Who would we be without our parents? They are the ones that live a full life of their own, bring us into the world and form who we become. Some of us grow up with our biological parents, some are children of divorce and jump between and some are adopted or have lost parents or any other form of family life, for better or for worse. But either way, where we come from is a big part of who we are.
I come from a split home with an English mother and a Swedish father. I travelled between the two countries as a child and although when I was young I yearned to have a “normal” family life with both of my parents together, I consider myself incredibly lucky. I have 4 parents that love me with all of their hearts and that have provided food, shelter and everything a child needs to grow up and find their own way in the world.
I have been blessed with step parents that took me in as their own and treated me with as much affection as they have with my siblings and I have had the opportunity to travel and study in two very different countries, witnessing a mix in cultures and I am fluently bi-lingual.
My parents were very young when they met. I was not planned, but it was an easy choice for both to keep me. Being so young they did not have very much in the way of financial resources or education and I am pretty sure that adding a baby into the mix didn’t help. Needless to say, they stuck it out together as long as they could manage and eventually they decided that it was not working out.
They each wanted very different things from life. My father ended up moving to Los Angeles to pursue his dreams of musical stardom and enrolled in the Musicians Institute in Hollywood and my mother decided to move back to England where she believed her work prospects would be better than if she stayed in Sweden.
Me and my Mum moved into a little rented house together. I remember that a man started coming round quite often and that he was nice. He would sometimes make my breakfast in the mornings while I watched cartoons. After a while we moved into his house and they got married, and when I was 5 my sister was born. I started school and we had a regular family life.
Growing up My father was my hero; I idolised him to the point of near god like status. In my eyes he could do no wrong, he was the strongest, smartest most honest person I knew. He was a rockstar and a badass. And my mum was a witch with a B for leaving him in my opinion; I didn’t understand why anyone would want to give up being with HIM! And despised the fact that she wanted to have a new family, Of course I was a kid and had no idea how relationships, love or anything like that actually worked.
I started flying back and forth from about the age of 4. Visiting on holidays and spending time with vacation dad. He always had time to play and take me to museums and visit friends and family, he bought me toys and joked around and we ate cereal for dinner and baked cakes for lunch and had a blast. I wanted life to always be like that. So when I was 11 I wrote a pretty rough letter to my mum and stuck it in her closet for her to find. A teary eyed woman, (that I made cry! – who’s really the witch with a b in this story?) came into my room and said I could move to Sweden and live with my dad for a trial year.
That was one of the best summers of my life. My Father and step mum had bought a new apartment with enough space for me to move in, organised a place for me at a local school with an international class so I could get help to learn Swedish and made sure I had everything I needed. Pappa, (which is what I call my father, it is Swedish for dad) would take me out every weekday for long walks on Djurgården, a beautiful island in the centre of Stockholm. During our walks he would speak only Swedish with me, pointing things out and getting me to repeat after him. We would walk to a café at the top of a hill where we would order Apple Pie and Ice cream and work in School books that he had purchased for me. I kept trying to speak English with him, getting frustrated, but he persisted and eventually towards the end of the summer I was getting the hang of the basics.
He would also take me for walks around the city, pointing out specific areas of interest and teaching me the history of the city as well as the geography. I learned about the public transit system and how to get to and from various family members, stores and of course school.
[Looking back on that summer while writing this, I feel like that those are probably my fondest memories that I have with my Father]
When I started school I quickly grew out of the restraints of the international class and moved to my regular, fully Swedish class after just 3 months. I strongly believe that the summer with Pappa was the foundation for this rapid progression and will always be grateful for the dedication and discipline he provided through his structured process.
That fall my Father married my Step Mother, they had been together for over 5 years and had chosen to wait with a family of their own until I was settled, allowing my father and I to build a relationship first. Shortly after the wedding they announced that they were pregnant.
When the first of my 3 Swedish siblings was born I was 13 and hormonal and jealous. I had left England so as to not have to share the affection of my family and now a brand new baby was in the picture and I was old enough to be able to help out. It was not what I had signed up for.
My teen years were tough on me and Pappa. We did not see eye to eye on pretty much anything. I felt ignored and unfairly treated and he felt I was old enough to take care of myself and be part of the grownup routine around the house.
We fought and argued a lot. I just wanted his attention and he just wanted to get his degree, work and provide for his new family as best he could. He wanted me to be an extra helping hand and I wanted to be a kid and play with him. He was dealing with small children and had no idea how to deal with a teenager, he did what he thought best and disciplined me, grounded and punished me, all in an attempt to discipline me and keep me in check.
I rebelled and pushed boundaries. I cried and longed for attention. Eventually things got so bad that I ended up leaving when I was 15 after my application to Skateboard College. That argument came after a long period of us not speaking to each other at all, even though we lived under the same roof. In the heated discussion we each said things we probably wish we could take back and on the day I was to fly to England we were both very edgy. I remember going to say goodbye and he didn’t even look up from the television or acknowledge me, in hindsight he was probably hurt and this was his way of dealing with it at the time, but I was so pissed that on my way out I took his custom limited edition blue orchid Fender Stratocaster guitar and brought it with me to England.
My teen years in England were of course a mess. I was compensating and escaping from my inner emotions, rebelling against myself more than anything.
My mother and step father have supported me through some of my darkest moments and have always provided a safe haven for me to return to when in need. Looking back on my early childhood I realise that what they did at the time was what they thought to be best in that moment to try and guide me in a direction they thought was best. I am so grateful for everything they have done and still do for me and thank my lucky stars that they found each other. They are amazing parents to my sister who has an amazing story and journey in her own right and support her in everything she does and it makes me proud to be a part of such a beautiful family.
My father and step mum have also divorced and my 2 brothers and sister over in Sweden are now in a similar situation to me having a split home.
I stay in touch with my step mother and still call her mamma when we meet. She has been an incredible role model in my life and remains an invaluable mentor and friend to me.
My father has since re-married. His wife is a nice woman and he has returned to his old passions of music and acting after years of working for money in other areas. It makes me happy to know that he is following his dreams because I always felt like I was the reason he had to abandon them. He is the reason I began my journey in the entertainment world. In fact the reason I made our first record with Our Untold Story was to impress him and make him proud. All I ever wanted was to make him proud and see him truly happy.