MY FAM­ILY

Diva (UK) - - Welcome | Contents -

DIVA read­ers in­tro­duce their ev­ery­day fam­i­lies

I only need one word to de­scribe my fam­ily – com­pli­cated. That’s be­cause when I talk about “my chil­dren”, they are in fact my sis­ter’s kids.

My sis­ter, the au­thor Katy Wat­son, died in 2008 from lym­phoma, and I’ve been the guardian of her two chil­dren since. She was a bi­sex­ual sin­gle mum. The kids have dif­fer­ent dads so Katy asked me to be their guardian to stop Orla and Joe be­ing sep­a­rated when she died. For­tu­nately, the dads both agreed. They are in­volved and so are their part­ners.

Look­ing af­ter two be­reaved kids, aged five years and 18 months when Katy died, was tough. I had to be very present for them. I went from be­ing a dot­ing aun­tie, who was away a lot as a travel pho­tog­ra­pher, to a full- time stay-at- home mum. Be­fore that, a short hol­i­day with my sis­ter and the kids seemed like hard work. But in a way, hav­ing to keep a sched­ule for the kids’ sake helped me keep go­ing af­ter her death. I looked af­ter them and my par­ents looked af­ter me.

The low­est point was my first full year of full-time par­ent­ing. Joe was teething, I was ex­hausted and mourn­ing both my sis­ter and my pre­vi­ous life. I re­mem­ber push­ing the pram and cry­ing a lot. I was lucky that the mums from play­group and school helped me out.

Talk­ing about Katy has been a great help for us. A few months af­ter Katy’s death, Orla had some great coun­selling at St Christo­pher’s Hospice. Joe was too lit­tle then but I’ve had coun­selling too. For me, it was im­por­tant not to hide my emo­tions from the chil­dren. I cried in front of them and we talked about miss­ing Katy and shared anec­dotes.

To­day, I’m back at work as a pho­tog­ra­pher, and have also set up Space­girl Books to pub­lish Katy’s book, Space­girl Pukes, which stars a girl with les­bian mums. The chil­dren are grow­ing up fast and are sur­pris­ingly well bal­anced. I want them to be strong and in­de­pen­dent and have suc­cess­ful lives and their own fam­i­lies – how­ever they might look. Since they were lit­tle I al­ways said to the kids they might have ei­ther boyfriends or girl­friends. It doesn’t mat­ter – as long as they’re happy.

ANNA WAT­SON GAVE UP HER CA­REER TO RAISE HER SIS­TER’S CHIL­DREN AS TOLD TO

CAR­RIE LYELL

Look­ing af­ter two be­reaved kids af­ter Katy died was tough

Af­ter you’ve gone: Anna Wat­son with her sis­ter Katy’s chil­dren, Orla and Joe

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from UK

© PressReader. All rights reserved.