I was raised in a single parent family, although we lived with my Nan and some Uncles and Aunt’s until I was a teenager, I have never met my father properly, they had split before I was born, apparently he saw me once when I was about six month old and I continued to see his parents in my early years until I decided at about 6 that I didn’t want to anymore (I’m not sure that I could make informed decisions at that age if I’m honest but I assume that it worked out better for my Mum that way)
The only man I’ve ever really had a father/daughter relationship with was my Grandad, he and my Mum never got on as she found out at 16 that he wasn’t her Dad, I still can’t understand how she could be angry with him for something that was totally out of his control, if anything he was the person that took on someone else’s child? I’ll never get that one as I think he was a truly great man and has always been my real life hero.
I can’t remember my Mum being around much while I was a child, I guess all being in the same house it was easy to leave me with my extended family while she went out and my Nan had me a lot, she told me as a child that she had wanted an abortion but my Nan wouldn’t let her, that is something that your child should never know, not ever and it’s always stayed with me, maybe it’s added to the reasons why I’ve felt like the unwanted child.
She also made it clear that she had wanted a boy, when I was born she only had a boy’s name, as that was what she wanted so my Nan named me, a year later my Nan had another son, he has the name my Mum had for me, as a child she spent more time with him than she did with me.
Apparently from the time I was tiny I had wanted a dog, it was I’m told not far off my first word and a word that I used frequently over the years, ‘what would you like for Christmas?’ ‘A puppy’ when I was little we got one, a Black Labrador that I called Tank, I totally adored him but it wasn’t even a week before my puppy was sent back for going to toilet on the floor (seriously what did they think that puppies did?) I remember being devastated when he was taken away, it was an early lesson for me in promises that she wouldn’t keep and that what she gave with one hand she took with another.
When I was 8 a lot happened, my super special Grandad died, I can still remember my Aunt (that he was living with by that time) walking into my Nan’s, I didn’t need to hear the words I knew what had happened and was devastated, apparently at the funeral they literally had to hold me back from running into the grave with the coffin.
My Mum also got married that year to a man that she had met via some kind of forces pen pals dating, he was in the RAF and I think they had met one or two times before getting married, I can’t really remember a great deal about it or him, I think I had maybe met him once before the wedding, at this time she also decided to change my surname, I’d never had my father’s name but I remember being at school and having to tell everyone that I wasn’t called what I was before, I remember it all being quite confusing at the time, I now had the same surname of a man I barely knew, the marriage lasted less than six months, as a small mercy at least she didn’t decide to change my name back and make me go through all of that again.
There were various ‘friends’ I was introduced to and trotted out to meet over the years, I don’t think that there was much time that she was on her own, I don’t think I ever got to know anyone terribly well, there was a guy at one point but he was literally just a friend, he was lovely and was brilliant with me, when they fell out or she decided she didn’t want anything more than friendship I wasn’t allowed to see him anymore, I remember being quite upset about that, I loved it there and was really fond of him, I guess I learnt then that I shouldn’t get too close to people as they could be gone as quickly as they arrived.
When I was 13 a boy I went to school had a dog that had, had puppies, we had been friends for years and I badgered at home until they finally gave in, provided that I looked after him, I met him at four weeks old and it was love at first sight, I adored him and he seemed to feel the same about me, he eventually came home a few weeks later and we did everything together.
It was at his dog training classes that my Mum met my Step Dad, he had a Border Collie puppy of a similar age to my little scruffy friend and like the other people at club all used to talk, it wasn’t long before they became ‘friends’ and then more than that.
At about that time we moved out of my Nan’s into a lovely but small 2 bedroom house, only a few miles away, however my Mum would be up at his house most evenings and every weekend from Friday to Sunday, I was dragged up there a lot in the evenings at first but left at home on my own mostly at weekends, by then another dog had come along, so I was left alone to look after him and my little one, I didn’t think much of it at the time but seriously who leaves a 13 year old alone for days at a time?
I guess I went a little off the rails in my teenage years, I was out clubbing from about 15, house parties at mine (well there was no one there) I remember one week when she grounded me 7 times, then went out each time and actually expected me to stay in, I didn’t of course and she soon gave up on trying to discipline me as it was too much like hard work for her.
While I was a bit of a wild child I still understood boundaries even then, I never did anything really stupid and hung around with a good group of people, there was the odd party that ended with a very occasional visit from the police about noise, a little bit of drugs and a LOT of alcohol.
I was lucky that I had good people around me to keep me on the right track really I think, the person I’d met at dog training at 13 had taken me under her wing and I spent a lot of time with her and her partner, I showed their dogs for them all over the country and spent time with them whenever I could, I also had my best friend/Mum hybrid, who is 10 years older than me but has always been a great source of stability for me, her kids were young when I first met them and I’ve been as much a staple in their lives as their Mum has for me, she’s been the person I’ve always run to, even now.
I can’t really remember my Mum being a major part in my life for very long periods, if there wasn’t a man involved she used to take me to things so she wasn’t alone, so I guess at those points we were closer but I soon got used to being pulled in and pushed away when the next thing came along.
My Mum was strange as I was growing up, she messages me and tells me she loves me now but I can’t remember hearing that as a child, she is a self-confessed ‘not a cuddly’ person, I get that, totally but I also find a person that doesn’t cuddle their child very strange.
W@nk Bag and his family were similar, they didn’t do affection, he was described to me early on an ‘emotional retard’ but it took a while before I realised the extent of it. I knew his sister long before him and her daughter used to cling to me because her Mum didn’t do affection, what sort of parent can’t cuddle their own child? I guess the little girl reminded me a bit of myself as a child, absolutely craving affection, no child should ever feel that and it makes me massively sad when I see a relationship like that, incidentally her child is grown up now and barely sees her Mum at all as they have such a strained relationship.
My Mum has a long history with trying to buy me off, however one of her greatest efforts was when I was 17, I was taking driving lessons and one day she was dropping me off at the Best Friend/Mum Hybrid’s house, which was a couple of miles away, as we turned into the close she said ‘I’m pregnant but I’ll buy you that car you want’ I had few words, apart from to tell her that I was the one that was at the age where I should be doing stupid things like that. I didn’t know they wanted children, he didn’t have any and she’d never wanted me and had in my opinion done an awful job of bringing me up, it had never been discussed in front of me, I guess she never had to tell me those things?
I remember walking in and telling my Friend/Mum Hybrid, she was as horrified as me at how I’d been told, she wanted a boy and was annoyed again when she realised she was having another girl, my sister was born 8 days before my 18th birthday and was joined by another one a year or so later, I really hoped that she would change and to be fair it looked like maybe she had, the girls had so much that I’d not had as a child, my Step Dad was fairly well off and the girls had everything they could possibly want, including a lovely Dad but they also had a lot of things that were totally unnecessary and I thought was her buying their affection, just like she had with me.
My Step Dad and I got on quite well but I was 13 by the time he arrived, I’d never had a Dad and didn’t want or need a pretend one but he was a good man and a good person, if anything he was probably too good for her, he paid all of her debt off and made sure she had everything she could ever want and much more.
When my sisters were born I was told that should anything happen to my Step Dad I would be their legal guardian, it was written into the wills, if they died it would be up to me to look after them and their inheritance until they were old enough to look after themselves, at that point I learnt that I wasn’t included in that will in anything other than a share in my Mum’s jewellery, apparently because the rest had come from my Step Dad it would be split between the two of them, my Mum had always to the day he died told me that he looked at me as his own, so if he did why was this the case, how could you treat your children so differently?
When I was 23 she told me she was moving in with my Step Dad (they weren’t married by that point) He had a three bedroom house but his Mum lived there too, so with my Mum and two sisters moving in there would be no room for me, I get that I was 23 and maybe I should have moved out earlier but I also lived in one of the most expensive towns in the Country.
I had been with my boyfriend at the time for about 9 months and was kind of pushed into us moving in together which we just weren’t ready for, she wouldn’t even wait until we’d found a flat so I moved in with him and his parents for a few months first.
His parents were the first sense of great parents I’d really known, I’d first met them on a Sunday morning when I was leaving his soon after we’d got together, they had five boys and I was treated immediately like the daughter that they never had, they did lots together, dinners, parties and soon became the people that I treated like the family I’d not really had, they were close, affectionate and I’m pretty sure that they were totally unshakeable, one of their son’s recently came out as transsexual and although I’m sure initially they were shocked but they have totally supported him, just as I would have expected him to.
In the five years that we were together they were my family, I was often round there both with and without my boyfriend, we bought our house together the following year and I’d go and discuss what I wanted to do, I’d arrive home from work one day to find his Dad there doing it for us, I feel a bit bad for saying this but they were one of the reasons that when things started going wrong I stayed for so long, I knew that I would lose the family that I loved so much too.
When it finally ended we were all devastated but it couldn’t continue any longer, we have been split up for 12 years now but they still send me a Christmas and Birthday card and keep in touch when anything major happens, they are totally wonderful people who gave me some idea of how a family could be, if I ever manage to have one myself!
My Mum and Step Dad eventually got married as they wanted to all have the same name, so I was the only one left with the name of the man that she had been married to for six months when I was eight, how bizarre is it that I am the only one that has been left with the aftermath of her mistakes?
My Mum had always had a very tumultuous relationship with my Nan and she’d made a big deal of having to do things even though they didn’t get along, she even said she hated being there when she was dying as she hadn’t treated her well and for a time I did that too, I went to visit at Christmas and Birthdays and made an effort to see her weekly, the girls are lovely and I love them but I was always treated very differently which although I’ve tried not to let it bother me I guess it always has.
He loved my Mum, he must have to have put up with her shit for so long, she ruled him with a rod of iron, she made his Mum’s life difficult in her own home and was delighted when she finally got her moved into a home, she alienated his brothers family, the family that before he met her he spent so much time with.
Throughout his illness I struggled with seeing him, I couldn’t understand him and felt awful for that but I also hated how she treated him, I have no doubt that looking after someone with a condition like that isn’t easy but she would shout at him for always wanting to eat when but when he was able to it was one of the few pleasures he had left, she’d shout at him for not being able to understand him, it was totally embarrassing and I hated seeing him berated like it, especially in front of my sisters who were still young.
He died five years ago, my sisters were 14 and 16, some of what I felt was relief, relief that he was finally out of the misery that trapped him and that his pain was over, I also felt sad that my sisters had lost their Dad so young. She was an embarrassment at the funeral, not once were his brother and family mentioned that he had been so close to, I was disgusted with her, they were terribly upset and he had loved them, they should have been mentioned without doubt, I mentioned it to her at the funeral, she said she had ‘forgot’ to me it showed just how twisted she really was, from that day onwards his brother and family have had nothing to do with her and my sisters have lost another part of their family and their history.
That year I did the whole Christmas thing with them but I promised myself that it was the last year I’d be held to ransom, I went over, watched my sisters get ridiculously spoiled while I got a couple of presents that I didn’t want or need and left feeling like the unwanted child again, I have kept that promise and not been for Christmas since.
That year she offered me some money in order to move from my flat to somewhere with a garden, I’ve always wanted a garden but said it wasn’t necessary and when I had the money I would move, however she had, had a couple of big pay outs due to my Step Dad’s illness, she took me to look at houses and two weeks later told me that she wasn’t going to do it, now although I’d love a garden, I’d never have looked at houses I couldn’t afford, it was just like that puppy when I was a kid, given with one hand taken with another, I think what was worse was that I’d not asked for it, it was totally her suggestion.
The Christmas after that she asked me what I wanted, I told her that I wanted a digital SLR camera and if she could give me some money towards it that would be great, she told me that she would buy it for me, I said there was no need but she insisted, a few days later she sent me a photo of a cheap bridge camera telling me that she was going to buy it for me, instead of giving in for probably the first time I stood my ground and said no, that wasn’t what I wanted and if she didn’t want to buy the one that I wanted some money towards it would be lovely, as we’d discussed, she told me she’d get it for me after Christmas, on Christmas Day I rang to say Merry Christmas as I did each year, she asked what I’d got and I said nothing, I was single at the time, she told me what she’d got and I asked about the girls, her words were ‘it’s easier to tell you what they didn’t get’ I was used to her behaviour by now but even with that in mind it was still hard to swallow and made me cry before I went out.
My Mum quickly went back to her old ways one my Step Dad had died, I had heard from someone that the girls were being left alone for weekends while she went to meet men she’d met on Internet dating sites, now I’m the last person in the world to criticise internet dating that but I’m pretty sure that I’d not be leaving my kids that had not long lost their Dad to go and meet random men and definitely not in hotels, I checked in on the girls and told them that I was here if they needed me, what else could I do?
I had to play the adult in our relationship from pretty early on, I was used to it and I tried to talk to her about leaving my sisters alone, she wasn’t interested, she took the opportunity to tell me that I was a selfish bitch and was just like my Dad and that I was jealous of my sisters, while I was totally ok with being a bitch, I wasn’t ok with having a man that I’d never met thrown at me, I wasn’t the one that had chosen to have a relationship with someone she obviously hated and got pregnant by them, I don’t know if I am like him, how could I tell that about a man I’ve never met but I assume that as I have 50% of his genes I do share some of his traits, how could I not?
Weirdly my father has three other children, all girls that went to the same school with my sisters, my Mum made a point of telling me that she sees him at school picking them up, I’m not even sure why you would share this information, I know nothing about the man, apart from his job and the area where he lives, I have five half-sisters, three of them I wouldn’t know if they walked past me in the street, how strange is that?
I think those messages with her were exchanged in around 2014 and I just can’t get past her throwing that at me, I didn’t choose to be born, in the time that’s passed since we’ve spent about an hour together in I think summer of 2015, I agreed to meet her for lunch, which I did and I couldn’t get away quickly enough, to this day I’ve not had an apology for her behaviour, largely because she won’t think she’s done anything wrong and probably partly because she will have forgotten.
She sends me messages on Facebook message every month or so, I won’t add her on there as I don’t want her to see what I’m doing, each time I see her name pop up my heart sinks, I’ve just got nothing for her, I would love to have a close relationship with my Mum like the ones that lots of my friends have with theirs but I don’t ever see that happening, she often asks when we can meet, I tell her I’m busy, what else can I say, should I tell her the truth? I guess at some point I’ll have to?
Life with her is a vicious circle, she’s nice for a little bit, then she’s nasty, then she’s nice, I just can’t keep putting myself through it, even for the woman that gave birth to me, in the interest of fairness when W@nk Bag and I split she was amazing and I hoped it would be the change for us what I didn’t realise was that we were getting on really well because I was so broken that I had no fight in me, she told me I was staying at hers for a few days and I wasn’t in a fit state to say no, I was happy for someone to control what I was doing but once the real me started to return so did the problems.
This year she has done it again, I got a message a few months ago saying that she was moving, half way across the country, I knew there would be a man involved but said nothing as I didn’t want to give her the satisfaction, I spoke to my sisters who were devastated, both were in their first year of uni and the oldest of the two was struggling with being away from home so was coming home every weekend to see her friends and feel like home.
Neither of the girls wanted to be uprooted, their Dad had been born in the house, all of their friends were there, they confirmed there was a man involved, neither knew a lot about him, one had met him briefly once, the other hadn’t even met him, despite all of this she sold their childhood home and moved anyway, I shouldn’t have expected anymore but again tried to play the adult and attempted a conversation, it was just wasted on her, she didn’t care about uprooting my sisters, just being closer to this new man.
She’s been gone a few months now, I only know the County she lives in, it’s where the bloke she’s seeing lives, I guess at least I know she won’t marry this one, if she did she would lose her rather significant pension, I was hopeful that she would have learnt from her experience with me and tried to have a better relationship with my sisters, I honestly wish that she would have put them first and tried to have at least one out of three of the children in her life that she didn’t need to try and buy.
On Christmas morning she sent me a ‘Merry Christmas’ message, I wrote back but as usual tried hard not to get into conversation, on Instagram last night my sister had posted a photo of her presents from my Mum under the tree, there were loads, including several designer label bags, it’s been around 5 years now since I’ve had a present off of her for my birthday or Christmas, am I selfish? Maybe I am?
Over the years there have been some awkward situations, like when I started this job, they needed to see my birth certificate, my birth certificate clearly states, ‘Father Unknown’ do you have any idea how it feels to hand that over to your new employer? I felt like it said, ‘my mother is a slapper’ he isn’t unknown and she could have done me the courtesy to have a name on there, even if it was the name of a man she hated, I also had to hand over a deed pole form, of when my name was changed to the name of the man she married. Each time someone asks where my unusual surname comes from I’m embarrassed, no, it’s not my Dad’s name, no, it’s not my Mum’s family name, it’s the name of some stranger I barely knew.
I don’t think that children should ever be kept from their parents or used as weapons between parent or that there is any excuse in the world for ‘I don’t see my children’ I can’t comprehend any excuse that would be enough, how could you walk away from a person that you are responsible for making?
I’ve been told many times, by many people that I’m nothing like my Mum and I hope on every level that is true, I think myself lucky that I have some great people in my life that have been the family that I choose, there is a lot more to family than blood.