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Growing up with two families



I never would have imagined having two mothers in my life.

Growing up, it was just my mother, my dad and me. My family was pretty conventional – we went out for meals and travelled together during the holidays.

That all changed when my parents divorced. I was only 14 when it happened.

It was weird at first, not seeing my father every day at home, as I moved out with my mother to my grandparents' place after the divorce.

As the only child, I had to split my time between my parents.

My dad surprised me in school sometimes for a quick chat or to pass me books that he thought would help me in my studies. I was beginning to get used to this new routine, going out for meals with my dad while living with my mother.

Despite my parents' divorce, we still went out together to celebrate my 17th birthday.

Little did I know that my life was about to change five years later.

In 2016, my dad and I attended a wedding with a lady whom he introduced as a "friend". I had never met her, but I still opened up and talked to her.

A week later, my dad broke the news when we met up for lunch. He told me that he was getting married to the lady I met during the wedding.

I was shocked, to say the least. My dad had never mentioned anything about dating, much less talk about marriage.

Why didn't he tell me earlier? I thought we were close.

I confided in my mother as I felt upset that my father did not confide in me regarding his relationship. After all, I've always thought that I would get a boyfriend first before my dad got married.

But I was surprised when she told me that I should be thinking more about his happiness, as my dad had finally found someone who would be there for him.

While I still had mixed feelings about what is going to happen after my dad's wedding, I decided to put away those thoughts to celebrate his big day.

My dad and stepmother got married in December 2016.

But settling into a new family isn't as easy as making new friends.

For some reason, I could not bring myself to call my stepmother "mom", even when my dad and step-cousin asked me about it. I have been calling her "aunty" instead.

My stepmother understood that I was simply not ready. She even allowed me to continue calling her "aunty". This meant a lot to me as she was willing to give me some space and time instead of forcing me to be close to her.

It also took me some time to warm up to my new family.

When I was filming my dad for a short documentary on taxi drivers for school, I ended up constantly being around my step-grandparents. They started asking me more about my schoolwork and I started opening up to them.

I soon realised that just being with them helped to break the ice.

Meeting the rest of my extended family didn't feel that awkward too. Thanks to their welcoming nature, I slowly felt like I was part of their family. Every time I visited them, they cooked up a mini feast and made sure I had something to eat.

It has been a year since my dad re-married and I have never seen him happier.

I also used to think that stepmothers would be very distant from their stepchildren and that it would be awkward interacting with my stepmother.

Thankfully, that was not the case for me.

My stepmother even entrusted me with things like helping her to bake cookies for her friends, although I didn't have any baking experience. Even though I might have messed up a little while making her Nutella tarts, she still asked me to join her in her future baking sessions.

How's that for a bonding session?

I am also grateful to have my mother by my side. She has been encouraging me to spend more time with my stepmother and my father too.

No matter what, I always make it a point to keep in touch with all my parents as I believe it is important to keep our family members close.

While it is quite difficult to juggle my time between both families, I still try my best to keep in touch with all my parents, like dropping them a quick message once in a while.

After all, "ohana" means family, and family means no one gets left behind.

Tags: Opinions