These Are My Children

Posted: July 7, 2015 in Family and Children
Tags: , , , , , , ,
These Are My Children by Jaime L. Hebert

These Are My Children by Jaime L. Hebert

When I was a teacher, I didn’t want children of my own.

I have 20 every day, I thought. That’s plenty.

But then I left the teaching job.

I left the relationship I was in and found a new one.

Got married.

Suddenly, having a child, well . . . it wasn’t off the list anymore.

And then my daughter was born, and everything I had thought I’d known shifted, slightly, and I wondered, How did I think I’d never become a mother?

Three years ago, I had four more kids.

They are not “my” kids. They are Luke’s. I did not give birth to them.

But they are mine. I parent them just as I do my own daughter.

One of them isn’t technically Luke’s child, either. But she’d never know otherwise, since he decided long before her birth that even if she wasn’t of his blood, she’d still be his daughter.

And that’s how it has been.

I have five children, yet I only gave birth to one. It doesn’t matter, in the grand scheme of life, if I did or not.

I feed all my kids.

Read them stories.

Listen to their stories.

Hang their art on my fridge.

Buy them shoes.

Hand out band aids. Kiss boo boo’s.

Referee fights.

Stand strong against storms of tears both genuine and manipulative.

I know all of their personalities, their quirks, their favorites. I know one hates to sleep alone, while another likes to stir up trouble because she thinks it’s amusing. One is sneaky and cries if she’s called out on it. One likes to try to say “What I meant to say was,” even though he never gets away with saying it. One wants to be seen as the caretaker but has bursts of bossiness she can’t yet contain.

I was not chosen to give birth to four of my children, but I was chosen by them to answer to the name Mom.

Do they call me their Stepmom? No, I’m just Mom. So, you have 2 moms? Yep. Shrug. Okay.

These are my children. Many people don’t get it. There are so many people, some who should know better, who don’t understand, and who even judge.

So many kids, they say.

It’s chaos.

They’re so loud, how do you stand it?

Don’t you ever get a break?

I know what these judgements imply: Why the hell would you take this on? Why become a full time parent to kids who aren’t “yours?”

I find this ignorant.

So, theoretical question asker, you’re telling me that these kids are expected to pay for the choices of adults? Because two people were happier apart than together? Because one “father” chose to ignore the existence of his child? Because two people fell in love and chose to make one whole family out of several broken ones?

That it’s okay for these four children to forever feel different than – less than – my own child because she’s my flesh and blood and they’re not?

I don’t think so.

These are my children. They are the ones who seek my advice. They tell Knock Knock and Your Mama jokes to me. Snuggle with me in the early morning hours without a second thought. Shout “I love you, Mom!” across a crowded room.

Climb onto my lap if they’re 3 years old. Or ten.

If they feel different, not good enough, in my own home, what will happen to them out there in the world?

People and the media speak constantly about tolerance, erasing the color lines, the gender lines, the social inequalities. It shouldn’t be black or white, male or female, Christian or Muslim, they say. That’s why our world is so messed up, they say, because of hate, intolerance, and fear. It’s a national issue, a global issue, and it causes riots, beatings, pain, and death.

It does. That’s the truth. But all these big issues, they are carried out in certain directions by individual people. People who were taught, conditioned, and molded since the time they were small children that the world looks like this, people believe this, truth lies in this . . . and after years those small children grow up to be adults and they have to choose a path in this world.

It takes a lot to stand against the tide. It takes courage and honor and love to stand there in the middle of the storm and say, I choose this because it’s right, and it’s good and I was taught to stick to my own individual beliefs no matter who is trying to sway me.

These are my children, and I believe they have to right to be themselves and be proud of it. And I have the right to say, Those children, they’re my children, and we chose each other.

We chose each other when there were people saying it was weird, and awkward, and strange.

We chose our family when people said, Well, they’re just your step children, right?

Or, That one, she’s your real daughter? (Like the others were imaginary children?)

Or, What happens if you and Luke split up? (It won’t happen, but if it did, I’ll still have five children.)

When you’re a child, you’re a part of the family you’re given.

When you grow up, you choose the family you create.

My kids get to have the family they’re given and the family they choose. And I hope when they become adults and they are able to stand in their choices in a world that is fraught with difficult ones, they can say what they believe with conviction and feel happy with their choices, because they know that standing behind them will be their Mom – no matter what path they choose. http___signatures.mylivesignature.com_54492_292_28ECA84CB8C634F9AC8CB860B63B2A62

 

 

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Comments
  1. jmh says:

    I love all your posts, Jaime, but this one is especially beautiful. I’m glad you’re their mom.

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