Growing up with Sophia: the all-true adventures of a stepmom

Check out my other blog, the Stepmom Chronicles, where I write about my adventures in step motherhood. You can read individual posts by clicking on the titles below.

Road Tripping With Sophia

From the beginning you, a California girl through and through, wanted to go to a college on the East Coast.  When the acceptance from Williams came, the world was a very different place than it had been just a year ago, when we started the application process. Let’s drive, you suggested.  We can go through the middle of the country, a place you, who’ve been to Iceland and England and Spain and the Virgin Islands, have never been. So we loaded up the truck, hitched up our Airstream Basecamp, and off we went.

With Sophia in the Alaskan Wilderness

When the word comes from your uncle Tim that he’s marrying the extreme downhill champion heliski guide with the gap-toothed smile that we have all come to adore and the wedding will be in Alaska, we are stoked. We will all call it Uncle Tim’s wedding, but it is really Kremer’s wedding, with all of her professional powers of preparation on display. 

Most of us experience Tim and Kirsten via the mad selfies that appear on their Facebook page, hanging from a ledge on a hammock thousands of feet in the air against a rock face. Ice climbing in Patagonia, bouldering in Moab, ascending the nose of El Capitan, heliski guiding in the Chugach, summiting Denali – danger is the invisible friend ever-present in their postings. 

“So many of our friends have died. We thought it would be nice to gather everyone together for a wedding for a change,” Kremer told us, and then went about identifying and figuring out how to meet the needs of 300 people convening on a square acre not just off the grid but quite literally in the middle of the Alaskan wilderness. 

It’s your summer break before senior year, the caesura between receiving your test scores and applying for colleges, the pause between childhood and adulthood. You are still very much a girl but with light seasoning now – seasons as a runner have given you strength, and a new leadership confidence (and also what have to be the most gorgeous runner’s legs in San Francisco); the season of first love has brought a glow to your face, and a season of visiting colleges has given us all a context for picturing you out of our world, and into your own. 

Harry Potter and the Run For Congress

Millennial, for me, is not a label that hints at the depths of what you’ve seen and heard, depths that have been quietly entered in your personal ledger and are now a part of your worldview. When I ask you what label you’d apply to yourself, I know you well enough to be unsurprised that you answer with another leap.

How about Congresswoman, you say.  In this moment fellow Latina Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez is not yet part of the national consciousness; once she is, you like so many others will be inspired but at the time of this conversation you are motivated not by millennial congressional candidates barnstorming the US House of Representatives, but by a recent trip to Berlin.

Driving with Sophia

I was nearly your sister’s age when I bought the car, which is now older than you yourself are.  It was, in many ways, my declaration of adulthood: I spotted it, wanted it, negotiated for it, waiting more than a year to get the price I had sworn not to pay more than. Driving it home from the dealership, my smile was as wide as the road itself. Yet giving it away was easy, knowing it would bring your sister’s orbit closer to us, closer to you.

As much as I loved the car, I never once felt a pang or a worry giving it up, until this summer, when the receipt of your learner’s permit coincided with a cousin’s wedding in Big Sur.

 Minding the Gap with Sophia

This is your gap year, the year between your fourteen birthday and fifteenth, between eighth grade and high school, between girlhood and young womanhood.

Born in late November, you, like your father and me, are one to two years younger than your classmates, a gap that was barely noticeable when you were in early middle school, but that has become much more apparent as you enter your teens.  This year abroad will help you bridge that gap, entering high school at the same age as your peers.

Everything’s Jake with Sophia

This is the story of how you became a dog person. Some people are dog people; some are cat people. You started out a cat person, much to the dismay of your father and me.

In the Norwegian Woods with Sophia

At eleven, you have already traveled extensively: Tahoe, New York, London, Spain, Hawaii, Iceland.   This summer we visited friends who live in the woods on the outskirts of Oslo.

Our first day you are charmed to take part in a Norwegian custom of a breakfast barbeque right on the windy beach, the sound of the water lapping counterpoint to the crackling fire.  We make pancakes in a cast iron pan, the batter thick with blueberries we’ve picked from the  back yard that same morning.

Sophia and the Polka-Dotted Mistifyer

Last Saturday you took a sort of entrance examination for sixth grade.  There were 70-some odd kids applying for about 15 spots.   As part of your day of tests and participation, the kids were asked to come up with an invention, and explain how it would work.

“So what did you invent?”  I asked.

“A transporter,” you responded.  “So I wouldn’t have to get up early for school.  I could just be transported in two minutes before the homeroom bell rings…..”


Holding Hands with Sophia

We’re walkers, your dad and I – fast walkers.  We pound along at twice the speed of most people, often breaking apart to flow around the sidewalk slowpokes without breaking stride or conversation.

A flashing crosswalk signal is like a red flag we can’t resist charging; if the light is green and we’re thirty feet from the corner we’ll break into a simultaneous run as if the signal light emits some sort of warning siren that only we can hear.  We never jaywalk, preferring instead to jayrun, something I can do as expertly in high heels as  flats…..


Riding Bikes with Sophia

We’re a bunch of late babies, the h and me and little one three.  Our birthdays are within 30 days of Christmas, more or  less.   The downside of this is not getting your fair share of  birthday booty AND Christmas booty, but getting the dreaded combo booty….


Singing to Sophia

Go ahead, sing to her, he said, but I hesitated.  We got along well, you and I, but I felt like an intruder in these nightly rituals.  I am unused to the bedtime rituals of love, security and affection.  I am from a different place than you. My bedroom was a place of both refuge and punishment, my bed a place to hide from the tears and the fears that, both real and imagined, chased me into uneasy sleep…..


Skiing with Snowphia

We had a big weekend, you and I. We went skiing in Tahoe, where hopefully we will continue to own a cabin by the time you are old enough to want to  read this.

Your dad is an expert and has always had high hopes that his joy and passion for this sport are something you have inherited from him. He has never pushed you, not once, not even a little..but the hope was there……


Traveling with Sophia

This weekend was our first family trip – me, the h, you, the step sister who  lives in Miami.

Or, as the flight attendant called us, mom and dad and their two girls.  That was fun to hear – my first time being referred to as mom…..

Running with Slowphia

I’ve been a runner all of your life and much of mine.  It’s hard to believe I’ve been doing it so long – almost five of your lifetimes.

“I’m going for a run” is a pronouncement I make frequently.   Sometimes because, like now, I am training for a specific race. Other times because it is a beautiful day and I want to be out in it.  Most times, because I just like to do it, whether for 45 minutes or four hours…..

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