Family doesn't fit in a box- family photo album

We don’t fit in a box – This is family

Our family isn’t an unusual set up – not these days anyway. I just don’t really know what to call us. I don’t know what box we fit in. But then, all families are made up of people, and people don’t really fit in boxes, do they?

Anna Halsall

Anna Halsall shares the story of her family. A family that doesn’t neatly fit into a box or a label. But one that is full of love. There’s been a lot to navigate for Anna and her family over the last few years. With co-parenting and Covid adding their own challenges. But they put themselves back together. Not in a perfect ‘box’ but in a “funny shaped box with the holes and the wobbles, which strangely now also seems unshakeable”. Here’s Anna’s story:

Kept apart by Covid

My 2 year old and I had Covid recently, just before my 11 year old went away on her first school residential trip. This meant she had an extended stay at her dad’s – so she didn’t catch it and could still go on the trip. The day before she left he brought her over for a doorstep visit – the most wonderful and heartbreaking 20 minutes ever. My daughter standing 2 metres away from our front step, her dad being grumpy and strictly pulling her back when she edged forwards in excitement; the children desperately wanting to hug each other; the 2 year old not understanding why his big sister – his idol – wasn’t allowed to come in and play with him. And all the time us smiling and chatting and wanting to make it all ok.

This is our family – We don’t fit neatly in a box

That’s our family. I’m not sure what to call us. We don’t seem to fit the term “blended”; we didn’t bring two families together, we brought a bunch  of people together. There’s my daughter (now 11) and I, my new partner, and our baby (now 2). My daughter’s dad remains a fixture in her life – moving just a few miles down the road, and through custody cases and reduced maintenance payments, seeming to have a bit too much control over how we live. Yes, I am angry about that. And I work hard with him to co-parent our daughter well.

See also  How Do Babies Tell You They Love You?

Family and emotions aren’t simple – holding two apparently contradictory things simultaneously seems to be par for the course.

I don’t know what box we fit in

My Family Doesn't fit in a box- little girl sitting on a box

Our family isn’t an unusual set up – not these days anyway. I just don’t really know what to call us. I don’t know what box we fit in. But then, all families are made up of people, and people don’t really fit in boxes, do they? So we’ve made our own box. It may have a few holes in it, and be a bit wobbly sometimes, but this box – our family – is the support system we all need and rely on.

Motherhood hit me like a tonne of bricks

And from all the mums I know, all the IG posts I’ve seen, books I’ve read, I know I’m not alone in that. I wasn’t prepared (who is? Can you ever be?), and my pre-existing anxiety got a steroid boost from the demands, expectations, loneliness, and uncertainty of motherhood in our ‘modern’ society. And yet motherhood (again, as for so many others) has been my gateway to a more full version of myself – dare I say it, it’s been my gateway from girlhood to womanhood.

I’ve had to dig deep to understand where my anxiety and depression comes from, learn tools to manage them, I’ve started to use my voice, set boundaries, and begun to realise that I have value in myself aside from what I do for others. It’s a work in progress, and probably always will be. Yet without becoming a mother, without my family, I wouldn’t be able to travel this terrain.

See also  6 Easy Sensory Bin Ideas for Child Development

And then there was lockdown

And of course there was lockdown – which arrived just as I was recovering from my second bout of post-natal depression and starting a new career as my son turned one. I was suddenly right back in the thick of it, homeschooling a nine year old and caring for a toddler in a tiny flat, coming to the climax of that acrimonious custody case, and navigating two more miscarriages.

Putting our family back together

So what’s my point here? That motherhood blew me wide open. Like many families, the last couple of years have been carnage for us.  Yet as I’ve put myself back together, our family has put itself together too. Creating that funny shaped box with the holes and the wobbles, which strangely now also seems unshakeable. We’ve got more challenges to face – more mediation over child-residence arrangements, sorting finances, moving house, working through the heartache of how we complete our family. We probably all want to kill each other at least once a day. 

Yet my family fill my heart. They remind me of who I am, and I love them fiercely so they know that for themselves too. We’re a wobbly yet unshakeable box of very human people, where it may be challenging, but everyone is welcome. I wish one of those for your family too – whatever it looks like.

Do you want to share your story too?

As Anna has said, families come in all shapes and sizes. And each one is different. We’d love to hear about YOUR family too. If you’d like to know more about This Is Family and get involved then you can read more about it here. We can’t wait to hear from you.

Support for new parents

If you are a parents who needs support or someone to talk to you can contact PANDAS, who have a free helpline, email support, support groups and can support you in so many ways.

More from This is family

Matteo arrived early

When breastfeeding is hard

This is family – share your story

Read More From Our Blog:

Guest Author

Guest Author

This blog was written by a guest author. That means it was either created by an industry expert, medical professional, or someone from within the parenting community. You will be able to find out more information about them within the blog. Thank you so much for popping in to give it your support!

0 Comments