Last Friday, actress Kate Hudson announced in an Instagram post that she is expecting again. “A little girl on the way,” she wrote. Hudson has two other children, from previous relationships, 14 year-old Ryder Robinson, with The Black Crowes singer Chris Robinson, and six year-old Bingham Hawn Bellamy, with Muse’s Matt Bellamy. When I read the news, I was super excited for the actress, of whom I’ve always admired for a number of reasons.
I first met Kate Hudson, on a press junket in Los Angeles, when she was promoting her movie Le Divorce. I was the only female in a roomful of male reporters. When Hudson saw that I was pregnant too, she pretty much ignored all the other reporters and we chatted about our pregnancies. By then, I was already feeling (and looking) like a whale, and she barely looked pregnant at all. We talked about her cravings for all things sour. Since then, our paths in life have been somewhat parallel.
Hudson gave birth to her first baby a handful of months after I gave birth to my first born. She also split with her first husband, just around the time I was splitting up with mine. Hudson then went on to get engaged, and remained engaged for years, just as I did. By then, we both were pregnant with our second child, each with another man. She never married the father of her second child, and doesn’t seem, yet, to have any plans to marry her boyfriend, just as I never married the father of my second child (or the first, for that matter.)
I just knew that when she announced her third pregnancy, that at least a handful of news outlets, if not mostly all of them, just wouldn’t be able to stop themselves from mentioning that the beautiful and talented actress already has two other children from two other men. I was right. Take Hello Magazine’s headline, which reads, ‘Surprise! Kate Hudson announces she’s pregnant – watch the baby genre reveal!’ which would have been just fine. But then the subtext above the story read, ‘The actress already has two sons from previous relationships.’ Why does that part – the fact that she already has two kids from two previous relationships – have to be front and center?
I guess people are interested in what it’s like to have multiple children by different men. I know only too well what it’s like to have two children with two different men, and what it’s like to have to explain having children with different fathers. This includes, but not limited to, curious stares, questions, and, yes, sadly, judgment.
A columnist who was once writing about me over a story I wrote that went viral—a story that had absolutely nothing to do with me having two children from two different fathers—just *had* to throw in, “Eckler has another child from a previous relationship.” This women’s column was supposed to be about modern parenting. It was anything but.
I’m fiercely protective of my children, so I called her out on it. This was a woman writer whose house I had been to. Even worse, I thought we were friends. She eventually did take that line out, but I will never forget that she added it in, nor do I feel a need to forgive her. Why? Her tone was completely judgmental. To me, there is nothing worse than mothers not supporting other mothers.
I can’t count the number of times I’ve had to say to people, that yes, I have two children with two different men, and THEN feel the need to add on, “I had my second child with another man…9 years after my first,” because of the judgement I feel. And there is judgment, even if it’s a stunned nanosecond, before they respond, with, ‘Oh!.’ So what is it that intrigues people about women who have children with different men?
My two children from different daddies!
First, I think that many people don’t comprehend my aversion, or ambivalence, to marriage. I’ve only ever been engaged. My parents have been happily married for 51 years, so I have good role models. I have nothing against marriage—when it comes to others.
Let me be real. I really don’t know exactly why people seem to care about why I have two different baby daddies, but I can tell you what it’s like and what mothers who have children with two, even three different men—like Kate Winslet—is like. I am fortunate to get along with both my baby daddies. Mostly, like any family with more than one child, it is a constant logistical challenge. I need to be organized, when it comes to making plans for my children, just in a slightly different way. Like, “Oh, Rowan your Daddy is coming to town. You’ll be staying with him for three days so you’ll need to pack all your school uniforms, plus other clothes.” And, “Holt, don’t forget your iPad when you go to Daddy’s house!” Or, I’ll have to say to my son, “Rowan is with her Daddy,” when he asks where his sister is, just like I have to do with my daughter about her brother.
The greatest challenge, quite frankly, is the damn paperwork. Over March Break, when I took just the kiddos to Mexico—a Daddies-free vacation—I needed two different travel letters, from each father, to travel out of the country. Same goes for filling out other forms, like passports, when I need signatures from one Daddy for one kid and another from another Dad. And, my children each have different last names—their fathers.
The fathers of my children have completely opposite personalities, and I’ve learned how to be, act, and converse with each of them, unlike my friends who have been married for years and know just how to deal with one partner.
Hudson is pregnant with her 3rd child. That makes Baby Daddy #3
Sometimes I think people are simply curious, wondering themselves what it would be like to have children with different genetic makeups. As recently as last week, when I took my son to his Tai Kwon Do class, and brought my daughter along, a kind man there with his children couldn’t believe that my son, Holt, who has sandy blonde hair and blue eyes was my kid, when my daughter has chocolate brown hair and eyes just like me.
Both of my children’s fathers don’t really know each other and, honestly, they don’t really ask about the children that are not theirs by blood. I have had to teach my children that while they have the same mother, they each have different fathers. It gets confusing sometimes for other people, too. They ask me how many children I have and how old they are and then say, “Wow! That’s a big gap in age!” Because the age difference between my daughter and son is almost a decade, I feel the need to explain that my daughter is from a previous relationship and my son is from my second relationship.
When it comes to family, I am a huge believer in loyalty. In my son’s room, there are photographs of his father. In my daughter’s room, there are photos of her father. My daughter is very loyal to her father, my son is loyal to his.
When it comes to celebrating Father’s Day or my baby daddy’s birthdays, I make sure that my two children do or make something nice for their respective fathers. Likewise, on Mother’s Day, I get gifts or notes from both my children’s fathers.
I wouldn’t change a thing about my life…except, maybe, all the damn paperwork. This is all I have to say to Hudson: Congratulations!
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