‘Being a stepmother is a wonderful privilege’
Geeta Sidhu-Robb, 50, is the founder of Nosh Detox, a natural food delivery service. She lives in London with her two daughters, Simi, 17, and Chaan, 15, and son Amman, 21, from her former marriage; and stepdaughter Emma, 15, and stepson, Johannes, 20, from her relationship with partner Hannes. the indian culture encourages a huge respect for family and i see all children as a blessing. i’d happily have had another child – so to have two extra in my home as a result of my relationship with their father is wonderful! i make no distinction between my birth children and stepchildren, and always think of myself as a mother of five. i love the strength and security that comes when there are so many of you in your family unit.
the role of stepmother can be challenging, but Emma and Johannes were five and 10 when i first came into their lives, and i think it helped that they were young enough to be unquestioning of my authority, so i was able to say, “this is the kind of parenting i’m going to be doing.” Hannes supported me in this and in the main we’ve managed to integrate very well. the trickiest times were at the beginning when the children, who were forced together, had to learn to respect each other’s differences.
When Emma is with us at the weekend she shares a room with Chaan; they’re the same age, but quite different and it’s important to recognise that. it’s an equal playing field at our house – i yell at everyone and care for them exactly the same. However, every child needs something different from you, and when it comes to the girls, simi needs someone to discuss things with, Chaan a safe space and Emma needs my feminine strength and girliness.
We’ve bonded over shopping trips, and she’s also been very good about adhering to my non-negotiable rules such as no dating until the age of 16. in the past two years, we girls have got even closer as the boys have been at uni, but it’s lovely when we’re all back together.
i was quite young when Geeta met my dad but i’ve always got on with her. she never made a big thing of us joining the family, it was just “the same rules apply”. i live with my mum in the week so i’m with Geeta and my sisters and brothers every other weekend, and i always look forward to time there. sometimes Geeta’s and my mum’s rules vary – for example my mum wouldn’t mind if i dated – but it hasn’t caused any issues. Having two mums is cool as i get different opinions that allow me to take a balanced view. Geeta has been a positive influence in my life and i really admire her.
Simi and Chaan say…
People are always looking at Mum when we all go out together and she laughs and says, “imagine! i’ve got five!” she loves having a massive brood around her and treats us all as her children. our family chat on Whatsapp is always pinging with seven sets of messages, and it’s fun to have so many people’s support in life. sometimes Emma listens to Mum more than we do. the other day someone asked why she doesn’t date and she said, “oh, you know, because i’m indian!” We appreciate and love Mum so much – family life always comes first. >>