Image Source: Getty / Kevin Dietsch
When I first got divorced and began my experience as a single mother, one of my biggest fears was how my child might feel alienated by the intricacies of her new family dynamic. Would she notice? Would it be obvious that most of her peers had the "typical nuclear" family set up? I felt oppressive guilt for it. The thought that other kids might look at her differently and question why there weren't two parents in her home hurt my heart. I was fortunate to meet the love of my life when my older daughter was 4 years old. When she was eight and a half, we gave her a little sister and our family was officially blended. My life and heart are full but it hasn't always been easy. Blending a family comes with its complications. Coparenting isn't always a breeze. It can be polarizing, even with growing societal acceptance.
Thankfully, divorce and blended families are topics that have become much more normalized than ever was before, but we still have work to do. We are no longer pariahs and while it's unfortunate that divorce rates are what they are, it means we are not alone. The family dynamic, is not one size fits all anymore and we are starting to see representation of that everywhere – in movies, television, advertising, and now in The White House.
History was made on many fronts as we welcomed the first ever woman as our Vice President just yesterday. All political affiliations aside, the impact of our children seeing this shift is powerful and vast. But for me personally, it doesn't end there. Vice President Kamala Harris and Dr. Jill Biden are both stepmothers. They have blended families and coparenting responsibilities and to have a family like mine represented in the highest political offices in our country is pretty amazing.
Image Source: Getty / Mark Makela
To see two strong, successful, driven women living a truth that is familiar to me and my family is validating and empowering. It's a breath of fresh air. It's proof that deviations from the familial norms that many people still view as alternative or non-traditional, are not actually either of those things. They just are. VP Harris and Dr. Biden are not lesser women or mothers because they don't have a family unit that fits into white picket fence ideologies. And they're not trailblazers just because they have blended families in the very public eye. But they will bring the normalization of the blended family even further and that has meaning for a mom like me.
To see Doug Emhoff's ex-wife with their children at the inauguration was a tangible example of coparenting that so many of us live on a regular basis. I can't help but picture all of these parents at the helm of the blended families going through the same things I do. Dropping off schoolbooks left at the other parent's home. Stopping by your ex's house to grab a pair of shoes your kid needs on the way to school. Making last minute changes to your custody schedule because a parent has a work commitment and needs to switch nights. It's completely expected minutiae in my life, but to many it's still foreign and misunderstood. My hope is that having two blended families in such visible roles will help further reduce any stigma.
As I watched the inauguration, I was emotional. As a mother of two fierce little girls, it fills my heart with pride to see them watch the first woman of color make history in the White House. As if that wasn't enough, I'm also immensely proud that they will see reflections of their own blended family roaming those hallowed halls. It's representation that will only enforce how our family is not so "different" anymore. My girls will get to see pieces of themselves and our family and I am grateful for another step toward the acceptance of families not fitting one perfect mold.