Sal here. Mum and I did a lot of thinking about this post… should we write it at all? And how would we go about it?Since beginning this blog we’ve received the inevitable and totally understandable question of “why ‘family of 13’?” Followed by “did you lose a child?” “Have another we didn’t know about?” “Are you (my parents) divorced?” And so on. Answer is, neither of those! But it’s such a big matter to leave unexplained, so we thought we’d talk a little about our current situation.
In short, we’re a family of 13 because my mum is a single parent. I know, super-mum or what? 1 mama + 12 children = 13! Of course it’s important that this post remains sensitive and harmless, so we’ll spare you the details for now.
But I will tell you that for the past few years have been ones of fear, anger and total heartbreak, without reprieve. Most of all, pain. More pain than I thought possible. One moment a dull ache, then before I know it, all-encompassing. You’ll know what I mean if you’ve ever woken up and deeply, wholeheartedly wished you hadn’t. Had your foundations torn from beneath you. I’ve lost the security I had assumed infallible, and taken on responsibilities far beyond my years.
But this post isn’t a sad one; it’s of hope and fresh starts. As a family, we will take every ounce of pain we have endured, and turn it into good. Into fierce love for one another, into calmer days and into happy memories we can keep.
Cliche as it may sound, I can speak for us all when I say we have never been closer than right now. Never so unshakable in our respect for one another, or so excited about what the future holds. I suppose the message to take away from this is that behind the flowers, dresses and sparkles, we are rebuilding our lives from next to nothing. Surviving when it feels impossible, and thriving against the odds. We really hope we can empower you also, and remind you of just how capable and resilient you are. Once again, I will say that we treasure every kind word we receive.
Mama also has a few words to say. I feel like I’m babysitting, and handing the phone to Eddie or Max like “Mum wants to speak to you”. Haha! Anyway, onto Mum’s part.
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Well, this is early days for me. I’ve had a terrible 3 years that have tested me to my limits. I’m now on my own, and have been since January (you know what I mean when I say “alone”; of course I’m surrounded by so many gorgeous people and am far from physically alone). I can’t say much about that now for legal reasons and so forth, although I don’t think I have the words anyway. We will write about it in our book one day. This is not a situation I ever wanted to be in, and every single day I wake up thinking “I just can’t do this”. But then I look over at Marigold, asleep with her bum in the air, and Primrose snuggled in next to me. This is the life I have, so I need to get on with it and do a darn good job. The point of me telling you this is, that my pictures are beautiful because I want them to be, and because appreciating the pretty things in daily life is what gets me by. But behind this I’m heartbroken. Nobody has the perfect life.
My days are full on. I start at 6am on a school day, having done as much prep as I can the night before. I cook every meal, wash every piece of clothing, change every nappy and even run my own taxi service *sarcasm*. Emotionally, I hope I’m there for each of my children, as they certainly are for me. I often feel vulnerable, especially since our world and support network just got a lot smaller. Yet in others, it is growing by the day. Plus, my mum and sister have shown us more love and support than I ever thought possible, and I hope I get to give it back one day.
Each hour is a roller coaster. Yesterday I had a health visitor offer me tickets to take to the local food bank, and I almost had to pinch myself. How can this be happening to us? Then this morning, my sister commented “Ness, I’m almost jealous. You are your own woman now, you can live your life as you want, bring up your children, make your own money, help other people, carry on inspiring.”
I can’t do this, but I’m doing it anyway.
Please keep the comments kind, folks.
Sal & Ness xox