That was the question my husband kept repeating the first time I took him home to meet my (extremely large) family. As someone with a very, very small family he was mystified by the house filled with dozens of people, and kids running everywhere. He was blown away by the amount of people and the chaos, and also embarrassed when my then 5 year old niece kept calling him “Uncle”, even though it was the first time she had met him. My sister politely tried to correct her explaining that he was not her uncle, but my little niece instead blurted out “But Mom, he’s gonna be!” just like she had some insight that we hadn’t had yet. My nephews followed along and began calling him uncle as well.
Apparently my soon to be step-daughter shared the same inside information. She immediately took to calling my mom Grandma and referring to the other kids as her “cousins” even though she had never had a cousin before and I’m not even sure she knew at two what one was. My husband tried to explain to her, but she defended the strangers she just met insisting they were her family. Apparently she and rest of the kids knew our fate before we even did, since my husband and I were married just a year later.
Recently I had the opportunity to check out an advance movie screening of the Odd Life of Timothy Green, a fun and moving tale of a unique kid who touches everyone around him and the family who loves him. While every blogger who attended the screening had their own different way this amazing film touched them, probably what moved me the most was how this magical little boy was loved and became part of a family even though he came into their lives in a non-traditional way.
Being a step-parent, I know first hand what it’s like to have one of your kids come into your life suddenly and the craziness, learning experiences and happenings around it. Much like the parents I the film, I know I’m not perfect. I’ve made a lot of mistakes along the way and all you can do is learn from them and do your best. This film does a great job of also reminding us that you don’t necessarily have to give birth to a child to be their parent. I’m not my step-daughter’s “real” mom, and while I know this, it still also hurts every time someone not so thoughtfully points it out. Just because someone isn’t related by blood, doesn’t mean that you don’t love them any less or make you any less of a family.
Kids somehow always seem to know this before grownups. Maybe it’s our age that makes forget, but we should all try to remember to cherish and love our family, whether they’re born, adopted, brought into our lives by marriage or even magically created.