Families come in all different shapes and sizes. Some mean more to people than others and I guess culture can play a part in that.
I am very close to mine; some may say too close because I couldn’t be too far away from them and it’s a contributing factor as to why I’d never emigrate or move hundreds of miles away. Admittedly we have to live our lives for ourselves, but I suppose it comes down to what we value and what we want out of life.
So, when asked about my family I can chose how much detail I go into on that one. In its most simple form, my family is a twig! But I love my twig very much!! My twig consists of me, my mum and my two daughters. My grandad was also a huge part of my life and was more like a father figure. I still think about him every day and miss him very much. He was an amazing man who I loved a lot. I wish he had been around to meet my girls; he would have been an amazing great grandad. He would have given them £1-coin every time he saw them, offered them a morning coffee biscuit or a chocolate digestive and even let them dunk it! He would have shared his bacon sandwich or tea cake with them, cutting it up into small pieces and no doubt ending up with none for himself! He would have let them honk his bicycle horn that he had on his table and made them giggle. Every time I see a robin, I say hello to him – Grandad loved birds and I believe it’s him coming to see us whenever I see one.
Sounds fairly straight forward right? Well, it is and it isn’t. When I get asked about my dad, I suppose it depends on who’s asking and how I feel as to how I answer that one! In the past I’ve just said I don’t have one. People who have known me since I was a little girl will know that I did have a ‘dad’ until I was 9 years old. So, this is when it gets confusing! I can remember a woman visiting us a few times when I was little, and I can remember going to court when as far as I knew my ‘dad’ adopted me. I was a clever little girl, but I still only remember him being in my life as he was around since I was 2 so being adopted by him didn’t bring any questions up for me as he’d been around all my life as far as I was concerned.
Then less than 2 years later after what I can only describe as a picture-perfect childhood, I remember waking up one night to the sound of arguing and went to sit on the stairs where upon I listened to my mum and dad arguing. I can’t remember what it was about, but I remember going downstairs and begging my dad not to leave and asking him to promise me that he never would.
I can still remember to this day; he did indeed promise me he would never leave. (Not something I personally think a parent should ever say to their child, the damage is horrendous when this promise is broken). Then I remember either the next day or soon afterwards (bearing in mind that he had promised he would never leave), he sat me down and told me he was leaving, meanwhile my mum was in floods of tears and my dad’s offer of comfort or consolation was giving me the Argos catalogue and saying that I can choose something out of it from him, I suppose as a leaving gift!!!
Needless to say, my world crumbled around me after this and I never saw him or his parents again. (Sorry I’m having a shiny eyed moment…deep breath)
Anyway, without going into the consequences of his departure right now, over the years it raised questions for me.
One day I discovered 2 birth certificates for me…one with who I believed to be my dad on it and one with a different man’s name on it. I was only a young teenager at this time. So, this is when I found out about my birth father. I was confused as to why my adopted dad did indeed adopt me, after all he had been in my life since I was 2 and was married to my mum so why did he feel the need to adopt me? I also found out that my mum had to adopt me too and there was a long in-depth process to do this. I have to admit that I then questioned if my mum was my mum, I mean why would your birth mum adopt you?! I didn’t look like my mum; I didn’t think I was like my mum and my ‘dad’ had just vanished off the face of the planet. What was I to think? But the UK legal system is very odd sometimes and I eventually stopped questioning this.
So, when I found out about my birth father, I discovered a whole other side to my family I never knew I had including grandparents, aunts, uncles, cousins and siblings.
I’d always wanted to have a brother or sister and a big family – a bit like the Walton’s!! So, I was excited at the thought of having a bigger family. But being a teenager, being a deep thinker, worrying about my mum, fearing rejection again and questioning why I’d want to try to get to know someone who has already rejected me once, I struggled with this. (However, in recent years I have met some of my extended family and recently I have started to get to know my birth father and his family).
I was left with a lot of different sides of stories and a lot of unanswered questions.
I later discovered that my adopted dad had remarried and gone on to have 2 of his own children. Imagine how that made me feel?!
So, from the age of 10 onwards it was just me, my mum and my grandad. They will always be the core of my family. They were always there for me and they are who I grew up with, they’re the ones I share memories with. My grandad was a traditional man, he never really spoke about things other than the weather yet his love for me never seemed to change despite him knowing I was gay (which I know he never understood) and he even came to my wedding.
I don’t intend to live in the past, but I know I struggle with not knowing the answers to things. Not knowing how or why a parent can abandon their child and disappear off the face of the earth.
However, I am lucky to have such a close relationship with my mum and my girls are very close with her too – they definitely have her wrapped around their little fingers!!!
I also believe that friends are the families we choose for ourselves. So to add to my twig there is also my lifelong best friend who is more like a sister to me. We have known each other for 29 years now and have been there for each other ever since. I love her to pieces! What is also special is that she has 2 little girls that are a similar age to mine and they are all very close.
I’ve often said I could write the script for a soap opera based on my life!
My family have given me strength and unconditional love always and I couldn’t have got through the last couple of years without them. They are absolutely amazing, and I love them with all my heart!
So, I have a very strong twig for my family tree but I wouldn’t have it any other way!
Today, I’ll leave you with this…. whoever you class as family, I know it’s harder especially during lockdown but pick up the phone and tell them how much you love them! If they are in your house or your bubble, give them an extra squeeze! I sent some pocket hugs to those I can’t see right now to let them know I’m still there and will be giving them an extra extra long hug when the time comes!!
Finally, one of my favourite scenes in Lilo and Stitch is when stitch says….
(particularly as it’s similar to my name!)