Monday, August 4, 2014

Silver celebration

I call it birthday fish stew.
Today is my stepmother's birthday. I'm not going to out how old she is or anything - that would be rude, but I will say that this year marks the 25th anniversary of our relationship. Coincidentally, June marked the 25th anniversary of her marriage to my Dad. Funny how that happened. Anyway, feeling inspired in honor of her special day, and a very fruitful visit to the farmer's market, I made a variation of the Brazilian fish stew she loves and taught me to make, moqueca. And after that deliciousness, I decided I needed to write this post.

My stepmother came into my life when I was a teenager. I don't think I was particularly horrible, I wasn't super rebellious or much of a troublemaker, but I was a teenage girl: adults just didn't UNDERSTAND, change was THE WORST, and UGH YOU ARE EMBARRASSING ME. Also: I was an only child, and the "princess" of a man who was widowed when I was less than a year old.  So you know, she had her work cut out for her.

Our relationship was a bit rocky at first - when my father told me they were getting married, I acted out the only way my not-all-that-rebellious-or-tortured-self knew how: I got up from the table and walked over to the cheap jewelry place to get a third and fourth piercing on my right ear. (Conveniently, my father had taken me to an eatery at the mall to break the news.) Being a moody, hormonal teenager, I kept vacillating between trying to like this woman who my father so obviously cared for, and wanting to kick her to the curb. There were a lot of ups and downs at first since she and I are both opinionated and strong-willed and were marking our territory, but even early on, a lot clicked. We both like to cook and love kitchen gadgets. (We can spend hours in a Sur la Table.) We both love makeup. (I need to introduce her to the wonders of Ulta.) We love to sing along (off-key) to our favorite songs. We have a similar sense of humor. And we both love my father.

Me moving away to college and growing up helped our relationship A LOT, but you know what I think finally bonded us for life? Our crazy families. Maybe one day I will feel comfortable enough to post on the internet some of my wacky family stories, but let's just say, there is comedy GOLD to be had. I mean, my grandmother alone could be a sitcom. (It would have to be on cable though, because we're talking dark comedy here.) Anyway, her horrified reaction matched mine upon finding out that my grandmother sneakily set me up to go see a nun shrink (and by that I mean a nun who was a therapist - long story, worthy of more that one episode), and I knew definitively that my stepmother cared for me. Shared tears/outrage over less-than-happy family reunions solidified the two of us as family. Not by blood, but by choice. So although she didn't raise me from birth, she is my parent. I seek and value her advice and approval. Her opinion matters to me. (Except perhaps about politics - we agree to disagree on a lot there.)

My stepmother is a fabulous lady. She has a fantastic fashion sense, along with a collection of shoes, that I envy. She has great taste, is generous, is fun to travel with, has a sweet tooth that rivals my own, and a go-getter energy level that can be exhausting to watch. I hope she has an awesome birthday today. We live in different countries and I won't be seeing her for a few months - but I do have a little something for her in honor of our silver anniversary when I do.
With my fabulous stepmother earlier this year. (She's the one
with a normal sized head that can wear hats.) ;-)

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