[This content was produced in collaboration with Center Parcs, as a part of their #thisisfamily campaign. In lieu of payment we have accepted a short break.]
My biggest adventure was having you.
All my life, I wanted you. I wanted you fiercely, bloodily; I wanted you so desperately that I was afraid to voice my longing for you, in case somebody heard it and took you away. Even now, I can write you a love letter but I choke aloud on the words that I could say about you; how much I miss you, when I am here in the house with you only when you sleep.
I have built a life that is rich and plentiful. There are friends: friends with whom once I shared a desk and rehearsed lines for plays, who know what I was like fifteen years ago and marvel that I am still alive; friends with whom I have driven through the night, our faces turned to the warm, Mediterranean air; new friends, who have known me only since I have become your mother and yet, have never met you. I have my career; this thing that you barely understand, that takes me from you so often, brings me so much joy. And I have your mama, with whom I have made all of these dreams a reality; she is all of our anchor.
And yet, these days, I find that you are the driving force behind every dream. You, your eyes bright and shining and full of trust, chattering over each other, slipping your small hands in mine.
You, who wake up every morning demanding to know if it is Saturday, so that we will all be together for two glorious days.
When I was a child, or a teenager even, I didn’t have peers from unconventional family structures. When my parents divorced, I was the only child in my year group with a mother and a father who didn’t live in the same home. There was a second cousin who was a lesbian, but I didn’t know what a lesbian was – the word, when I mouthed it, tasted dirty. My parents spoke of her in hushed tones. My second cousin didn’t have children. She still doesn’t. You might meet her, one day. She teaches children; she is good with little people like you.
When we decided to start a family, we were twenty-four years old. Outside of the internet, we didn’t know of any two-mum families. But the depth of our desire for you outweighed our fear of standing out and we decided to be brave. We slept on my in-laws’ living room floor whilst we saved for the IVF that conceived the biggest of you; we let ourselves be financially vulnerable because my own heartbeat in my ears became a ticking clock, and with every day that past so slipped away the likelihood of conceiving you.
I thought that growing our family would take longer than it did. And as I stared at the test, at that word, Pregnant, it struck me that being your mother, sharing you with your mother, would make us stand out as different in a way that we would never be able to undo; that we would never be able to hide again.
In the back of my mind I have always been afraid. There are so many tiny ‘comings-out’; to new colleagues and friends, midwives and nursery school teachers and the lady who waits beside me at the bus stop every morning, who wondered whether ‘the other lady’ was your nanny. And every time, in that pause between my saying the words and the other person’s acknowledgement, I tense. Just in case. I suppose that I don’t like for people to think that we don’t deserve you, that you deserve never to have had to be born. We don’t encounter much negativity, but still – I live in fear of the first time that you pick up on it; I don’t want you ever to feel ashamed of your family.
You are funny, sociable little people. You greet everyone with enthusiasm, saying hello to bus drivers, to people who pause beside you in the shops, to strangers sipping coffee at the table beside ours. You introduce yourselves seriously, and you introduce us: Mummy and Mummy. To you, we are normal, just a family going about our day.
With all my heart, I hope that it remains that way for you: that you will introduce us to your friends as nonchalantly as you would if instead of Amber, I were Adam, or Mummy Kirsty were Chris. I hope that you always feel proud to be a part of our quirky little family, that you know always how wanted you are and how much we love you.
Your Mummy Kirsty and I have always been family, even when we were two teenagers in love, trying to work out how we could ever stay together. But mothering you has been our greatest privilege and our most beautiful adventure. I am so glad to be able to call myself your mother, and to call you my family.
With all of my love,