Writer Nora McInerney says her kids aren't step-siblings—they're just siblings

"I took the lead from the big kids because really right away without being asked, they called Ralph their little brother," McInerney shares in the newest episode of Motherly's podcast.

Writer Nora McInerney says her kids aren't step-siblings—they're just siblings
Nora McIerney

Nora McInerney is a podcaster, an author and a mother who has been through it.

In 2014 McInerney was a new mom when she suffered a miscarriage during her second pregnancy, lost her father to cancer and then lost her husband to cancer. Her story is about the power of resiliency and honesty. And if you ask her how she's doing, she's going to give it to you straight.

On social media, in her book, It's Okay To Laugh (Crying Is Cool Too), and through her podcast, Terrible, Thanks For Asking, McInerney shares her story and helps other women share their own and be okay with the bad days.

During the fifth episode of The Motherly Podcast, McInerney tells Motherly co-founder Liz Tenety about becoming a mother, a widow, and a step-mother and how, in her house, there's no such thing as step-siblings or half-siblings, there's just family.

When McInerney's first husband, Aaron, died of brain cancer in 2014 the couple's toddler son Ralph was an only child, as McInerney suffered a miscarriage six weeks before her husband's death.

But when McInerney's heart made room for her second husband, Matthew, it also made room for Ralph's future siblings. He lost the title of only child but gained loving siblings even before McInerney and Matthew welcomed another child together.

According to McInerney, Matthew's kids (who were 10 and 15 at the time) made it clear from the beginning that they weren't into labels like step-brother. "I believe that I took the lead from the big kids because really right away without being asked, they called Ralph their little brother," she tells Tenety. "They'd be, oh, this my little brother, and they've never said step-brother and they've never called the baby their half-brother, and kids don't naturally think about love in degrees."

Neither does McInerney, whose heart, like the Room of Requirement in Harry Potter, has expanded in just the right way. "And I think this is different for different step moms and different situations, but I don't love these kids differently. I truly love them the same as the ones who came out of me. Their pain is my pain and their success is my success," she shares.

McInerney's family looks different than she once thought it would, but it's not broken, it is filled with love. In her second book, No Happy Endings (currently available for preorder), McInerney explains that there are no happy endings in life—but there will be new beginnings.

It's a message so many mamas who want to move forward, but not move on, need to hear.

To hear more about McInerney experiences in motherhood and blending her family, listen to The Motherly Podcast, sponsored by Prudential, for the full interview.

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Create a school-ready capsule wardrobe for your kids

Dress for success whether virtual learning or in the classroom!

Tina Meeks

Going "back to school" this year may be less of a literal statement than in years past—but there is just as much reason for your kids to celebrate moving on to new grades. Just like in every new school year, a big part of the fun is refreshing your kids' wardrobe with clothes that allow them to express themselves.

Even if finding back to school clothes this year doesn't include a trip to the mall, you can still make an event of it by shopping H&M's kids collection from your computer. Pull up another chair for your shopping buddy and get the cart started with these fave capsule wardrobe options we've already scouted.

Here are our favorite picks:

A t-shirt made for play

H&M t-shirt

Call them essentials, not basics. A graphic t-shirt aces the test when it comes to being perfect for school. And because your little student will probably want to wear something that expresses their personal style as often as possible, it's great to know the shirts can stand up to school time, playtime, downtime and everything in between!


Dressed-up casual shorts for total comfort

H&M boy shorts

Whether pulling up a chair for a virtual meeting with the class or heading back to the school for in-person learning, some comfortable, yet stylish, shorts will help your kid focus on the real tasks at hand: learning—and having fun while doing it!


Layers for when seasons change

H&M sweatshirt

When it comes to feeling comfortable at school, layers are the MVPs. Whether the AC is blasting or the day started off cool and is warming up quickly, having a unique sweatshirt to shed or add will help your kid look cool while staying warm.


A bit of flair with distressed denim

H&M distressed jeans

A school staple for generations, denim is both classic and continually fashionable with updates like distressing and new wash colors. If you're shopping online for jeans this year, take note of H&M's generous return policy—your kids can try on the orders at home and return anything that doesn't fit without a trip to the store.


A fashion statement piece

H&M girls skirt

What's better than expressing yourself through a stylish outfit when school is back in session? Still feeling perfectly comfortable and ready to tackle anything the day holds while looking so good. With so many fashion-forward looks available at budget-friendly prices, H&M's children's collection means every kid can find an outfit that speaks to them.


Some comfy kicks

H&M boys shoes

A sure way to put a little pep in your child's step this year, cool and cozy shoes are a staple on all back-to-school shopping lists for good reason. (Plus, it's fun to compare them to last year's shoes to see how much your kid has grown!)


Anything-but-basic blouses

H&M girls blouse

Whether in the classroom or showing up for a video call with the class, a styling blouse or button-down shirt is a great way for your student to comfortably dress up the day. Better yet? Style doesn't have to come at the expense of comfort with so many made-to-move tops designed just for kids.


A shirt ready to go whatever the day holds

H&M boys shirt

With "going to school" meaning anything from showing up in the classroom to doing a virtual session, it's important to have clothes that are perfect for anything the day holds. A classic, cotton shirt with a fashion-forward design is a great way to keep your student feeling ready to start the year with an A+ attitude.


This article was sponsored by H&M. Thank you for supporting the brands that support Motherly and mamas.

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