Posted by: Josey Lyne Payne, Esq. | May 26, 2010

There is no recipe for Family


When I was younger I had rules.  Rules for myself that I was sure would protect me from the dangers of this world and this life.  One of my rules was to never date a man with children from a previous relationship.  I liked that rule.  That rule seemed sound. 

Enter:  Darrin.

Not my text-book type, at all.  Ten years older, very tall (compared to me at least), blonde, rough around the edges, thick Boston accent, blue-collar; I almost didn’t give him a chance, but he was persistent, so much fun, and incredibly sensitive.  He won me over, made my heart go pitter-patter, made me weak in the knees, made me feel safe, and treasured, and loved.  He did this so well that I even accepted the offspring, both of them.

Initially, they didn’t make it easy.  Victims of divorce, as many of us are, young and impressionable, I was the target of all blame.  Everything bad that had ever happened was my fault, naturally.  I was evil, the outsider, and even described as dangerous.  They not only hated me (without cause), they feared me.  It was awful.  All I wanted was to love their Daddy, who was (legally) free to love me, and hoped they’d come to appreciate that, and maybe even allow me to love them. 


Fast forward just over 8 years.  Today, Alyssa 20 and Bryan 18, are, I can say without hesitation, my family, and I love them.  Though I made a conscious decision not to take part in their upbringing, matters of discipline, and lessons about life that parents are charged with teaching, I’d like to think I did have at least some influence.  I was well aware they had two willing and capable parents, one I happened to be immensely in love with and trusted with my own well-being, and so decided my place, as step-mom, was to be there when I was needed and wanted, and to change their ill-advised opinion of me that was not so far from that of a Disney villainess.

Over the years, this has been happening, and continues to happen.  The gradual process, one of which was often uncomfortable and perhaps even painful, has become warm, trusting, and natural.  The word “we” is used.  They no longer refer to Darrin as “my Dad” when they speak of him to me, but simply “Dad”.  I know, such a small milestone, and yet, it means the world to me.  They mean the world to me.

Alyssa and I have come to appreciate each other on so many levels.  I do think of her as a daughter – without stepping on her mom’s toes.  I love her spunkiness, her compassionate nature, her naive soul.  She’s no longer a little girl, but she possesses the innocence of a child that is just so endearing.  It would be impossible not to love her.  This leads me to the purpose of this post.  Alyssa, and her journey to becoming a woman.  I’m so aware of how blessed I am to have been a part of this journey, to witness it, to continue to bear witness to her growth, her lessons, her development.  She’s a good girl, a good person, and a good step-daughter.  I want everything good for her.

A poem, written by Pamela Redmond Satran, speaks to what I want for my Alyssa.  My Alyssa, I like the sound of that.

Every woman should have…

Enough money within her control to move out and rent a place of her own, even if she never wants or needs to.

Something perfect to wear if the employer, or date of her dreams, wants to see her in an hour.

A youth she is content to leave behind.

A past juicy enough that she is looking forward to retelling it in her old age.

A set of screwdrivers, a cordless drill, and a black lace bra.

One friend who always makes her laugh…

…and one who lets her cry.

A good piece of furniture, not previously owned by anyone else in her family.

Eight matching plates, wine glasses with stems, and a recipe for a meal that will make her guests feel honored.

A feeling of control over her destiny.

Every woman should know…

How to fall in love without losing herself.

How to quit a job, break up with a lover, and confront a friend without ruining the friendship.

When to try harder…and when to walk away.

That she can’t change the length of her calves, the width of her hips, or the nature of her parents.

That her childhood may not have been perfect…but it’s over.

What she would and wouldn’t do for love.

How to live alone…even if she doesn’t like it.

Whom she can trust, whom she can’t, and why she shouldn’t take if personally.

Where to go when her soul needs soothing; be it to her best friend’s kitchen table, or a charming inn in the woods.


What she can and can’t accomplish in a day…a month…a year.

She’s all grown up, a woman, now.  Pride, sin or not, is what I feel.  Family, blood or not, is what we are.

I love you, Liss ♥



  1. Beautiful Jo.. You’re both so lucky<3

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