I accidentally referred to my half-brother as my step-brother in a post, and he was quick to text me about it. I was writing about my stepfather who begat my half-brother, so you might understand the confusion.
The slip-up highlights the problem with these terms– these are my real family. My “step”-father was a step up from my real, or biological, father; my “half-brother” is more whole to me than my real, DNA-equal brothers. And I once had a son-in-law that felt every bit like a soul son. Putting an X in front of that term didn’t cross out any of my familial feelings when he and our daughter divorced. I have a sister-in-law who is more of a sister to me, and more of an aunt to my daughter than my real sister, and that’s okay.
I’m okay with all of these relationships, just not satisfied with the terms left to denote them. None of these terms are accurate signifiers of the relationships they represent.
When my little brother texted me, I apologized and said we’d just have to LOL, that we were in need of new terms, like “heart emoji” bro. He liked that.
And now I think it’s time to come up with some new terms.