Monday, 27 April 2015

Matalan Modern Families And Us - Being A 'Beyond Kin' Family

When I was growing up I belonged to a family with two parents and three of us siblings, so I suppose we were the Nuclear family, It was a normal family - mummy, daddy and 2.4 children. These days though, family means so much more

Although I grew up in a stable home with two parents, that is not the way my own children have been bought up. Through circumstances my children have had a totally different upbringing, but that is a blog post for another day. These days families are evolving into different shapes and sizes.

I had my older children when I was younger and sadly my marriage broke up even before Beth was born in 1995 and I was left to bring up 3 children on my own. Something I was determined to do and something that made me want to achieve things for them and make sure they never missed out on anything a child from a 2.4 family would have. They have grown up to be good, responsible kids and have gone off to make their own way in the world except for Kimmy who still lives at home. Five years ago I made the choice to have a fourth child, I had been in a relationship for a good few years with her dad and together we made plans for a new child. Things didnt work out sadly after she was born and I was left to bring her up on my own again. Probably the most saddest part of this paragraph is that Tilly wasn’t just rejected by her dad, but also her grandparents. Her paternal grandparents have been given the chance to be part of her life and instead have decided that they don’t wish to know her. Sometimes it absolutely breaks my heart that she has no grandparents and friends and family have stepped in to be part of our family.
Tilly with her brother and sisters
The friends and family have actually slotted in like jigsaw pieces and made the whole picture complete. Let me introduce you to the friends that have become family.

Sam and Mike, Sam and I connected Whilst I suffered PND and she has become a sister to me and an aunty to Tilly. Mike on the other hand has become ‘Daddy Mike’ and he has stepped in to let Tilly know that there is always a dad there should she need one as she is growing up.

Eileen, She is another mum to Tilly, she helps out on the school runs and Tilly insists that if anything ever happens to me, she will go and find Eileen. I love that Tilly and Eileen have a Bond as our older girls have grown up together and now Tilly has the pleasure of sharing her childhood with such a special lady who I know will keep Tilly on the straight and narrow as she gets older.

Lin, I have known Lin for almost as long as I have lived in my hometown and she never realised that Tilly never had any grandparents and has adopted her! Lin and I are always in some kind of trouble and if there is a joke - we can be found sniggering in the corner because we probably started it! Tilly calls her ‘Grandma Lin’ But Lin insists ‘Nanny Lin’ - I think this arguement could go on forever! Lin is the Grandma that would not only bail Tilly out of jail when she is older, but she will be in jail with her!

Tilly has adopted herself a brother too, James is her brother by another mother. James has been Zach’s friend since there were about 6 years old and now they are 21 and still best friends. When Zach worked in Norway last year, James would still pop round and see Tilly. Whenever she talks about her family she always talks about her two brothers. This confuses some people but it is our family and that's how we like it.
Tilly and her 'two' brothers, Zach and James
Tilly’s actual siblings are Kimmy who is nearly 23 and still lives with us at home. Sadly due to the price of rent of properties in the area, it makes it impossible to be able for youngsters to get on the property ladder so it makes more sense for her to live to home. And to be honest, that's how I like it. Bethany is 19 and lives with her partner in Gloucester and they are expecting their own child in August, Tilly is most excited about the prospect of being an aunty but doesn’t understand how she can be an aunty when she isn't a grown up - the joys of a big age gap. Zach lives a few miles down the road from us and comes home a few times a week, quite often to spend the night with us. He works at a prestigious golf club in kent and he loves the job and the opportunities it brings.

My Aunty Jan is Tilly's Nanny Jan, Tilly loves and adores her Nanny Jan and Grandad Camper (they have a camper van) She has told me that If I die, she is going to live with Nanny Jan. Something that I am sure Nanny Jan is looking forward too ;). Sadly we do live a long way away from them and don’t see them often enough but i know they are always there at the end of the line if I need some advice about bringing up kids!
So my family is made up of a variety of people, some are blood related and others are people who have entered our lives at such an important time of our lives. Quite often friends turn out to be different than you think, but I have been extremely happy to have the people in our lives as I know they will all look my children. My family is different to your normal nuclear family and that is the way that I love it. My family is made of special people and although it isn't your average family, it is us! Families come in different sizes and shapes these days and 1 in 4 people regard friends as family, so maybe bringing friends into your family is more common than you think. Over 50% of modern families turn to grandparents for support and help with their families. With the rising cost of childcare, it is easy to see why the grandparents are an important part of a families life. A family is what you make it and I think I made mine just perfect!

This post was written by me for Matalan and Mumsnet, I received no payment and all opinions are my own.

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