This post is part of the Clic Sargent Yummy Mummy writing prompts, week 2. I’ve chosen the first prompt, to write about the type of family I grew up in. Please go and read the other posts linked up on Nickie’s blog too.
I was born in the late seventies, to a mum who was to go on to dedicate most of her life to raising me and my sisters, and a dad who really- let’s face it- couldn’t be bothered. I was six when my dad left with his ‘fancy woman’. My mum had had enough of his constant affairs, grumpy nature and solitary hobbies. He preferred to spend his weekends playing golf, fishing or taking photographs to spending time with his wife and three kids. Oh, and he liked to have affairs with other women too. These were all activities that we were not really invited to join him in and so I don’t really have many memories of the man. Those that I do have involve being told off.
When I was about eight, I think, my mum met my step-dad and eventually he and his daughter moved in with us. My little sister turned five years old and the absence of a card from our dad glared obviously amidst the celebrations. Ever the feisty one, my older sister called my dad and demanded to know where the birthday card was. The call was ended after he told her that as far as he was concerned, he no longer had any daughters. We were disowned.
At the time, it changed nothing. We never saw him anyway. He never took us out for the day, like the other dads you sometimes see in McDonalds or at the cinema on a Saturday afternoon. He never picked us up from school, but he did spend the next few years turning up here and there, then disappearing again. At various points over my life I have had no idea at all where he is living or whether or not he is even alive. Today I only know thanks to my Auntie- there is no contact at all and its been that way since my daughter was 9 months old.
My dad’s absence was accepted as I was growing up. I didn’t know him at all and so I rarely missed him. I think I sometimes felt envious of other children who were able to call someone ‘dad’ but in the end I realised that was just a name. It took a lot more to actually be a father.
My mum married my step-dad in 1985 and two years later my youngest sister was born. We were a family of five girls and life settled into a routine of hormones, nail varnish, pop-star posters and tears. My parents worked hard to make sure that we always had enough to eat, foreign holidays every year and even half term breaks in the UK every year too. My mum was a teacher and she and my step-dad always emphasised the importance of education. We were expected to leave home for university and to make something of ourselves. Staying in the small village where we were growing up was not an option. We were to see the world.
And see the world we did. At the age of 16 my eldest sister left home to work in Jersey. She then moved to London to study nursing and today she is a mental health nurse in Queensland. My second eldest sister (step) moved away to Birmingham for teacher training and is now a deputy head at a school close to where I live. My younger sister initially moved to Derby for university, before moving to Bournemouth for a few years. She then spent a year in Australia before moving back to the UK to study nursing. She now lives and works close to me too. My youngest sister met her husband at a young age and chose to stay local to our parents. She trained as a teacher in Lincoln and lives there now.
And me? I initially left home a year later than my sisters had, the only real rebellion I was brave enough to perform. I thought I wanted to work in a pub for the rest of my life and it only took me a year to remember that I had aspirations too. I left home for Bedford, then changed my mind and came ‘up north’ to do my Creative Writing and Literature degree. I dreamed, as I always had, of being a writer.
All that my sisters and I achieved were down to my parents. We were brought up to strive for something more in life and to chase after our dreams. We were brought up to believe in family and to rely on family. We were brought up as a family. Someone once asked me what is was like coming from a ‘broken home’ and I had to laugh. My parents’ divorce didn’t break my family- it made it.