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Hypothetically Speaking (to protect the innocent)

Maybe you're part of a Blended Family, the young, new part that would be considered "scandalous" and "questionable," and maybe you've struggled for years to prove your virtuous qualities to your in-laws, your commitment to the instant family you inherited, emotional problems, learning disorders, psychological dysfunctions, and all. Maybe you also COME FROM two Blended Families and find it almost entertaining to hear someone have to introduce your dad's wife as your stepdaughter's stepmom's stepmom (would this be a stepgrandmother, a step-step-grandmother, a stepmom twice removed??). Maybe you have both blended families and in-laws coming to your house for a holiday brunch, and maybe you decide to approach it like there's absolutely nothing awkward about having two ex-spouses who emotionally abused each other for decades eating marshmallow fruit dip and egg casserole across from each other at your dining room table.

Maybe during the consumption of said dip and casserole (and loads of champagne to dull your senses from the agony of all the exchanged glances and downturned eyes), you think to yourself, "well, this isn't actually so bad. Everyone is being very gracious and mature. I'm proud of these 50-year-old adults who are behaving like, um, adults."

But then maybe your mom looks up from her mimosa and -- over the roar of your four- and two-year-olds' harmonious and near-angelic (or, more accurately, apocolyptic and deafening) enjoyment of their 12,547,983 Christmas gifts -- says, "Kristen, there's someone walking up to your house holding trash bags." And maybe before you even look out the window, you know who that someone is. That someone is the biological mother of your emotionally damaged and maternally abandoned stepchildren, the very same one who hasn't seen or touched her own children in seven years, but sends cards every 14 to 18 months that gradually become more and more delusional, with references to a vague and mysterious future point in time when the evil world will stop its forces from working against her and she will be able to act like their mother again.

And maybe as time stops while you turn your head and confirm with your eyes that this "someone" is indeed that delusional, lonely figure who chose a life of wallowing in her own self-loathing over getting to know the flesh and blood to which she gave birth almost two decades ago, you don't realize the audience you have (namely, your parents and stepparents) when you utter the phrase "that stupid bitch" not entirely under your breath. And then maybe as your heart pounds in anger and disgust at the selfishness of this coward to drop trash bags full of pawn shop trinkets on your porch and try to run away without being seen, your stepdaughter happens to round the corner and see her estranged mother walking away from the house.

And maybe you feel both tragic sorrow for your stepdaughter and immense anger at her mother's lack of thought and consideration for how her actions would affect her daughter. After that, as your stepdaughter pulls herself from the long, deep clutch of a reunion hug conveniently occurring right outside your dining room window, maybe you feel a deep curiosity about what that stepdaughter is learning about her identity and sense of self as she finally places a focused gaze on her mother's old, hard face. Later, when your stepdaughter describes the 15-minute interaction with her mother as "weird" and her mother's face as "more like a grandmother's," maybe you think to yourself that you haven't given your stepdaughter enough credit. She's not immature, oblivious, or lazy; she's an emotional survivor, and she learned her survival methods (avoidance and denial, mainly) from a tragically absent and poor teacher.

And then as your four-year-old asks why your stepdaughter is crying when she comes back into the house, maybe you think, "so much for a completely NOT awkward Blended Family holiday. Where's the liquor, anyway?"

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