I looked up the meaning of Family today and I was quite surprised with what I found. This was the description:
That may be what I saw as family in my youth but, as the years have passed, I have started to view the true meaning of family with different eyes. Let me explain.
Is blood really thicker than water?
At least since my teenage years, my father hasn’t really been around to support me. My parents split up during my late teens, my father moved away and there were years of issues and back and forth with him and my mum. It was a relief when they divorced.
When my father’s new girlfriend was pregnant – at the same time as I was with Grace – he told me he ‘had time to be a father now’. Just because I was older, surely it didn’t mean that he no longer had to be a father to me?
In contrast, my mum has now been with a wonderful man for over 20 years who is the most supportive dad I could have ever asked for. The biggest gift he has given me is the way he looks after and supports my mum – especially during the times she fought off two different diagnoses of breast cancer.
To me, Ian, my step-dad (which I am proud to call him, despite the fact that he and my mum aren’t married) is one version of living proof that family does not mean that they have to be connected by blood or legalities.
Finding a step-dad for Grace
Ross has surpassed all expectations of what I could have hoped for in a dad for Grace. We are not married (yet) and Grace and Ross are not related by blood BUT there are times when I feel like the odd one out, such is the closeness of their relationship.
I split with Grace’s father when she was just 3 months old and, from that point on, I had pretty much resolved myself to the fact that there may never be a male role model for her. Then I met Ross.
He has been brilliant for her. Her message in her Fathers Day card to him this year says it far better than I can:
More proof that blood and legalities don’t mean a thing.
Only one of Grace’s Grandparents is connected by blood
With the fact that both of Grace’s paternal grandparents are deceased and that I have no communication with her maternal grandad, she only has one grandparent related to her. My mum.
My mum has always been there for Grace. She was present at her birth and stayed with me from 9am the morning I was in labour, right through until 1am the following morning once the hospital found me a bed. She regularly sends her gifts and money and is the person Grace goes to if she needs another female role model to talk to who isn’t her mum.
Other than that, Grace has Ian, my step-dad, who I have mentioned earlier in this post. He has been a constant in her life right from the outset. You can see how much he cares for her and has always been there with a hug, a kind word and a tube of sweets. He is wonderful.
Then, there are Ross’ parents. I don’t think they ever expected their first grandchild to be a ‘step’ one. But, over the years, they have become ever closer to her. They regularly bring her a gift when they see her, they looked after her for a period of time when Ross and I travelled to both Cyprus and Spain for our IVF attempts and, recently, they sent her some books in the post – one of which was by her favourite author, David Walliams. They want to know about all her achievements and treat her as if she was related to them. I am truly grateful to them for setting such a wonderful example and for loving her the way they do.
Having a donor egg baby
If all I have mentioned isn’t enough, to add to our very varied family, we are expecting a donor egg baby. This of course means that our boy is not strictly genetically related to me. The relationship that Ross and Grace have is proof enough to me that blood and genetics just don’t come into it.
I am lucky though. I have been through pregnancy carrying our baby. The one that IS genetically related to Ross. With this I feel that I am able to give back to him what he has given to me with how he has brought up Grace. We will be evenly balanced…well, almost. Our boy will at least have some of my epigenetics which will have integrated into him as a result of me nourishing him, growing him and feeling him kick inside me.
A Patchwork Family
If you take a look at the 21st Century, families now come in all shapes and sizes. What I have written here and throughout my blog is proof of that. It doesn’t have to mean marriage or being a descendant of someone else. Nuclear families are starting to become more of the exception rather than the norm.
Being a finalist in the Family and Lifestyle Category at the BiBs 2017
Our attempts to have a baby for the past 4 years have been well-documented both here and on my YouTube channel. I have expressed my thoughts about being a mum at 46 years old and how things have changed since I had Grace 10 years ago. I have shared much of Grace’s progress from the funny things she said when she was 5 right up to talking to her about puberty. Everything I have said, done and written has mainly been with my family in mind. I have shared (some may feel over-shared) my IVF journey and couples as far away as Australia have got in touch with me to ask me my advice. I am so grateful to be able to help couples who might find themselves in the some position as us.
With all this in mind, I was truly thrilled to find out that I had made the first round of the finals list in the Family and Lifestyle Category at the BiBs 2017. Since I started this blog, nearly 5 years ago, there has been a huge influx of fantastic bloggers so to make it onto the shortlist for the fifth year running is a huge honour for me, especially when, this year, I didn’t really canvass for any votes.
I am not going to lie. This year I would love the chance to actually win, rather than just sit on the shortlist and I would love it if you would consider a vote for me. All you need to do is follow the link in the badge below:
I would like to finish my post with this thought. I am so pleased to say that our little family is made up of love – because, at the end of the day, does anything else really matter?