Gone fishing…will return with a new post shortly!
Archive for May, 2009
So my lovely tall, thin, blonde editor, who wears all the fabulous clothes I would wear if I were about 1,000 pounds thinner and several feet taller (think blue jeans and anything with an empire waist), sent me an email yesterday alerting me to the fact that a new issue of the Wild River would be going out. And it was time for me to put up a new post. (I guess she didn’t see my neurotic Jewish pizza rap as having much of a shelf life. Go figure.)
In her request, she mentioned a new book (she couldn’t remember the name) offering practical advice to stepmothers about the experience. “Perhaps you can give one piece of advice for stepmothers yourself,” she suggested.
Well, Joy, my tall drink of water, at the risk of being subordinate, I would be delighted to share my emerald insight. Here it is:
To all you new stepmothers out there, old stepmothers, people preparing to be a stepmother, dating a man with children and hoping to be a stepmother, hating a stepmother, loving a stepmother, wishing to be a stepmother in a next life, recovering from being a stepmother in a past life, trying to have empathy for a stepmother, or just plain curious about what it takes to be a stepmother and why they tend to have addiction issues (uh, like food), listen up.
When it comes to step-parenting, the best thing you can do for yourself is detach from your new spouse’s children. Early. As early as possible–perhaps after the first date or email, if you’re online dating–if even at least in your mind.
Step away from the little buggers. Treat them like nuclear canisters with arms and legs and heads–similar to the kind Tony Almeda, the little cockroach traitor, stole in an attempt to blow up stuff on my favorite show 24 (sans the limbs and cranium).
Unless you’re the kind of person who can’t resist temptation or needs to have what you know you can’t. In that case, go ahead and pat them carefully on the noggin every once in a while (just light enough so the canister doesn’t go off) or let them put a spoon under your nose from time to time so they know you’re breathing. But don’t overdo it. Trust me. This is good advice.
In fact, it’s the very kind a dear friend of mine, a spurned stepparent herself, tried to give me when Dan and I first started out. And I was overzealous in embracing his kids–naïve enough to think that they would be a delightful new addition to my family. That I might get to bond with children after all, since I hadn’t had any of my own. (Notice I didn’t say parent, I said bond. Big difference.)
She said, “I know you’re excited to have C and Heidi (at that time) in your life. I hope it works out well for you, Jill. “
“Why wouldn’t it? I think it’ll be really nice to have them around. They are, after all, Dan’s kids. I love him. And they’re just terrific girls.”
“Just don’t expect much, that’s all I’m saying.” And, boy oh boy, give that girl a prize! She was RIGHT.
But sadly, I did expect much, too much. Still do sometimes, despite my better judgment.
Case in point: The other day I sent Steppy, who we haven’t seen in a few weeks, a fairly long text message (only the third ever) about how her dad was getting his hair cut that weekend (she was concerned he was starting to look like Miley Cyrus) and how I’d gotten her the “cutest two pairs of flip flops ever, you’re gonna love them!”
Truth be told, I was excited to send it and get her response (because idiots never learn by definition). But a response never came. So when my husband came home, I promptly accosted him with the facts: “I sent C a text today and never heard back from her. Have you talked to her lately? Is everything okay?” But I knew it was…in my gut. I’d seen that kid on a keypad–and how she hopped on a new message. She was just choosing to ignore me.
He looked empathetically perplexed and, in an attempt to see if she had her cell phone on (since her mother often confiscates it as punishment for bad behavior), sent her a text himself. She responded within two seconds.
I felt like crying.
Which brings me back full circle to my advice for new step-parents: If you enjoy having your heart broken, go way out of your way for your stepchild. Drop everything for them. Try hard to make them feel loved. Buy them stuff. Make it expensive. Be super duper generous. Offer to give them a steel rod and ask them, politely of course, if they wouldn’t mind shoving it up your favorite orifice. Draw them a map. (After all, they’re just kids, for goodness sakes, they may not know the most painful spot.)
But if you don’t enjoy having your heart broken, detach. Early and often. Make pretend they’re invisible. Oh sure, step around them (never ever on them as that may make things precarious from a legal perspective), but that’s as far as you should go in the acknowledgement department.
Trust me. And you’re welcome.
Until next time!
Must. Have. Pizza. Now.
Must. Ignore. Today’s. E-mail. Solicitation. To. Join. Senior. Dating. Network.
Not. Sure. Why. I. Got. It.
But. If. I’m. Old. Enough. To. Date. Seniors. Online.
I. Deserve. Pizza.
Make. Me. Stop.
I got a job. Yes. I GOT A JOB. Jill is ready to leave the building. (Again.) And this time, I’m confident my new position will not be eliminated after 16 days. (Newbies, see posts dated mid-December.)
Now I know you’ve all been listening to me complain about how lonely it is to work from home day in and day out, so you must all be delighted that I will no longer be whining about how much I miss human interaction. I will warn you, however, in advance that I may begin complaining about the converse (not having enough alone time), so please feel free to remind me of the pages of ranting I’ve done about seeing dead people as a result of being left to my own imagination for far too long. I will not be offended or upset. To the contrary, a gentle nudge and a little perspective can go a long way. Especially for someone like me, with middle-aged memory loss, who can get stuck in the muck of my own quicksand all too fast.
So what will I be doing? What I have essentially been doing for myself, except for someone else: Starting a communications practice for a consulting firm specializing in employee benefits design and administration. See, I’ve already got the lingo down.
But never fear: I will never lose my own lingo–the kind that drives me to think outside of the lines and share with you what thrills and scares me most about life. The kind that reminds me that I am a creative being (one of the things I like most about the new gig which, although it sounds technical, allows for a lot of inspired pondering). And most importantly, the kind that feeds me most, no matter what my day job.
I will simply integrate it with the new language to put my own personal stamp on the challenge. And I’m up for it. In fact, I notice that I’m more up for it than I might have been in the past, when I believed the only route to happiness and success was to be a famous novelist.
And yet, as the years pass, I realize that I no longer need to be a well-known brand on the virtual shelves of Amazon.com to enjoy my life. That I can be perfectly content writing anything, and using my right and left brain for a positive end–whatever that looks like. I’m totally open. As long as is offers me the chance to be creative and purposeful, I’m okay.
Because, at this stage of the game, I want to do good work that offers me the resources to be fully present in all aspects of whatever. From solving problems in the meeting room to spending a quiet Sunday morning at home with my husband, Charles Osgood, and a cup of French Roast. I’m looking for happy clients during the day and a good game of tennis after hours. The leisure time to read up on social networking for communicators and to cruise the gluten-free strip at the grocery store. I want growing time with colleagues, and down time with friends, family, and the people who matter most.
This is all new to me: The revelation that happiness no longer has to be about sitting a room alone creating a fictional reality–hoping it will lead me to a seat across from Oprah and an adoring audience. And it’s kinda cool. I no longer have the same fire in my belly for fame. I now know having lived for four decades that kind of thing doesn’t count for much. I also no longer need the validation.
Besides, when I’m jonesing to tell a story, I just do it here. (Thank you readers–and rest assured, I am not going anywhere!) And then, find the beauty in other pursuits – those I may not have imagined for myself once-upon-a-time. But do now. It feels good.
Which leads me to the new job: It’s a biggie and a goodie. If it were a pizza, it’d be a meat-lovers special. If it were a cookie, it’d be chocolate chip and macadamia nut. If it were a house, it’d be on a Northern beach–not too hot and not too cold–with a gentle breeze and lots of windows. If it were a new outfit, it’d be a blend of cotton and silk, black on the bottom and baby blue on the top, comfortable and hugging my curves in just the right ways simultaneously. And, of course, if it were a man, it’d be my husband.
Anyway, I start on June 1. So, sorry Oprah girl and, of course, my hero Dr. Phil. I’ll miss you. And to all of you imaginary folks I’ve made up in the spirit of survival, nothing personal.
Stay tuned for the preparations…until next time!