The Flip Side

The flip side of having an ‘alternative’ family is the absolute appreciation and joy you feel when your family is embraced and accepted by people. Every smile is meaningful, every gesture of kindness and acceptance hits you in the heart. Because you know too well how the alternative feels. Fortunately, in my experience these days, the alternative is rare. In fact I can honestly say that to my knowledge, my children have NEVER experienced negativity on their parents’ behalf.

They live in a time when tolerance is mandated and schools are inclusive.

They have been blessed with teachers and coaches who support them, and for the most part I can honestly say that I have not felt too many times where true discrimination has touched any of us.

I would be remiss in not making the point that we have been quite selective in the choices we have made for them, both in their schools as well as their extra-curricular activities. You learn to listen to your gut feeling very quickly when your kids are involved.

I was lucky in that I work in the education field so had the opportunity to send my older two children to school with me for their primary schooling. Knowing this institution and how it operated, and being a visible staff member meant that I had the opportunity to get to know the people I worked with and that people knew me and my family and had a ‘feel’ for our family dynamics. It made things much easier.

There were several other same sex families at the school over the years and I am confident their experience was similar to ours – quality staff, quality students and a highly inclusive curriculum. All essential ingredients for a positive same sex family schooling experience.

Sport has always been a huge part of our lives. Six out of the seven of us currently play hockey, and our Hockey Association is where we spend the majority of our weekends for six months of the year. We live for hockey season. The atmosphere is fantastic and the people there know us and our tribe and it is the place I feel my greatest sense of belonging within our broader community.

For Lis, the kids and I, it is our home away from home.

We map out our weekend based on our game schedule, beginning Friday nights and often continuing through until late Sunday afternoon, depending on who is playing at what particular time. It is our common ground, and has bonded the kids in a way that will last for years to come.

There is quite a large age gap between my boys, with their ages being 14, 7 and 4, and my eldest struggles to relate to his ‘annoying’ younger brothers. You know the deal – the older one thinks they are far too grown up and ‘cool’ to possibly bring themselves to be too nice to the younger ones. The old ‘Alpha Male’ syndrome at its best. Yet I will often come home from work to find them playing hockey in the yard together. Makes my heart swell just thinking about it.

He doesn’t realise it yet, but my big boy holds such an important position within our family. Being so much older than the two little boys, they look to him for approval and guidance. They watch him, and how he is maturing and growing into a man (yes he is often mistaken for being older than his 14 years) and I can see them measuring themselves up, with him being their yardstick. With no father in the picture, Master Z is the next best thing for these little boys. They are so lucky to have him.

Their older sister, Miss D, who is 12, is literally the light of their lives. She dotes on them, and has the absolute patience of a saint. I will often go to help Master M, my 7 year old, with his homework, or to bath Master C, the 4 year old, or change Miss L’s nappy, only to find it has already been done. Miss D is biologically not mine, and yet she reads me better than anyone. She senses when I am needing help, or tired, or basically just needing a hug, and there she is to offer whatever it is that I need. Having a few body issues growing up, I remember as a young girl wishing to have my own little girl one day that didn’t have my genes.

What an irony, my wish came true.

While I was devastated that I myself couldn’t fall pregnant at the time, I know now exactly why that was. This girl was meant to be here with me. I don’t normally make it public knowledge that she isn’t biologically mine – it really isn’t relevant. Biology is the least relevant topic in the world when it comes to motherhood. She is the most perfect gift I could ever have asked for. She tells me regularly that she didn’t grow in my stomach, but she grew in my heart.

My darling girl could not be more right.

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