My daughter brought home an in-school assignment last week where she was asked to describe herself. Standard stuff – favorite subject, what she likes about summer vacation, somewhere she would like to travel, etc. One answer caused me to tear up a little, as her sweetness often does. For “I am happiest when,” she wrote, “I see my sister.” I immediately texted her sister’s mom to share, and we gushed a bit about how great our girls are.
You see, I don’t have a typical family here in Philadelphia. I have one blood relative in the area and that is my daughter. Her father and I decided to go our separate ways when she was nearly 2 years old. Since that time, he fell in love and married one of the kindest women I have the pleasure of knowing. Eighteen months ago, they had their first little girl together. One might assume I’d feel a touch of bitterness or maybe jealousy about his finding happiness, but witnessing the adoration they have for one another as well as our daughters makes that impossible.
Since the beginning, Julia and her family have treated Sophia like one of their own. I will never forget the words her grandmother uttered upon our first meeting: “So you’re the beautiful woman who gave us Sophia.” I cried. Accepting Sophia was one thing. Welcoming me? I would never have expected. But she did, they all did (his parents, too) and I know how very lucky that makes me.
I don’t like to use the word “step,” I prefer “other mother,” because when you get down to it, she is her other mother as well as one of my dear friends. Julia was with Sophia when she lost her first tooth; Daddy and I were on the other end of the phone. She’s shared many firsts with Sophia and I’m sure they will share more throughout their lives together. Sure, some people are confused by us. We spend holidays together, go out to eat on occasion and have girls nights in, too. At lunch one afternoon, the four of us at a table and the baby sleeping in her stroller, our waiter asked, “I can’t figure out the dynamic here. Which one of you is her mother?” signaling to Sophia. Jules and I both responded, “I am.” His reaction, “man, one mother was all I could have handled as a kid!” Maybe, but if two heads are better than one, I’ll deduct that three are better than two, and three parents is what my little girl has been blessed with.
Friday, when I picked Sophia up from school, she said she’d have to change the answer on her assignment to “when I see my sisters” as we were headed to the hospital to see her new baby sister. Her father and his wife gave birth to their second daughter that day, and our family grew by one more lovely little girl.
Watching Julia have firsts with her daughters has been a gift. Seeing my daughter in the role of big sister and knowing how much she treasures her siblings is awesome. It doesn’t matter that we don’t share the same blood lines; I have a family here in the truest sense of the word. And the memories we make together are the ones that are shaping my daughter into a magnificent human being.