I assumed that by the time I was entering into my 15th year of blended family bliss that our issues would be behind us  -  we would surely be fully blended by then.  Boy was I wrong!  THE BLENDER NEVER STOPS BLENDING! No matter how long you've been together! No matter how many storms you've weathered landing on the other side safely - there's always a new challenge waiting around the corner.

Some expected - some unexpected - some a complete blindside.


Our family life has faced major changes over the past two years.  Two kids off to College - EXPECTED. Figuring out who I am AGAIN as an almost empty nester - UNEXPECTED. My  lack of a relationship with my youngest Step Daughter - BLINDSIDE. 

When I divorced my Ex Husband 20 years ago, he threatened to make sure our daughter knew who "I really was."  Not surprising his view wasn't particularly flattering.  Several months later he jumped into a relationship with his now former Wife and Elle's former Step Mom, Malus.   In short order, Malus self appointed herself the enforcer of my Ex Husband's promise and took over 99% of his parenting duties. Which by default meant I was co-parenting with a narcissist that was not my Ex.

Co Parenting With A Narcissist That Is Not Your Ex

I didn't immediately see that Malus was a narcissist. Initially she seduced me into thinking she was my friend, greatest ally - bringing me into her inner circle. The circle that the outside world never sees because otherwise they would be total outcasts. The circle that becomes a nightmare once you're inside. 

"She turned the lights off - we were in complete darkness."  Michele(Dance Instructor) said "close your eyes - relax your body - go to your happiest memory." "It probably sounds corny, but my mind immediately went to the day I saw you walk out the doors of the airport."

Elle didn't have to say another word - I knew exactly what she was talking about and I my eyes filled with tears.  The scene from an airport

Twenty years ago I became a Mother for the first time. It was nine months in the making.  Nine months with an up close and personal relationship with my shiny white toilet bowl. Many nights I wondered as I hugged the toilet bowl for dear life - what genius had coined the term morning sickness anyway? How dare they give an expectant mother a false sense of hope that it would magically stop when the clock struck noon. Try the stroke of Midnight with an emotionally spent expectant mother sobbing on the bathroom floor in complete darkness.  


An open letter from a Mom to the StepMom a few weeks ago went viral and with it the implication a Mom and StepMom's ideal relationship should be that of two Besties. While in theory it sounds like a reachable goal, reality paints a far more challenging picture that has all the makings of friendship never happening.  The better alternative, the one more likely to succeed is creating an atmosphere of Friendly Not Friends With The Ex.



It would have been relatively easy, like falling out of bed to raise Elle as a victim.  After all, I divorced her Dad when she was only a year old and Elle's Father never really got over it.  Choosing to punish me for doing so at the expense of Elle.  Still I made a conscious choice not to fall into victimhood for either Elle or myself. There has always, even at the age of 1, been far more to Elle than the things that went wrong in her life.


The challenges that fell in Elle's lap would of course change her, but it was always up to me as her Mother to help her harness them in a way that shaped her, but never defined her. 

I remember the day Raylan's Ex Wife (one of them) said I feel like Lisa has totally REPLACED me - Raylan and I were not married, nor living together. It had come on the heels of Raylan telling Greta how happy we were to be taking the next step - living together.

With one brush Greta had tagged me as Raylan's Replacement Wife. A woman stepping into her shoes; the ones she no longer wanted to wear, but didn't want anyone else to wear either. Only to me, I didn't feel like I had replaced her, nor Raylan's other Ex Wife - I had brought my own pair of shoes to wear to my own party. People from her life were apart of the new life Raylan and I had created - I was not apart of the life she had chosen to leave behind.  

As an Ex Wife myself - divorced from my Ex Husband 17 years now - I don't recall feeling like Dick's Wife had replaced me. It didn't mean I wasn't innocent in discounting her role.

When I was young I had full blown panic attacks at bedtime - I was afraid I would close my eyes and never wake up - be all alone in total blackness. As much as my parents tried to console me - tell me I wasn't going to die until I was old and gray and when I did it wouldn't be blackness, but something rather beautiful -  I just couldn't wrap my head around how that could be possible.  



When I was a kid, I always assumed when I grew up bullies wouldn't exist.  The Internet shattered that fantasy with an all-new low for bullying; hate, intimidation, threats lobbed at victims from the safety of a cartoon character avatar and fake name. For a long time I chose to look the other way.  It was "their" war not mine.  


Then I became a StepMom and like so many women before me became a Disposable Woman in the eyes of the Cyber Bullies.


Sixteen years ago, my Hubby and I decided that I would be a Stay At Home Blended Mom (SAHBM).  I never really saw myself as a Stay At Home Mom (SAHM), but having spent the first five years of Elle's life working full time along with a 50/50 custody arrangement the SAHBM idea sounded very appealing.  I would have far more time available to spend with my Daughter on our scheduled days.   

Finding The Woman Behind The SAHM

My fantasy of having oodles of time to spend with Elle was thrown into a tailspin before I had one full week under my belt: my then 13 year old StepSon Chris came to live with us full time.


I'm not quite sure how it happened, but I've gained 17 pounds over a three-year period.  Now on my third scale, I've accepted the fact that it's probably not a problem with the scale. Nor is it something I ate, water weight or just a temporary phase.  Nope the weight has received permanent resident status.  The result an out of shape body and soul.

After some in-depth soul searching, a Google search, I landed on Cardio Barre. 

Ever notice that whenever someone either writes or talks about divorce there is always those vocal group of perfectionists letting all of us who are divorced know that we are, well, quitters? Opining that we divorcees like to take the easy way out in life, while they meanwhile do all the hard work by staying married.  

Never for one moment have I entertained the notion that I somehow took the easy way out by divorcing my first Husband.  FIVE reasons why Divorce is never the EASY choice: