Surrounded: Split families doesn’t always mean half the love

Allison McKenzie, Business Manager

Growing up, I was always jealous of my friends who went home to the same house every night and spent an immense amount of time with both their mom and dad. They’d come to school the next day and talk about their family dinners and I would gaze in awe of their so called “picture-perfect” night. For me, my normal day consisted of the struggle of figuring out which house I was going to spend the night at, what I wanted to wear for the rest of the week, and how I would get to dance after school. All of these thoughts burst in my brain throughout the school day as I awaited the bell. This may be a difficult idea for some to wrap their heads around, however, I have adjusted to this reality due to the fact that this is all I have ever known.

At left is my mom and step dad, and at right is my dad and step mom.

When I was three, my parents split apart. Honestly, I can’t even imagine my parents living in the same house together. Later on, this transition of my life became much more difficult for me. My mom and I had an every night bedtime ritual when I was younger in which she would rub my back before I fell asleep and read me stories. When I was at my dad’s, I would become homesick for this comforting ritual and would cry relentlessly until my dad eventually called my mom to talk me to sleep. However, this difficult transition eased when my dad married my step mom in 2005. Having another mother figure in my life was a fresh awakening for me. Being able to talk with her when I was feeling down and see how happy she made our little family was very warming.

Not to mention, around 2008, my life was filled with even more new realities that no one could have predicted. My mom married my step dad and my little brother was born just months before. Awestruck, I was handed the responsibility of becoming this little guy’s big sister. In fact, I will never forget the day he was born. Being only eight years old, you can only imagine the excitement I had when my grandma drove me and my oldest sister to the hospital that day. Nerves mixed with excitement pulsated through my veins as we sat and waited for what seemed like an eternity in the hospital lobby. Finally, as my stepdad emerged from the doors and invited us back to meet him, I was so anxious and afraid because after this moment I knew my life would never be the same again. While being the youngest child for 8 years of my life, being a part of this event truly changed my life for the better. Having another father figure in my life was also truly amazing and seeing how happy my mom was made everything even better.

Additionally, in 2009 and 2012, my step mom had my younger sisters. Once again, I was handed the title of big sister and I couldn’t have been happier. Given the opportunity to make an impact on these little ones lives has been the best job I could have ever been given. Having the opportunity to have both a younger brother and younger sisters has been a challenge in some aspects. Switching from the atmosphere of two rambunctious little girls who always want to play house or Barbies to a house of a little boy spending the day playing Lego Batman on his playstation is like transcending to a different universe all in the span of a day. Not to mention, finding ways to relate to all of my siblings is something that I have learned to do because of their multiple contrasting personalities. Granted, even though there are challenges, the outcomes of the everlasting bonds that I have with each of them is something I could never replace.

Even though my life is difficult at times, I would never wish for it to be different in any way. Trying to juggle school, work, friend time, and family time is always a hassle for any teenager, however, I have to constantly have my bags packed in order to switch houses every two days on top of that. Sometimes it’s hard adjusting to the changing of houses and packing of bags, but the love that I am surrounded with daily makes up for it by a long shot.

Having two separate families that I can rely on and love me unconditionally is something I hold close to my heart. Some may view divorce as a terrible thing, however, I find that my situation is very different. Being able to basically start again, but with two completely different families with two completely different backgrounds, has been such an amazing learning experience for me. It’s not uncommon for families to be divorced, nevertheless, I feel that the love that surrounds me is uncommon for most families. Even though my reality consists of split houses, I will never receive half the love.