Praise for stepmothers

My son spends half of his life under another roof with his father and a woman I did not choose. This woman rises earlier than she’d prefer to care for my son. She cooks meals for him, listens to him, plays with him, considers his preferences and needs and desires. She rides airplanes with him, holds him when he cries, advises him … Read More


I meet Pete and Teddy at the party supply store. It’s their weekend together but I have proposed that we repeat last year’s successful collaboration and select Teddy’s sixth-birthday-party schwag together. When I arrive, Teddy is gleefully fake-stabbing Pete with a variety of plastic swords, scythes, arrows and chainsaws with a gusto that reflects his complete deprivation of such play objects in both of … Read More

Four years

At the state-mandated parenting class that my husband and I took as a precursor to divorce, I heard a number that still rings in my ears. The therapist in front of the projector insisted that blending a family (as in, getting established with a new partner in a new home and integrating all of the kids) takes four years. Four years. My … Read More

We Are Less Alone Than We Believe

It was our final day of Disneyland, and I was feeling like a world champion. I had planned and paid for this trip, arranged for pet care with my standard multiple pages of instructions, packed for every possible mother-son contingency, spent a full day traveling in which I served as human snack vending machine and then, for three endless days, … Read More

Baby (Not) On Board

When Pete moved out, our son turned two. He was sleeping in a crib, speaking a few words, wearing diapers. Having become one with the baby monitor, I carried the sounds of him with me everywhere, listening for what he might want or need from the other side of sleep. He was the nerve center of my life and my … Read More