Over the last few years I have learnt the true meaning of family. For me the meaning of family has changed. When i was younger the only family i knew was my mums. So my Mum, her parents and siblings and their various children. We lived with my grandparents for most of my childhood, and while most of the time it was good I've come to realise that it was only ever good when my mum was there.
My grandparents were bitter people. they argued. Alot. Infact i can hardly recal a time when they werent shouting at each or putting each other down with the snide remarks. They would argue over the tv remote being on the wrong table, over stupid stuff. It was constant.
Every school holiday my grandad would take me hiking in the lake district. we always had fun, played games of statues, i spy, played in becks and built damns to catch fish and conqured mountains. The grandad i knew on holiday was the grandad i loved. but at home my grandad was mean, he yelled, threatened, locked me in my room if i was staying the night and once he hit me. Yes only once. But that one smack when i was 7years old formed a decision in my innocent mind. I would never, ever, under any circumstance i would never hit my children or my grandchildren should i ever have any. At 7years old i knew that hitting was never ever a good thing, there is never any good reason for hitting especially a child.
His reason for hitting me? I must have been exceptionaly naughty to deserve such a thing surely? No, I had simply said i didn't want any breakfast as I'd already eaten with Grandmother before she went to work. So for 'backtalking' he hit me. It wasnt a light smack either. It was the hardest anyone has ever hit me, the hardest slap acros the arse. So hard infact that I couldn't sit down comfortably for three days. At school that day i cried when my teacher asked me to sit down at my desk, it hurt so much. She asked what was wrong and sobbing infront of my class i told her that he'd hit me. That afternoon when my mum came home from work she was furious with him. She'd recieved a call at work, had bought a packet of my favourite chocolate buscuits and come home to give me a hug . With her arms around me i felt safe again, i knew he could never hurt me again.
I remember watching as she told him never to lay a hand on me again. I've never seen a man so terrified in my life. My grandad towered over mum, him 6foot something and her 5foot6inches, but infront of her that day he looked like a mouse and she was a lioness protecting her cub. She didnt yell, infact she didnt even raise her voice. she used a quiet monotone and told him never to hit me. the phrase I'll never forget "You're a sorry excuse for a man, if you need to hit a child you're supposed to be keeping safe" When she'd finished, she took my hand and we went back downstairs to our flat and locked our front door, snuggled up on the couch with cups of tea and our buscuits and watched my favourite film. The Last Unicorn.
He never did hit me again.
My grandmother was subtler, but no less mean. I didnt really notice as a child because i was a child. but as grew older i started to realise that some of things she would say werent really very nice. Things shed say to me or too mum. Or the way shed talk about my absent Dad. nothing was ever quite good enough for her, and congratulations she gave was always closly followed by "when i was your age i did 'suchnsuch' better than you, you cant be as clever as me" or other such demeaning things. She'd buy me things from the local charity shops, not so bad in itself untill you realise that its always something broken or of no use. When i was 16 she said shed bought me a pair of jeans, theyd fit me perfectly she said over the phone. when she gave them to me they were about 6sizes too large. A very subtle way of putting me down.
I do have good memories of both my grandparents but I'm not writing this to remember the few good times. i writing this to explain why i have decided that my Mums family are nolonger deemed family by me.
For me families are the people we surround ourselves with that make us feel good, are supportive. Not people who put us down and make us feel bad. So my grandmother, grandfather, mums siblings and their children are not my family anymore. Last year the showed their true colours and blatently told us they do not care or support us. Luckily we live in New Zealand and they all live in the uk so i will never have to see them again.
My Dad (RIP 2008) has family in the uk too. They are honestly the polar opposite of mums. Granny is exactly what ive allways imagined a granny should be. Kind, caring and always has a hug and a plate of cookies ready for the grandkids. I didn't meet Granny till i was 11, i only met my dad the yyear before. he and mum had split before i was born, before she knew i was on the way. She raised me alone, sure we lived with my grandparents alot of the time, but she was a solo mum. And the best mum in the world. Grandpa is kind, loving but stern if you've done wrong. He's recently retired as a headmaster of on of the best comprahensive schools in the uk. I love them both utterly.
Honestly half way through typing this i've lost my train of thought..
But to My Mum, stepdad, fiance kids, grany, Grandpa, Aunty Faye cousins Claudie, Meg and Rebekah, to my friends near and far. You are my family, those of you who have been there fore me over the years, through the hard times and the good. You are my family and i love you all.