Bonus mum

Parenting - - Thelettersscoop -

In 1990 I met my hus­band of 25 years, Kevin, and his two-year-old daughter, Kayleigh. I grew to know and love Kayleigh pretty quickly, although there were many re­minders that I was not ‘mum’. Like when her first tooth was wiggly, or when she in­vited me to watch her favourite movie with her ev­ery al­ter­nate week­end – her mum and dad’s wed­ding video! I don’t know how many times I watched my hus­band walk down the aisle with his first wife, but I did, and some of my friends thought I was mad at the time. I knew that Kayleigh needed to watch it, and even­tu­ally her favourite movie be­came The Lit­tle Mermaid (which was a great re­lief for me).

Kayleigh was 12 years old when Kevin and I moved to New Zealand and she stayed with her mum in the UK. It was a very dif­fi­cult de­ci­sion for us, and we made sure we stayed con­nected through Skype and email and vis­its when pos­si­ble.

It was around 2010 that Kayleigh sent me a card ad­dressed to ‘bonus mum’. I was used to her call­ing me Rayleen, and so this was in­cred­i­bly spe­cial. It be­came even more spe­cial when she ex­plained how she came up with the name (see 'bonus daughter' op­po­site).

Af­ter im­mi­grat­ing, Kevin and I had two more chil­dren, Brad (who is now 14) and Kaya (who sadly passed away at the age of seven and a half in 2012). De­spite the dis­tance, the sib­lings were a part of each other’s lives. Kayleigh had a great un­der­stand­ing of her younger sis­ter’s dis­abil­i­ties (cere­bral palsy, epilepsy, sco­l­io­sis and feed­ing dif­fi­cul­ties) and when she came over to NZ in 2006, she spent hours play­ing with Kaya and learn­ing about her feed­ing and physio.

Kayleigh is now a reg­is­tered nurse and mid­wife. I am so priv­i­leged to have been a part of her grow­ing up and even now, I am so proud of who she has be­come – a strong-willed young woman who worked hard to get where she is. One of the high­lights of our re­la­tion­ship was her wed­ding day and help­ing her get ready – me, (her ‘bonus mum’) and her mum. Rayleen

to the au­thor of our win­ning let­ter next is­sue!

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