The other day, we were on our way to Grammy and Sammy's house when Mazzy started asking some innocent/life-altering questions.

MAZZY: Is Grammy your mommy?

ME: Yes!

MAZZY: Is Sammy your daddy?

ME: Ummm… no.

MAZZY: Who's your daddy?

ME: Poppy.

MAZZY: Then who is Sammy?

ME: Well, my mom and dad got a trial separation when I was ten which was a totally devatasting event. Then they got back together briefly for a summer while I was away at camp but then ultimately decided to call it quits. They got officially divorced about two years later once they finally settled on divorce terms. You know child support and alimony and what not. I believe they even had a clause in there that Poppy was not allowed to take me skydiving or bungee jumping. Oh, and Grammy got holidays, which is why we celebrate all those made-up holidays with Poppy. Poppy got to see me and your Aunt Yaya every Wednesday for dinner and every other weekend we would spend at his apartment in the city. Then when I was about thirteen Poppy met Nonna which was tough because I had to invite her to my Bat Mitzvah and my parents sat at different tables. And then two years later Grammy met Sammy on Fire Island and introduced us to your uncles Eric and David who are really Sammy's kids from his first marriage. Poppy and Nonna got married my senior year of high school and Grammy and Sammy got married my sophomore year of college. Sammy proposed to Grammy on a family ski vacation in front of all of us because he wanted it to be the blending of two families. Isn't that nice?

MAZZY: Whaaaa?????? 

ME: Yeah, sorry to be the bearer of bad news sweetie but not all marriages work out. Fun lesson for the day, huh?

Ok, maybe I didn't give her the whole explanation. It went more like…

MAZZY: Is Sammy your daddy?

ME: Ummm… no.

MAZZY: Who's your daddy?

ME: Poppy.

MAZZY: Then who is Sammy?

ME: My stepdaddy.


ME: And Nonna is my stepmommy. Aren't you lucky you have so many grandparents?

MAZZY: Yeah!

Dr. B always says to answer "adult" questions directly and without giving unecessary information. She says, you'll be surprised how satisfied kids are with the simplest explanations.

Which is exactly what happened. 

But it did make me think that one day soon I might be required to go into more depth. Having to explain Sammy and Nonna might be the thing that tells Mazzy the world isn't perfect and that people (even her beloved grandparents) make mistakes.

Or maybe it will tell her that people getting married and then calling it quits is not a mistake– just two people making a joint decision to change the course of their lives for the better. And that's okay. After all, those two (obviously incompatible!) people being married for thirteen years is the reason I am sitting here today. And the reason Mazzy and Harlow are in this world, too.

Besides the confusion and potential for tough questions, having step-grandparents has tons of advantages. It means my girls will be exposed to Sammy's kindness, his collections (baseball cards, stamps, and coins), his penchant for telling corny jokes and his love for old school candy. It also means Mazzy will have access to Sammy's season tickets to the Yankees, allowing her to go to her first baseball game, as she did last week.

It means my girls will be exposed to Nonna's strength, her sophistication, her ability to whip up a quick Italian feast, and her decision not to have children of her own (an option I think is valuable for my girls to see). Nonna also loves gardening and over July 4th weekend while at their summer house, Nonna took Mazzy on a little field trip around the yard, teaching her about different plants and flowers. Mazzy came back with a bouquet of hydrangeas picked just for me. 


It's interesting to watch Mazzy develop a relationship with both my stepparents. I've never seen either one of them interact with a child until now, because I met them as an angsty teenager who was more than a little pissed off I had to deal with two new adults invading my space. Their main contribution back then was solidfying the fact that my parents would never get back together.

Over the years, I have grown close to both of them, each in different ways, but it brings me a whole new joy to see how interested they are in my daughters and how much they think of them as their own grandchildren.

Mazzy and Harlow probably don't think about Sammy and Nonna that much differently than they do my real mom and dad. Just like my brother-in-law is as much their uncle as my sister is their aunt. Hopefully, their main takeaway won't be that the world is an imperfect place but that they are very lucky to have so many people love them. 

When my parents divorced over twenty years ago, I thought it meant my family was getting smaller.

Now, with step-grandparents and stepbrothers and even my step-nieces and nephews, I realize just the opposite is true.