When I think of family I have to admit one of the first things that pops into my head is Phil Mitchell saying ‘We’re Faaamily’ to one of the millions of Mitchells, I don’t actually know the names of. That and the old age saying of, ‘You can choose your friends, but you can’t choose your family’. How very true. I will not bore you of the details of my Jeremy Kyle worthy story but let’s say I grew up completely envious of my friends and their families. Friends who had a loving mum and dad and a close knit army of brothers and sisters that cared about them, and would protect them at any cost. That’s what I believed a family should be a mum, a dad and their children.
However, when I look back on my high school days I learnt that family did in fact mean something a lot more than the traditional set up we are taught to believe is the ‘right one’. Family meant going to live with my nan and my uncle. Over the years we became as close as any ‘normal family’. But this was because we were a normal family. We of course went through highs and lows. Arguments and make ups just like any other family but deep down we cared about one another and I still class that house as my home.
As I didn’t have much family I heavily invested in my friends. It really is true that you know who your friends are when you go through something traumatic and they stand by you to pick up the pieces. I have a wonderful band of ladies whom have been part of my life for 13 years. We are a family, I love these girls and they have stuck by me through thick and thin. When I didn’t know who I was. When I rebelled at everything. When I get so drunk they make sure I get home, even after throwing up down the side of their car. When I self-destructed they were there and they still are.
When I was in hospital having Elijah and learning that we would be admitted to NICU these girls did everything. From feeding my cats to driving Greg to and from the hospital and contacting me every day. These ladies are my sons, ‘aunties’, and God Mothers. They are a huge part of mine and Elijah’s lives. Yes, they are not biologically related, and my son has ‘real’ aunties who he hasn’t even met! That couldn’t tell you what his favourite program is, or what he likes to eat or what new words he has said this week. His, ‘aunties’, spend their free time taking Elijah to soft play or look after him when I am at work. They can tell you the name of the nursery he goes to, his keyworkers name, these ladies are my family and are my son’s too.
I saw a great term used the other day, ‘love cousins’, its where you’re not related via blood but your child and another have a bond that is so much more than a friendship. Where you care about the children as much as your own. I was so lucky to be pregnant at the same time as a friend. The pregnancy brought us that much closer. Evelyn and Elijah were born exactly one month apart to the day. We have gone through everything together in these 21 months. More so with Elijah’s op. When Sam said goodbye to us before we went to London for the op she cried. She cried because she cared so much for Elijah that she too was as worried as I was something bad was going to happen. If Evelyn or Elliot have to go to the doctors or even hospital I have been as equally worried about them. Elijah adores Millie and looks up to her, she looks after him as if they were brother and sister and it melts my heart. She is like a big sister to him.
I look at the people I care about, the ones I class as family and 90% of them I am not related to. But I wouldn’t be without them, they are my family. When I look at Elijah I do sometimes feel slightly sad for him that other than two Great Nan’s he doesn’t have any other grandparents we are in contact with. But then I think why should I feel like this? My son has everything I didn’t when I was growing up. He has a loving mum and dad and a network of ‘aunties’, and ‘uncle’s’ that care about him and this is what I think family is. He doesn’t have the traditional set up of what we are lead to believe is more beneficial to the child. I know single parents that do a better job of raising their child than two parents. I know gay couples who would be the best loving and caring parents I could think of. I know couples who don’t really like each other but are staying together for the children as this is what we are led to believe is the right thing to do. But is in fact wrong, neither party are happy and the children are suffering.
There are people who showed genuine concern when Elijah was having his op both friends and ‘family’, but when it was all over and we have returned to our lives they are now nowhere to be seen. Family are the people that stand by you even through the boring mundane days. The days where they tell you your living room looks good after you have redecorated it, or send you pictures of Harry Potter MEMES as they know you will laugh.
I may not ever write a book (however if any of you want to offer me a deal I will be happy to accept!) so I am using this as my ‘for page’.
Click here to see part one of Nicu Mum and Mummy and Nina talk- family, or to be taken to the amazing Mummy and Nina blog.