it was added advice from another adult they can trust in their lives. By no means did I mean to deminish their “bio” father’s role in their lives, nor his capacity to give good (or great) advice. Sorry for the confusion

  16. kisarita says:

    You didn’t raise all those kids from birth, you don’t raise them full time now, (and more relevantly you didn’t give birth to them, and the people who are asking this are probably waistline watchers).

    That’s a statement of historical fact. As well as, I should add, legal fact, since you are most probably not recognized as the kid’s legal parent. (There is where a step parent differes from an adoptive one).

    You wish to translate their question onto an emotional plane, and then get all offended, that’s your problem, because that’s not what they asked.

    • shualah elisheva says:

      she’s offended by their reaction to learning that she is not the biological mother of all 7 of her family’s children. that’s perfectly legitimate response to a dismissive shift in attitude.

      the human condition is emotional and psychological, not just biological nor legal. reducing it to those two planes and dismissing emotions out of hand is what results in “broken homes.”

      • Judit says:

        “she’s offended by their reaction to learning that she is not the biological mother of all 7 of her family’s children.” — why be offended by something that is btw true? If that is what she was offended by then I take my initial comment back … the person who reacted to this information potentially did not imply emotions HSM may have for the kids, they just stated the hard fact that she is not their biological mom. That is nothing to be offended by. Now if someone was judging (or questioning) the potential of an “adoptive parent” loving their adopted (or step) children, that would be a whole other story.

  17. I am offended at Ariela’s remarks. My dad may not have been my “DNA donor” but he was my psychological father. I also have many psychological mothers. My own mother died when I was 20. My father has never remarried. I never had a really strong female role model in my life. Now I have many and they are there because they want to be there. You all know who you are. What is wrong with having more than one psychological mother? My adopted Imas and Jew-rus all know they play a HUGE role in making my life a wonderful thing to live. What can be so wrong with being loved and guided and mentored and advised and comforted by so many? NOTHING. It is not an insult at all to a bio mother…it is a credit to her that her child is so open to love.

    • mrsmelissasg says:

      I’m so with you on much of this! I have many “psychological mothers” as you say. One of my favorite wedding photos is actually the moment where I switched from dancing with my mother to my Ema (my “psychological” or local mom, as i call her) – Having them both grinning at me in one picture is a blessing to me. All my life I have had many of my friends mothers and other close female adults who have given me support and guidance, and I am a much better woman for it!

  18. PS. I also have an extremely close friend whose advice and guidance I rely on every day of my life. He is my mentor, my friend, my pilot, my Rabbi, my advisor…does that threaten my father or my husband? In no way. They gave me the personality to seek wise people in my life to offer me guidance and to help me feel grounded and rooted in my community and within my groups of friends. A wise person surrounds themselves with strength…and that makes them stronger yet.

  19. kisarita says:

    “I love the KoD’s kids so very much – they are a part of him, how could I not?”

    If you broke up with him, would your relationship with the kids last? Few step-parent relationships outlast the relationship between the adults.

    Not that this is anyone’s business- your emotional relationship with the kids is no one’s business. Whether you love them or you hate them, its no one’s business. When someone asks you about your biological children, they aren’t asking about your feelings toward your kid.

    In contrast to your historical and legal relationship, which IS public information. This is part of why I say that you are getting offended at a question that isn’t being asked.

    But since you are the one who brought up, I thought it fair game to ask.

  20. IMA2FOUR7 says:

    Here’s what I would say should this issue come up in the future:
    “All my Children” used to a soap opera on TV, now it’s my own reality show sans TV.
    Clearly this responds to the comment in kind and with your own dignity since really Hadassah, when you are confronted with humanity so clueless they need not only a reality check–they need a whole show!

    • Judit says:

      There are 2 issues here: 1 is being a biological parent to children, and 2 is being able to love children who are not your biological ones. These issues need to be treated separately because they are indeed different ones. Does HSM love KoD’s children? Yes, it looks like she does. Did she give birth to and raise them since? No. If someone simply stated any of these 2, they probably did not mean to offend her. The only offense I can think of in such a situation would be if someone questioned her love toward her kids, regardless of which ones.

      Lots of biological parents don’t care much about their kids and lots of adoptive (or step) parents love their adopted kids as if they were their own. After having re-read this post several times I really don’t see any reason to be upset. People are allowed to think whatever they want to. Whatever they think of you or me, that won’t change who we are. Therefore being offended is absolutely unnecessary and consumes valuable time that we could spend doing things that are worth spending time on.

  21. Z! says:

    I would also comment that due to the early stages of the marriage, the geographical issues and custody terms, I can see how others might not think you have a close relationship (translated into love for) your husband’s children. (That is if they know your history)

  22. mekubal says:

    Personally, I am somewhat confused as to how to understand your intent in this post, considering what you wrote about loyalty and step parents here.

  23. I’d like to bring up that I also have an “adopted” son. He was my husband’s client (my DH works with teen parents) and R just needed a family…I mean he has his bio family but what he wanted was a FAMILY. And we had plenty of family to go around. It’s been 6 years now. He’s as much part of our family as our bio son is. Look on my FB and you’ll see him listed as my son.

    And PS. I have seen MANY MANY MANY stepparent/child relationships outlast the parents relationship. Just as I am friends with MANY people long after the main reason for our friendship has ceased to be. I think that speaks more to character.

  24. HSaboMilner says:

    Let me clarify for those of you who have misunderstood me.
    I was upset to be thought less of once this person was made aware that 3 of the kids are KoD’s. Her attitude changed remarkably, as if my being step mom to 3 was of absolutely no consequence.

    AS I said “But don’t dismiss my mothering as “less than” because I only birthed four of the seven of our offspring”

    • mekubal says:

      Ok. That makes sense.

    • Judit says:

      The person who thinks you are any less of a person for having given birth to “only” 4 out of 7 does not deserve any attention, let alone a whole blog post. Don’t let yourself be drawn into such pitiful situations. You seem to be a great person — and mother — and therefore you really don’t need to be wasting your time on such morons.

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