Rob was a shift-worker, living in Hamilton and commuting to Rotorua to spend time with me. He had aspirations to study and after much discussion we agreed that he would move to Rotorua and I would support him while he studied. During these discussion we also discovered that our paths had crossed in the past – firstly in the mid – mid 70’s when we were all involved in orienteering, my Aunt and Uncle stayed with Robs family in Taupo – then in the early 80’s when Rob was in the Navy and all the sailors would drink at the Mon Desir where I was working and socializing – then in the 90’s when Rob almost rented the unit just two doors along from my house!! This was meant to be.
Robs four children were not living with him and we agreed that I would take my time getting to know them socially…and then…. his two youngest boys (Ben,11 & Hayden, 13) needed to come and live with us. This was really early in the year (January) and without hesitation I opened the door (to my home and my heart) and made space for them.
The oldest of the boys (Bradley, 16) had been living semi-independently for a while and we supported him to relocate to Rotorua, find accommodation and undertake his chef training. Robs daughter, Samantha who was six, was living with Robs parents for the year but she came to stay with us for frequent weekends and holidays as well. Really lucky I had extended the house.
Riki was studying full time, Alisha signed up to do a Certificate in Adventure Therapy and I was still home-schooling Dianne.
Taking on the care of another persons children was never going to be easy as there is a fine line between being a caregiver and taking over responsibilities. In as much as I took on Robs children he took on mine. Day to day decision making and practicalities saw many boundaries blurred between myself, Rob, the absent parents and extended families with conflicting expectations clashing with poor communication and possessive pride. There were some ugly scenes.
During the year Riki and Alisha both became engaged, Riki had gone flatting, Hayden had moved back with his Mum…..and life carried on as I worked full time, studied and ran the mad-house.
At the end of the year Samantha came to live with us on a permanent basis.
There was no guide book, there were no instruction manuals….there was a houseful of hurt and broken people trying to find their place in the family and in society. I will be forever grateful of the professional support from Adrian, Gail, Denise and Dorothy as well as the support of colleagues and our extended blended families who did what they could to support Rob and I as we faced trial by fire from all directions.
I strove to do my best for all concerned as we all adjusted to the demands of a big, blended, flexible family. It is here I must apologize for the times I got it wrong and sincerely assure you all that I was genuinely doing my best for each of you in your given circumstances.