Tag Archives: stepparents

Endangered Species: NaPoWriMo 2018, Day 8

I always thought that at some point I would have children, but by the time I finally found the man I wanted have them with, I was thirty-eight, and he already had eight living children. Four of these children were under the age of eight when we met. When I married their dad, I married them, too. This poem was written at a time when, as inept as I was at entertaining small children in an L.A. condo, I still believed in a sort of magic wherein stepfamilies could become real families.


“When a woman is cut out of the process of creation, she becomes crazed.” –author unknown

Your daughter breaks her arm and something breaks with it.
She becomes manageable.
Her laugh, softer now sometimes.
She loves writing with her other hand.
Her broken one grows fingernails for the first time

which we manicure once a week.

Sometimes, I drive home slower
on the nights I know we’re going to have the kids,
hoarding a few more minutes alone.

My key in the lock brings them, wanting games at once.
You, exhausted, irritable on the sofa,

wanting them yet wanting them gone.

In a movie, Mary Tyler Moore saying
she can’t love the son who needs her love too much.

Can’t love on demand?
Dirty fingernails, torn knees on Levis—
the kids always looking like something your ex-wife dragged in—
driven down to our city life where they demand the mall.

Our rag-a-muffins.
 Not the way I pictured it.

They call me Mom immediately after the wedding.
I scrub their fingernails,
put medicine on cold sores,
tell Jodie not to wear those torn-out pants to school anymore.
The other kids, I say, will talk—

what my mother would have said to me.

When I tell them at the office
about the homemade Easter decorations
hung on our refrigerator,

about the one that reads “to Mom,”
Jim says he prefers Elliott’s stories.
When I tell them that the littlest grabbed my knees
and hugged and said, “I just love you,”

the clever crowd around the copier groans.
I’m not a mother, they all understand,
and once a week, I barely get good practice in.

But when your daughter breaks her arm,
I try to find a spell to stick us all together—
paper, scissors, colored pens.

I say, “Try to keep the glue off the dining room table.”
I say, “Try not to drop the magic markers on the floor.”
“Take off your shoes when walking on the white sofa.”

The NaPoWriMo Day 8 prompt: write poems in which mysterious and magical things occur. Your poem could take the form of a spell, for example, or simply describe an event that can’t be understood literally. 

Stepparents Day

Stepparents Day

She’s the lady who married your father.
He’s the fellow who married your mom.
Not really your actual parent,
like a date that’s set-up for the prom.
In other words, you didn’t choose them;
and also, they didn’t choose you.
But you now have each other as family.
There’s really not much you can do.

Sometimes you wind up as real buddies,
becoming a sort of strange friend.
Other times you feel resentful,
like you wish that their marriage would end;
and your dad would go back to your real mom,
or your mom would go back with your dad.
Then you realize that’s not really happening,
but only a dream that you had.

Then you notice your mom is now smiling
and your dad seems happier, too.
So you think you’ll just go with the flow now
and you give in and finally do.
You now have two happier families—
two places that welcome you in—
and decide that liking stepparents
is really not much of a sin.

Then you wonder why there is no day for
stepparents and grandparents, too,
and decide that this brand-new tradition
might just as well start now with you.
You declare July 1 to be chosen
as National Stepparents Day.
So even though it’s not official,
and the powers that be might say, “Nay,”

you throw on some burgers or hot dogs
and cook up a fresh apple pie
and buy your particular “steppie”
a nice box of candy or tie.
You tell her you know your dad’s happy
and tell her that you’re happy, too;
or tell him you’re glad your mom’s “single”
has turned into a table for two!

Let’s start up a national movement
to honor our stepparents now;
and ask for our step moms and dads and our grands
to come center stage for a bow!
So children all over this nation
can welcome their stepparents in
and acknowledge they’re part of the family,
exactly like regular kin.

 The Prompt : Familial Feasts. Yesterday was Father’s Day in many countries. If you could dedicate a holiday to a more distant relative, who would it be — and why?