The Patchwork Family…

When I married my husband not only did I become a wife but a stepmother too. It was a new situation for me that I felt needed to be handled sensitively and conscientiously. But what I realized early on in my relationship was that these girls didn’t need another parental, as they of course had their own. But where I felt I could contribute, would be by being another set of hands to both parents and to the girls when needed. Now mind you these kids were 13, 16, and 18 at the time. Not babies but still young and extra hands were needed and welcomed.

I have to say I’m one of the lucky ones. I’ve seen the movies and heard the horror stories of the kids not being accepting or giving the new “girlfriend” a fair shot. Not these kids. From day one they welcomed me with open arms. But that’s how they are. Loving, sensitive, well mannered and they all have a great sense of humor. And at the end of the day they just really wanted to see their father happy. That alone speaks volumes of their character.

They just really wanted to see their father happy....

This week my husband and I have planned a trip to Los Angeles to see his oldest daughter perform. This is something that we don’t get to do so much as a couple these days with two young babies at home. I’ve had to miss some big occasions in my stepdaughter’s lives since having children. Some birthdays, a graduation, and other poignant engagements. Not something I’m proud of. But fortunately my stepdaughters understand that I’m not able to travel around as freely as I would like. And lucky for me, they always still include me even though they know I might not be able to show up. Now that is some love and understanding. They’ve always had my back just like I hope they know I have theirs. I love them and I feel so blessed to have this experience of being a stepmom to three incredible young women.

Any other step-moms out there? Would love to hear from you as I know there’s all different types of stories out there.

From my home to yours,


Emma xx

P.S. #TeamValenRue

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Cindy W. says:

Oh Emma I totally relate. When I married my husband, I also took on 3 stepkids, at that time they were 11, 7 and 2. Now they are 26, 22 and 17. At that time I only had 1 child. We also now have 2 together. Yes, a big family, especially holidays and such. There were and are still struggles but there is so much love and so much to learn. Enjoy every minute even every trial. I mainly became the big sister to them, they are very close to their own mother and I respect that, but I do tell them I am always here for them and always will be. Now that they are older and doing there own thing we barely ever see them but when they are in town we do get together. Enjoy the new experiences and any struggle that comes your way, just know it’s a part of the process and a learnING experience that makes everyone grow together. If you would like to friend me on Facebook I am under Cindy Wheeler and Claw75 on instagram. Good luck Emma 🙂

Emma Heming Willis says:

I appreciate your post. Life of course comes with plenty of ups and downs. Its how you deal with it and come out the other end. Thank you for the reminder xxxxx

Rosetta Patafie says:

Great Girls! and Great Step-mom too.
Go Rue Go! We’re voting TEAMVALENRUE xo
Happy Birthday to Bruce too!

Emma Heming Willis says:

Thank you!!

Annie Jacobo says:

I wish my stepmom story was as great as this one. I came into the picture when the kids were 8,7, and 3. Let’s just say the red carpet wasn’t rolled out for me. I’ve been with my husband now for almost 16 years and I’m sad to say the carpet hasn’t been rolled out. We now have 3 kids of our own, 12, 4, and 6 months and I just love being a mom. I’m sad to say the step mom role hasn’t worked out very well and it’s something I work very hard at but its not easy when even after 16 years their mom still tries to bash my name any chance she gets.
Happy birthday Bruce and Emma it sounds like you are a wonderful woman.

Emma Heming Willis says:

I’m really sorry to hear that. Especially when its something that greatly effects your home life. And having to deal with that for 16 years, well more power to you. Thank you for sharing xxx

Jodie says:

Hi Emma!

I’m so happy I found your blog… I love your posts! I also have older stepchildren (18 and 19 years old) and my husband and I have a 17 month old… But our kids are all boys!

I have found being a step parent to be a wonderful experience just like it seems you have. I think a huge factor has been the boys’ mom being supportive of the situation. Prior to having my baby I was a divorce attorney, so I have seen SO many families where a parent finding a new spouse turns into a disastrous situation. I truly believe that If children have a parent who is not supportive of another person coming into their lives as a step parent (regardless of how involved in the “parenting” the step parent is) then usually the situation is filled with tension and conflict which is not good for anyone involved– especially the children. So kudos to our husbands and their ex wives, for respecting each other enough to have a healthy co-parenting relationship and being supportive of each other’s lives. That will almost always translate to the children and their respect for their parents and welcoming someone into the family if they see that person makes their father (or mother) happy.

Looking forward to your future posts!
Take care,

Emma Heming Willis says:

Gosh I’m sure you’ve seen it all! It is true that the adults have to be just that, adults. And when you can put the children’s needs before your own that is really the only formula that works. Thanks for your comments xx

Robyn Hamilton says:

i am a step parent to 2 children 15, 18. I think it has been hard because the mom doesn’t make it easy. I have 3 children of my own and I would never try to be anything other than a kind adult friend, but when the mother is insecure it causes distance.

Emma Heming Willis says:

There’s so many variants when becoming a step mom. If the pieces don’t fit perfectly I can only imagine the struggle. Keep your head up xx

granny_heidi says:

When we met, He had a son 12, and daughter 8, I had a daughter 11 and daughter 7. All we could do is make every occasion “family oriented” – not leaving anyone out. Now we have 14 grandkids from all 4 kids and we are still “a family” just different. We are all just blessed with each other and the more love the merrier.

Erika Joyner says:

I ended up marrying my best friend at 20 and dropping out of school to raise his 2 and 3 year old. Their mother gave up custody after we dated 6 months. I stayed for 11 years raising them and our 2 children. Lots of struggles lots of drama. I have gone from not talking to bio mom to talking to her all the time and back to no communication. Most of this is based on her inconsistency and drama. Unfortunately i split with my husband 2 years ago for many reasons including the stress of the stepfamily. I learned many lessons raising my older sons though and parent very differently with my ex with our kids. Lots of times it takes me putting up with stuff i shouldn’t but i put my kids first….all 4 of my kids. My oldest son moved back with his mother after the split which still hurts, we have limited contact but have a strong bond that i know will survive the teenage years and distance. My second son actually just moved in with me because his father was unable to provide for him and he did not want to live with his mom. So 14 years after beginning my stepmom journey i am a full time student and single mom that also works. I might be exhausted but i have some fantastic kids that know they are loved. My older boys still call me mom and through the struggles, tears, and joys i am humbled that i get to be a part of their lives as a mom. Its been a rollarcoaster and im sure its not done but no regrets. I have raised some incredible human beings and its one of my proudest accomplishments. I enjoy your blog so, thank you for highlighting the stepmothers journey!

James says:

Emma, knowing what family you became a part of one can only imagine some of the public/personal/public things that threatened your relationship from the very beginning. I became a step-parent very young and have been one for 21 years now. My hardships have come from continually giving to children who didn’t understand how to be grateful for a very long time. Now, as they’re finally maturing adults, they’re only starting to understand everything I’ve done and a lot of what I HAVEN’T done (like cut them off from help even when they don’t deserve to be helped). I am glad you’re able to enjoy your life and your step-daughters are such wonderful people that they made you feel included since day one!

Izzy says:

Emma, I am so glad I found your blog! I so enjoyed reading your sentiments towards your stepdaughters. In light of Rumor’s DWTS Debut, I recently became better acquainted with the girls on Social Media. Having been a long-time Bruce Willis fan it only seemed logical! (it somehow had never dawned on me to follow you or the girls!) I can’t wait to keep up with your blog and their posts!


Rosemary - AreKay (RK) says:

I was 26 and single and George was 52 (a year older than my Mom), divorced w/3 kids When he and I got married. His daughter is 6 years younger than me and was already married. His older son was just graduating high school and the younger one was 12.
I, too, was very lucky; the kids were always accepting of us and were glad that their Dad and I were very happy together. My husband never bad-mouthed his ex-wife as she was his children’s mother. I was not their mother, never tried to be, but they knew that their Dad and I were always there for them whenever they needed us.
George and I were married almost 26 years and when he passed away, the four of us were there for each other. Although he’s been gone 17 years now and the kids and I are widely scattered geographically, we still keep in touch and we all know that each of us is only a phone call away.
Marriage with a large age difference and stepchildren may not be for everyone but I am living proof that it can work. I’m so glad that you and BeeDub found each other! I wish you many, many more happy years together. Oh, and Happy 60th, KingB!

Audrey says:

My past not all sunshine and roses…no matter the outcome I gave it all I had. My ex of 10 years (18 years older then me).. me 27 him 45 had 3 children. 15/18/20 I embraced them…2 out of 3 embraced me and Thomas. The mother of the children actually liked me after she got to know me and was invited to our home on occasion. Through that marriage I even became a nana and spent a great deal of time being a nana. At the end of our marriage blood became thicker then water and I no longer have contact with his children.
Today I am a step mom to Maisie and she’s been with me for 4 years. She can’t really remember a time without me in her life. She calls me mom and her biological mom refers to me as mom. The relationship with Maisie was easy to form she attached to me right away….the one with her mom was a struggle at first. Today we all celebrate holidays together and her mom calls me several times a week for advice… I’m her go to girl in crisis or advice. My husband doesn’t have to worry about it everyone is getting along. My dad once told me “you can stand on your head for a week if you have to”. Sometimes I stand on my head and hold my tongue. I want the best for my daughter and family….extended family.

Emma Heming Willis says:

Thank you for sharing your stories. I’m sorry you’ve lost contact with your previous step kids. That must be difficult. But it’s wonderful that you formed a special bond with your new step child and her mother. Keep strong xxx

Lucie says:

Love your blog Emma!

I’m not mum, not wife..”just” 23 yo woman. But I have a stepfather but he is like my real one.
He lives with me and my mum since I was 2yo so he’s my best friend and he says, I’m like his own daughter. I’m so lucky that I have him in my life even we have not the same “blood” 🙂

It’s just…something from the other side 🙂 have a nice day and life.
love your blog.

Lucy xx

P.S. My dream is to meet you and Bruce sometimes. <3 aaand sorry from my bad English, I'm from the Czech Republic. 🙂

Emma Heming Willis says:

How wonderful that you have someone loving and supportive in your life. Thank you for sharing xxxx

Sinead says:

Hi Emma,

It has been great reading your blog. My son is 2, my partner is 18 years older than me with two gorgeous teen daughters. I am 29. And I worry that the age gap is too much, that I can’t do this. My man is also a handsome bald type

Emma Heming Willis says:

I truly believe age means nothing. It’s what ever your connection is with that person that truly matters. Good luck xxx

Heather Valdez says:

you are amazing….

Emma Heming Willis says:

I bet you are too 🙂

Sarah says:

Hi Emma , just adore ur blog, very refreshing and beautifully open.
I am a mother of 3 boys ages 16, 15 & 8 , a stepmother to a beautiful daughter age 23 , I am married to a wonderful husband and father going on 20 years now.
At the age of 16 I met him, he was the love of my life at first sight , I told him so too.. Lol. Well she was 4 then and made me promise her I wouldn’t marry her daddy until I was 18 , so I did . So at 18 we married bc her mother and father divorced and married young, she thought we would last and be together for ever if we waited. Such knowledge in those young minds .
We have had ups and downs in our marriage and our lives as all couples do , but we work them out and stay strong for it. Her mother was not a very good person and used her as a doll and game piece for personal gain, but no matter what was thrown out way we dealt and moved on. We stayed strong for our daughter and did what we needed to keep her safe and healthy and loved ! I being the step parent was not a welcome person from the birth mother and was bad mouthed and put down at any chance, especially when my step daughter called me “mother” , it did not sit well with her other family that I was safe zone .
I will tell u this, I used this thought and comment that my grandmother once told me in the very beginning of our marriage and struggle to deal with her other families comments and abuse, handle the bad things with good , no matter what is said you know better, do not sink to their level and NEVER EVER say a bad or mean or demeaning comment in regards to their mother/ father, it’s still the other half of that child, it’s part of them for their entire life!! They will know you are there, they will know you are LOVE, they will see in time who is right who is wrong you don’t have to bring that innocent child into the struggle more than needed . They are two parts of that family and just be thankful that child was brought into the world by the love of those two people at that one point in time. The child is the point and that’s all that matters , not the parents not the divorce or the past , it’s the child. Love them , care for them the best you can and they will be ok. Just NEVER SAY ANYTHING TO BASH THE OTHER PARENT TO THE CHILD OR IN FRONT OF THAT CHILD , NO MATTER HOW MUCH U MAY WANT TO ,BC IT IS LIKE BASHING THAT CHILD IN THEIR LITTLE MINDS, JUST LIVE LOVE AND GO ON.
Anyways just my little comment and opinion , thank you for sharing your story , thank you for hearing ours.

Emma Heming Willis says:

Thank you for your sharing. I loved reading this xxx

Sally says:

As a stepdaughter, I loved reading this. I come from a family with a similar makeup; my brother, sister, and I are the three ‘original’ siblings and we have two much younger siblings (now ages 16 and 14) from my dad and stepmom. My stepmom joined our family when she was 29 and I was 13. Today, I am 29 and I have an even greater appreciation for her as I realize how difficult it must have been for her to suddenly find herself in a parental role to three children between the ages of 7 to 13, especially since my brother and sister felt they were being disloyal to our mom if they accepted her. Now, every year on their anniversary, I tell my stepmom how thankful I am that she is a part of my family. I cannot imagine my life without her in it. When I got married, I asked my stepmom to join my mom in helping me get dressed for the wedding. One of my favorite pictures from that day is of my mom zipping my wedding gown while my stepmom attaches my veil. Now, I am a mom to a two year old boy. The love that my stepmom and my son share is no different than any other grandparent and grandchild. My son is so fortunate to have three sets of loving grandparents; my in-laws, my dad and stepmom, and my mom and stepdad. Having a large, “patchwork” family is definitely not always easy, and through the years we have had our share of struggles and challenges, but I love to see loving stepparents get the respect and recognition that they deserve. The stepparent/stepchild relationship often gets such a negative portrayal in the media, so it’s nice to see more people sharing what a positive, beautiful, multi-faceted relationship that can be. Thank you for sharing a bit about your family and your experiences as a stepmother.

Stephanie says:

Dear Emma,
This is beautifully written. I have a niece that has had to take on being in a blended family and it hasn’t been easy for her. I wish I knew how I could help her adjust. I think she’s afraid to get attached because her parents’ relationships have not lasted and then she feels she has to be loyal to her parents and separate herself from the bond she created with their significant others. Your blended family is an amazing example I hope she can learn from.

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