The children moved constantly, chewing and chatting. Arne’s son told me facts about the Titanic, his middle daughter talked about her best friend who lived down the street, and the youngest girl said she could jump all the way across the room on one foot. Arne tried to get them to behave, to eat slowly, to remove their elbows from the table.
That moment in the theater meeting Dad’s girlfriend for the first time came back to me, and I felt sick. What did his kids have in store for me? Would they try to embarrass me in front of their father? Would they hate me? Would we get along? It took thirty-five minutes to drive out to his house from my apartment in the city, and it was like driving from one country to another.
The first time I met my stepmother, Nancy, my two younger brothers and I thought it would be funny to bring along a whoopee cushion. The plan for the evening involved dinner and a movie. We raced ahead of the adults to find seats in the theater, and before she sat down in the half-darkness, we slipped the cushion onto her seat.
Here’s an exercise designed to help you see what your comfort zone is, to help you figure out what kind of stepmother you want to be. Consider the statements as jumping-off points, and if something rings true for you, follow it and see where it leads.