Just last week, Ree Drummond, aka “The Pioneer Woman” on the Food Network, surprised her fans with something even better than her latest quarantine recipe. She told them about a new member of her family.
In a blog post titled “Bonus Kid,” the 51-year-old mother of four revealed that she’s really a mom to five, if you count her foster son, Jamar — and as she made clear during a Monday morning visit on TODAY, he definitely counts.
“He's been living with us for over a year and a half,” Drummond told co-anchors Savannah Guthrie and Hoda Kotb.
The blogger, television personality and author has a new book of essays out Tuesday called “Frontier Follies: Adventures in Marriage and Motherhood in the Middle of Nowhere,” and in it, she writes about Jamar’s role in her family.
“As I write in the book, Ladd, my husband, and myself never set out to be foster parents,” she said. “But Jamar’s circumstances kind of presented themselves, and he’s just a full-on member of our family.”
Though Jamar has been a part of her clan for quite some time, Drummond explained why she had an obligation to remain tightlipped about his addition.
“Now I had a cooking show and other little elements of public life, and because of rules and regulations with the state agencies, I wasn’t able to share about Jamar,” she explained.
“I felt very protective of him when he first came to live with us,” she added. “So I didn’t want to kind of just thrust him out there.”
Eventually, Jamar had something to say about that.
“After a while, Jamar was like, ‘OK, I feel like I’m being hidden from the world.’” Drummond recalled. “So when he turned 18, I did write about him in the book. And I shared the essay with him before the book was published to make sure he was OK with it.”
The celebrity chef, who’s also mom to Alex, 23, Paige, 21, Bryce, 18, and Todd, 16, believes that her expanding brood is evidence that “life is interesting.”
She noted, “You just never know what’s going to come your way, and it’s been an amazing experience. You know, lots of little bumps in the road, but the same is true with my own teenage sons.
As Savannah mentioned during the interview, Jamar “seems to just complete” Drummond’s family.
“He really does, in so many wonderful ways,” the star responded. “He and my younger son, Todd, who’s 16, are actually just the best of friends. And the Jamar and Bryce are peers, they play football together. … Two or three years ago, if someone had told me I would be a foster mother, I couldn’t have predicted how that would have unfolded.”
And now she wouldn’t have it any other way.