I’m JM Randolph,  writer and custodial stepmom to five.

You read that correctly: FIVE.

I’m also a stagehand. My day job (which largely occurs at night) is mixing live sound for musical theater.

In 1977, at age five, I wrote a gripping and moving tale about the German Shepherds that lived next door. My mother still believes it to be excellent. I became a writer.

In 1994, I started getting enough sound gigs that I kept calling off my waitress shifts and had trouble making my early morning classes. I became a stagehand.

In 2006, my boyfriend got temporary emergency custody of his five children and I moved in to help out. Temporary turned permanent. I became an accidental stepmom, and we got married, on purpose, in 2008.



Being a regular parent is hard. Being a stepparent is hard and complicated. Being a custodial stepmom of five whole kids is ambitious, reckless, and convoluted. Kinda like herding fully-clawed cats up a waterpark slide when the bottom of the slide is coated in crisco and the sides are covered in hot sauce.

Now, more than ten years in, I believe the most difficult part of being a parent or step-parent is retaining who you are. At least, that’s been the case for me.

When I first started this blog, there were very few stepparent resources online. Most of what I did find was either hopeless or vindictive. Not helpful. Not funny. Today, there are loads more resources, yet I still find myself sifting through a shitload of negativity and bad advice in search of anything that resonates. I’ll continue to do my best to keep this blog light and somewhat amusing.

There will be swearing.

Being someone who battles depression, I’ll also write about some of the tools that have been dead useful to me. Plus I’ll write about shit I just like, which is truly the most useful tool of all.


I don’t have a degree in this and nobody thinks I’m an expert. But I’m pretty good at laughing at myself and I lead a ridiculous life. Most of us do. It’s high time someone embraced the virtues of half-assed step parenting. We could all use a little levity.




77 thoughts on “About

  1. Hi…Just came across your blog–the one featuring “Brickie.” Then read a few more and truly enjoyed them . Love your brand of humor…being a mother of two teenagers, plus a couple of dogs (1 still a puppy), I get where you’re coming from. Thanks for lightening my evening with a few laughs…

  2. I just came across your blog too. I am now the not-so-accidental stepmother of four, so I am subscribing to you as you have WAY more experience than I do! 🙂 I will be visiting for a sanity check, I am sure!

  3. Just found your blog. Hang in there kiddo. You are the same age as my son who is step dad to two girls. Sounds like you are doing just fine.

    Heck, I am 64 and still finding out what I want to be when I grow up.

    Boookmarking your blog so I can go back and catch up.

  4. Hi, just stumbled across your blog surfing in Germany, and although I’m only mother of two kids of my own, you have my complete admiration and sympathy. I’ll try to check this out more often now. Say hi to Brickie please. We’ve got a stuffed polar bear called Poop.

    1. POOP!!! That’s FANTASTIC! I just went to Germany for the very first time last month and absolutely loved it. There are a few posts about it under the “Interesting Places I Went” category. Thanks so much for stopping by.

  5. haha!! nice…. your levity isn’t just refreshing, it’s your straightforwardness. Have no shame, that’s a good thing.

  6. Good Sunday! It’s Andi here, from Double Dose of Special. I just wanted to take a moment to thank you for taking the time to comment on my guest post on Our Typical Life. I appreciate that you were willing to share your thoughts with me, and that my post touched you in some small way. Please come over and visit me on my blog anytime.


  7. Your blog is brilliant – and gives me a good chuckle! I’m not in your league by any means, but I am a part-time step-mum to 2 young ladies, who I refer to as “The Pink Tornadoes”… My husband and I are quiet types. The ex-wife is a hurricane… the girls bring that whirl-wind of energy with them on their visits… Instead of being uber-tumultuous it actually brings me out of my shell and it’s great fun! I don’t blog about them yet.. but they do drop some classic lines which may end up as little posts in the future.. eg. “Nelson Mandela was imprisoned on Robin Hood Island”.. (meant to be Robben Island – for anyone not familiar with South African geography/history).. Cuteness.. in pinkness.. and I’m such a tomboy…I’m working on them.. Blue is also good… 🙂

  8. You are featured in Donna’s blog (Redneck Princess) this week, so I thought I’d pop over and check you out! I like what I see, your blog is funny and interesting – it’s gotta be with 5 stepkids and 2 puppies!
    I’d like to read your gripping story about the German Shepherds that lived next door when you were 5 – that would be a great post!
    Nice to meet you, thanks to Donna!

  9. Hi Julie, sorry we havent met yet but, someday. I have to say I admire your courage and fortitude. Just reading your blog and seeing the pictures made me tired. Hope to meet you soon.

  10. Been reading your blog ever since it was featured in “Freshly Pressed”which was very recently- the warm-n-fuzzy “brickie” saga! I don’t claim to know you but, through your blog, I feel I have gained such a positive sense of who you are. I admire how you embrace your life holistically, and how you strive to establish a good balance. Sending you positivity, ’cause I know it can sometimes be hard to come by. Great going- with blogging and parenting!

  11. I have been secretly reading your blog and thought I would stop stalking long enough to comment and let you know how much I enjoy your humorous look at the step-mom. I’m a step-mom too, and it can be a rough road to travel. Good thing to keep it light as you travel!

  12. Hi hun, i wanted to tell you again what a fantastic thing you are doing here. your kids are truly lucky and blessed.
    your blog is absolutely hilarious and i love reading about life with your little munchkins or Child Army as I like to say 😉
    so i wanted to tell you that i have nominated you for the VERSATILE BLOGGER AWARD at my website.
    Thank you for you amazing blog + art as well as your helpful comments + feedback at my blog.
    Follow the instructions from my post **if** You would like to accept the award.

  13. Found you! Love it here! I’ve no idea what you’re going through but your journey intrigues me…. Keep up the great work! 😉 K

  14. This is refreshing! There are lot of moms in the blogosphere but this is the first time reading about a stepmom with five children. I love your site by the way, and I’ll be subscribing! 🙂 Have a great day
    Mommy gem

  15. I’m new to the blogging world… just stumbled upon yours and love it. You are so right, we all could use a little more levity and especially humor in daily life (including and most importantly laughing about ourselves). Hang in there, sanity might return once they are all out of the house 🙂

    1. I’m very glad you stopped by! Welcome to the blogosphere. I hope you’re right about the sanity coming back. Though one might wonder if it was ever there to begin with.

  16. i just want to tell you how much i love reading your blog. as a fellow stepmom, i can totally relate to some of your stories and challenges. and i’m so happy to know that someone else out there has the same snide thoughts as i do! thanks for writing and for making me smile on a regular basis

  17. How is it possible that after enjoying your blog for so many months I only just now noticed that you have Neil Peart’s website on your blogroll?! I’m a huge Rush fan, so I approve.

  18. I love your summary! I gained a “bonus” daughter in marriage to add to my one and then we insanely thought it would be a good idea to have two more kids! Oy! Life is certainly an adventure these days and I love your sense of humor. Life is what it is and I bet our kids will be fairly well adjusted…. we can always hope.

  19. Thanks for stopping by the blog. I’m glad I got to check you your writing, especially about step-parenting…I’m wading into that territory these days…good to get an honest perspective.

  20. I completely understand your step-parenting role. My husband and I have 6 kids that live with us. (He has another child with another baby momma from his earlier years but that’s an entirely different story.) but the six that I am raising, 3 were his 1 was mine, and now 2 are ours. This I can honestly say is the absolute hardest job I have ever in my life had and still have. Kudos to you for doing such a great job. I no longer work outside of the home because the child care alone was killing us when we had just the 4. So once I got pregnant with #5 we had to make the decision of me staying home and him continuing to work. At times I regret it but I know it was right thing to do. I just miss the adult life and conversations. That’s why I enjoy reading your blog and some others to know I’m not alone.

  21. I just stumbled upon your blog! I too am a step-mom and love your positive role you play! My husband and I are now expecting our first child together and I am looking forward to completing our family.

    Check out my blog if you aren’t too sick of “kid stuff” 🙂


  22. Wow, you must have your hands full with five kiddos. I have two, and it’s enough for me. That’s fine by me if you want to keep it light! This sounds reasonable. I stumbled upon your blog through my Reader! It’s nice to meet you. – Amy

  23. I’m an adoptive mom of 2, birth mom of 3 (and custodial parent of all five) AND a step-mom to three grown kids. I don’t know what to call myself except “Mom”. It’s a big job. I enjoy your blog even though I can’t really relate. I’m didn’t raise my 3 step-kids but I certainly am raising my five. It’s sort of weird being the “ex-wife”, the “2nd wife”, and mother, too. Sometimes, I don’t know where I belong!

  24. Step-parenting is the hardest thing I’ve ever done. Ever.

    Kudos to you for managing it well… or at least fooling us into thinking you’re managing it well! 😉

  25. I have nominated you for The Versatile Blogger Award because I enjoy reading your blog. http:/realitysfineline.wordpress.com/ (Realitys Fine Line), to find out more and accept the award 🙂

  26. Hi, JM! When I read about your becoming a stepmom to five, I was reminded of the days when I became an instant foster mom to three. And I thought I had it tough! (Ok, it was tough.) Recently started blogging again after the year from hell. Looking forward to coming back to visit when I need a good dose of reality. Blessings. Heidi Saxton

  27. I think I love you. I am mom to five, two of my own and three of his, though I dream of selling at least one, and buying myself something nice… like a pair of noise reducing headphones. We sometimes daydream together in the evenings about which would bring in the most money and what we could do with it…
    Anyway, I think I love you. And because I’m not sure what else to say, except that you are quickly becoming a hero of mine, I’ll close with that before this gets any more awkward.

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