#IAMLEAH Pt. 1 -#Iam a part of a blended family- "how god took my broken pieces and blended them into a beautiful family"
For those that don't know, I am in the process of planning a relaunch event for my non-profit organization The LEAH Project. After a recent conversation with some close friends about ideas that we had for the event, one of my friends came up with the hashtag #IAMLEAH. As soon as she said it, the wheels in my head began turning as I thought of the many ways that Leah is like myself and so many women today. So I decided to write some posts dedicated specifically to #IAMLEAH and the ways that her life has often paralleled mine along with the lessons that I have learned.
Leah had seven children by her husband Jacob (Genesis 30:19-21). In those days, men often had several wives, as was the case with Jacob. Jacob was not only married to Leah, but her sister Rachel, and he eventually took their two servants as additional wives. Each of these women also had children with Jacob, so it's safe to say that Leah knew a thing about "blended families". So how is this Biblical Brady Bunch similar to my life? Well, I too have first hand experience in living in a blended family and have dealt with both the beauty and challenges that can come with them.
"Booga Butt"..."Roundhead"..."Kool Kid"..."LL Cool R"...these are just some of the nicknames that you may have heard me use to refer to my oldest son; however, there is one term that you will never hear me refer to him as, and that is as my stepson. Why? Because "steps" to me are those things that we use to walk into and out of buildings or when the elevator is broken, not a name for children. My oldest son is getting to the age where he wants to know where babies come from (yikes!!!) and although he doesn't know everything just yet, he does know that they grow in a mommy's belly. This has led me to explain to him that while he didn't grow in my belly like his little brother, he's my baby that grew in my heart.
My whole inspiration for writing this first #IAMLEAH piece came from a recent article that I read about my best friend's mama in my head, Tina Knowles Lawson. Mama Lawson recently made a post on Instagram congratulating her husband's daughter, Bianca Lawson, who she referred to as her beautiful bonus daughter, on her job co hosting an episode of "The Real". Unfortunately, one person took offense to Mama Lawson's use of the term bonus children and instead thought that she should refer to her husband's children as her stepchildren. You can take a look at the comment and Ms. Tina's classy response below:
Now I understand that everybody's experience with blended families and the term stepchildren is different, so I am in no way talking down about people who choose to use that term. Again, I can only speak from my personal experiences, which has a lot to do with my upbringing. In my family when you married someone with children, then those children became your children. Your babies became "our" babies. You were now our cousin and our grandma was now your grandma and so on and so on. This was the case even with some of my friends, who over the years became more like family. To this day, I have friends that refer to my grandparents as grandma and papa or my parents as mama and daddy. Some came from families that weren't so tight knit as mine, so they fell in love with how my family was so willing to love and accept those that weren't always related by "blood". On the flip side, I've heard stories of people who were brought into blended families growing up and the feeling they had of always being different or not as special as the other parent's biological children. I'm pretty sure we have all heard the term "treated like a red headed step child". While I'm not sure where the term originated, I always understood it to mean being treated very badly. As bad as that sounds, I know adults that went through similar experiences as children and to hear about the emotional scars that they have carried into adulthood because of it is heartbreaking.
That is why when I made the decision to be a part of that little boy's life I did it with the understanding that either I would be all in it or not do it at all. Does that mean that everything has been easy, no! I'm pretty sure things weren't easy for Leah either, especially as she watched the man that she loved go and have children with other women. While my situation wasn't quite as complicated as hers (thank God!), it hasn't come without it's challenges, but at the end of the day I wouldn't trade my "Booga Butt", my "Roundhead", my "Kool Kid", my "LL Cool R", but most importantly, one third of my heart, for anything in the world. He is my Beauty for Ashes story in physical form. God took my broken pieces and "blended" them into my beautiful family.