Black love is alive and well, folks. And if you need any reminders, scroll on over to Dwyane Wade's Instagram to catch all the feels.
Whether they're relaxing by the beach or attending high-profile events, Dwyane Wade and Gabrielle Union exude true love, friendship, and all the things we think of when it comes to #couplegoals. But as they say, the grass is greenest where you water it, and in the Wades' case, they have had to overcome their own set of struggles.
Since getting married back in 2014, the couple has battled fertility issues, with Union recently revealing that she's finally been diagnosed with Adenomyosis after years of struggling through intense menstrual cycles and suffering eight or nine miscarriages. The blended family continues to thrive, however, with Union comfortably assuming the role as stepmother to Wade's four boys: sons Zaire, Zion and Xavier, and Wade's nephew, Dahveon, who also lives with them.
Related: Gabrielle Union on Infertility Diagnosis: "My Body Has Been a Prisoner of Trying to Get Pregnant"
The baller hubby recently took to Instagram to gush about his wife's role as a stepmom, stating that this is the actress' "most important role."
"She's a ⭐ in her most important role. I wanna acknowledge my wife and the kids stepmom for being everything that each boy and I have needed her to be. We couldn't have wished for more @gabunion … Thank you for loving us!"
Motherhood is not always for every woman, and sometimes something has to spark inside of you to even consider wanting to become one. For Union, she has previously confessed that she never pictured herself as a mother until she married Wade. Her connection with her stepsons has shown her how precious the act of motherhood can be, and she relishes in her role as a "bonus Mom." She told PEOPLE:
"I never wanted kids...Then I became a stepmom, and there was no place I'd rather be than with them."
Being a bonus mom comes with its own set of rules and regulations. For Union, she recognizes her boundaries as a stepmother, but also believes that it takes a village to raise the children. She wants to be there for the boys, both physically and emotionally, while lifting them up, teaching them valuable lessons, and remaining consistent and present in their everyday lives. She says of her role:
"The secret to being a good stepmom is to stay in your lane, to love them with everything that you have, but never forget that they have parents. Their parents hold the vast majority of the space, and it's your job to lift them up, support them, to have their back and to be an additional responsible, consistent, reasonable adult in the kids' lives. Getting to be a part of shaping our future leaders, watching them be compassionate and apply the lessons that you teach in your household, is so rewarding."
"The secret to being a good stepmom is to stay in your lane, to love them with everything that you have, but never forget that they have parents."
Union credits the way she was raised for this village mentality and even says they don't really use the term "stepparent". She revealed:
"And I found that way, but that comes from just the family that I come from and the way that we were raised, and nobody's left out. Not even stepparents. We don't even call it that!"
And in a world where race still plays a significant role in our daily lives, Union is fully aware that she is required to have certain uncomfortable conversations with her young, black stepsons. Earlier this year, Union revealed that she had to have a discussion about colorism with the boys, and had to address that the fact that the media has historically put lighter skinned women on a pedestal that causes society to see darker skinned women as less beautiful.
Coming from one of the most beautiful dark skinned women on the planet, I can imagine how uncomfortable yet empowering having this conversation must have been. She told Refinery29 about the time she asked the boys to show her the flyest black girls in their school, and this is what she said:
"Literally, probably about 10 girls I looked at had the same light skin, curly hair, tiny waist, butt, boobs — it was the same girl over and over again...So I asked them to show me the most beautiful chocolate sister they've seen. They say there are none. I was like, 'Why do they get exed out so fast? What is happening in your brain that is causing you to look at these women through a prism that is distorting their actual selves?'"
She also knows that she has to confront discussions about the way society may perceive black boys and men in general. Union says she consistently reinforces in the boys the sad reality that excessive force against black and brown boys at the hands of the police is a real issue in America.
Related: A Conversation With Gabrielle Union On Black Sexuality, Marriage And 'The Birth Of A Nation'
She also shares that she wants her stepsons to be aware that even though they are privileged, they still face the same dangers as any other black man in America. In regards to police confrontations and living in an open carry state, she says:
"Our conversations about race and police are constant. And even if society didn't give us hashtags everyday to prompt us we'd be talking about it...I don't trust our neighbors to not see our teenage boys, our tall teenage boys as children and not as threats to 'put down.'"
Bottom line: raising kids is not easy. From what we can see, Union carries this load with grace and power. When a man is able to not only recognize the strength it takes to raise his kids but reminds everyone how much he appreciates it, that is to be celebrated.
Shoutout to all the bonus moms out there: we see you and we appreciate you!
Featured image by Kathy Hutchins / Shutterstock.com