Never in my wildest dreams did I think that a simple question would cause so much confusion.
But in a Society where there is still stigma about stepmoms and their role within a family, it's one of those questions that many women aren't sure how to answer.
I know this because stepmoms ask me how they should answer this question on a regular basis.
Personally, as a stepmom of three and a mom of one, I myself have wondered about the correct response
It's another one of those, "you're damned if you do, you're damned if you don't" scenarios
If I answer the question by saying "I have four kids", someone will get their panties in a bunch and accuse me of trying to replace their Mom.
"They are not ACTUALLY her kids", I can hear them saying.
But then if I answer the question by saying "I just have one child" I would be accused to not loving my stepchildren as my own.
Which is far from the case.
Now, there is always the option of responding, "I have one child and three stepchildren" - but to me, that response implies that my stepchildren mean less to me than my own. There is something about the word "step" that doesn't sit right with me. Yes the relationships are different, but they aren't any less important.
So HERE is how I answer the question. (Again, it's one of those damned if you do, damned if you don't scenarios)
I say "We have four kids"
WE - meaning my husband and I together have four kids
It covers my bases.
People either continue on with the conversation or move on to the next topic.
When they continue on with the conversation, they typically ask how old the kids are.
When I say that the older two are 13 and 15, I often get a few eyebrow raises.
Rightfully so. If I gave birth to them, it would mean I started having kids at 16 years old, when my husband was 29. I'm pretty sure that would have been illegal.
So, this is my opportunity to explain our family dynamic. I then clarify and explain that, "my husband has three children from his previous marriage and together we have one."
BUT if the eyebrows don't go up, I leave it alone. Not because I am trying to pretend like they are "my kids". But because the dynamic of my family is none of anyones damn business,
So there you have it, sometimes I take the opportunity to explain our family dynamic, sometimes I don't,
For me, saying "We have four kids" always feels like the best response.
I don't overthink my answer.
I don't stress out.
It is the truth - together my husband and I do have four kids!
They are all apart of our blended family crew!
I'm sure someday, somewhere someone will take issue to that answer too - but I am totally okay with that.
What works for one stepfamily may not work for another - this is what works for us.
The truth is, we do have four kids. Four pretty awesome ones at that!