Tag Archives: stepchildren

Leo DiCaprio and I Are Both Revenants

Leonardo Dicaprio Revenant

PhotoCredit:showbiz411.com

If you would have told me that a week before Christmas, I’d be imbibing with my ex-boyfriend’s ex-wife, while sitting on the edge of her bathtub in a bathroom in her townhouse in suburban New Jersey, while watching her apply make-up and do up her hair before meeting her boyfriend, I would have said that there was a better chance of finding out that I was adopted and that my biological parents were Gladys Knight and any one of the Pips.

I sat on the edge of the tub and we chatted about hair products, and the kids. I laughed quietly to myself because I felt like I was eight years old, watching my mom ready herself for a night on the town. I used to hang out with her mainly because I was avoiding going downstairs, knowing that my brother was walking around with his underwear on his head trying to shock the babysitter.

Drinking Pinot Grigio while talking to the ex-wife’s reflection in the mirror was just another surreal moment in a scroll length list of surreal moments that had occurred over the last two years since her ex-husband and I broke up.

Most people can’t get their heads around the fact that I’ve continued to nurture my relationships with the Girlfriend Mom kids but then when I tell them that I’ve rock climbed, and broken bread with their mother, the ex-wife, they’re positively flummoxed and judgy.

I was hesitant reaching out to her years ago. Some of it was out of loyalty to my ex, and some of it was fear. I never had an ex-wife in my life and I wasn’t exactly sure how that dance went; or what to wear.  

Then it slowly occurred to me that I didn’t owe anybody anything, loyalty or otherwise, and I had to do what was right for me and my quest for keeping those that I loved in my life, no matter what the cost, or how scared I was.

This quest was a bit like the one Leo DiCaprio takes in his recent movie, Revenant. Stay with me here.

Leo plays a fur trapper, and when he’s attacked by a bear, he’s left to die by his own hunting team. While I’m no fur trapper (nor was I attacked by a bear and left to rot) a part of me died after my break-up, leaving me alone to find a way to maintain my relationship with my team member’s kids. Leo and I were both explorers as we discovered new land. I was a friggin’ pioneer on my expedition.

Along our journey, Leo and I both found ourselves navigating uncharted territory under harsh conditions. My conditions were more of the emotional variety, while his included swimming in icy rivers and eating raw bison liver. You say tomato, I say tomahto.

He had to cauterize his wounds, which I’m sure was awfully painful. However, my unimaginable grief, and betrayal was no less painful. Thankfully no burning of flesh was necessary.

What kept me going (like Leo) was sheer will. In my case, I also had the love of two kids. It was a question of survival for both Leo and myself, and our determination to thrive. I can’t speak for him, as I haven’t seen the movie, but I sure as hell have thrived.

One of the definitions of a revenant is that of a sentient being returning from the dead with the goal of terrorizing the living. An ex-wife and an ex-girlfriend are talking in a bathroom. That could be terrorizing to some, no? Muahahaha buahahaha.

The Way We Were in Southampton

Katie Morosky and Carrie Bradshow Collide in the Hamptons

PhotoCredit:SNA

I spent a glorious weekend with my GM daughter, attending The Hamptons International Film Festival, eating, shopping, practicing handstands on the beach, working out, watching a Modern Family marathon, eating ice cream cake (or in her case, just the frosting) taking walks, endless talks, and birthday gifts.

We tied it up with a homemade Italian dinner at my friend’s house, complete with white wine, Zitti, pumpkin spice donuts, and laughs.

On Saturday night we decided to shake it up and watch a movie. Within seconds of opening the DVD cabinet, The Way We Were seemed to magically fall off the shelf and into our hands. Maybe it was an omen.

“I love Barbra and I’ve never seen the movie but I always wanted to,” she squealed. This was music to my ears. And how could I not know that she likes Babs?!

Being a Barbra fan, I thought I had died and gone to heaven. Maybe this kid did come out of me. Nay, I would’ve felt something. I saw this as a right of passage, and I was honored to be her Yoda.

I warned her that there would be lots of tears, (mine), even though it was probably the 90th time watching it. We curled up on the couch and hit play.

It was probably the only time that I allowed talking while watching a movie, which says a lot if you’ve ever gone to the movies with me. I demand silence; no whispering, no checking phones, no nudging, no nothing. I’m a purist. But with this movie, I allowed the occasional comment.

“Barbra looks so good. She’s so cute. Robert Redford really isn’t my type. What else has he been in?” I told her that we could IMDB him when the movie was over.

It was so fun to watch the movie through her eyes, listening to her interpretation.

When it was over, as promised, I was crying. “Why? Why wouldn’t he want to see his daughter? I mean just because he and Katie didn’t work out, wouldn’t he want to see his own child?” She looked at me, and without missing a beat said, “Because he’s an asshole.”

Holy crap, had I been defending Hubbell’s actions all these years? He was an absentee father. How could I excuse his behavior? I didn’t want to see Hubbell in that light because their love and passion was so intense. If I reduced him to being just another a-hole, it would’ve soiled the whole relationship for me.

Theirs was not a black and white relationship, and was interesting to hear a 21 year-old’s point of view, because it seemed that, for her, it was pretty cut and dry. Asshole. Period. End of conversation.

I needed deeper reasons and explanations, because that’s more like real life. Our different interpretations probably speaks to our age, wisdom and experience.

Relationships are hard and I’m mad at Hubbell for walking away because he wanted simple. Katie was anything but simple. She’s a complicated women with curly hair. I can relate.

Katie Morosky and Carrie Bradshaw Collided in The Hamptons

PhotoCredit:Stylishthought.com

After our weekend together, I was full of joy, pride and a whole lot of love. At times, sharing with the kids sometimes felt as if I had found my purpose; to bring Barbra Joan Streisand into the lives of young adults, one movie (and hit song at a time.)

Collateral Damage: My Relationship with The Kids

Collateral Damage

PhotoCredit:ikboxingclub.com

In the last month, on separate occasions, people have referred to my Girlfriend Mom daughter as my ‘friend’. The implication, as I internalized it, being that she was no longer my GM daughter because I was no longer her Girlfriend Mom because of a certain break-up.

I felt like lacing up my red and black boxing gloves and defending my title. Friend? The comment seemed ridiculous and inaccurate.

Does a stepmother stop being a stepmother if she divorces? Does she then refer to her stepchildren (or children) as her friends? Holy, shit, does she? I don’t know. What the hell? I don’t know. What the f’ happens? Where did I put the instruction manual?

If the girlfriend doesn’t exist, does the mom part suffer a similar fate? Should I call a meeting? I deplore my loneliness in this process. It hits me once in awhile (or daily) how one action set in motion the undoing, redefining and rebalancing of several relationships.

I like to think that my current relationship with the kids has development organically and gracefully, under the circumstances. That being said, I’m not comfortable describing us as friends. It makes me feel marginalized and minimized and probably some other ized’s.

Hey ‘unsolicited comment giver’, please don’t take my friggin’ title away. I worked hard for that title. I put in the time. I earned it and I trademarked it, so… “I mean, I’m not gonna be ignored, Dan!” Yes, from 1987’s Fatal Attraction

Funnily enough, I never saw my role as temporary. I’ve also seen first hand, the collateral damage that a break up has on children. A relationship with a child is fragile and I’ve never taken it for granted.

Every so often (or daily) there is some pain. It’s manageable pain, though, because I understand its origin and I’ve learned to take the pressure off and to let things unfold. It was far from manageable back in January.

I hadn’t seen the GM son since October and, although we texted weekly, I ached to see him. I know, that was a new one for me. I asked his sister about his wrestling schedule because he never knew it. I couldn’t reach out to the ex-wife because this was before we became best buddies. The GM daughter told me what she thought was true.

So on a snowy Saturday, I drove to New Jersey, found the high school, in a town that I had never been to, parked and walked into the gym alone. It was surreal.

I peaked my head in but I didn’t see him. After pacing for 20 minutes, debating on whether to go in, and feeling more than a little foolish, I texted the GM daughter, asking for her mom’s phone number. Enough of the middlemen.

I didn’t hear back from the GM daughter, so I texted the GM son, which in hindsight, I should’ve done before I left the city.

ME: Hey are you going to b wrestling. Is your mom watching?

(He recently had a concussion, so I didn’t know if he’d be competing. I’d still get to see him, even if he were on the bench.)

GMS: No im not and my mom isnt going

(I still thought that he was in the gym)

ME: I had work down here n thought I’d stop by your wrestling. Can you come out to say hi? 

(I lied about work because I wanted things to remain casual. And did I mention that I didn’t know what the f’ I was doing?)

GMS: I didnt go i wasnt feeling good

(cue the tears, anger, embarrassment and pain)

ME: Oh. Are u ok? Feel better n we’ll talk soon. Xo

(How’s that for casual?)

GMS: Yeah im fine i just got sick last night

ME: Well feel better. I miss you. Xo

GMS: Miss u to

I felt like an idiot. It was my fault for not communicating. Who was I supposed to coordinate with?

I didn’t know what I was allowed to do. Was I out of place? Was I overreacting? I was angry at my ex for putting me in this awkward position and for making me feel that I was the only one that took this relationship seriously.

I was in love with his kids. They mattered to me and I thought that I mattered to them. Now I wasn’t sure. I cried the entire ride back to the city, feeling like a stranger, wondering how I was going to keep this relationship alive.

Did my ex see any collateral damage on his end? In these moments, when I thought that I’d drown in the intense feeling of being abandoned, I wondered if he truly cared or if it would be easier for him if my relationship with the kids faded away.

Maybe it was his way of coping but at the time, it made me feel marginalized and minimized and some other izeds, nonetheless.

It’s now six months later and my relationship with the kids remains and the GM will live to see another day.