What on earth would make a woman quit a job she loves flying around the world on a private jet meeting A-list celebrities, dignitaries, and sports figures? Love, of course. I had never planned on falling in love with a man who had kids. Truth be told, I was hoping my future involved a hot masseuse from Sweden named Sven, but that’s another story. So after working a flight from New York to LA I find myself quickly putting a beautiful Gulfstream Jet “to bed” and driving an hour to The Montage hotel restaurant in Laguna Beach for a blind date. Crazy, I know (blame the jet-lag).
At the time, I knew a little about my blind date’s life story and thought he looked cute in photos so I decided, “Why not?” One of my favorite quotes is from a sci-fi book in which a character named Sir Dog states, “Seconds matter more than minutes because you’re whole life can be changed in one second.” By the end of our blind date I left the restaurant hearing a little voice in my head saying, “I think that’s what I’ve been looking for.” It was a very odd thought, because I was most definitely not looking for complicated life, but I found it.
Six months later it was time to meet the kids. I was nervous, they were nervous. We were all a little awkward with the adults hoping things went well, and the kids hoping it would all be over soon. Rice Krispie treats helped smooth the meeting. It went well enough and before I knew it I was deep in developing three relationships at the same time –which wasn’t all that new as a serial dater (also a story for another time), but the difference was I actually cared to make these relationships work. “Work” being the operative word; or rather, “hard work” and a big, sharp learning curve.
We met each other’s friends and families. I was introduced to the importance of baseball in their lives (this was mildly traumatic as I’m the independent sort who participated in swimming and gymnastics.). Overall, I was armed with naïve bravery and a can-do attitude. I thought, “Seriously, my job is all consuming and if I can make movie stars happy…well…how hard could a man and two athletic little boys be?” We got engaged.
Since flying required a 24/7 on call schedule that didn’t jive with married life, I quit my old love for my new love and gave myself three months to plan a December wedding in San Francisco (my suggestions: get a wedding planner; rent your bridesmaids). Then Christmas came along with our delayed honeymoon to Brisbane (to see Steve Irwin’s Australia Zoo and to get my first international speeding ticket), and Sydney, Australia (we almost missed our flight home thinking we were a day behind schedule). We returned refreshed and feeling ready to get back into family life. Never fear, super-stepmom is here!
A year later, we moved to the Bay Area, and enrolled the boys in high school. Freshman year of high school is usually an awkward time for kids adjusting to a larger school and it was my first experience with the awkwardness that can come along with blended family life: being mistaken as a child by a teacher when I went to school in my yoga clothes to buy gym shorts for the boys. Sigh. Taking the boys to their dentist appointment and being mistaken, again, for their friend (I was again wearing yoga clothes). This started me thinking about two things: 1) I need to buy more sophisticated yoga clothes and 2) how long the road was actually going to be for us to form a family. I decided that day to only buy Lulu Lemon Athletica yoga clothes and I also began wondering about ways to make blended family life easier.
Those thoughts were the catalyst for grad school. I entered the Wright Institute in Berkeley, California where I eventually earned my Master’s degree in Psychology in 2014 and started a career as a Marriage and Family Therapist Intern and Professional Clinical Counselor Intern.
With much of the initial hysteria and chaos that surrounds being a part of a blended family behind us (after six years, which is about the norm for blended families to feel cohesive) – we took our chances on adding a baby to the brood. We lucked out (in the middle of my grad school studies) in 2012 when our daughter was born. We were overjoyed, but the boys sweetly confessed to having hoped a European vacation was the “big Christmas surprise,” rather than a little sister. Such is life, and now, though a European vacation is still high on their list, they wouldn’t trade their little sister for it.
So, my life: married to my widowed, sporty-surfer-guy who is trying to change the world for the better by bringing music therapy to children’s hospitals around the nation, and Mom to twin boys (22-years-old at this writing) who are crazy fantastic athletes, all around good guys, and great big brothers to our four-year-old daughter. I consider the boys as mine though I can’t pretend to take credit for their biological perfection, I can say I am their Mom (not their Mother) and we have all influenced each other for the better. Without them I wouldn’t be as patient, or understanding with my daughter. And our daughter has helped our family bond and blend more than anything else. She adores her big brothers.
That’s the nutshell. I know it’s more of a coconut shell than a peanut shell, but where blended families are concerned nothing is simple for a very long time.