Throughout my life as a Mum and a youth worker I have been so lucky to have been surrounded at home and work with lots of wonderful children and young people. My family of four, now extended to seven with girlfriends and boyfriends in tow, and a new grandchild due in the summer means that the next generation is on the way.
In my extended family I have nieces and nephews who I feel a great connection with. Throughout our lives we have been in touch, sometimes very infrequently, but I hope they all know that I would move the world for each and every one of them. Family is my religion, I believe in it totally, I believe the job of supporting our family and particularly the children and older people in the family is the most important thing you can do.
I have an amazing relationship with my nieces. One is grown with family of her own, but has a special place in my heart as she was my very first little girl. Aged just two when I met her Uncle, who late became my husband she was my ally and friend throughout her childhood and teenage years. I am proud of who she is now. Another niece is studying, she is learning how to treat illness, and using her science knowledge, hard work and dedication to make things better for everyone. Another special niece has moved from a brief spell living in our house and is as I write this living the dream on the other side of the world, where her talents and enthusiasm for life will bring her all she wants and deserves. She just needs to trust in herself and let the universe look after her and those she loves and holds dear. My nephews are also fabulous teens and young men, each taking the world by storm and making their mark.
So my family is full of children, albeit mostly grown, but what of those other children, with their own parents and families who, over the years, have slowly become my family too.
We have shared our home with many young people. Friends of my children have been welcome in our house, some have even moved in, stayed a while and come back often to see us. Boys, at that difficult time in growing up have camped on the floor in bedrooms, on sofas and generally waited to build bridges with Mum and Dad, before returning home. We have enjoyed our Spanish friends, who each summer come for a month to learn English and infect us with sunshine and laughter. Keeping in touch, always, I am English Mummy to a couple of gorgeous girls in Madrid.
This weekend I had a birthday cake to make. The person it was for tells everyone that I am his Mum, and I made him his first ever birthday cake. He was 17. There is another young man for whom a birthday cake each year is important. Baking is a very personal act of giving I feel. As I mix the mixture, coffee cake for one and chocolate for the other I consciously send positive thoughts and good wishes into the mixture. One boy I baked for to celebrate his return from home from a spell in prison. Everyone makes mistakes, and he did so, however, since then he had worked hard to be a good dad and is always a good friend.
So there are many ‘children’ from work, family and friends who have a place in my life. As they are growing I am also seeing the benefits of knowing them. One stopped me in the street last week to tell me he has a new van and will be moving us when we move house in a couple of weeks. Another has looked out for my daughter, giving her a job when she needed one, from which she had gone on to more work having had useful experience.
Ex youth club members who have turned into gorgeous young Mums who befriend me on Facebook, eager to show me their new families, those whose weddings and significant birthday parties I have been invited to and those off to University who will one day surely take positions in power, I have an amazing family.