We are Kendall, Elizabeth, Stephanie, and Amber* – stepmoms, all of us. Collectively, we are the Stepmoms’ Club, to which we welcome you! Since this book was a joint endeavor between the four of us – a labor of love, really – we’ll be referring to ourselves along the way as “we.”

We wrote this book to impart the advice (and warnings) we desperately wished we’d been given before we became stepmoms, advice that we couldn’t find in volume after volume of “helpful” clinical wisdom by therapists and PhDs. You know the kind of books we mean: How to Blend Your New Family (yeah, slowly, with lots of ice and tequila would have been a more helpful recipe than the ones we read), How to Get the Respect You Deserve (sounds like a manual for middle management), and How to Set Boundaries (which are bound to be broken and reset unless you’re Vladimir Putin).

In our book we’re going to help you be a stepmom, no matter whether you’ve been at this stepmoming business longer than you care to recall, or you’re first starting to dip your toes into some shark-infested step waters. That’s what this book is all about. We’ve got your back, because we’ve been there, we are there, and we’re in it for the whole ride. We’re lifers, all of us, and if you’ll let us, we will give you not only the plain-and-simple facts of stepmothering, but the messy, complicated, rewarding, heartrendering, and heartwarming insights gained through what we’ve lived and learned as stepmoms.

Please note that for the purpose of consistency, and because we all married men with children, we may refer to the spouse or partner as “husband,” but as we’ve learned, with the rise of same-sex marriages, the statistics for lesbian divorce are fast approaching those of straight couples. So, ladies, if your spouse or prospective spouse, partner, boyfriend, or girlfriend has kids, welcome to the club, too!

*Our names have been changed to protect the identity of our families and loved ones.