When I was growing up, I dreamed about a big white wedding to the man of my dreams and then settling down to family life with two children (a boy and a girl obviously) and a dog. We’d have weekly visits from the grandparents and huge family gatherings where everyone would gather round and enjoy each others company. And seeing as I’m sharing my childhood dreams with you I might as well tell you that the skies were always blue and the birds were always singing – I’m pretty sure there was a rainbow around most of the time too. 😉
Life didn’t turn out that way though.
I got the husband, the kids and the dog but not the white wedding as we decided to buy a house instead so there wasn’t much money for the wedding I’d always pictured.
Life went a bit pear shaped around the time that Miss Frugal was born, in fact, the day she was born was the day that my brother was booked into a different hospital to have a biopsy on a lump in his mouth. Shortly after he was diagnosed with cancer and he spent the next two years battling the awful disease which was obviously not a great time for our family. He died just after I found out I was pregnant with Master Frugal and my lovely Mum was never the same after that.
She tried her best but she changed so much after that which I completely understand. I can’t imagine losing either of my children and I know that I would never be the same again if something happened to either of them.
A year later, almost on the anniversary of my brother dying, she was diagnosed with cancer herself and I was devastated when she died two months after she found out. I don’t think it hit me so much at the time as I had a toddler and a baby so I had no choice but to carry on. The hard part for me was the small things – wanting to pick up the phone and tell her something or needing some advice about the kids but not being able to ask her.
Losing my Mum and my brother completely changed my outlook on life and made me want to appreciate every single minute because, let’s face it, you never know what’s going to happen.
My Dad really struggled with being on his own and got re-married quite quickly although he’s back on his own again now. I’m all he’s got left now so he does rely on me a lot which can be exhausting but at the same time, he’s done so much for me over the years and not it’s my turn to repay it all.
I guess what I’m trying to tell you is that family life is rarely simple. It’s not easy and it takes real effort to get everyone together and keep them happy but it’s worth it, it really is!
Christmas and other special occasions for lots of you are a chance to bring your families together, to get the spare chairs in from the garage so to you can try to squish everyone around your dining room table, to manage the obligatory arguments over board games and who’s going to have the last Yorkshire Pudding. To me though, it’s a chance to spend time with my much smaller family and celebrate the fact that we’re together and that we’re all healthy and happy.
I was recently emailed the results of a survey by slatergordon.co.uk who are specialists in family law and it made me more than a little sad that only 49% of people consider their relationship with their family to be ‘very good’! I’d love the chance to have any relationship with my family so please, if you’re one of that 51% who have anything less than a very good relationship with your family then pick up the phone and change that right now.
Another surprising figure from the survey was that 42% of people had needed some sort of assistance with family law – I thought it would be much less than that to be honest although I’m not sure why as I’ve needed it myself several times as the executor of my brother’s estate and also for help with my Mum’s too after she died.
Families can be hard work but it’s worth every bit of time and energy that you put in!
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