Family Musings

How We Family: Blended Family of Eight

This post first appeared on The Next Family as part of  TYLENOL®  and their #HowWeFamily campaign.

Every family is different. While there are many families that do fit the “traditional” family mold, there are others, like us, that do not. I was happy to see Tylenol run their #HowWeFamily campaign and thankful for the chance to tell how we family. This is a snippet of who we are.

How We Family: Blended Family of Eight

How We Family: Blended Family of Eight

After a fun-filled day at the county fair visiting farm animals, riding the mechanical bull and wandering exhibit halls, our family of eight is headed home.  But not until we stop for one more delicacy to share: a paper cone filled with powdered sugar-laden mini donuts. After all, fairs are meant to be whole-heartily enjoyed with all healthy eating intentions thrown aside.

fair bull ride

As we make our way through the crowds to the exit gates, passing the paper cone of donuts amongst us, we hear our oldest daughter start to chuckle. She skips up to my husband and me, whispering that the couple behind is trying to “figure us out”. Quietly laughing, she shares a few of the scenarios that the couple considered – one being that my daughter is the mother to her stepsister. “Really? Do I look old enough to have a 10-year-old child?!”  There is only a ten-year difference between the two girls, and I assure her she does not.

This last incident was the topper to a day full of others’ assumptions and misidentifications – some laughable, some hurtful.

In the vendor hall earlier in the day, we stopped to see a hand-held chopping device, and sample its resultant salsas. The fast-talking vendor assured us that our grandchildren would love all that we could whip up with this little tool. Grandkids? They’re our children! (Ok, my husband is a silver-haired man, but really!) We found this laughable.

Continuing down another aisle, the kids stop to see the latest in hair styling products -curling irons that produce tight, perfect spirals. The booth has three hair salon chairs and passersby are invited to have their hair curled. Each of our three older girls climb into the seat to get a new look.  Finally our youngest, the fourth daughter, who has been waiting a long time – asks excitedly if she too can get her hair done. The stylist, looking puzzled, replies, “Oh, we don’t curl boys’ hair. This is for girls.” Visibly upset, my daughter empathically declares, “I AM a girl!” The stylist looks to me for confirmation and as I nod yes, her older siblings giggle with nervousness.  My stepdaughter, with her bobbed haircut, is dressed in khaki shorts and a red Mickey Mouse tshirt. I see a blue-eyed ten-year old, neither boyish nor girlish, still at that unidentifiable stage when one is not primped in a stereotypical gender specific way. For the remainder of the afternoon, my stepdaughter continues to mumble, “They thought I was a boy.” She found this hurtful.

Outside, we browse the street vendors — inflatable animals, old-time photos, light sabers– when we happen upon a henna tattoo booth. A few of the kids decide to get one. One daughter chooses flowers, another one chooses swimming turtles. My stepson wants Hecho en México, complete with an eagle head.  As we watch the artwork develop on his upper arm, we discuss the words’ meaning: Made in México. This is fitting. He was born in the United States, but conceived in Mexico. My husband and his first wife adopted all three of my stepchildren at birth.

hechoenmexico Fair

Leaving the county fair that evening, we know we are a colorful sight. We notice people watching us as we walk by, and we try to understand their confusion. They see a silver-haired man, a woman, and six kids – five white and one Hispanic -with a dozen years spanning from top to bottom. We know people are trying to figure out how the puzzle pieces of this laughing, chatting, and hands-holding group fit together. We are met with curiosity and wonder, at best. Sometimes, the comments are hurtful.

We don’t look like a “traditional” family, because we are not one. And like all families, you cannot know us from the outside. We are a blended family, an adoptive family, and an inter-racial family. But we are also so much more. The important thing is, we are, first and foremost: a family. A family brought together and held together by love.

family photo

(38) Comments

  1. Robin Rue says:

    Big families are definitely the best! I used to love watching the show 7th Heaven just for that reason. Your family is beautiful.

    1. Stacey says:

      Thank you, Robin. Sometimes it does fill like we are living in the middle of a sitcom.

  2. I just want to say that you have a beautiful family! I think what’s important more than anything is you are all happy together! unfortunately others don’t just see it that way and start to figure things out due to their curiosity, without realizing that what they might be doing is hurtful.

    1. Stacey says:

      Thank you Donah!

  3. You have such a big family!! (Btw, I think that’s a good thing! I grew up as an only child, and would have loved to have siblings). Your family is so beautiful and I just love your dogs!

    1. Stacey says:

      Lol! We are a large group and it can get very noisy here!

  4. Stacey, I love this story. I think the strength of your family is so great. I can never understand why people feel the right to question what a family looks like. I am proud of you and your kids for hanging on tight to each other and having conversations about families.

    1. Stacey says:

      Thanks, Cynthia. We have built a wonderful family 🙂

  5. I think that some people are worse at judging ages than others. Older people can’t always see or hear as well as they did with younger… So they talk louder and make visual identification mistake. Your family looks lovely to me… Not sure I would take the time to try to type passers-by, do you live in a small town? lol.

    1. Stacey says:

      You are right about people speaking louder than they realize. 🙂 No one was trying to be hurtful that day, just my youngest was crushed at being called a boy. The rest was laughable. We do live in a small town, but the fair was in a bigger city.

  6. Blended families are always so special. I’m a part of one and even though it might not be easy, it’s definitely always an experience! Love your story!

    1. Stacey says:

      Thanks, Kendall. You are right – it is always an experience!

  7. Family is just what you said, held together by love. It would do us well to remember this. Nothing should severe that bond!

    1. Stacey says:

      <3 lots of love at that!

  8. Kimberly says:

    You have a gorgeous family. I love how you blended everyone and I know it can be tough, but you make it look easy!

    1. Stacey says:

      Thank you! It is crazy busy at times, overly chaotic at other times – but always full of love.

  9. You are a beautiful family. Our family is multicultural, multi racial and we are happy. I think it is nice to be all different and unique and share lots of different heritage. it makes us who we are and also more accepting of others.

    1. Stacey says:

      Thank you! Yes, we are very happy. I love who we are – warts and all 🙂 Sounds like we have a bit in common.

  10. You guys look so happy together! I agree with a PP that people shouldn’t stick their nose in where it doesn’t belong.

    1. Stacey says:

      Thanks! We are a pretty happy bunch!

  11. Aw this made me cry :/ people shouldn’t be so horrible and more to the point nosey. I was brought up by foster mum at the age of 10 and she is very much British whereas I am British but of course have tanned skin courtesy of my Portuguese heritage. Some people were very horrible about it and even to this day people always say ‘where you from’ and when I tell them I am British they say ‘Oh you don’t look it’. It can be hurtful x

    1. Stacey says:

      It can be hurtful, but I don’t think most people intend for their comments to come across that way. I think it is human nature for others to try to figure us all out. Family is love and that is what matters.

  12. You have a beautiful family. I grew up with a big family and although there were chaotic times, it was really fun growing up with my siblings.

    1. Stacey says:

      As a mom I am so grateful that the kids all have each other. They are all close and look out for each other all the time.

  13. I only have my mom, sister and dad! They had us pretty young (early 20s, right after they got married), so people always thought my mom was our older sister when she took us out! Families are perfect no matter what they look like.

    1. Stacey says:

      You are right about that! Families are love and love is always a beautiful thing!

  14. I don’t why people feel the need or that they have the right to make judgmental comments but your family seems to handle them fine. I’ll stick to the simple “what a beautiful family” comment.

    1. Stacey says:

      Thank you. I don’t think anyone sets out to be hurtful. It just happens sometimes. I know we are a colorful sight.

  15. You have a beautiful family. I am just waiting for my first Grandma comment as I had my youngest at 39. She is now 4 and I have been lucky so far but I know it is coming in a few years.

    1. Stacey says:

      Thank you! You never know – you might never get mistaken for grandma. If you do, I guess you just smile and set them straight. 🙂

  16. I come from a large family to. 1 brother, 1 step brother, 2 half brothers and 2 adopted brothers. we are quite a sight.

    1. Stacey says:

      I love that!

  17. Theresa says:

    I’d love to have a big family! Having eight people just provides more love and happy memories. You look great together.

    1. Stacey says:

      Thanks! It is a bit chaotic sometime – but always worth it!

  18. When I was younger everyone always thought my sister was my daughter and our mother was the grandmother – -we always got a big kick out of that too!

    1. Stacey says:

      Oh – it is funny the different scenarios people can think of.

  19. Dawnel Bratton says:

    LOVE this Stacey!

    1. Stacey says:

      Thanks, Dawnell!

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