I met Cariss this week. Cariss is quiet, subdued and doesn’t speak much. She is 14 years old and lives with her Mum and her Step-Dad with her half-brother Darren, aged 7. She goes to school and has some friends. Her mum is worried. Her Step-Dad asks her to call him Dad.
Cariss says she has a Dad who lives nearby. He has a new wife and two children over there, aged 9 and 6. Cariss should go and see her Dad every week, and Dad rings Mum to see if she’s coming. However Cariss more likely than not will choose to go out with her friends.
Things are just as they are. Cariss doesn’t feel that special in her Mum’s home as she is aware that half brother is her Mum and Step-dad’s child so she’s not ‘special’, and at her dad’s house her Dad and Step-Mother have two new children, and that she’s not special over there either.
Might be just worth sparing a thought for what it might be like to walk into a house, and not feel like the loved daughter in either. As a Mother I know what it can be like when, if you have your nuclear family who are all happily co-existing, to have a visitor. It means hard work integrating everyone so people are having a good time, and sometimes it can feel like three is a crowd. The travelling child between homes can feel like always being that third person. You are always the one packing your bags and travelling between homes.
So perhaps it’s what is to be expected, when I meet Cariss, to find her quiet, a bit withdrawn and not speaking much.
Everyone feels torn in two with separate priorities.