What do you do when your family unit disintegrates? I was very lucky that I had a ‘nuclear family’ when growing up. Mum, dad and my little sister.
When I was 14, my parents separated. I remember being strangely fine about it, not much would change, and not much did. We saw dad nearly everyday and my parents maintained a good relationship. I was much more interested in my friends and going out at this point, that I didn’t sit to think about it.
My younger sister Evie and I
Things changed a bit as they got new partners, I am really close to my step dad and think him and my mum make a wonderful pairing, initially I felt like I had bonded my dad’s new partner, although we have no contact whatsoever now.
I make no secret of how much I struggled with my mental state after having Noah. He was amazing, the absolute light of my life but I was only 17, I was missing out, I was trying to muddle through education and being pretty poor at times and getting to grips with my new identity and all the things that came with it i.e. a destroyed stomach, empty boobs, postpartum hair loss, whilst everyone else was entering their prime.
Noah aged 2
Often, dad and I would bicker. I found keeping up with tidying difficult, and now I look back this was a symptom of depression but I didn’t know then. My room had a permanent floordrobe, I wouldn’t tidy away Noah’s toys when the day ended and I would stay in bed for as long as possible. At this time I was also doing nights as an intern at radio stations, which really took it out of me.
I know that dad’s partner had her concerns. I was an adult. I had had a baby, I wasn’t paying enough towards rent, I was lazy and she would often point out in her culture that children did not speak back to their parents. I felt guilty that I was putting my dad in a difficult position, I know he loved me and did not agree with some of the points (for example the talking back, it was just banterrrrr) but ultimately he needed to be happy and move on with his life.
The last 3/4 months of me living there, I didn’t leave my room and avoided the kitchen/living room. I ate my meals in bed whilst Noah slept next to me, I didn’t watch TV as it was in the living room and any opportunity to be out of the house or have company, I took it. Dad’s partner and I didn’t speak a word to each other, and it was strained between dad and I. I felt let down, like he had picked ‘her’ over me.
Dad and I
When I was told it was time to move on when Noah turned 3, I understood, I had seen it coming. Except the issue was I didn’t have anywhere else to go. I couldn’t afford rent in London (still in radio at this point), mum had no space, nor did Grandma, Noah was turning 3 and I knew that we might be in a hostel waiting for housing until he was at school age, I didn’t feel like I could do that to him. I spoke to Papa No + Ro on the phone and it was then that our only option became clear. He was already living in Leeds for Uni, in a house with four of his friends, and we would all just have to make do there. And we did until we found a house for all of us. Bless the guys, they were living in a bachelor pad (minus Papa) and along came Noah and I, but it worked, they all adored Nono and we lived there until we found a new house (and the landlord got wind of the situation!) we also had other friends here at Uni, and we started to build our own little dysfunctional family up North.
The first morning in our new house, that was just ours 💘
Obviously now, things are a lot different. I’m married (still weird), studying, there is now a little Roman, many of our friends have graduated and left (or stayed!) but things with my dad’s partner haven’t changed.
I have written heart felt messages, spoken with my dad, passed on gifts and now they have a baby together (so there is 21 years between my youngest sibling and I!) but it seems my bridge has been well and truly burned. It breaks my heart for the boys, because they miss out on a close relationship with their grandad as they can’t stay round there etc, I miss my dad and although I still see him it’s only fleetingly and we are yet to meet my baby sister. I am never quite sure what exactly I did wrong, I think I just wasn’t very liked, mass miscommunication, and differences of opinion, but I think about it all the time and it does make me sad. I’m an adult, I have my own children! But I feel like an abandoned child at times, and I don’t think you ever quite stop yearning for your parents approval/love (when I vomit, I always want to cry out for my mum!)
Mama, myself & Grandma
It has been an important life lesson though and I have faith that in time, it will heal and I hope if their is anyone struggling to adapt within a blended family reading this, they find comfort in knowing they are not alone.