#BeREALationships welcomes Michelle Poston Combs.
We’re in the 21st century and we still struggle when defining family. Which is stupid, your family is who you say your family is. It’s quite simple.
My husband and I have been together for 21 years. His daughters became part of my life when they were 9 and 12 years old.
I tiptoed around their lives as their stepmother, careful not to step on toes. As it were, it doesn’t matter how lightly you tread, if you are a step parent, your very existence dictates that occasionally toes will be stepped on.
When my older step daughter got married, her grandparents argued with the wedding coordinator the night before her wedding over when it was appropriate for me to walk down the aisle. I’m pretty sure they would have preferred I walked down the aisle after the janitor arrived to clean up after the wedding. They were not pleased that I was being seated before the parents of the groom.
I bit my tongue. I smiled and pretended to not hear the things they were saying. If there was drama at my step daughter’s rehearsal, it would not be caused by me.
I deferred throughout their childhood into adulthood. Behind the scenes, I loved the shit out of them, but in the forefront, I kept my place.
Then my stepdaughters started to procreate. We have 4 grandchildren with one of the way.
I am no longer in the shadows. I am no longer deferring. Nope. My line in the sand has been drawn.
These children are my grand babies. I don’t care what anyone says.
Dismissive comments come from more than the “real” grandmother’s families. I have had people brush off my assertion that I have grandchildren because they are just my “step” grand kids.
Because we aren’t related by blood? I can’t love them like my own? They can’t be my family? That logic would dictate the adoptive parents don’t love their children as much as people who give birth do. I mean, if a person wants to say that to an adoptive parent, I guess it’s their right, but I hope I have time make some popcorn before they do, because the show will be spectacular.
When my first grandchild was born 9 years ago, one of her natural grandmothers pulled me aside and told me that the baby would never call me “grandma” because I wasn’t her grandma. I smiled and told her that I was just glad that our sweet baby girl had so many people to love her.
I am “Mimi” to three of our grandchildren and “Gaga” to the other. I don’t care what they call me, all I care about is that our faces light up when we see each other and that they never fail to run into my arms.
I most certainly am a grandmother and I no longer give a damn about anyone else’s toes.
Michelle Poston Combs can be found at her blog, Rubber Shoes In Hell. She also has a regular column on Vibrant Nation. Her work can also be found on The Huffington Post, Better After 50, In The Powder Room, Blunt Moms, Mock Moms, Scary Mommy, Erma Bombeck’s Writer’s Workshop, Midlife Boulevard and Grand magazine. She had an essay in Jen Mann’s anthology, I Still Just Want To Pee Alone. She was also in the 2015 Indianapolis cast of Listen To Your Mother.