Hilaria Baldwin is not taking comments about her relationship with her stepdaughter Ireland lightly.
A week after the fitness instructor and Mom Brain co-host addressed critics on social media who pointed out that she doesn’t bring husband Alec Baldwin‘s 23-year-old daughter up in her posts as much as she does her four children with the actor — Carmen Gabriela, 5½, and sons Romeo Alejandro David, 11 months, Leonardo Ángel Charles, 2½, and Rafael Thomas, 3½ — she opens up to PEOPLE about why she chose to post about it publicly.
“That was super horrible,” says Hilaria, 35, who has partnered with Baby Bum on their You’re a Good Mom campaign. “This woman said to me, ‘You mean you have five children.’ I wanted to be like, ‘First of all … I’m not sitting down at a desk Instagramming, I am doing it on the go. Sometimes I have multiple people in my arms or am getting a coffee and taking 5 minutes to myself. And you are nitpicking at my words.’ “
“[Ireland, Alec and I] always have such humor of how the outside world sees you. ‘Cause we all have a great relationship, and we’re always laughing when people say these things of, ‘Oh, they forgot about her.’ We just are like, ‘Oh my God, if people only knew. Why are they wasting their time?’ ” she adds.
“But then it gets to a point where I felt like, this woman who wrote it, she was disrespecting my stepchild and my relationship with my stepchild. And then I’m like, ‘Okay, that’s it.’ “
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In her lengthy tribute last week, Hilaria wrote in part of Ireland, “Sometimes my language about my biological children does not include her. Because I did not birth her and I never want to disrespect the fact that she has a wonderful mother. But this will never take away from how much I love her, need her in my life, and think that she is one of the best things that has ever happened to me. Please don’t look for trouble where there is none.”
Hilaria tells PEOPLE now that she responded to the criticizer because her comment “hit a chord,” which led the woman to actually apologize and Hilaria to post her message about Ireland, because she “felt like it was an important conversation” to lead.
“We have had a great relationship,” she says of herself and Ireland, whose mom is Alec’s ex-wife Kim Basinger. “There’s obviously things in the past … with her parents, they’ve suffered, and I don’t get involved in that. I think that’s one of the smartest things I’ve ever done. I’m here, everybody knows that I love them and I care about them and if they need me I’m here, and I’m never going to put my nose where my nose doesn’t belong.”
Hilaria recalls coming into Alec and Ireland’s life when she was 27 and Ireland was still a teenager, when she sat the latter down and told her, ” ‘If this is not okay, I’m not gonna stay, and that’s just out of respect for you and your dad and your mom, but also for me.’ “
“I was not ready to step into something that was gonna be extraordinarily dramatic,” she tells PEOPLE. “I’m a big believer that love is love, but love is also timing and situation. If the situation wasn’t right, then it wasn’t gonna be right for me.”
“There’s people who have very small children or the ex-wife still has feelings for the husband. All of these different things where that was not my situation whatsoever,” Hilaria continues. “So I really stepped into the situation when the timing was right, if that makes sense.”
And according to the yoga instructor, “Ireland and her mom have a great relationship” while Hilaria has an “independent relationship with everybody” and is “a strong believer” in the power of their family dynamic.
“Ireland is so smart, so funny, she just is a special soul. And yes, a lot of that is just who she is,” Hilaria shares. “But it’s also nurture, and that is her mother and her father. They did a really great job creating a really, really fantastic kid.”
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One of Hilaria’s favorite parts of her relationship with Ireland is that it runs the gamut in the sense that they can get their nails done together, talk for hours on end or sit silently and know that everything is okay.
“We eat together, we’ll laugh together, we’ll hang out with my kids together, we’ll do all of that,” she reveals to PEOPLE. “But a lot of it is we’ll just sit down and be quiet and in terms of no speaking or nothing, and then it’s just chat for hours and hours and hours.”
“That’s when you know that you have a really good relationship with somebody — you can talk and it’s like time was going so quickly because you’re just having such a good time,” Hilaria says.
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