Powerless over pie

Otto is a man of relatively few words when it comes to feelings. It’s not that he doesn’t HAVE them, or even that he won’t talk ABOUT them, if pressed, but despite his penchant for a good story, he is somewhat taciturn when it comes to attempting to quantify the changes of the last year-and-change. If, for example, you ask him what the biggest difference is? He will most often recall (usually while being bedtime-tackled by both kids, who are vying for the best hugging position) how in the beginning I would say, “Okay, kids, go say goodnight to Otto,” and Monkey would go give him a hug and say goodnight, yes; but Chickadee would stand in the doorway—arms crossed over her chest, chin jutting in defiance—and deadpan, “Goodnight to Otto,” before stomping upstairs.

And that was fine, of course, and serves as a great memory to remind us of how far we’ve come. Now when Otto gets home in the evenings WOE BETIDE HIM if he dares to hug or kiss me, first. “NO NO! HUG MEEEEEE!” she squeals, hanging from his shirt. “SAY HELLO TO MEEEEEE!” It’s a pity they haven’t warmed up to each other, no?

Anyway, a couple of days ago—Monday, to be exact—my pal Suebob happened to Twitter that the following day was Stepfamilies Day. I’ve got a little girl-crush on Suebob, so I saw this and immediately thought, “OH HOW NICE!” and turned to the kids.

Me: Hey! Guess what! Tomorrow is Stepfamilies Day!
Monkey: Hooray!
Chickadee: Can we have CAKE?

Priorities, people. My daughter has them.

Me: Sure! Why not? Cake for stepfamilies!
Monkey: Hooray!
Chickadee: Can it be a SURPRISE? Can we not tell Otto and just suddenly have a BIG CAKE and tell him then?
Me: Sure!
Monkey: HOORAY!

So that settled that.

The next day (Tuesday; yesterday), SueBob Twittered about it again, announcing that it was Stepfamilies Day, and I decided to look it up. Not because I didn’t trust her, of course not; just because I wondered about the origins of it and stuff. I’m a KNOWLEDGE-SEEKER. And I found that it is indeed a real holiday. Celebrated every year on the 16th of September. (Yesterday was the 23rd.)

I brought this to Suebob’s attention, which is when I discovered that Suebob is fabulous but doesn’t know how to read a calendar.

But here is where having young children is completely awesome; the kids still thought yesterday was Stepfamilies Day, and I certainly wasn’t going to tell them we’d missed it by a week. I mean, who cares what day it is? A moment to be thankful and have dessert needn’t be constrained by silly things like calendars.

So. We went out to buy a cake. And ended up with a key lime pie, because that’s actually Otto’s favorite. Look at us, playing fast and loose with ALL the rules! Who cares what day it is? Who cares what sort of dessert it is? WE ARE REBELS! REBELS WITH A STEPFAMILY!

And then, of course, we hid the pie and whipped it out after dinner was over and announced that it was Stepfamilies Day! And Otto said “Mmmmm, PIE!” “Wow, that’s great!”

And being me, I couldn’t leave well enough alone. I couldn’t just let the kids eat the damn pie, no. I insisted we all share something about what we’d found the most unexpected about being part of a stepfamily. And the children rolled their eyes at me and looked longingly at the pie and I knew that I had just become every stereotype of an after-school-special mother, but I did not care. Because we were going to HAVE A MOMENT.

“Well, I guess I didn’t know that Otto was going to be the very best stepdad in the whole wide world!” said Monkey, smiling broadly and without guile. Monkey loves Otto. And me. And you. And possibly that dustbunny on the floor. You get the idea.

“Okay! Um, great! Chickadee, what about you?” She harumphed and squirmed and joked around and finally I said, “Okay, we’ll skip you,” and she got upset about potentially missing her turn.

“I didn’t know he was going to to be so awesome,” she blurted out. She thought on that for a moment. “No, wait. Not awesome. OUTSTANDING!” And then she smirked at her brother, because clearly OUTSTANDING trumps BEST any day of the week, sucker. “What about YOU, Mom?” she asked.

“Oh, well, I don’t have a stepkid OR a stepdad, so I don’t have to play,” I said. I chuckled as the crowd disagreed (loudly). “Alright, alright,” I said. I thought about it. “I guess I didn’t know that you’d figure out so quickly what Otto is better at than me. Like, you just go straight to him for stuff, now, which is pretty cool.”

“Like when something is broken!” suggested Monkey.

“Yep, like that. You know who can fix it,” I agreed.

“Okay, what about YOU, Otto?” Chickadee demanded. “You have TWO STEPS, so you have to do TWO THINGS.”

“Two steps,” mused Otto. “Ten more and I’ll be through the whole program!” He and I burst out laughing. After a moment Monkey joined in, clueless about the joke but just happy to laugh. Chickadee looked back and forth between us.

“What’s funny?” she asked. “I don’t get it. Why is it funny?” We laughed harder, and she cracked a grin, seeing her opening. “It’s pretty funny, whatever it is. HA! HA! I am just going to laugh, anyway. HAHAHAHAHAHA! SO FUNNY! I DON’T GET IT! HAHHAHAHAHAAAAA!”

Eventually we stopped laughing. We explained the joke. She still didn’t know why it was funny. But she demanded to hear Otto’s “thing” and so he had to pony up.

“I guess I didn’t expect to LAUGH so much,” he said. “We are a very laugh-y bunch. I didn’t expect that.”

“Really?” asked Chickadee.

“Yeah,” I told her. “He expected life with kids to be one grim, horrible death march straight into the pit of despair. Right, honey?”

“Right!” He agreed. “And it IS, but with a LAUGH TRACK!” That set us off again—him and me, for the obvious reasons; Monkey, because we were laughing; and finally Chickadee, because everyone else was laughing so why not.

And then we had pie. All in all, not bad for a week-late celebration of a pseudo-holiday.


  1. laurie

    Is this a Hallmark creation? (sorry to be cynical). and yes, laughter feels so so good. especially with pie.

  2. Megan

    That’s the way to have a Very Special Moment – with a little snark and a LOT of laughing. You totally rocked step-family day. Personally I think the calendar people should think about changing. And making pie mandatory because… I mean! Pie!

  3. The Other Leanne

    Happy Love Thursday, everyone, and may all your journeys have a laugh track.
    Oh wait, it’s only Wednesday.

  4. The Other Leanne

    Dang, not first after all.

  5. Patricia

    Wait, wait…that’s not fair….

    Everyone KNOWS that September 16th every year is the annual celebration of *MY* birth. And as I am without any step anythings (I was adopted, thus ending the step relationship), I don’t wish to share my birthday with Stepfamilies Day. I propose that it forever and ever be moved to September 23rd!!

    Oh, wait, the world doesn’t revolve around me and my ego? Who knew?

  6. Flea

    That wasn’t two things. :)

  7. Lisa

    How sweet! September 23rd works for me too. That’s the day after me and he became a step-family 6 years ago. Now it’s officially going on my calendar.

  8. Aimee

    Aww… that’s nice. And snarky! And Key Lime Pie is my favorite, too.

  9. Lori

    Any day that involves pie is a day worth celebrating. Mmmmmmm pie. Make mine Razzleberry.

    Happy pie day everyone. Hug your loved ones and share a giggle.

  10. Jamie AZ

    I’ve been wanting to make an apple pie, but I’m waiting for the apples to go on sale. I think this was a perfect reason to celebrate with pie!

  11. The Other Other Dawn

    That Otto. A man of few words, but those few go right to the heart of the matter.

    Do you qualify if you don’t have a stepfamily? My kids have one (in name, at least) but I don’t.

    Hmmm… perhaps I can celebrate UnStepfamily Day. ‘Cause I mean, people…. pie, right?

  12. Headless Mom

    Very cool. Makes me sad, though, because the part of our family that makes us qualify for that holiday just moved out to go to college. No pie for us until she comes home to visit! Then there shall be pie! and laughing!

  13. arina

    Love the forced moment…some of my fave memories of growing up! And pie….can’t think past that!

  14. Heidi

    I’m so confused. I though, “Wow, this should be a Love Thursday post, but it’s only Wednesday,” then I figured out it WAS Thursday, but then you forgot to say “Happy Love Thursday, everyone.” I think I’ll just laugh.

  15. Heidi

    Oh. It IS Wednesday…

  16. Summer

    I just looked at my calendar, and last Wednesday is marked as “Citizenship Day.” If we apply the same logic, that can mean only one thing: today is the day to eat APPLE PIE!

  17. Tress

    Your family gives me hope, Mir! We are not at stepfamily stage quite yet, but we most certainly are at “one loves him and one is playing hard to get.” It is SO frustrating when you know he’s just a great guy. And you know SHE knows it too.

  18. Em

    I think you should do with Stepfamily day what I do with my birthday. Make it a month long event. The Month Of Stepfamilies. Whenever you need an excuse for pie or laughter in all of September, you have a handy excuse.

  19. MomCat

    Pi R Square, but you aren’t! That was a wonderful, touching idea. Happy Stepfamilies Day!

  20. Angela

    That really is totally freaking awesome. Having a step family feel like a fabulous wonderful family is everything you an hope for.

  21. Laura

    “Ten more and I’ll be through the whole program!” – I love that!!!

  22. Randi

    Awww – *sniff* – as someone who comes from a step-family that never meshed, I’m so happy for you guys!!

  23. Michelle

    That sounds lovely, and I wish I had such awesome things to say about my stepmother. Or ex-stepmother. Or whatever, I don’t know anymore.

  24. Sara

    just started following, great story!!!

  25. Zee

    Mmm…. pie. :)

  26. Amy-Go

    I realize the “step” part was important (read: reason for pie) but it just sounds like a regular ol’ family to me. Congratulations! ;)

  27. Lady M

    I have a soundtrack running in my head all the time, why not a laugh track. Happy (late) stepfamilies day!

  28. Brigitte

    Wonderful story. And I love Monkey’s part of the discussion in the planning stage. And now I can’t believe I went all summer without making a key lime pie! :-o

  29. Evil Genius

    Er…I thought Otto was supposed to come up with TWO things? Unless I’m mistaken, he only ponied up ONE… :)

  30. Nards

    This story was terribly sweet! I still have the smile on my face. Thanks for sharing – Nards

  31. lindasands

    yay pie. just bought a monster pumpkin one at costco and the kids had the gall to ask, “What’s the occasion?”

    oh and had to teach my son what a laugh track was a few years back during some crappy sitcom- now neither one of us can watch a show that relies on one… but you’re no crappy sitcom. Uh uh.

  32. annette

    Darn! This would have been perfect for Love Thursday!

  33. sumo

    For my wife and me, pie beats cake any day of the week, including (or maybe especially) our wedding day.

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