On the blend…

Blended families.

We think of the classic Brady Bunch situation, or the more complex arrangements where there are young children, remarried parents, custody and shared parenting. With effort this can work well, but often leads to headaches, holiday melt downs, and logistical nightmares.

What happens when old people, with grown children, pair up? Not a lot written about that…

Studley had two twenty-something children when he divorced his wife, and my children were college-aged when their dad and i split. Our courtship was fairly non-traditional, but after hanging out together for a few years, it was inevitable that our spawn would be introduced.

With my kids, it was a more organic process. In the early days of our relationship, they were either living at home, or at university and coming home fairly often. They’d spend time with us, we’d go out to dinner, hang out, watch movies, and they grew attached. Studley and i were also in the more enthusiastic stage of dating, and maintained an open relationship*, which meant he wasn’t my only date. There was only one other man they met, and neither liked him. They were “Team Studley” from the start…

Studley’s situation was quite different. His eldest lived out of state, and his youngest was away at university. There was also a bit more stress regarding the parental divorce, and no way for him to have a civil relationship with his ex-wife. It took more time for him to feel comfortable introducing his children to his “girlfriend”.

Things gelled a bit when i attended his son’s wedding a few years ago. Some combination of me being polite to their mother, and the kids seeing what a couple of dorks we were on the dance floor, seemed to break the ice. Their dad was happy! There have been a few other holiday gatherings over the years, more time spent together, closer connections, and conversations going deeper.

i was honored when his daughter introduced us to her trail family as “her parents” when we met her during her Appalachian Trail hike in August. Allowing things to proceed at their own pace was the right thing to do. It took time, but it took!

This year, his kids wanted to meet up somewhere for Christmas. We settled on renting a condo in Big Sky, Montana, with the goal of exploring somewhere new and getting outside to enjoy the snow. Not being quite as old and crusty experienced with travel planning, they chose the absolutely most expensive travel days for airfare!


Snowshoe hike. i’m on the left, and Studley is in the middle. It was -2 F  (-19 C). We did not die. 

Calling on my inner travel ninja, i was able to save a lot of money by hacking flights together, adding a 2 day layover in Denver. This allowed for a very quick stop with my son and his family the week before Christmas! The bonus? Studley’s daughter would be traveling with us – a chance for some ‘cross spawn’ time!

Over the years, there have been a few other opportunities for my kids to meet his kids, but they’ve been limited because they all live in far off places! Louisiana, Washington, DC, Colorado Springs and Izmir, Turkey! Doesn’t make it easy to get together for Sunday brunch!

It was an absolute delight to see my son and his wife connect with his daughter. She didn’t mind hanging out with the two grandcritters, either.  She enjoyed her time, and we’ve since had discussions around building some future holiday plans where we’re all in the same general vicinity to make the bigger gatherings happen.

Non-traditional? Whatever that means. The blend extends. 

gratuitous gamma pic

Gratuitous Gamma pic… they are adorable!


* We still are in a ‘non-exclusive’ relationship, managing a comfortable degree of ethical non-monogamy. We have, however, become quite particular about such arrangements, having been burned to a crisp a few times by people who are batshit crazy claim to understand what this means, and then try to change the ground rules. 

Taming of the Shrew

She resents me, although she’s never met me. It has nothing to do with who i am, what i do, what i believe, how i look, how i live my life… The simple fact that i exist… that’s enough.

Weddings and funerals are inherently emotional events. A crash of Venn Diagrams – we assemble to celebrate, or reflect and remember. Memories and pinning points both sweeten, and poison, the atmosphere.

It was a genuine delight to be invited to the wedding of Studley’s son last weekend. It’s been five years or so since the divorce, and while he’s moved on with his life, his ex-wife has wallowed in a bitter stew. Knowing that my attendance at the wedding could create discomfort for the newlyweds, i offered to step back – wanting to do nothing to draw attention away from the celebration of their marriage.

The young couple considered the offer – but came back with a resounding “We love you! If anyone there has a problem with it? It’s theirs, not ours – and certainly not yours. Please celebrate with us!”

A small wedding.  Knowing that there would be a moment when we’d be introduced, i considered a greeting. “Nice to meet you” wouldn’t cut it, as it wasn’t nice to meet her. Rather than lie, i needed something else. i settled on “Your children are delightful! You must be quite proud!” – which is what i said when her son introduced me as “Dad’s friend, daisyfae”.

For the wedding, i chose the blandest, dullest, most boring outfit i could conjure* from my wardrobe – long navy dress, white sweater, coral scarf.  Didn’t stick around for the formal family photography session – not my gig, didn’t even need to be there to watch.  Stayed clear of the dance floor while the mother of the groom was out with her children. When Studley and i eventually hit it for some swing, i found a spot on the dance floor that was out of her direct line of sight.

Arriving back at the hotel after the reception, we met with Studley’s daughter to sort logistics for a breakfast meet up the following morning. The Girl Child had the ex-wife in tow. No way out. The Girl Child hugged her father and me as we moved toward the elevator. i reached out to shake the hand of the ex-wife, and wished her safe travels. Refusing my hand, she waved and said “good night”.

She resents me, after just meeting me. It has nothing to do with who i am, what i do, what i believe, how i look, how i live my life… The simple fact that i exist… that’s all.

And sometimes, that’s how it will be. Onward…

move the fuck on

* not a tremendous challenge.  i don’t shop.  i have underwear older than my children…

Ripples of Divorce – Part 2

It was almost three years ago when my former mother-in-law died.  i awkwardly asked my ex-husband about possibly stopping by to pay my respects, but primarily due to the psychotic jealousy of his live-in girlfriend, he suggested it would be best if i didn’t.  So i didn’t.

Friday night, my ex-father-in-law died.  i got a call from The Girl late in the morning, and she was leaving work to go be with her Dad, EJ, who’d just called in a state of serious freak-out.  About a month ago, my ex-husband put a boot in the ass of the barking bitch he had been living with for about four years, so he was dealing with a 92-year-old man having a massive stroke all by himself.

The Boy packed up and left work around the same time, and both of the kids made the three-hour trek in time to provide back-up support to their dad.  Around the same time they arrived, EJ’s yuppie lawyer sister, J,  had arrived.  This took some of the pressure off, as it was clear they’d be facing the tough ‘end game’ decision processes soon.

Grandpa died later that evening, after the arrival of EJs other sister, S.  Discussions began regarding memorial service and funeral arrangements.  With a crew of grandchildren who would be making the trek for the service, logistics were going to be challenging.

Turns out, The Boy was born one day after J delivered her son, A.  Furthermore, it turns out that their birthdays are coming up next week.  With the travel constraints, Monday was the optimal day to have the services.   Apparently, it would not do to have Grandpa’s memorial service on A’s birthday.

J, the yuppie sister and mother of A, began lobbying hard to move the memorial service to Tuesday, as it would be absolutely terrible for A to have to associate he death of his grandfather with his 22nd birthday.  Either J had completely forgotten that The Boy’s birthday is Tuesday, or she’s just a selfish cow and didn’t give a shit.

When EJ asked The Boy if he would have a problem with it?  He simply said “It’s just another day, and it’s not like I’m twelve years old.  You’d think A could ‘man up’, but I guess not…”

In the end, due to the availability of a key grandson-in-law (ie: pall bearer), it will be Monday.  And poor little A will have to suck it the fuck up…


…and for what it’s worth, i’m not going this time, either.  Even though the barking bitch is gone, it would still add another bit of stress to things for my ex-husband.  My kids are there, they have his back, and i’ve got theirs by remote.  there really isn’t anything i can do to make anything any better…


let’s give ’em something to talk about

Yesterday was moving day.  My children had been sharing an apartment near their university for a year, and it was time to excavate a years worth of shit and prepare for the road ahead.  The Boy has a new place nearby, as he’ll be continuing in school.  The Girl is consolidating her belongings and moving back in with me as she continues her job search.

i hate moving.  With every ounce of my soul.  Since neither of them are old enough to rent an appropriate vehicle, and we don’t know anyone with a big truck*, my primary function was to be renting the truck.  The Boy arranged to have some of his friends help with the heavy lifting, and The Girl had a friend pitch in as well.

i was still concerned that i might actually have to lift something we would be short handed. 

daisyfae:  Have you told your dad when you’re moving?  He could come down to help…

The Girl: [cringes]

The Boy: No.  He’d bring R**.  She’s a bitch.

daisyfae:  Yeah, but she’d help move shit.  If for no other reason, to make me look lazy.

The Boy:  Mom, no offense, but you’re pretty crazy.  But R?  She’s fucking insane. 

daisyfae:  C’mon.  i can use the blog-fodder.

The Boy:  You want something to blog about?  How about I just go take a shit on your living room rug.  The dog will eat it, and you’ll have plenty of blog material***. 


* Huge downside to hangin’ with theater people.  They drive Yugos and Ford Festivas.  The ones with cash?  Bunch of eco-weenies with hybrids that are smaller than my dog. 

** R is my ex-husbands live-in girlfriend.  She helped with moving last year.  She was helpful, but creepy.  i gave her points for showing up… and left town so the kids could have a nice dinner with the ex and R.  Apparently?  She really hates me, and it was an uncomfortable dinner…

*** hey.  lookit that.  found a post in it anyway!

Promises were made…

May 19th, 1984. 

i was such a hippie-goob.  Bad perm, owl glasses.  Wearing this dorky long white satin-esque dress that had belonged to my maternal grandmother.  He was wearing his only best suit – the Brooks Brothers rig his parents bought for him when he graduated from college in 1976.   Brown.  Soft plaid.  We weren’t ‘retro’.  Just dorks, and really fucking cheap.

Holy. Shit.

The wedding pictures are just precious*.  i was 22, he was 29.  Nerds?  You bet!  We’d been living together since i was 19, bought our first house a year later in 1983, and fought like animal rights activists in a medical school laboratory to keep the wedding tiny.  Much to the annoyance of my Mom, who wanted a big wedding** for SOMEONE.  i was pretty much her last hope, and she fought to make it bigger… while i fought to simplify.

We refused to send invitations.  Only announcements to most people – after the fact.  We’d purchased a house, and wanted to discourage gifts.  Some of the announcements actually said “daisyfae and EJR announce the change in tax filing status from ‘single’ to ‘joint’, with an estimated annual tax savings of $1,475.”  We were paying for the wedding, which took away much of Mom’s ability to influence.  But she was resourceful and tenacious as a pit bull.

My favorite example of the passive-aggressive battle?  Mom thought it would be nice to have a “Unity Candle” ceremony in the church.  This is where the Mother of the Bride and the Mother of the Groom bring lit candles to the Bride and Groom, who then light their own candles from the symbolic maternal flame.  And together, the sappy couple attempt to avoid holy conflagration and light a single candle together. 

Awwww…. So symbolic.  So fucking stupid.  i drew a line in the worn church carpet and said “NO!”  arguing that we’d be too nervous, and burn down the historic chapel and that would suck loudly.  She sulked.  i won.

Our guest list was drawn up via the following criteria:  “Who will never speak to us again if they aren’t invited?”  Total guest list was about 30 – all family except for three of our friends.  For our reception, we wanted to just go out to eat at a decent restaurant.  Figuring that our families might never get together again unless we dropped dead…. and even then?  Maybe not.

Arriving at the restaurant, i was quite annoyed to find that Mom had brought a plastic-flower encrusted styrofoam block.  She’d spray painted the styrofoam forest green.  Mounted upon it were a bunch of fucking candles.  Yep.  She got me on a technicality – “You said you didn’t want to do it at church…”.  Sneaky, sneaky little snake-mother, wasn’t she?

And so it went…  But it was a good party.  i got really drunk with my new sister-in-law.  DQ, then 12 years old, caught the bouquet.  The marriage was generally ok – he was, and is, a good human.  We eventually sucked as a couple.   Our genetic products are delightful. 

And 25 years ago today?  i really meant it when i promised “til death do us part”.  Maybe what i meant was the figurative death of “us”, rather than the actual heart-stoppage of either body***. 

Taking a page from Mom’s playbook…. a technicality?

 Shit happens.  Or sometimes, it doesn't...

*yes. there are candidate photos for the “awkward family photos” site  – sadly.  no. i won’t scan them in.  i respect him too much…

** Mom eloped the first time.  And the second time.  And it was a little shotgun event with the justice of the peace when she married Dad.  Oldest sister, S?  Ran away at 18.  My brother, T?  Pretty much the same thing.  And my other sister, T?  Lesbitarian.  Although she did manage to marry a Palestinian taxi driver at the height of the Persian Gulf War…. that was later.  A story for another time…

*** Paraphrased from “The Big Chill”:  “Rationalization is more important than sex.  Have you ever gone a week without a rationalization?”

SST to Hell

Father’s Day was always difficult with my ex-husband. As was his birthday, which is also in early June – making it a 2X challenge to figure out what to give him. You see, he is a simple man with uncomplicated needs. Completely non-materialistic. He enjoys his geek paraphernalia, but generally buys what he needs when he needs it.

Every year, it was a struggle for the kids and i to figure out something useful, thoughtful and appropriate*.  Last year, i was off the hook – and the kids managed just fine with books, movies and music.  The Girl was home over the past few days, and we were continuing the discussion of how best to deal with his live-in girlfriend – maintaining peace and harmony – when the subject of Father’s Day came up.

In a moment of evil brilliance, i hit upon the perfect gift for the man who lives with a barking bitch:  Noise Canceling Headphones!  The Girl liked this – and was seriously considering whether they could pull it off with sufficient innocence.  Rather than use a gift as a Pit Bull Teasing Stick, she moved on to other ideas.

Hopefully they won’t revisit the gift idea they’d had for the girlfriend last Christmas – a one-way bus ticket to Detroit!


* The year we divorced, i decided to get him the Mother of all Father’s Day gifts – and somehow managed to find a snow blower. In June.

We Wuz Robbed!

          From the kitchen the last time The Boy was home:

                 The Boy:  Mom!  You need to call the police…

                 daisyfae:  What happened?

                 The Boy:  Someone stole all our fucking food*.




* Shopping for one is depressing.  Buying an apple, a banana, a box of Orville’s “Smart Pop”, some low fat yogurt, a few frozen entrees and a 12 pack of Diet Coke just screams “i’m preparing to die alone”.  He’s got a car, a job and my credit card.  He won’t starve.

Parental paybacks…

The Boy and The Girl came to town today to join me at an awards ceremony.   Patient and graceful, they sat through an interminable presentation, which followed a soul-crushing splendid dinner of rubberized chicken and partially thawed green beans, on a bed of Uncle Ben’s Instant wild rice, smothered in completely unrecognizable white sauce. 

They endured the evening, surrounded by about 100 local nerds, their doting wives and a few scattered children, as eight engineers and scientists were honored for geek-tastic achievement.  Presentations mired in scientific minutiae, photos of smiling families on vacation and proud pictures of honorees with grandchildren… oh, and in some cases, every other word was an unintelligible acronym*.

They made the best of it.  The Girl was happy to slug back the house wine while admiring the high style of the attendees**.  The Boy discreetly escaped for a couple smoke breaks to disrupt the drudgery.  The event started early (5:30) in order to finish in time for the overwhelmingly geriatric crowd to be home and in bed before the 10:00 pm news. 

The Boy planned to find a bored spouse and entice her to get him hammered with “Evening, Ma’am.  I’m sure you’d like to buy me a beverage at the bar.  Funny, but i seem to have forgotten my ID…”.  It wasn’t necessary – the guilt overpowered me, and i smuggled a few beers back to our table to help him pass the time and further numb his senses.

Why did they do it?  Why did i ask them to to?  That horrifying moment during the presentation when there is acknowledgement of the loving wife.  Posing for photographs after the event, the supportive and beaming spouse there beside her humble, appreciative man… The only woman in this batch***, it was awkward enough not having a wife, let alone a husband. 

All of those soccer games, school recitals and fund-raising events i attended all those years?  Time to call it in…

Until i teach the fucking dog to wear a tux and hang a medal around my neck, they are going to have to suck this shit up.  I’ll keep buying the booze…


* Guilty.  Mine was probably the worst… 

** Hiking boots with a suit.  Sweet….

*** To pass the time, i counted.  only 10 testosterone-deficient recipients among the 400+ going back to 1971.  She-it…  Still a man’s world…

Ripples of divorce…

One of the unexpected issues encountered since the divorce relates to the awkward connection to former in-laws, who have been part of my life for over 25 years.  These are not the garish get-in-your-business, fart-on-your-couch, borrow-your-money, eat-all-your-food, stay-too-long-at-your-house kind of in-laws*, but the pleasant and thoughtful ones.  People you genuinely welcome into your life…

This morning, i received word that my former Mother-in-Law died.  A brief instant message from my former Sister-in-Law saying that “We lost Mom this morning.  E** was with her when it happened”.  At 89 years old, after a lifetime of serious heart trouble and a five year tussle with progressive dementia, she cashed in…

It’s too early to know details, but there will likely be a service this week.  i would genuinely like to “pay my respects”, hug these good folks, and wish them peace… it is not a sense of duty or obligation that drives my desire to attend. 

The awkwardness is in regard to E’s new girlfriend… He’s been involved with a woman for over a year but we’ve never crossed paths.  All i’ve got is basic intelligence from the kids, who say she’s very sweet, thoughtful*** and perhaps a little insecure about me – not fully comprehending the concept that divorce need not be messy. 

So i’ll plan to do a brief “hit and run”, sit in the back and all that good stuff.  I will give E advance notice, and let him know that i can bag the idea if it would cause him additional stress.

Maybe there are small, hidden benefits to a bitter and angry divorce?  When it’s done, you can replace the void with a nice dose of “good riddance”.  Instead of being caught off guard a couple years later by a sense of sorrow, failure and loss…


* That would be the kind my ex-husband had to endure…

** E is my ex-husband.  He moved his parents in with him 5 years ago when they couldn’t manage on their own.  They welcomed the move to Ohio since they were pissed off that their votes hadn’t counted in the prior presidential election in Florida.  Oops…  E has his own consulting business, mostly working from home.  Although he has two sisters, he was in the best position to care for his parents – but it has been very difficult… 

*** Initial description was “Martha Stewart-y” – which would be about 180 degrees out of phase with daisyfae. 

My Mom’s Better Than Your Mom

Escape from The Park for me was straightforward:  get an engineering degree at a university 60 miles from home.  Far enough that they wouldn’t bother me much, close enough that i could get there if anyone needed help. 

Shortly after graduation, i was married and a homeowner, just starting out on my career, when i backed into motherhood.  We were both working full time, and taking graduate courses part time.  Really not sure how i got knocked up, to be sure, but we were thrilled at the prospect of a child in our lives!

Oh, but what to do?  Abandon my young sprocket to the Charles Manson Family Day Care Center?  Take a chance that she’d be molested in a home day care?  Stay home full time?

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