Searching through online content, I was surprised not to find more art about blended families, considering I know there are plenty of support groups for it. Through this body of work, I share insight into my perspective on being a stepparent, including the good, bad, honest, and comical.
In many cases, there is a duality to this role; joy but grief, envy but gratitude, relief but wariness. I hope in creating these pieces, others in similar situations can relate and find a sense of solidarity in our struggles and successes, and those who aren't may develop some sympathy and appreciation for the hard work it takes to be part of a blended family.
It Goes Both Ways, 2022
Mixed Media Collage | watercolor, India ink, cardstock, magazine and printed images
Step-parenthood, to me, is a mixed bag; similar to traditional parenting, but with added complexity.
The blended, joint custody lifestyle brings instances of unlearning, relearning, adjusting to differences, and feelings of invasiveness; interruptions and lacking privacy or boundaries. And while this feels like thievery of my ability to parent how I would otherwise, I realize my girls have had their lives uprooted and a sense of consistency stolen from them, too.
Even with all the uncertainties, becoming part of a family brought together by choice brings me joy and satisfaction. I'm so grateful to my husband for sharing his family with me and for my stepdaughters who made me a mom. However, I sometimes still get a pang of sadness knowing I'll never be "Mom" to them. While I know I wasn't first, I do know that we were meant to be a family, bringing out the best in each other, and are doing what's right for us all.
Bio Clock, 2020
Mixed Media Collage | watercolor, India ink, cardstock, magazine images, fabrics, silica beads.
Biology tells me that I want to have babies of my own, to pass on my genetics, to see which of my traits would reveal themselves in Baby. I know my husband and I would make cute ones! That said, I've never had a relationship with infants, and small children aren't really my jam. I'm also terrified of all the things that could go wrong, like genetic abnormalities, complications with birth, etc. Is it worth it when there are so many children out there already needing homes? I may not have had a child grow in my womb, but I revel in the rewards and combat the struggles of being a mother on the daily, and I know I will be able to look back proudly at how they forced me to be a better human, and laugh in the face of anyone who doesn't think I'm a "real" mom.